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From Russia With Love

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A beautiful Soviet spy. A brand-new Spektor cipher machine. SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance: of interrogation, torture and death. James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them. Then the cold eye of SMERSH focuses on James Bond and far away in Moscow a trap is laid for him - a death trap with an enticing lure.


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A beautiful Soviet spy. A brand-new Spektor cipher machine. SMERSH is the Soviet organ of vengeance: of interrogation, torture and death. James Bond is dedicated to the destruction of its agents wherever he finds them. Then the cold eye of SMERSH focuses on James Bond and far away in Moscow a trap is laid for him - a death trap with an enticing lure.

30 review for From Russia With Love

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jayson

    (A-) 83% | Very Good Notes: James Bond fights the 'soft life' but ironically becomes soft: ditching sense to reattain love, adventure and friendship. (A-) 83% | Very Good Notes: James Bond fights the 'soft life' but ironically becomes soft: ditching sense to reattain love, adventure and friendship.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    I am glad to be a man in 2011, because it sounds so exhausting to hear about what life was like in the 1950s. I mean, imagine you are Ian Fleming's James Bond, sexy 1950s super spy: Every time a woman mouthed off to you, you had to take her over your knee and spank her. That sounds awkward! (My lap isn't that big.) And if you were in a relationship and she started to get fat, you'd have to beat her until she lost weight. I don't want to get home from a long day of international espionage only to I am glad to be a man in 2011, because it sounds so exhausting to hear about what life was like in the 1950s. I mean, imagine you are Ian Fleming's James Bond, sexy 1950s super spy: Every time a woman mouthed off to you, you had to take her over your knee and spank her. That sounds awkward! (My lap isn't that big.) And if you were in a relationship and she started to get fat, you'd have to beat her until she lost weight. I don't want to get home from a long day of international espionage only to go to work again, physically abusing my significant other! I need some rest too! I've seen all of the Bond films, but this is the first of the books I've read. I picked From Russia with Love because it forms the basis for my favorite of the films (it was also famously one of JFK's favorite books, if you take "famously" to mean "constantly touted in documentaries about the Bond series and mentioned about six times on Wikipedia"). Reading it both increases my appreciation for the early cinematic adaptations (the first four or five films), which were fairly low-key in terms of Bond's methods and abilities and very much in keeping with, at least, this book's tone, and makes me roll my eyes even more at the gadget porn and lame quip farce the series became once Roger Moore took over. On film and in print, however, just about every iteration of the character already seems about as sociologically and politically outdated as a minstrel show. Certainly the books are just as casually misogynist as the movies: both on the page and on the screen, Bond is constantly falling into bed with pliant, idiotic women, at least when he's not patting their bottoms and telling them to run along and let the men talk. FRWL has one of the dumber Bond girls -- Tatiana Romanova, a Soviet "spy" who sounds like little more than an office drone, easily manipulated by her superiors into participating in a mission that will require her to literally whore herself out for her country in an attempt to seduce 007. It's part of a larger plot to discredit Her Majesty's Secret Service, but Tatiana is daft enough to assume Bond will come to no harm, even though she is manipulated into participating by Rosa Klebb, the KGB's own sadistic S&M bisexual sex torturing grandma (for a classic example of "deviant" sexuality as an indication of evil, look no further than the ugly old lady who puts on a sexy negligee and tries to fondle an unsuspecting and helpless young girl). So yeah, you pretty much have to take this entire book, and the mythos of the Bond character, with a whole shaker of salt. I like to pretend I'm watching Mad Men, and this is all sly commentary on gender roles in an unenlightened era, even though I know that's not the case: then and, probably, now, James Bond represented a paragon of masculinity to a lot of men (and maybe some women). The notion that the KGB is able to trick HMSS into getting involved in the plot sounds asinine -- Tatiana is supposed to have fallen in love with Bond from reading his file and looking at a picture; no one from M on down questions this story because women are just that brainless. Bond gets lots of advice on how to complete the seduction -- don't be too nice, women want to be put in their place. And of course, despite knowing she's just on the job, Tatiana instantly falls for James, practically bursting into genuine tears when he starts questioning the motives of her defection (and within a few days is, yes, asking him to beat her if she gets too fat because she is happy in their relationship. Bond: "Certainly, I will beat you."). Writing women: not Ian Fleming's strong suit. All the series' tropes are on display, including the villain who prefers to monologue about his evil plan before pulling the trigger (though at least there's a somewhat plausible reason for it). Tense action, including a brutal fight to the death in the close confines of a train berth. Mild gadgetry (a nifty trick suitcase) and gratuitous sex (Gypsy catfight! Clothes ripped off! Bosoms bared!). If you can laugh at the sexism instead of fuming about it, this is still a fun little potboiler with an interesting structure -- the first third is entirely from the Russian point of view, setting up the motivations for the villainous plot and developing interesting antagonists like Red Grant, a sociopathic brute who for some reason only kills during a full moon (hey, at least he doesn't, say, only shoot people with gold bullets or bite them to death with his metal teeth). Bond doesn't even appear until nearly 100 pages in, sulking in a hotel, depressed and bored after the fallout from his prior Case (oh, hidden series pun!). Interestingly, Bond is allowed to be much more human in the books; even in the Connery films, he's a bit of a cartoon, and only the new ones with Daniel Craig have given him an interior life beyond what is happening in his pants (which, of course, prompted a bunch of criticism that the character was being "feminized," which means maybe that the sexism isn't as outdated as I'd like to pretend).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    From Russia With Love is the fifth book in Ian Fleming's James Bond series. Written in the height of the Cold War, it pits Russia versus the west in a race to achieve the best in stealth technology. When the novel first came out, President Kennedy dubbed it his favorite book, increasing it in popularity and spurring Fleming to write more James Bond cases. Yet, this tale of espionage is often dubbed the best in the series. SMERSH, the Russian intelligence agency, would like to make a big splash t From Russia With Love is the fifth book in Ian Fleming's James Bond series. Written in the height of the Cold War, it pits Russia versus the west in a race to achieve the best in stealth technology. When the novel first came out, President Kennedy dubbed it his favorite book, increasing it in popularity and spurring Fleming to write more James Bond cases. Yet, this tale of espionage is often dubbed the best in the series. SMERSH, the Russian intelligence agency, would like to make a big splash to show the west who the leader in the world is. Their head, the evil Rosa Klebb, decides on murdering a secret agent from Britain or America and lands on none other than James Bond. With the help of British ex-patriot Red Granitsky and young, naive Tatiana Romanova, Klebb sets the stage to bring Bond to justice. Rather than the non stop action Bond fans are used to on screen, Fleming uses the entire first half of the book detailing the Russian plot and creating a psychological buildup for the ensuing action. Thus I read through quickly even though I am familiar with the movie version because the plot easily held my attention. We meet Bond a third through the book. The Russians have arrived at the scene of the crime and relayed their message to the west. Bond is to go to Istanbul to meet Romanova and bring her and a decoding machine back to Britain. With the help of local agent Darko Kerim, Bond successfully gets Romanova out of SMERSH hands and onto the famed Orient Express, but not before falling for her first. What ensues is a plot of high jinx mixed with romance as Bond journeys toward London in an attempt to foil whatever plot the Russians have in store for him. Once the action moves from Istanbul to the Orient Express, the plot is non stop action. Fleming creates premise after premise with a large cast of characters so there never is a loss for plot development or new adventures for Bond to get embroiled in. Gleaning from his own experience as a spy during World War II, Fleming's stories are accurate and detailed, not just a plot of action upon action. Of course there is the action and the scrapes that James Bond walks away unscathed from, but there are also scenes in which Fleming pays close attention to detail, making the buildup all the more thrilling. As in all James Bond cases, he comes out on top. Because this case was against the Russians during the Cold War period, at the time of release it was probably all the more thrilling to read and view on screen. Being the world's top spy, James Bond always gets his man and woman in the end, and it is fun reading about his adventures. A page turner for an otherwise lazy afternoon, From Russia With Love is a solid 4 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. The ideal Soviet master assassin is a man who is: a. the offspring of a German wrestler and a Southern Irish hooker; b. extremely muscular and hairy; c. possessed of a high threshold for pain; d. manic during the full moon; and e. asexual (“Sexual neutrality was the essence of coldness in an individual”) --- but love to parade around naked. 2. Ugly women are mannish and have breasts that looked like badly packed sandbags, and when they pull b What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. The ideal Soviet master assassin is a man who is: a. the offspring of a German wrestler and a Southern Irish hooker; b. extremely muscular and hairy; c. possessed of a high threshold for pain; d. manic during the full moon; and e. asexual (“Sexual neutrality was the essence of coldness in an individual”) --- but love to parade around naked. 2. Ugly women are mannish and have breasts that looked like badly packed sandbags, and when they pull back their hair into a bun, it would be obscene. 3. “Colonel Klebb of SMERSH was wearing a semi-transparent nightgown in orange crepe de chine. She looked like the oldest and ugliest whore in the world.” Ugly, dumpy, middle-aged, Soviet lesbians are SCARY. 4. “A purist would have been disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s.” Too much exercise could turn a perfect 10 of a woman into a muscular, ugly bitch. Fortunately, the face and breasts would still be pretty, as it is impossible to exercise them too much. She would still be good enough for the hero. 5. To impersonate an English secret agent, you must learn to be a gentleman. It is advisable to add a touch of eccentricity, for the English pride themselves on their eccentricity, and treat the eccentric proposition as a challenge. 6. "Just as, at least in one religion, accidie is the first of the cardinal sins, so boredom, and particularly the incredible circumstance of waking up bored, was the only vice Bond utterly condemned." Bond is a man of many vices, but sloth is the only vice that could actually destroy him. 7. Having crushes on men who they know only from photographs is a "grisly" female habit. 8. If you are staying at a dingy hotel and are suddenly upgraded to a luxury honeymoon suite with ceiling mirrors ahead of a romantic assignation with a pretty woman, beware. 9. If you are manly Turkish man, you have to tame your girlfriend by chaining her naked to your dining table, and then father a dozen children with various members of your harem. When they are grown up, you could have them help out in your spice/espionage business. 10. If you are a virile Gypsy man, you could have girls fight to the death naked for you, and then get to keep the winner until her breasts fall off. 11. If you are a comparatively enlightened Western man, all you could do is spank your girl when she gets too fat for making love. The book is sexist and probably racist/imperialist*, but it is also a damn good spy thriller. The action and espionage set pieces --- a nighttime jaunt through a rodent-infested tunnel under the ancient Hall of the Pillars in Istanbul, a sniper fight in the dark alleys by the Bosphorus, a mano-a-mano on the Orient Express -- - are expertly staged and spine-tinglingly exciting. The writing is vivid and crisp, peppered with piquant observations (“Bond recognized them as the eyes of furious dissipation.”) and insights (“Only Track No. 3, and its platform, throbbed with the tragic poetry of departure”). The exotic locales are atmospherically evocative, with just enough authentic details to lend an illusion of plausibility to the fantastic plot. Bond is a master spy, but also a man who gets scared during a turbulent flight, has doubts about the moral fallout of his mission (“What would he think of the dazzling secret agent who was off across the world in a new and most romantic role --- to pimp for England?”), and has genuine tendre for the woman whom he is supposed to seduce. If this is pulp fiction, it is pulp fiction of the highest order. *I’m not too bothered with the un-PC-ness: Fleming was a product of his age, and he was writing about hard men who lie and kill for their country --- who are surely no boy scouts. The misogyny and brutality that he assigned to them ring true for these characters. Bond himself is not above enjoying the spectacle of a naked Gypsy catfight and has a rather patronizing attitude towards women, but despite all his talk about spanking, never laid a hand on any woman. The rest are so over the top that they’re actually funny. Other Random Observations Number of extremely ugly villains: 1 Number of henchmen with congenital analgesia: 1 Number of scenes involving naked people, gratuitous or otherwise: 4 Number of Martini units consumed by the protagonist: 2 Number of times the word “violet” is used as an adjective in the last 8 chapters : 12 (what’s up with that?) Number of product placement: at least 19 (Sea Island cotton shirt, Dunhill lighter, Girrard-Perregaux watch, Beretta gun, De Bry coffee, Chemex coffee brewer, Tiptree Little Scarlet Strawberry Jam, Cooper’s Vintage Oxford Marmalade, Fortnum’s Norwegian Heather Honey, Minton china, Bentley, Rolls Royce, B.E.A., Swaine and Adeney attaché case, Wilkinsons throwing knife, Palmolive shaving cream, Lambretta scooter, Diplomates cigarettes, Ritz Hotel)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is hands down the best James Bond book and it was turned into the best James Bond movie. I have yet to read all the books, but I have read a fair amount so I think it is okay for me to have the opinion that this is the best! I read this twice and loved it both times. The second time I read it was on a train in Switzerland between Bern and Brig. This just so happens to be part of the route of the train included in the climactic scene in the book. This was not an intentional coincidence, but v This is hands down the best James Bond book and it was turned into the best James Bond movie. I have yet to read all the books, but I have read a fair amount so I think it is okay for me to have the opinion that this is the best! I read this twice and loved it both times. The second time I read it was on a train in Switzerland between Bern and Brig. This just so happens to be part of the route of the train included in the climactic scene in the book. This was not an intentional coincidence, but very cool! If you have wanted to try James Bond, this is a good place to start. You might say “but Matthew, it says right here this is book 5 in the series!” I will say for the person who wants to do the hardcore Bond route, start at the beginning with Casino Royale. But, if you are just feeling casual and not sure you want to commit to the whole series, you can start here. I personally don’t feel like there is enough carry over from book to book for you to miss out by starting in the middle.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kemper

    If this is love then I’d hate to see the Russian idea of hate. The Soviets have suffered several espionage losses so they decide to run an elaborate operation in which they’ll kill British agent James Bond in such a way that will embarrass all of English intelligence. The two big pieces of cheese in this mousetrap are a code machine used by the Russians and a beautiful code clerk named Tatiana Romanova who doesn’t realize what kind of pawn she actually is. Will Bond take the bait? Well, he is Jam If this is love then I’d hate to see the Russian idea of hate. The Soviets have suffered several espionage losses so they decide to run an elaborate operation in which they’ll kill British agent James Bond in such a way that will embarrass all of English intelligence. The two big pieces of cheese in this mousetrap are a code machine used by the Russians and a beautiful code clerk named Tatiana Romanova who doesn’t realize what kind of pawn she actually is. Will Bond take the bait? Well, he is James Bond, and did I mention that that Tatiana is a beautiful woman? Yeah, take a guess how this goes. I’m a big fan of Bond on film and generally like those a lot more than the Fleming novels I’ve tried. With this one being the basis for one of the best Bond movies I didn’t find anything to change my mind about that. Bond is usually a bastard in both forms, but there’s something even worse and apt to make me roll my eyes in the way that he’s even more of a privileged sexist bigot on the page then any time on screen. Plus, the structure of this novel is just weird. It’s only 191 pages, but Bond doesn’t show up until halfway through it. Instead we spend a lot of time getting all the details about how the Soviets came up with this plan. Even when Bond finally appears we get a long segment about how he’s been bored at the office and what his domestic life is like when he's not killing people or having sex. Another problem is that since we’ve been told in detail exactly what trap awaits Bond there’s not a lot of mystery for the reader even when 007 is trying to figure it out. Although to be fair, the movie also lays out the plan, but there it’s done much more quickly so that Bond gets involved much sooner. In fact, the basic plot beats from the book are used in the film, but the film did a better job of pacing and adding action to the mix. Since I do like the movie a lot I guess that means the basic plot works as long as it moves briskly. Still, it is one of the classic Bond stories, and there is some charm to this including some spy vs. spy games in Turkey. It also has a top notch thug in the form of Red Grant, a psychopath from the United Kingdom who defected to Russia and became their chief executioner. If there was more of him in here I think I would have liked it more.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Это отличная книга! Google translate tells me this is “That's a great book” in Russian. If I’m getting catfished by Google, somebody please let me know. Anyway, this is a great book! First of all, oddly, we don’t even see Bond until about 60 pages in. Fleming slowly, but entertainingly, builds the Soviet era backstory with a focus on some senior Soviets cooking up a trap for our hero. They’ll use a pretty young operative to lure Bond into a “killing bottle” for their hired assassin. Bond is describe Это отличная книга! Google translate tells me this is “That's a great book” in Russian. If I’m getting catfished by Google, somebody please let me know. Anyway, this is a great book! First of all, oddly, we don’t even see Bond until about 60 pages in. Fleming slowly, but entertainingly, builds the Soviet era backstory with a focus on some senior Soviets cooking up a trap for our hero. They’ll use a pretty young operative to lure Bond into a “killing bottle” for their hired assassin. Bond is described as 6-foot-tall and 160 pounds, “straight and tall as a butcher knife” and Fleming’s prose is equally angular and lean. Writers today, who don’t feel like they’ve started until they reach 400 pages, would do well to emulate this minimalist style. This is a fun page turner. Of course even though this is a review of Ian Fleming’s 1957 novel, I would be remiss if I did not also mention Terence Young’s ultra-cool 1963 Bond film starring Sean Connery and Robert Shaw. Shaw is one of my favorite character actors and while he was fun to watch here, I cannot think of him without recalling his 1975 portrayal of Quint in Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws. Also noteworthy was the delightful Daniela Bianchi who played Tatiana Romanova. Connery has said that this was his favoriet Bond film. ** Side note: Who was the coolest: Sean Connery, Steve McQueen or Paul Newman? My vote is for McQueen, but they are all stratospheric cool in their own way. I’m going to read all of these.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    NO SPOILERS SMERSH wants to damage England. What better way than to destroy their secret agent hero, James Bond? SMERSH hatches a plan. They pick out their prettiest worker and send her to Bond. To sweeten the already honeyed deal, she's carrying a Russian encryption machine. Bond is initially suspicious of this beautiful Russian spy who's defecting to England, but his suspicions are gone once he beds her (moron!). But SMERSH has big plans for Bond, and surprisingly they are not plans to give hi NO SPOILERS SMERSH wants to damage England. What better way than to destroy their secret agent hero, James Bond? SMERSH hatches a plan. They pick out their prettiest worker and send her to Bond. To sweeten the already honeyed deal, she's carrying a Russian encryption machine. Bond is initially suspicious of this beautiful Russian spy who's defecting to England, but his suspicions are gone once he beds her (moron!). But SMERSH has big plans for Bond, and surprisingly they are not plans to give him endless orgasms... ... My stomach clenched painfully at the thought of reading this book again. I couldn't remember exactly why, but I knew it was going to be bad. In fact, I put off reading this for a day or two, trying to mentally prepare myself for what was coming. It didn't work. Fleming starts off strong, with what is perhaps the best opening chapter I have ever read. He paints a very ideal, normal scene but laces it with dark and sinister undertones, and he does so beautifully. There's no doubt that Fleming is a great writer. Bond doesn't even appear in this book until the halfway point. Instead, Fleming uses his first 10 chapters to introduce us to the inner workings of SMERSH (Death to Spies) the Russian counter-espionage organization. We meet Donovan Grant, a psychopath who was born in Ireland. A serial killer, young Grant starts by killing animals but quickly finds that's not enough for him. After he starts killing humans (always on the night of the full moon) he runs into a bit of trouble. He becomes very interested in working for the Russians, which I guess he sees as an all-you-can-eat buffet of killing and torturing. I thought Fleming did a good job showing how someone like Grant, a killer who enjoys killing and has absolutely no morals works hard to please his Russian masters and actually has to undergo things he doesn't like (school and learning) in order to get where he wants to be (SMERSH's #1 killer). We meet Rosa Klebb, evil lady torturer. Described as disgusting and "sexually neutral," Klebb is a short, toady, ugly woman who is always described in the most disgusting terms possible so that the reader develops revulsion for her not only based on her actions, but her physical self. Fleming also uses bisexuality to induce "fear and disgust" in the reader, showing that Klebb is a "pervert" who will satisfy her sexual urges with either men or women. Lastly, we have Tatiana Romanov,(24, brown hair, blue eyes, Bond will be her 4th lover) a stunningly beautiful and innocent and goodhearted member of SMERSH (WTF?). She is just so innocent and fresh and sweet. Even though she works for one of the most evil organizations ever, she's just a good girl who could never hurt anyone. Tatiana is called up by Klebb and given the good news: she will sleep with James Bond. No matter that she has no idea who Bond is, or the small issue of deciding for herself when and with whom to have sex - she is told: "You will seduce him. In this matter you will have no silly compunctions. Your body belongs to the State. Since your birth, the State has nourished it. Now your body must work for the State. Is that understood?" Well, Tatiana (who I feel is not very bright) can't argue with that logic! Now comes a very hard part for me to read: Tatiana being examined naked. Tatiana being forced to give SMERSH her lovers' names so that they can be interviewed about her sexual talents (or lack thereof) and her subsequent training on how to please a man in bed. I'm shuddering in revulsion even writing this down. It's sick. I hate it. It's degrading and humiliating and disgusting. Especially since Fleming keeps stressing Tatiana's innocent and sweet nature and how she is now looked on as a whore and men just leer at her and joke about her all the time. Vomit-inducing. ... Okay. Now Bond. La, la la, Bond's going soft. Where's the war? Where's the mission? He hasn't been on assignment in a year. He's so bored. Tiffany Case left him and moved back to America (extra points to Fleming for mentioning a past Bond girl and not just "disappearing" her). Then Bond gets a call from M. ...the bell of the red telephone had been the signal that fired him, like a loaded projectile, across the world towards some distant target of M's choosing. ... M. gestured to the chair opposite him across the red leather desk. Bond sat down and looked across into the tranquil, lined sailor's face that he loved, honored and obeyed. Bond is told that a young, beautiful spy from Russia who works in the filing office has developed a huge crush on him. From reading his file. The British Secret Service actually buys this load of hogwash, because they can't pass up the opportunity to get their hands on the encryption machine. Bond is told on no uncertain terms that he is to seduce Tatiana. Please her in bed. Make her fall in love with him. Do whatever he has to do to get that encryption machine! Now, let's examine this a bit: ANALYSIS: It's very interesting what Fleming has done here. Both Bond and Tatiana are told to whore themselves for the governments' benefit. But Fleming shows the differences in the organizations' approaches. SMERSH doesn't give Tatiana a choice. She's told: your body belongs to us. She's cruelly interrogated about her sex life in detail. Her lovers are hunted down and also forced to go into excruciating details about her skills in bed. Then she is physically assessed and given "hands-on" training in how to give men pleasure. Bond, on the other hand, is first asked by M. if he's still with Tiffany. M. doesn't want to involve Bond in this if he's involved with a woman. Once it's established that Bond is single, he's given a choice. Would he like this mission? Bond agrees, after having a discussion in depth with M. about the dangers, what the mission will involve, etc. etc. (Contrasting with Tatiana who is completely in the dark and also being lied to.) While James Bond is told verbally to make Tatiana happy, seduce her, and make her fall in love with him, he is certainly not stripped naked and forced to have sex with multiple women in order to assess his orgasm-giving skills. None of his ex-lovers are questioned. In this way, while Bond and Tatiana are kind of in the same situation, Fleming is showing us that England = good and Russia = evil. And women = should be treated like objects, and men = have agency and can be trusted to make their own choices. ... VOMIT INDUCING #2: When Bond first meets Tatiana, he's buck-naked and she's in bed wearing only a ribbon around her neck and some stockings. They have some cute banter and then have sex. My problem? Two male SMERSH operatives are taping the whole thing through the huge mirror wall. It's also implied that they are really aroused and possibly masturbating while doing this. ... James Bond makes a good friend in Turkey. A friend named Kerim. This charming individual is a rapist and a racist. I despise him. Here are some excepts: By good luck, I had taken a few minutes off to relax on the couch over there with a young Rumanian girl who still believes that a man will tell secrets in exchange for love. The bomb went off at a vital moment. I refused to be disturbed, but I fear the experience was too much for the girl. When I released her, she had hysterics. Here's a dose of his views on Turks: That is the only way to treat these damned people. They love to be cursed and kicked. It is all they understand. It is in the blood. All this pretence of democracy is killing them. They want some sultans and wars and rape and fun. Poor brutes... Wow. Are you ready for this one? All women want to be swept off their feet. In their dreams they long to be slung over a man's shoulder and taken into a cave and raped. Or the time he kidnaps that woman, strips her naked, chains her to his table, feeding her scraps and making sure that she knows "who is master." When released (Kerim is slightly embarrassed his mother finds out he's got a naked slave-woman chained in his kitchen) she won't leave him and has fallen in love with him. I'm not joking, this whole scenario really happens in the book. He also has the wonderful idea of taking Bond to visit his Gypsy friends. There, two women are fighting each other to the death over the chief's son. Of course, there's lots of rending of clothes and bared breasts and biting and stuff. All the men look on hungrily. Unfortunately, this delightful spectacle is cut short by an attack. After it's all over and the smoke is cleared, the Gypsy chief is like, "Bond. You could be useful to us. Why don't you come live here to kill for me and tame my women?" Bond graciously declines and makes a request that both women who fought be allowed to live. He'd hate to see one die! The gypsy king is like, "That's an annoying request, but okay." He also makes it clear that the women "belong" to Bond and that if he ever gets the urge to just pop on by, they will be always sexually available to him for as long as they live. Actually, the exact terms were "until their breasts sag." Charming. The women aren't consulted at all on their thoughts on this matter. Actually, I don't think they even speak in this book. ... "You won't let me get too fat, James. You won't let me get so fat that I am no use for making love? You will have to be careful, or I shall eat all day long and sleep. You will beat me if I eat too much?" "Certainly I will beat you." - Charming. ... Last point: This is the 4th (FOURTH!!!) time in the series that a "Bond girl" tells Bond, "This man/situation is dangerous. You should be careful/suspicious." And this is the 4th (FOURTH!!!) time that Bond just pats the girl on the head and says, "Oh you silly woman. Don't think so much! Ha, ha, ha. So cute." And then promptly gets attacked. You'd think, being a spy and all, he'd FINALLY learn after the 4th (FOURTH!!!) time this has happened that maybe... just maybe... it's worth at least CONSIDERING a woman's opinion when she says, "You gonna die." Grow a brain, Bond! ... Tl; dr - An EXTREMELY TO THE MAX chauvinistic piece of trash with tons of rape, sexual humiliation, women as animals, women as sexual objects, racism, and women as stupid. UPDATE: THE 1963 FILM WITH SEAN CONNERY. Wow, this is actually a good movie. When did these James Bond films stop being good spy movies and start becoming campy jokes like Moonraker and Live and Let Die? Some notes: 1.) What was with Connery smacking Tania around? Unnecessary, unattractive, and not in the book. 2.) In the movies, Bond always has sex with three or four different women. In the books, it's one book: one woman. He's much more promiscuous in the films. In this film he has sex with Sylvia at the beginning, BOTH the gypsy women (in the book he turned them down when their chief offered them to Bond), and Tania. 3.) I think the movie was pretty faithful to the plot and spirit of the book, minus the whole SPECTRE/Blofeld thing. What the heck was all that about?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Ian Fleming's 5th James Bond novel sees the Soviet organisation SMERSH engaged in a meticulous plan to assassinate the legendary British secret agent. The plan to kill 007 takes up a large part of the novel & it's surprising how good the book is when you realise, out of the 208 pages, Bond doesn't even appear until page 78. Fleming'e characters are as marvellous as ever & I cannot help thinking of the 1963 film version, which is perfectly cast on every level, as I read. The latter part of the nove Ian Fleming's 5th James Bond novel sees the Soviet organisation SMERSH engaged in a meticulous plan to assassinate the legendary British secret agent. The plan to kill 007 takes up a large part of the novel & it's surprising how good the book is when you realise, out of the 208 pages, Bond doesn't even appear until page 78. Fleming'e characters are as marvellous as ever & I cannot help thinking of the 1963 film version, which is perfectly cast on every level, as I read. The latter part of the novel, set on the Orient Express as it travels across Europe, is a wonderful slice of another time & another place. I always find this section to be one of Fleming's most absorbing pieces of writing. This is one of those books that I wish would never end.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    This really needs to be remade. To help move things along, I've mocked up a poster and a few seconds of dialogue for the teaser trailer... This really needs to be remade. To help move things along, I've mocked up a poster and a few seconds of dialogue for the teaser trailer...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    From the Telegraph's Andrew Martin 06 Aug 2014: "Scientists at the University of London have concluded that the key to happiness is having low expectations. 'They mined this conclusion from an experiment in which people gambled with small sums of money. The subjects were happiest when they won, not having expected to win.'" This quote pretty much captures my feelings about Ian Fleming. Now five books deep into James Bond, I've just figured out how to enjoy these books. Yes, you guessed it. Low exp From the Telegraph's Andrew Martin 06 Aug 2014: "Scientists at the University of London have concluded that the key to happiness is having low expectations. 'They mined this conclusion from an experiment in which people gambled with small sums of money. The subjects were happiest when they won, not having expected to win.'" This quote pretty much captures my feelings about Ian Fleming. Now five books deep into James Bond, I've just figured out how to enjoy these books. Yes, you guessed it. Low expectations. I can't pretend I'm going to be reading Graham Greene or Joseph Conrad. I'm not going to explore the soul of man or the heart of darkness. I'm also not going to be reading John le Carré. There isn't going to be any self-reflection of post-modern hand wringing. This is James Bond dammit. You are going to get James Bond. He is a known quantity. If you come to this expecting to be seduced by literature, oh boy, you are on the wrong damn train. If, however, you are looking for 00 so ‘tarnished with years of treachery and ruthlessness and fear,’ sent off ‘to pimp for England’... Well, babe, this is THAT novel and James is your man. It all reminds me of a quote from Christopher Hitchens I recently read: “Fleming once confessed that he hoped to “take the story along so fast that nobody would notice the idiosyncrasies.” Fat chance. His “idiosyncrasies” jut out like Tatiana Romanova’s ass. What he ought to have said was that he hoped to pile on the pace and thereby hustle the reader past the point where belief has to be suspended. The smaller details, of products and appurtenances and accessories, fulfill the function of the conjuror’s other hand. They distract attention from the glaring lacunae in the plots, the amazing stupidity of the supposedly mastermind villains, and the reckless disregard for his own safety that this supposedly ice-cold agent displays by falling for every lure.” Oh, James!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.5* of five It's the 1963 movie with Sean Connery that I'm rating. I tried reading Casino Royale recently, and found it dated and even more sexist and racist than I was expecting. I'll stick to the movies. Connery's nice to look at. The gadgets are hilarious, and so is Q. The theme songs are great. Rating: 4.5* of five It's the 1963 movie with Sean Connery that I'm rating. I tried reading Casino Royale recently, and found it dated and even more sexist and racist than I was expecting. I'll stick to the movies. Connery's nice to look at. The gadgets are hilarious, and so is Q. The theme songs are great.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I feel guilty reading these books for a variety of reasons. One, they are sinfully good. Two, they are undeniably racist and sexist. Three, I think I'm reading a first edition (the real owner of these books stole/borrowed them from a distant relative) and they are disintegrating in my hands as I read them. Every time I turn the page it comes away from the binding. Is it sacrilege to destroy a 1st edition Bond book? The most surprising thing about these books is Fleming's prose. His descriptions I feel guilty reading these books for a variety of reasons. One, they are sinfully good. Two, they are undeniably racist and sexist. Three, I think I'm reading a first edition (the real owner of these books stole/borrowed them from a distant relative) and they are disintegrating in my hands as I read them. Every time I turn the page it comes away from the binding. Is it sacrilege to destroy a 1st edition Bond book? The most surprising thing about these books is Fleming's prose. His descriptions evoke a wonderful sense of place and character as you read. Lines such as "...Bond recognized them as the eyes of furious dissipation" and "...pale, thick chicken's skin that scragged in little folds under the eyes" were some of my favorites. Or perhaps, "The tricoteuse of the French Revolution must have had faces like hers, decided Kronsteen." I was disappointed with the end however, and I thought that Fleming's portrayal of the female spy was not believable. I think he does better with the femme fatal characters rather than puppy love. Must read more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Louie Matos The Mustache

    From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming is the 5th James Bond novel, considered to be JFK’s favorite and I can see why. The first third of the book is all about setting up this elaborate Russian plot designed to disgrace the British Secret Service by assassinating James Bond while smearing him with illicit scandal which presupposes that the "secret agent," Bond is no longer secret, so then how effective can he be? The details, Fleming used to create the players both good and bad that are so signifi From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming is the 5th James Bond novel, considered to be JFK’s favorite and I can see why. The first third of the book is all about setting up this elaborate Russian plot designed to disgrace the British Secret Service by assassinating James Bond while smearing him with illicit scandal which presupposes that the "secret agent," Bond is no longer secret, so then how effective can he be? The details, Fleming used to create the players both good and bad that are so significant in this novel are perfect despite the glaring plot hole that 007 is no longer a secret agent. Karem Bey, Tatiana, Colonel Klebb, Grant, and even Kronsteen are all memorable characters. Again, not trying to be an apologist for this series, but written in the 1950s, the novels are blatantly misogynistic and even racist. If these are triggers for you then stay away. The prose is smoothly lyrical and extremely insightful (as if it was written by a former intelligence officer.) This is definitely a top tier novel.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    In ways this is my favorite Bond book so far. Not sure why. Perhaps because the writing feels a bit more mature...in ways. Fleming spends a lot of time developing the backgrounds of the villains. Bond doesn't come actively on to the scene until well into the book. The pacing feels slow for the first two thirds, then it gets ramped up for the end. The plot is straight forward and even intentionally telegraphed, so it will probably bore modern day readers. In ways this is my favorite Bond book so far. Not sure why. Perhaps because the writing feels a bit more mature...in ways. Fleming spends a lot of time developing the backgrounds of the villains. Bond doesn't come actively on to the scene until well into the book. The pacing feels slow for the first two thirds, then it gets ramped up for the end. The plot is straight forward and even intentionally telegraphed, so it will probably bore modern day readers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    After two novels bashing the USA as vulgar and crass and corrupt, the Brit Fleming now turns to Russia, in one of Fleming’s literary contributions to the Cold War, with a focus on the Russian anti-spy organization, SMERSH, and a psychopathic serial killer straight out of Fleming's probable reading of Jim Thompson's The Killer in Me. Smersh's mission for no obvious reason than to annoy the CIA is to kill Bond, who is only talked about in the first third of the book. I like that. We get a clearer After two novels bashing the USA as vulgar and crass and corrupt, the Brit Fleming now turns to Russia, in one of Fleming’s literary contributions to the Cold War, with a focus on the Russian anti-spy organization, SMERSH, and a psychopathic serial killer straight out of Fleming's probable reading of Jim Thompson's The Killer in Me. Smersh's mission for no obvious reason than to annoy the CIA is to kill Bond, who is only talked about in the first third of the book. I like that. We get a clearer sense of the shape and nature of the villain in this book, which is a cartoony view of all Russians as cartoonishly cold, merciless, evil, emotionless, and so on. If you are an American reading this book in 1957 you should either 1) run like Hell from the Evil Russkies or 2) Vote for a larger and larger Defense Budget, 3) begin building your bomb shelter, and 4) buy lots of guns. Now, it is true Russia is the home of Stalin, one of the most murderous totalitarian leaders in history, and it may be true that there may have been upwards of 40,000 SMERSH anti-spy agents killing people both within and without the former Soviet Union, consistent with Stalin’s scorched earth approach to governing resistance, but make no mistake about it, books like Fleming’s helped fuel the Cold War through fear. Fleming is not John le Carré or Graham Greene, moral philosophers of spy stories; he is writing a fun thriller, cooking his ingredients to lean more and more toward silly pulp territory and away from a noir feel. He also moves us in a more and more sexist direction (to the delight of millions) through the depiction of “irresistible” Tatiana Romanova, who lures 007 to Istanbul in order to seduce him and so her organization can more easily kill him. Romanova is described as “sexually neutral,” which is to say she will have sex with men but will not get emotionally involved, perfect for spy sex. She is also depicted as a stone-cold killer who has a “perfect body,” of course. We are expected to believe a well- trained SMERSH agent sees Bond, forgets everything she is supposed to do, and actually melts her ice-cold flesh into his arms, of course. But we have seen Bond played by Sean Connery in the film version, so we can see why anyone might sleep with him! We know what he would do with frigid women, make them into fireballs! So we already know how this part of the story is going to work out. (Or we think we do!) So what do we know about Russia in 1957, based on this book? They are evail soul-less monsters (who have never read Tolstoy or Pushkin), they play chess, they drink vodka, they have spies and counter-spies to match the West. The plot also includes a trip on the Orient Express, which makes you think of the differences between Dame Christie’s elegant bloodless whodunnits vs. these slick, violent action stories. With more sex, for sure (though in 1957, the door closes so we can’t see the sex, of course). But in spite of everything I say above, I still liked this book pretty well, the best of the lot so far. Once you see it is a wild cartoon that just demonizes the enemy and idolizes the West, you just sit back and enjoy, I guess. I kind of came to like the pulpy/cartoony buildup of SMESH as almost superhumanly bad. I liked how this book began with a different approach, focusing on SMERSH before we introduce Bond. I especially like how Bond walks willingly into the trap he knows is there, and gets out of it, through a series of crosses and double-crosses. Fleming writes action sequences really well. I like Tatiana, so sue me. I do like Bond here, though I have to see the movie again to see which I liked better. I say 3.5. Maybe when I see the film I might kick it up to 4.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    When you read any of Fleming's books you need to remember you are seeing a snapshot of distant place and time. This is post war Europe where men are Men and women are decorative. You may be exposed to what today would be described as straight up racism, sexism and bigotry. Whether it is an absolute unquestionable hatred for the communists or a more subtle British private school disdain for the people of the continent. If you have seen the movie From Russia with Love you will be happily retreadin When you read any of Fleming's books you need to remember you are seeing a snapshot of distant place and time. This is post war Europe where men are Men and women are decorative. You may be exposed to what today would be described as straight up racism, sexism and bigotry. Whether it is an absolute unquestionable hatred for the communists or a more subtle British private school disdain for the people of the continent. If you have seen the movie From Russia with Love you will be happily retreading a familiar path. If not it may seem strange that the beginning of the book has absolutely nothing to do with James Bond, but instead you are taken behind the scenes at the Kremlin and into the workings of SMERSH. Soon Bond appears and learns of a Russian lovely who wants to defect in order to be with her dream date, Bond of course, to sweeten the deal she is going to bring the Soviet version of the Enigma machine to hand MI6 all of the Soviet codes. This sends Bond to Istanbul to meet the girl, get the machine and outsmart the pesky Ruskies. But SMERSH has its fingers all over this plan and Bond is being set up. A trip on the Orient Express will have more dead bodies than Agatha Christie's version of the ride. And the book ends in a cliff hanger will Bond survive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    I accidentally touched four stars when I intend to rate ‘From Russia with Love’ three, but I will let it stand. The action is wonderful - bombings, car chases, shootings, secret underground grotto, gypsy girl-fight with knives - and actual spying, for once, by Turks. If you have seen the movie, you will know everything about the plot of the novel, the fifth in the James Bond series. For once, the book and the movie are very closely synced. The hot Russian babe Tatiana Romanova - innocent secretar I accidentally touched four stars when I intend to rate ‘From Russia with Love’ three, but I will let it stand. The action is wonderful - bombings, car chases, shootings, secret underground grotto, gypsy girl-fight with knives - and actual spying, for once, by Turks. If you have seen the movie, you will know everything about the plot of the novel, the fifth in the James Bond series. For once, the book and the movie are very closely synced. The hot Russian babe Tatiana Romanova - innocent secretary of SMERSH, Rosa Klebb -ruthless Head of the Operations unit of SMERSH (Otdyel II), and Kronsteen - chess champion and the Head of the Planning Department of SMERSH, are all involved in a nefarious Russian Communist plot to shame James Bond by secretly filming him in a sex tape. The sight of a naked James in action shagging a Russian spy will destroy England’s Secret Service once SMERSH has made the video public, or so goes the thinking in Russia’s spy-assassination department. SMERSH is certain the morale of Bond’s fellow secret agents will plummet, and M will palm his face in shock on seeing Bond’s bobbing ass (James would be the top, naturally, I think). To add to the Secret Service’s pain, SMERSH plans to murder Bond by their best assassin, Donovan Grant, Chief Executioner, after the taping. Grant is to make the ass-asination look like a suicide, since Bond presumably will be supposedly emotionally devastated after he has deflowered Tatiana, an assumed serious and unforgivable breach of British manners for England’s upper-crust and the world. In addition, the bait used as an excuse to bring Tatiana and Bond together, a Russian cipher machine, The Spektor! will be offered up as Tatiana’s passport to defect to England. Tatiana will be given one of The Spektors, filled with explosives, to hand over to Bond once he has arrived in Istanbul, where she wants to meet him. The machine will hopefully explode once in M’s hands (M is Bond’s boss). Gentle reader, I have no doubts now that the worldly and sophisticated author, and survivor of World War II military operations, Ian Fleming, knew he was writing books of pure silliness and farce despite their surface appearance of playing it straight. Unless any of you Goodreads members who are also British tell me different, I am assuming the Brit’s know young military men have unmarried sex, especially those Brits who are athletic adventurers traveling in Europe on the famous Orient Express. Would the reaction to a sex tape starring a handsome and virile British agent boffing a gorgeous naked woman be a source of national horror, even in 1957? Would James be stripped, so to speak, of his High Table privileges? Let me know. Meanwhile, Fleming managed to add two more groups of people (in one stroke!) to the list of explicit prejudices the characters in the Bond novels have: intellectuals. Not because they are pointed-headed, gentle reader (pointed heads being an American slander directed at intellectuals). But because all intellectuals are gay! or so the Secret Service believes; and thus the Service rejects hiring intellectuals, especially since the Service believes the Americans will hate British intellectuals. For once, Bond protests against this prejudice, maybe because it is one he does not have very strongly? Or he thinks the benefits outweigh the negatives? Idk. Anyway, Bond appears to like intellectuals even if (or because) they are “pansies soaked in scent”. And bald. I forgot, all the acceptable intellectuals are also assumed to be only the bald gay men, rather than the long-haired gay men. Bond thinks the Americans will be good to go with the bald smelly gay men who are intellectuals, too. Wait. Did Bond actually toss in yet another backhanded slap at Americans? After five books (start reading the series with book one, Casino Royale, if you dare) of explicit racial slurs, and name-calling and insults directed at most of the nations around the earth, I am definitely having trouble keeping up. ; p

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    My biggest complaint with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE—aside from the usual male chauvinism and innocent women who need a real man—I was well into this novel (over a third of the way) before Bond made his appearance. Did I really need to know that much about Mother Russia? I think not. I’d have been happier with much less, frankly, and I would have kept a few more sanity points. I even debated skipping ahead, but since I’ve approached my task of reading the entire Bond series the way one might approach My biggest complaint with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE—aside from the usual male chauvinism and innocent women who need a real man—I was well into this novel (over a third of the way) before Bond made his appearance. Did I really need to know that much about Mother Russia? I think not. I’d have been happier with much less, frankly, and I would have kept a few more sanity points. I even debated skipping ahead, but since I’ve approached my task of reading the entire Bond series the way one might approach a calculus exam, I trudged onward, even if there were times in the beginning where my unhappiness reached a near monumental level. And then Bond showed up in all of his male glory and all was right with the world. Or at least I thought so…until two tribal women in loincloths fight each other to the death, one with a massive bosom and the other a little less endowed, as the sun glistens off their naked, perfect bodies. Excuse me…what? Son of a Walther PPK! My inner goddess just cursed a red, white, and blue streak. And I probably fainted from a heatstroke. At this point, I might have actually cheered for a buxom beauty the size of a tank to haul off and repeatedly whack Bond with a knotted rope while his pants are around his ankles and a group of Russian women stare on in equal parts delight and horror. Turnabout is fair play, right? Other than being young and nubile and having looks that could kill, I was not particularly impressed with Tatiana Romanova. She might have had a certain amount of innocence, but I wasn’t buying it. This supposed thriller left with me few thrills, except for the one I received when I finished it. Side bar – I’ve started watching Mad Men. The reason I mention this is between reading the Bond novels and watching that AMC show—which end up being somewhat enjoyable for entirely different reasons and equally aggravating for the rampant, raging sexism—I feel like I’m next in line for lung cancer, even though I’ve never smoked a day in my life. Cross-posted at Robert's Reads

  20. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    "A blue and green dragon-fly flashed out from among the rose bushes at the end of the garden and hovered in mid-air a few inches above the base of the man’s spine. It had been attracted by the golden shimmer of the June sunshine on the ridge of fine blond hairs above the coccyx. A puff of breeze came off the sea. The tiny field of hairs bent gently. The dragon-fly darted nervously sideways and hung above the man’s left shoulder, looking down. The young grass below the man’s open mouth stirred. A "A blue and green dragon-fly flashed out from among the rose bushes at the end of the garden and hovered in mid-air a few inches above the base of the man’s spine. It had been attracted by the golden shimmer of the June sunshine on the ridge of fine blond hairs above the coccyx. A puff of breeze came off the sea. The tiny field of hairs bent gently. The dragon-fly darted nervously sideways and hung above the man’s left shoulder, looking down. The young grass below the man’s open mouth stirred. A large drop of sweat rolled down the side of the fleshy nose and dropped glittering into the grass. That was enough. The dragon-fly flashed away through the roses and over the jagged glass on top of the high garden wall. It might be good food, but it moved." I've said this before. Fleming really could write. It is snippets like the above which have kept me interested in the Bond series, despite my dislike of the "hero" of the books. With "From Russia with Love", however, I have reached a new low point in my already strained reader-author relationship with Ian Fleming. In fact, I would probably abandon the series, if I wasn't on this quest to investigate the myth of Bond for myself, away from the legend created by the films and the franchise, and also if wasn't so much fun to read this as a buddy read. So, let me count the ways in which I hate this book - I hope you have time, it's quite a list: 1. Buffoonery: "THE BLUBBERY ARMS of the soft life had Bond round the neck and they were slowly strangling him. He was a man of war and when, for a long period, there was no war, his spirit went into a decline. In his particular line of business, peace had reigned for nearly a year. And peace was killing him." Yeah, because only a decade after the horrors of the second World War, romanticizing war was totally acceptable. How else would Bond be able to prove his manhood?! (view spoiler)[ Oh, yes, of course, by pimping himself out for Queen and country, which is basically what the plot is about: Bond is tasked with romancing a Russian spy who is supposedly "fangirling" over him and offers a coding machine to the Bond if only she can meet him. It's a trap of course, but why would that stop Bond, whose only concerns are whether he would be able to perform if the spy turned out to be unattractive. (hide spoiler)] 2. Petty preconceptions: "Character would greatly depend on upbringing and, whatever Pavlov and the Behaviourists might say, to a certain extent on the character of the parents. And, of course, people’s lives and behaviour would be partly conditioned by physical strengths and weaknesses." Hooray, let's bring in references to scientific authority to mix up with the author's own bias. 2. Racism: Not Bond, but one of the main characters, who is half English, half Turkish, and whom Bond seems to admire comes up with a lot of hateful utterances while they are having dinner in Istanbul: "Kerim harangued the waiter. He sat back, smiling at Bond. ‘That is the only way to treat these damned people. They love to be cursed and kicked. It is all they understand. It is in the blood. All this pretence of democracy is killing them. They want some sultans and wars and rape and fun. Poor brutes, in their striped suits and bowler hats. They are miserable.'" Yes, you read that right. There are more of these pearls of wisdom throughout the book. I'll get back to Kerim's favourite subject - women - later. I should add that I read the book before the news about Turkey broke. It adds another layer of hatefulness if you imagine that this sort of comment could have appeared on social media in the last few days, when this is just a mere passing comment in Fleming's book. Probably even his time. Maybe his own social circles. It is sad that this is still relevant 60 years later. However, the fact it is still relevant, does not make the expressed attitude less awful. 3. Snobbery: After dismissing the secret service of all other nations, Fleming has one of characters utter this judgement of value: ‘England is another matter altogether. I think we all have respect for her Intelligence Service,’ General Vozdvishensky looked round the table. There were grudging nods from everyone present, including General G. ‘Their Security Service is excellent. England, being an island, has great security advantages and their so-called M.I. 5. employs men with good education and good brains. Their Secret Service is still better. They have notable successes. In certain types of operation, we are constantly finding that they have been there before us. Their agents are good. They pay them little money – only a thousand or two thousand roubles a month – but they serve with devotion. Yet these agents have no special privileges in England, no relief from taxation and no special shops such as we have, from which they can buy cheap goods. Their social standing abroad is not high, and their wives have to pass as the wives of secretaries. They are rarely awarded a decoration until they retire. And yet these men and women continue to do this dangerous work. It is curious. It is perhaps the Public School and University tradition. The love of adventure. But still it is odd that they play this game so well, for they are not natural conspirators.’ Yeah, ok, so maybe this was the wrong time to be reading this book. You know, what with the political crap that is going on in the UK at the moment, and which seems to be fuelled at least partly by nationalist bullshit. Oh, and lets not forget to praise the notion of the public school tradition, which seems to produce such admirable individuals so effective at providing the nation's security, all by themselves. Why would they need the help of their international counterparts? 5. Women The aspects of the book that really caused me to reach for the sick bucket are, however, Fleming's misogyny and sexism. It's been present in all the Bond books I've read, but this one has really taken top spot: Not only do we have Kerim Bey's sick generalisation that rape is romantic, "My father was the sort of man women can’t resist. All women want to be swept off their feet. In their dreams they long to be slung over a man’s shoulder and taken into a cave and raped. That was his way with them." and that it is perfectly acceptable to keep a woman as a slave, "I wanted to have my women where my mother would not know. There was a stroke of bad luck. I had a little Bessarabian hell-cat. I had won her in a fight with some gipsies, here in the hills behind Istanbul. They came after me, but I got her on board the boat. I had to knock her unconscious first. She was still trying to kill me when we got back to Trebizond, so I got her to my place and took away all her clothes and kept her chained naked under the table. When I ate, I used to throw scraps to her under the table, like a dog. She had to learn who was master." We also have two "gypsy" women fight to the death over man and being described as animals: "While Kerim spoke, Bond examined the two beautiful, taut, sullen animals in the centre of the ring. They were both gipsy-dark, with coarse black hair to their shoulders, and they were both dressed in the collection of rags you associate with shanty-town negroes – tattered brown shifts that were mostly darns and patches. One was bigger-boned than the other, and obviously stronger, but she looked sullen and slow-eyed and might not be quick on her feet. She was handsome in a rather leonine way, and there was a slow red glare in her heavy lidded eyes as she stood and listened impatiently to the head of the tribe. She ought to win, thought Bond. She is half an inch taller, and she is stronger. Where this girl was a lioness, the other was a panther – lithe and quick and with cunning sharp eyes that were not on the speaker but sliding sideways, measuring inches, and the hands at her sides were curled into claws. The muscles of her fine legs looked hard as a man’s. The breasts were small, and, unlike the big breasts of the other girl, hardly swelled the rags of her shift. She looks a dangerous little bitch of a girl, thought Bond." And if this isn't enough, we also have Fleming assert his shallowness by describing the characters' attitudes and value as a human being through their looks. Mind, he does not do this with the male characters, only the female ones. The magnificently evil baddie, Rosa Klebb, is described as follows: "Rosa Klebb would be in her late forties, he assumed, placing her by the date of the Spanish War. She was short, about five foot four, and squat, and her dumpy arms and short neck, and the calves of the thick legs in the drab khaki stockings, were very strong for a woman. The devil knows, thought Kronsteen, what her breasts were like, but the bulge of uniform that rested on the table-top looked like a badly packed sandbag, and in general her figure, with its big pear-shaped hips, could only be likened to a ’cello. The tricoteuses of the French Revolution must have had faces like hers, decided Kronsteen, sitting back in his chair and tilting his head slightly to one side. The thinning orange hair scraped back to the tight, obscene bun; the shiny yellow-brown eyes that stared so coldly at General G. through the sharp-edged squares of glass; the wedge of thickly powdered, large-pored nose; the wet trap of a mouth, that went on opening and shutting as if it was operated by wires under the chin. Those French women, as they sat and knitted and chatted while the guillotine clanged down, must have had the same pale, thick chicken’s skin that scragged in little folds under the eyes and at the corners of the mouth and below the jaws, the same big peasant’s ears, the same tight, hard dimpled fists, like knobkerries, that, in the case of the Russian woman, now lay tightly clenched on the red velvet table-top on either side of the big bundle of bosom. And their faces must have conveyed the same impression, concluded Kronsteen, of coldness and cruelty and strength as this, yes, he had to allow himself the emotive word, dreadful woman of SMERSH." Oh, and because she is the baddie of the piece, she must of course also be "abnormal" with respect to her sexuality, "And, reflected Kronsteen, much of her success was due to the peculiar nature of her next most important instinct, the Sex Instinct. For Rosa Klebb undoubtedly belonged to the rarest of all sexual types. She was a Neuter. Kronsteen was certain of it. The stories of men and, yes, of women, were too circumstantial to be doubted. She might enjoy the act physically, but the instrument was of no importance. For her, sex was nothing more than an itch. And this psychological and physiological neutrality of hers at once relieved her of so many human emotions and sentiments and desires. Sexual neutrality was the essence of coldness in an individual. It was a great and wonderful thing to be born with." I assume there is no need for me to point out that, to my knowledge, Fleming does not go into such detail when describing the male baddies. What is even more annoying is that, Klebb would have been a great evil character even without this nonsense regarding her physical description. There are a few descriptions of torture scenes that get the point of her malice across quite effectively and would have benefited so much from less focus on her appearance and "personal life" as Fleming calls it. Lastly, there is the Bond girl, Tatiana Romanova, who is supposedly working in this special department, but is riddled with self-doubt about her appearance - "What about the mouth? Was it too broad? It must look terribly wide when she smiled. She smiled at herself in the mirror. Yes, it was wide; but then so had Garbo’s been. At least the lips were full and finely etched. There was the hint of a smile at the corners. No one could say it was a cold mouth! And the oval of her face. Was that too long? Was her chin a shade too sharp? She swung her head sideways to see it in profile. The heavy curtain of hair swung forward and across her right eye so that she had to brush it back. Well, the chin was pointed, but at least it wasn’t sharp. She faced the mirror again and picked up a brush and started on the long, heavy hair. Greta Garbo! She was all right, or so many men wouldn’t tell her that she was – let alone the girls who were always coming to her for advice about their faces. But a film star – a famous one! She made a face at herself in the glass and went to eat her supper." You know, because she's a princess (yep, there is an actual reference to her being a Romanov princess!) that needs to be rescued. Presumably, by Bond in a shiny suit of armor.... Interestingly enough, but no longer a surprise, we don't learn a lot of Tatiana's thoughts and internal monologue in this book. I mean, she was press ganged into working on this mission by threats to her family and loved ones. It would have given the book a layer of complexity to learn what her plans were - was she merely looking to complete the mission? Was she looking to make an escape? And then what? There is no need for that though, because Fleming merely created Tatiana as an object of desire for Bond to play with, and besides, why would women have any thoughts about anything other than how they looked? "In fact Corporal Tatiana Romanova was a very beautiful girl indeed. Apart from her face, the tall, firm body moved particularly well. She had been a year in the ballet school in Leningrad and had abandoned dancing as a career only when she grew an inch over the prescribed limit of five feet six. The school had taught her to hold herself well and to walk well. And she looked wonderfully healthy, thanks to her passion for figure-skating, which she practised all through the year at the Dynamo ice-stadium and which had already earned her a place on the first Dynamo women’s team. Her arms and breasts were faultless. A purist would have disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s." Seriously, what utter bullshit! I seriously cheered at the end of the book, not just because of the way it ended but mostly because the torturous reading experience was finally over. If I had not borrowed my copy from the library, I would have gladly ripped it to shreds - and I don't normally advocate violence of any kind. During the discussion with my reading buddy, we looked at the book from different angles - it being a ground-breaking work of spy fiction in its time, it being a classic, etc. I'm no longer sure that whether my anger at this book stems from the combination of all the elements of dumbassery that Fleming releases in this book or whether there is one single aspect that I would find fault with most. I really can appreciate the book within the time it was written. However, that does not change my outlook. Just because there are aspects that are non-pc now does not mean that they did not suck back in 1957. The perception depends on the reader more so than what decade it is read in. The main example, would be the promotion of rape culture. Not acceptable now, nor then, nor before then. Maybe not talked about, but I would argue that this is more of an indication of a lack of forum than an indication of social acceptance. I do not believe that readers at that time needed an awareness of political correctness to know whether something was right or wrong.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This was my first James Bond novel that I've read and I want to read more. I've always enjoyed the James Bond movies, but now I have this new world to delve into. This was a fun read. I'm not sure what I was expecting....I just didn't want the books to ruin my movie experiences. So I'm glad that in some ways this is different than the silver screen Bond, but I felt like all the other characters were the same in personality and support. It was a nice mix of different/same. I loved the way the sto This was my first James Bond novel that I've read and I want to read more. I've always enjoyed the James Bond movies, but now I have this new world to delve into. This was a fun read. I'm not sure what I was expecting....I just didn't want the books to ruin my movie experiences. So I'm glad that in some ways this is different than the silver screen Bond, but I felt like all the other characters were the same in personality and support. It was a nice mix of different/same. I loved the way the story was laid out because it wasn't all rushed. For such a short book, that worried me a little. So 4 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    I'm not a Bond fan and the only other i've read is Casino Royale. This is better and would have been 4 stars but the buildup is, as is often the case, better than the pay off. In Casino Royale Bond is shown (unintentionally i'm assuming) to be an incompetent, traitorous, rapist, in this he's a bit more competent although he still manages to ignore a lot of suspicious things. Bond doesn't think about raping anyone this time but don't worry he has a new BFF who is a confirmed rapist so thats just s I'm not a Bond fan and the only other i've read is Casino Royale. This is better and would have been 4 stars but the buildup is, as is often the case, better than the pay off. In Casino Royale Bond is shown (unintentionally i'm assuming) to be an incompetent, traitorous, rapist, in this he's a bit more competent although he still manages to ignore a lot of suspicious things. Bond doesn't think about raping anyone this time but don't worry he has a new BFF who is a confirmed rapist so thats just super.... :| . I'm seriously wondering if any police force has looked into Flemings personal life. Anyway, due to my aversion to bond i was quite pleased he doesn't make his apperance here until about half-way through. The writing is good and very detailed which, while very occasionally annoying overall adds a lot to the flavour. As i said things go a little poorer towards the climax especially since we get a lot of time building up a villian who doesn't do much in the end. I think there's also an error, a lot of effort is put into trying to cover up some gunshots but there was already a gunshot before that which wasn't covered up at all and people should have heard. Maybe i missed something. Overall, well written... very alive thanks to its detailed nature and some nice twists but not quite 4 stars for me due to exposition dumping.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Wanda Pedersen

    ***2018 Summer of Spies*** ”At 7:30 on the morning of Thursday, August 12th, Bond awoke in his comfortable flat in the plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road and was disgusted to find that he was thoroughly bored with the prospect of the day ahead.” Having just recently finished Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming, the above passage sent me flipping through my notes about that author, where I found this quotation that I had noted: ”After his death his widow Ann put it in much the same way. “You ***2018 Summer of Spies*** ”At 7:30 on the morning of Thursday, August 12th, Bond awoke in his comfortable flat in the plane-tree’d square off the King’s Road and was disgusted to find that he was thoroughly bored with the prospect of the day ahead.” Having just recently finished Lycett’s biography of Ian Fleming, the above passage sent me flipping through my notes about that author, where I found this quotation that I had noted: ”After his death his widow Ann put it in much the same way. “You must realize that Ian was entirely egocentric. His aim as long as I knew him was to avoid the dull, the humdrum, the everyday demands of life that afflict ordinary people. He stood for working out a way of life that was not boring and he went where that led him. It ended with Bond.” The conjunction of the two books made me smile. I’ve also recently finished reading Somerset Maugham’s spy novel, Ashenden. It also features a beautiful Russian woman—the protagonist spends a week with her to confirm their compatibility and instead finds her boring and demanding. ”But Ashenden saw himself eating scrambled eggs every morning for the rest of his life. When he had put her in a cab, he called another for himself, went to the Cunard office, and took a berth on the first ship that was going to America. No immigrant, eager for freedom and a new life, ever looked upon the statue of Liberty with more heartfelt thankfulness that did Ashenden, when on that bright and sunny morning his ship steamed into the harbour of New York.” A wildly different response to the care and attention that Bond expends on Tatiana Romanova. And wow, the first cliff hanger ending of the Bond series, showing how uncertain Fleming was about whether he would continue to write these adventures. Partly because of the criticism of conservative reviewers and the sniping of his wife’s circle of friends (which included Maugham). Ian became quite testy about his wife’s friends for this very reason. I think he would be pleased to know that Bond is still “a thing” even now in the 21st century.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    5/10 To date this and “Live and Let Die” are on par for the worst James Bond book I’ve read to date. This book was basically split into 3 parts over 350 pages of which none were interesting and only the final part offering anything in the way of action or tension. The first part involved nothing but Russian diplomats scheming. It was 130 pages of filler, just a lot of backdrop into the Russian secret departments and some of the characters who will be popping up later. Bond wasn’t in this part at 5/10 To date this and “Live and Let Die” are on par for the worst James Bond book I’ve read to date. This book was basically split into 3 parts over 350 pages of which none were interesting and only the final part offering anything in the way of action or tension. The first part involved nothing but Russian diplomats scheming. It was 130 pages of filler, just a lot of backdrop into the Russian secret departments and some of the characters who will be popping up later. Bond wasn’t in this part at all and only mentioned when the Russians were plotting to murder a jolly good gent from the British Secret Service with them plumping with Bond because, well why not?! The second part involved Bond (finally introduced nearly half way through) and M suspecting there is a trap set for them to retrieve a woman damsel in distress from the Russian side as she is in love with Bond, even though the two have never met, and wants to bring across lots of secrets. Only a slight eyebrow is raised at this and they think they will go ahead with the mission to save her. This leads Bond to Turkey to meet one of their contacts over there and to suss out whether it really is a trap or if Bond’s sex appeal can really travel that far and woo women with just his picture (it’s a trap you egotistical idiot!!). After some toing and froing Bond decides this isn’t a trap, the woman is madly in love with him and they will take her back to England to be debriefed (in more ways than one!). And there is also some gypsy women fighting in-between because, well why not?! This leads to the final act where Bond and damsel try to go back to England on the Orient Express. What can go wrong? Well, a lot as it turns out. People are dying left right and centre but the train steams on without a care for the dead bodies piling up all over the place. Bond gets in a fight for his life and that of his new love (it’s still a trap you idiot! Oh wait, you know that now). Bond wins as he always does because the idiot bad guy tells him his plan instead of just killing him. Henchmen just ain’t what they used to be. The story does end quite surprisingly with a bit of a cliffhanger and something that would be stolen for the finale of the TV show “24”, series 2. It worked well but as there are another 9 Bond stories to go at we know he’s ok. After the disappointment of this book I’m taking a short hiatus away from reading this series. I was planning on reading one a month after receiving the set for Christmas but that has to change otherwise I will forever tarnish my memory of Bond’s good name. If you like this try: The film, as that is actually decent.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    For people who don't already know, "Kronsteen", the Russian chess genius and spymaster, is supposed to be based on David Bronstein, arguably the greatest player never to win the world title. Oddly enough, the game used in the movie involved Bronstein, but he was on the wrong side of the board. For details, including further links, look at this article. __________________________________________ When I read the third volume of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors last year, it occurred to me that there For people who don't already know, "Kronsteen", the Russian chess genius and spymaster, is supposed to be based on David Bronstein, arguably the greatest player never to win the world title. Oddly enough, the game used in the movie involved Bronstein, but he was on the wrong side of the board. For details, including further links, look at this article. __________________________________________ When I read the third volume of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors last year, it occurred to me that there was almost certainly a misidentification here. "Kronsteen" does of course sound like "Bronstein", but the cold, remorseless spy-master of the Bond book is completely unlike the shy, poetic genius of real life. And Bronstein, whose father was arrested by the KGB, was never close with the Soviet authorities. On the other hand, Botvinnik seems a far more plausible match. A committed Stalinist with many allies in the top levels of the Party, he was famous for his unemotional, logical attitude to the game. And the opening scene sounds just right. He's in the middle of an important game, and he's doing well. He's surprised his opponent with a new move in the Meran variation (Botvinnik often played the Meran; Bronstein, hardly ever), and SMERSH send a message to say that his presence is urgently required. But Kronsteen finishes off his opponent before going to his meeting. His boss is annoyed, but Kronsteen stands his ground. If he'd just left, the audience would have wondered why. His boss reluctantly concedes that he's right. That's just pure Botvinnik. He was fully aware of his importance to the Party, and never let them push him around.

  26. 4 out of 5

    saïd

    Look:A purist would have disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s.I don't know if I should be more offended on behalf of this lady or on behalf of men in general. This book is horribly offensive to pretty much everybody. Fleming really ran the gamut of awful stereotypes and slapped every single one he could find into his novel, with sp Look:A purist would have disapproved of her behind. Its muscles were so hardened with exercise that it had lost the smooth downward feminine sweep, and now, round at the back and flat and hard at the sides, it jutted like a man’s.I don't know if I should be more offended on behalf of this lady or on behalf of men in general. This book is horribly offensive to pretty much everybody. Fleming really ran the gamut of awful stereotypes and slapped every single one he could find into his novel, with special attention paid to misogynistic stereotypes, lesbian stereotypes, and Russian stereotypes. There is SO MUCH talk of spanking women (although Bond himself never does, and I almost feel cheated...). This book is racist against pretty much everyone. Even Bond comes across as a terrible person—although, surprisingly, marginally better than you'd expect: he never actually hits a woman (in this book, although he does easily agree when his latest lay asks him to beat her if she gains weight). This sure was written and published in the 1950s! Yup! Don't love that. (But also, let's be clear: Rosa Klebb, the sadistic bisexual dominatrix KGB agent MILF, is so cool. She's an awful caricature of Russian women and Russians in general and women in general, but holy shit she is cool.) That said, this is a great thriller. If you're able to acknowledge all the horribleness as a product of its time, the plot is fast and rough, and it's genuinely great pulp. Flashy, overdramatic, tropey, and full of ridiculous fight scenes and pointless nudity or sex. It's like a cheap B movie, which is awesome.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Quentin Wallace

    This book was unusual for two reasons: 1. James Bond doesn't even show up until over a third of the way through. 2. It ends on a cliffhanger. That being said, this was a good read. The basic plot is that SMERSH, the Russian "death to spies" organization, is out to assassinate James Bond. They use a beautiful, young agent to distract him while a psychopathic agent commits the deed. I liked this even if I thought the ending and beginning were a little strange. (Especially the ending.) If you're a B This book was unusual for two reasons: 1. James Bond doesn't even show up until over a third of the way through. 2. It ends on a cliffhanger. That being said, this was a good read. The basic plot is that SMERSH, the Russian "death to spies" organization, is out to assassinate James Bond. They use a beautiful, young agent to distract him while a psychopathic agent commits the deed. I liked this even if I thought the ending and beginning were a little strange. (Especially the ending.) If you're a Bond fan, you'll enjoy it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    Ian Fleming should get more credit than he does for writing fast-paced tightly-plotted thrillers. A little improbable at times? Sure, but the James Bond of the books is nothing like the superhero of the movies. This is adventure fiction that stays within the bounds of reason, and it's full of (almost) believable heroes and villains and not nearly as many outrageous gadgets as in the movies either. (Bond is actually given a cynanide pill dispenser in this book; he laughs and washes them down the Ian Fleming should get more credit than he does for writing fast-paced tightly-plotted thrillers. A little improbable at times? Sure, but the James Bond of the books is nothing like the superhero of the movies. This is adventure fiction that stays within the bounds of reason, and it's full of (almost) believable heroes and villains and not nearly as many outrageous gadgets as in the movies either. (Bond is actually given a cynanide pill dispenser in this book; he laughs and washes them down the drain.) The plot is basically "Get Bond!" SMERSH wants to kill a prominent rival agent to send a message to all the other intelligence agencies, intimidate double agents, and impress the Kremlin. We get lots of Russian political machinations and the background of all the villains (and the love interest, Tatiana Romanova) before Bond is even introduced. Then to the story: SMERSH lures Bond to Turkey in what's an obvious trap, baited with Romanova and a Russian decoding device, but MI6 sends Bond anyway because the potential payoff is too good to pass up. Bond meets Romanova, is completely taken in by her, and makes several other blunders that will surprise anyone who's used to the cold, flawless cinematic Bond, before he confronts the real enemy, a psychopathic Irish defector who is now SMERSH's top assassin. I like the original Bond stories; they're still fun despite being so dated. The literary 007 is a much more interesting character than he ever was on-screen. He's still a sexist pig, though, and he's usually one of the less misogynistic characters. Fleming was writing before Political Correctness was a blip on anyone's radar, so the books are chock-full of cringe-inducingly racist and sexist stereotypes. But if you can embrace them as the guilty pleasure they are, I think they are well worth reading, and From Russia with Love is a taut little thriller where the early chapters before Bond even appears are some of the most interesting. (But you'll want to read the rest for the naked gypsy catfight, the lesbian Soviet interrogation specialist and her poisoned knitting needles, the asexual pseudo-lycanthropic serial killer, the Istanbul dungeon crawl, and the Turkish spice merchant who tells Bond how he used his harem to raise his own personal spy ring.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    zoo

    Ian Fleming has become a writer i wish that i knew about years ago! Its a read that keeps the reader entertained the whole story. I cant wait to read more of his books. The only negative is that Hollywood made their version and take of the movie that had little to do with the book, but thats Hollyweird for you! This book follows James as he takes on Russian Intel mainly on a train as he jousts with Grant Donovan. The whole lead up to this is explained in the book and it shows both sides of how t Ian Fleming has become a writer i wish that i knew about years ago! Its a read that keeps the reader entertained the whole story. I cant wait to read more of his books. The only negative is that Hollywood made their version and take of the movie that had little to do with the book, but thats Hollyweird for you! This book follows James as he takes on Russian Intel mainly on a train as he jousts with Grant Donovan. The whole lead up to this is explained in the book and it shows both sides of how this happens and takes place. Great book and great read! I say go for it!!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Quintessential Bond - This is the best one yet! The Soviet CIA group known has SMERSH hatch a plan to assassinate Bond by using young Tatiana Romanova as bait. The first third of the novel just focuses on the group and their motivations for picking Bond. I felt that it gave such a fascinating extra layer to the story. Apart from a brief recap of the past 4 adventures, this book easily standalone and would be a perfect introductory point for someone wanting to try one of Fleming’s novels.

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