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Fictional biography of James Bond

30 review for James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Strömquist

    DNF @ 15 % I may re-try this sometimes, but it totally failed to grab me now. What if James Bond was real and boring?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carson

    5 STARS. Simply put, the greatest non-Fleming Bond book ever written. I cannot believe I only just discovered it as a result of reading Raymond Benson’s Bond Bedside Companion. He mentioned this book multiple times and I decided to check it out. The premise: James Bond was a real man who knew Ian Fleming. The author, John Pearson, stumbles upon this fact and is eventually permitted to write a biography of Bond as follow-up to his Fleming biography. James Bond is in his early fifties and weighing 5 STARS. Simply put, the greatest non-Fleming Bond book ever written. I cannot believe I only just discovered it as a result of reading Raymond Benson’s Bond Bedside Companion. He mentioned this book multiple times and I decided to check it out. The premise: James Bond was a real man who knew Ian Fleming. The author, John Pearson, stumbles upon this fact and is eventually permitted to write a biography of Bond as follow-up to his Fleming biography. James Bond is in his early fifties and weighing his next move: to resign from the Service or continue on. Not only do familiar faces pop up, but during the interviews of Bond for the book, 007 recounts his entire life story. Having read the Young Bond novels, all of the Fleming’s, and all of the post-Fleming novels, this book reads like a greatest hits. It very perfectly weaves the tapestry between the stories all the while adding brand new stories in-between. It’s unbelievable. Bond’s early days, his relationship with his parents, his multiple meetings with Fleming, his first two kills, his first meeting with M, the friends, foes and females, and everything that happens in-between what we’ve read before is all included. The new stories Pearson has created display the capture and climax scenes and add even more depth to the character and his relationships with others. It progresses and ends perfectly. 5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Myers

    I'm very fond of this sort of fictional non-fiction, and this one is particularly meta. Pearson handles it very well, and it was fun to read the extended adventures of James Bond and hint at his past. Although much of it has been subsequently over-written in the Young Bond Series, it is more than we got in the original series. So overall a great and fun read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy Wixon

    I'm on record as being officially grumpy when publishers and public see fictional characters and settings as somehow independent of their creators. You know the sort of thing I mean - Eoin Colfer being retained to knock out a new Hitch Hiker novel, the children of famous writers writing 'official sequels', based on a conversation they vaguely recall having 35 years ago. And so in order to maintain my integrity I suppose I should dislike this book, what's effectively a James Bond novel not writte I'm on record as being officially grumpy when publishers and public see fictional characters and settings as somehow independent of their creators. You know the sort of thing I mean - Eoin Colfer being retained to knock out a new Hitch Hiker novel, the children of famous writers writing 'official sequels', based on a conversation they vaguely recall having 35 years ago. And so in order to maintain my integrity I suppose I should dislike this book, what's effectively a James Bond novel not written by Ian Fleming. Bond is somehow different, though, isn't he? As a character he has burst free of his original context and loomed large in the popular consciousness for half a century (mainly due to the movies), and other people have been writing 'new' Bond novels since the Sixties. Some of these have been pretty distinguished writers (Kingsley Amis, Sebastian Faulks, Charlie Higson), some haven't. Jeffery Deaver is publishing a new one this summer. This odd independence of Bond from Fleming is sort-of acknowledged in Pearson's book, which purports to be... well, the narrator of the book is a fictionalised version of Pearson, who wrote a well-received of biography of Ian Fleming. In the novel, he receives some odd correspondence suggesting Fleming knew a real man named James Bond - a man of whom there is no official record. His investigation is pulled up sharply by MI6, but then the service relents and admits that Bond is real, and the books (excepting Moonraker, for reasons anyone who's read it will appreciate) are fictionalised versions of actual events. He is invited to visit Jamaica, where Bond is currently on a sabbatical, in order to collaborate on his memoirs. The rest of the book is an account of Bond's life from his birth in 1920 through to the early Sixties, when Fleming died - although the very first of the non-Fleming Bond novels, Amis's Colonel Sun, is mentioned in passing. The events of the books are not gone into in detail, and this is largely an exercise in filling in the gaps between them. Prior to this is a lengthy account of Bond's youth and career before the early Fifties, which is in many ways the most interesting part of the book (needless to say, Charlie Higson's Young Bond books do not adhere to this). I should say that this book is almost completely concerned with the literary Bond, not the big-screen version (Bond is aghast when Sean Connery starts appearing as him in cinemas), a harder, crueller, more complex character by far. I would recommend the books to anyone who enjoyed the films, and I suspect fans of the Fleming books will respond to this one in one of two ways. Some people will probably find it a rather superfluous exercise in I-dotting and T-crossing. What's the point of trying to give a credible background to, and explain the psychology of, someone who's famously a bit of a cipher anyway? I can kind of see where this criticism is coming from. On the other hand, Sherlockians have been doing roughly similar things for ages and no-one seems to complain about it. As a game, it's quite good fun, even if the central conceit of the novel never quite convinces. One of the things about Bond as a character is that the nature of the stories dictates that we're never going to learn that much about him as a person. The chance to do so is the appeal of a book like this (it may also explain the success of the last movie version of Casino Royale, but that's another topic). Pearson does a good job of reanimating Fleming's Bond and explaining quite why he's as messed up as he is, and he inventively sustains his narrative. Not all of it quite rings true to Fleming, however - which Pearson would doubtless explain by saying that he's sticking closer to the truth than Fleming did in his account of Bond's career. And it sort of fizzles out - there's no actual climax, but then, as we all know, Bond is immortal and his life story can never end. My understanding is that, when the book was written in the early Seventies, Pearson was in the frame to become the official chronicler of Bond's adventures, and this book was intended to lead in to that. Of course, it didn't happen (John Gardner eventually took the role in the early Eighties), and on the strength of this book I don't think we missed much - the novel concludes with Bond off to do battle with irradiated mutant man-eating rats, something I couldn't even imagine the people at Eon thinking a good idea for a Bond plot. The rest of Pearson's book remains a fun and comprehensive pastiche of Fleming's style - on this occasion, suggesting that the author didn't create his greatest character is, in a strange way, a definite compliment. Still, probably really only one for fans of the Fleming novels.

  5. 4 out of 5

    PurplyCookie

    The book has an interesting idea behind it: What if James Bond were real. What things would have happened to him? As with most of us who grew up with the 007 movies, we forgot that they started out as excellent novels by Ian Fleming. Pearson uses the bits and pieces of Bond's personal history available in Fleming's books to construct an authentic feeling biography which details how Bond got his physical and emotional scars. Pearson gives some depth to Bond and gives us insight into why 007 behave The book has an interesting idea behind it: What if James Bond were real. What things would have happened to him? As with most of us who grew up with the 007 movies, we forgot that they started out as excellent novels by Ian Fleming. Pearson uses the bits and pieces of Bond's personal history available in Fleming's books to construct an authentic feeling biography which details how Bond got his physical and emotional scars. Pearson gives some depth to Bond and gives us insight into why 007 behaves as he does. As a bonus, Bond's history is bracketed in the "present" giving the reader one version of what might have happened to Bond had he not been the ageless agent of fiction and film that he remains today. The future of several classic bond women is also revealed with Bond sailing off with one of his former flames. It is excellent literature and is recommended for anyone who wants to read a good book and, at the same time, fill in the blanks about our favorite spy, 007. I was amazed. I wasn't sure if Bond was real or not, the plot was completely believable. When I finished it I still wasn't sure then I found that it was a fictional work. Apart from being slightly gutted, I was impressed. Book Details: Title James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 Author John Pearson Reviewed By Purplycookie

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kieran McAndrew

    Finally, the truth must come out. Cmdr James Bond, famously brought to life in the works of Ian Fleming, is a real officer of what we know as MI6. Fleming was hired by Sir Miles Messervey to fictionalise real missions by a real 00 agent in order to discredit a SMERSH attempt on Bond's life. And now Bond revisits his life in a biography, comparing the truth with Fleming's fiction. An interesting metatextual interpretation of the Bond legacy, excellently written by Pearson to be a general analysis of Finally, the truth must come out. Cmdr James Bond, famously brought to life in the works of Ian Fleming, is a real officer of what we know as MI6. Fleming was hired by Sir Miles Messervey to fictionalise real missions by a real 00 agent in order to discredit a SMERSH attempt on Bond's life. And now Bond revisits his life in a biography, comparing the truth with Fleming's fiction. An interesting metatextual interpretation of the Bond legacy, excellently written by Pearson to be a general analysis of the Bond books and films framed through the eyes of the 'real' Bond.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark McCallum

    I never knew, or even believed that James Bond was a real character until I read this book. Many of the Ian Flemming novels are largely based on the real life of James Bond, as hard as that is to believe. For anyone who loves James Bond, this book is a must read. You won't be able to put it down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    1st read in 1973 40 years ago. Fun book for a Bond fan.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    A fun read for 007 fanatics. The conceit explaining how the 'real' Bond became fictional I have always found amusing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard Gray

    James Bond is alive. At least he was for the general public, and by 1973 he’d been crafted into an international icon through books, film, and other merchandise. Writer John Pearson kept him alive in another way, with one of the more obscure entries in the series. At the time JAMES BOND: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF 007 (henceforth JAMES BOND) was released, Pearson was known for his non-fiction. In fact, his previous works included a biography of Bond’s creator with The Life of Ian Fleming (1966), James Bond is alive. At least he was for the general public, and by 1973 he’d been crafted into an international icon through books, film, and other merchandise. Writer John Pearson kept him alive in another way, with one of the more obscure entries in the series. At the time JAMES BOND: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF 007 (henceforth JAMES BOND) was released, Pearson was known for his non-fiction. In fact, his previous works included a biography of Bond’s creator with The Life of Ian Fleming (1966), and The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins (1972), for which he was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. Pearson approaches JAMES BOND with a biographer’s eye. However, unlike fellow Bond writer Kingsley Amis’ James Bond Dossier (1965), this is less an analysis of the character than it is of the man behind the character. Not Ian Fleming, of course, but the real James Bond who inspired the character. Wait…what? The strange conceit sees Pearson track down James Bond, who in this metafictional biography turns out to be a former colleague and friend of Fleming and the inspiration for the books. The character of Bond was created to throw enemy agents off the scent, and there’s the suggestion that both Fleming and Bond came to benefit from and ultimately loathe the creation they shared. The series had already taken its first steps post-Ian Fleming with Colonel Sun , and Roger Moore was about to begin his 12-year tenure as the third official screen Bond. Yet this book is more backwards-looking and introspective in its outlook, partially acting as an excuse to go back through some of Bond’s greatest hits but also to explore some of that connective glue in between the novels. The brief biographies Fleming includes in You Only Live Twice and Octopussy are fleshed out, often contradicting and sometimes complementing the original works. Pearson’s style mirrors Fleming to some extent, with nods to both Bond and his creator’s particular obsession with food. Yet Fleming’s short and punchy style gives way to a catalogue of facts and dates, and occasionally descriptive vignettes of dalliances between known adventures. Old friends and foes turn up again, the most interesting of which is appearance of Honeychile Schultz, the widowed Honey Rider who was on the prowl for husband number three. This partly contradicts Fleming’s own contention that she married a surgeon named Wilder and moved to Miami. All of which means that the canonicity of JAMES BOND is dubious at worst, and part of a Bond Multiverse at best. It’s far more interesting to see how Pearson analyses Bond through the women in his life, suggesting that he’s inadvertently let his guard down around Honey to the point that they are basically a de facto married couple at this point. Pearson also explores Bond’s romances with Vesper Lynd and Tracy di Vicenzo, scratching under the surface of his indifferent exterior. Which is where JAMES BOND is at its most intriguing, an extended character profile that shows the secret agent as a fragile human being. Fleming occasionally touched on Bond’s desire to leave the service, and tiring of the relentless killing, although it was usually cut off by M. calling him a “lame brain” and sending him off on another assignment. That fractious relationship serves as a dangling thread all throughout Pearson’s biography, even if it wraps up anticlimactically. True to form, just as we deal with “the truth about M,” Bond is called back into duty to hunt down giant rats in Australia, promising to return to Honey after the adventure. (Now that is a book I’d happily devour). One can assume that the semi-retired Bond stayed in the life, although the idea of him settling down with Honey in domestic bliss has a certain romanticism to it. Meanwhile, Pearson would go on to repeat this experiment with fictional tie-ins to Upstairs, Downstairs (in The Bellamys of Eaton Place) and Biggles: The Authorised Biography (1978). Perhaps, like Bond and his fictionalised Fleming, Pearson was unable to escape the worlds he’d created. James Bond will return in…James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me (redux). NB: This review originally appeared on The Reel Bits.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terry Cornell

    A must read for fans of James Bond. Supposedly a writer is persuaded to interview the 'real' James Bond partly to give positive publicity to British intelligence, and supposedly to help an aging Bond deal with the possible end of his service. The first half of the book is Bond's back story before the British secret service, the other half sort of a behind the scenes of what really happened compared to Ian Fleming's novels. Pearson does an excellent job of mixing fictional characters and real per A must read for fans of James Bond. Supposedly a writer is persuaded to interview the 'real' James Bond partly to give positive publicity to British intelligence, and supposedly to help an aging Bond deal with the possible end of his service. The first half of the book is Bond's back story before the British secret service, the other half sort of a behind the scenes of what really happened compared to Ian Fleming's novels. Pearson does an excellent job of mixing fictional characters and real persons throughout the book. Pearson seems to be the world's leading Bond expert--and for a good reason. He worked as Ian Fleming's assistant at the 'Sunday Times', and went on to write the first biography of Ian Fleming, 'The Life of Ian Fleming'. Some of the reasoning on why the Bond novels seems a little shaky, but otherwise an interesting and fast read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

    After having read (and in some cases re-read) the entire Fleming JB library in order (and then subsequently watching each corresponding film in order of the books just for giggles) I have begun to tackle all of the "official" post-Fleming Bond books. This, the first of more than 30, is a hoot. Pearson treats Bond as a real individual whom he tracks down and is then allowed to interview. The books ends up being a string of mini-adventures that tie up any loose ends the original novels may have le After having read (and in some cases re-read) the entire Fleming JB library in order (and then subsequently watching each corresponding film in order of the books just for giggles) I have begun to tackle all of the "official" post-Fleming Bond books. This, the first of more than 30, is a hoot. Pearson treats Bond as a real individual whom he tracks down and is then allowed to interview. The books ends up being a string of mini-adventures that tie up any loose ends the original novels may have left. In many ways I enjoyed this book more than most of Flemings as the writing style was a bit looser (it was published in the early '70s) and the ending is completely bonkers absurd, making one wonder why Pearson didn't (or wasn't allowed/able to) write a follow-up.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    I read this when it first came out in 1973 (45 years ago when I was still at school) It is a real must for any Bond enthusiast. It fills in quite a few gaps in Bonds life nicely woven round a current story. Was Bond real or a figment of Flemming's imagination at the time of reading I was not sure a all am I now?? Nice to see reference to some old characters and girlfriends. I really enjoyed and am so pleased it is now available in kindle version so I could read again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Mayo

    This was an interesting take on James Bond. Author Pearson gets to interview the "real" James Bond. Best described as fictional non-fiction Bond describes where former MI6 author Ian Fleming got the ideas for his fictional James Bond series. I know purists complain that this is part of the canon of the Fleming series, but it is a lot of fun in the way it goes about it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This was a nice, cozy trip down memory lane. Hearing about ("the real") Bond's favorite cars, breakfast requirements, and modest successes with but also unadulterated views on love were like revisiting an old friend. The premise of this book is what really sets this off though, and it's a fun device.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jack Sussek

    Entertaining.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard Phillips

    I would never have thought an authorized biography of James Bond was possible, let alone be such a compelling read. John Pearson has done something that's really interesting with the character of James Bond. Somehow he took a literary, then film character and made him flesh and bones. Simply astounding. The truly remarkable thing is that Pearson came up with a way to make the fictional, factual and actually combined the two into one. Its a very clever bit of writing on his part, not just clever, I would never have thought an authorized biography of James Bond was possible, let alone be such a compelling read. John Pearson has done something that's really interesting with the character of James Bond. Somehow he took a literary, then film character and made him flesh and bones. Simply astounding. The truly remarkable thing is that Pearson came up with a way to make the fictional, factual and actually combined the two into one. Its a very clever bit of writing on his part, not just clever, but game changing, at least in my mind. The thing for me is that I didn't want the book to end. I wanted the stories to continue and to learn more about this James Bond, since it was so well written and conceived. I suppose its too much to hope that as the character of Bond lived on, that we fans might be treated to more adventures to slide under our eyes? I expect not, which I'd too damned bad for us. If you're a fan of James Bond and you fail to read this book, you're denying yourself a great pleasure. This book has everything a Bond fan might ever ask for and never hope to discover. I challenge any Bond fan to read 15 pages into this book and not be hooked,. This is the second time I have read it and both times I read it nonstop until the final pages. In the words of some old advertising slogan, try it, you'll like it! I've be been reading it at night and it let's mebdrop off to sleep nicely. Its a lovely tone for those who love suspense and adventure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve Mitchell

    The idea behind this book is actually really good. John Pearson, who was Fleming's biographer, begins to search for the inspiration of the character of James Bond and begins to unearth details of an actual James Bond that knew Ian Fleming. When the Secret Intelligence Service take an interest in the book it is suggested that rather than trying to censor and suppress it, they could control the flow of information by cooperating. The theory being that the truth is bound to come out sooner or later The idea behind this book is actually really good. John Pearson, who was Fleming's biographer, begins to search for the inspiration of the character of James Bond and begins to unearth details of an actual James Bond that knew Ian Fleming. When the Secret Intelligence Service take an interest in the book it is suggested that rather than trying to censor and suppress it, they could control the flow of information by cooperating. The theory being that the truth is bound to come out sooner or later, so it is better to get the facts correct from the start. Pearson ends up in Bermuda where he meets the real James Bond who tells his life story for the record. The earlier parts dealing with Bond's childhood and ancestors are really good and begin to flesh out the character that Fleming only sparingly described. The book moves on to Bond's life during the second world war and his introduction to the world of espionage through Fleming at naval intelligence. The book continues and links the obituary to Bond from the novel You Only Live Twice to the actual James Bond. Just as the secret service tricked the Nazis with Operation Mincemeat - where a corpse of a supposedly drowned Royal Marine officer revealed the allies plans to invade Sardinia; when the true objective was Sicily - some of the Bond novels were actually accounts of SIS action against the Soviet Union and an attempt to fictionalise the main protagonist to dissuade SMERSH from from killing him. Casino Royale and Live and Let Die are genuine missions that Bond carried out; but the totally fictitious Moonraker is thrown in to confuse the Soviets. If the SIS can convince them that Bond is not actually the superhero Fleming made him out to be in real life then he can live without constantly peering over his shoulder for the next SMERSH assassin. It is a plot that Fleming would have been proud of for its sheer over-the-top audacity. Where it all falls down is the suggestion that Goldfinger and Dr No were also real operations instead of suggesting that they too were in the Moonraker camp. I particularly liked the way that The Spy Who Loved Me is explained as a true story in this context but felt disappointed that Felix Leiter only got a single mention: was he a real character like Bond or an invention of Fleming's to make the stories better. If you are a serious Bond fan then this represents a more than passable addition to the series of novels written by Fleming, Gardner, Benson et al. It is not an outstanding book on a par with Casino Royale, From Russia with Love, Colonel Sun or Devil May Care; but neither is it as poor as The Man with the Golden Gun. The idea that Bond was a real person makes it a good read but when you look at what are actually described as real events and what are dismissed as fiction, you realise that this could have been so much better.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tony Fitzpatrick

    This book has a simple pretext. James Bond is real. He works (or rather worked) for MI6 before and after the war, and did much important work for the secret service. However in the early to mid 1950s his notoriety with the Soviets was such that they were determined to have him killed. To save his life, Ian Fleming and "M" came up with the idea of a novel based on his life, pretending that Bond was fiction. The Soviets would be hugely embarassed at the idea of committing so much time and energy t This book has a simple pretext. James Bond is real. He works (or rather worked) for MI6 before and after the war, and did much important work for the secret service. However in the early to mid 1950s his notoriety with the Soviets was such that they were determined to have him killed. To save his life, Ian Fleming and "M" came up with the idea of a novel based on his life, pretending that Bond was fiction. The Soviets would be hugely embarassed at the idea of committing so much time and energy to kill a fictional character that they would wind up any such activity. Key Soviet Colonels would be relieved that face could be saved, and Bond could go back to his work. Eventually a young British author after some snooping is engaged to write his life story, and so travels to Jamacia where Bond is relaxing with his mistress (Honeychile) and is granted the necessary interviews. Having read the canon of Fleming's books on 007 I was amused and entertained by this book. It fills in all of the back story that Fleming only hinted - Bond's parentage, his explusion from Eton, his recruitment to the "service" in Paris where he is living with the madam of a French bordello, his first few assignments, his first "kill", how he got his taste for high living, how he learnt to ski, how he became a card sharp, his war service etc etc. The story of his life with MI6 maps closely to the books, and Fleming appears regularly in walk on parts. The timeline is all a bit long however. At the time of these interviews Bond is supposedly 55, but "M", Bill Tanner, Moneypenny, and May the housekeeper are all apparently still going strong. Never mind - all very amusing and rather fun. I especially like the points where the fictional Bond and the "real" Bond diverge (Fleming being apparently prone to exaggeration). Bond's smoking habit was never as ridiculous as Fleming suggests, and he is actually quite good at office work. The ending is silly - Bond is on holiday in Jamacia awaiting a call from "M". He wants to get back to work. The call doesn't come. Eventually he decides to resign/retire and marry Honeychile. As he does a party from London arrive to ask him to take on an assignment in Australia to do with giant rats - genetically modified by Blofield's former sidekick (who wasn't apparently killed with him in "Live and Let Die"). He wants to refuse but Honeychile persuades him otherwise. The book ends with Bond in a Vulcan bomber heading for Australia to help Queen and Country yet again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I'll confess that I fell for the ruse the first few pages of the book. I knew that John Pearson had written several "straight" biographies and was a personal acquaintance of Ian Fleming, so when he began by saying he had uncovered a lead that Fleming might have indeed based his novels on a real MI-6 agent named Bond, I thought, "Oh? What an interesting rabbit trail to follow!" But then I caught on. Pearson just wanted to write a "biography" of 007 that was something of a Bond novel itself. In pic I'll confess that I fell for the ruse the first few pages of the book. I knew that John Pearson had written several "straight" biographies and was a personal acquaintance of Ian Fleming, so when he began by saying he had uncovered a lead that Fleming might have indeed based his novels on a real MI-6 agent named Bond, I thought, "Oh? What an interesting rabbit trail to follow!" But then I caught on. Pearson just wanted to write a "biography" of 007 that was something of a Bond novel itself. In picking up the book, I had assumed it might be presenting a biography of Bond by stitching together all the various here-and-there background tidbits Fleming himself had dropped about Bond throughout the novels. And Pearson certainly does some of that, but all with the context of inventing his own Bond story itself, complete with mini-adventures not contained in any of Fleming's work. The "real" Bond that Pearson "uncovers" bears little resemblance to the suave superspy of the popular imagination (but of course, Fleming's own conception was much more down-to-earth too). The problem is that, once put through the sanitization process of demythologizing, Bond comes across as a pretty dull figure. There's a particular revelation in the book that's pretty wild--that Fleming wrote his novels in cahoots with MI-6 to confuse the Russians as to whether Bond was a real agent or not. One doesn't have to think that through too long without concluding it doesn't a whole lot of sense. Furthermore, if Bond were a real agent, even if Fleming wanted to write a novelized version of his exploits, would anyone in the security services--including Bond himself--want to have his real name exposed to the world? There's a lot more within these pages that doesn't hold much water. The mini-adventures for Bond that Pearson invents aren't that exciting--or at least aren't written in a compelling enough way to make them exciting. Two stars according to the Good Reads scale connotes the book "was OK." Yes, it was a diversion, not really awful, but sort of "meh."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Bartholomew

    This book is not so much a sequel to Ian Fleming’s Bond novels as to Pearson’s biography of Fleming, published shortly after Fleming’s death (reviewed here). Pearson was initially warned off by the authorities when he began following leads that suggested that Bond may have been a real person, but the secret service then changed its mind and agreed that Pearson could be the agent’s official biographer. Pearson was flown out to meet Bond, and he conducted extensive interviews in which Bond talked This book is not so much a sequel to Ian Fleming’s Bond novels as to Pearson’s biography of Fleming, published shortly after Fleming’s death (reviewed here). Pearson was initially warned off by the authorities when he began following leads that suggested that Bond may have been a real person, but the secret service then changed its mind and agreed that Pearson could be the agent’s official biographer. Pearson was flown out to meet Bond, and he conducted extensive interviews in which Bond talked about his family background and career, and corrected some of Fleming’s distortions. The result is a fascinating read that retains Fleming's mix of romanticism, cynicism and discursive attention to detail while convincingly adding a new layer of introspective and elegiac realism to the character we all know so well. The novels were Fleming’s idea – initially, the secret service needed to persuade the Russians that Bond was a fictitious character, and by the time the Russians realised the truth they had their own reasons not to expose Bond’s real existence. The later books were seen as good publicity for the service – although Bond was particularly appalled when Fleming put his name to a work actually written by Vivienne Michel, a Canadian woman Bond had encountered in the USA. Given the purpose of the “authorized biography”, it seems strange that in the end it was itself only allowed to be published as a work of fiction, like Fleming's novels (and Amis's Colonel Sun). Did the secret service get cold feet about revealing its biggest secret? Or was it that M was annoyed and embarrassed by an anecdote in the book about his private life?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alex Van Beek

    For a book with such an un-Bond-like title written by an author nobody has heard of before or since, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 accomplishes something few other spy thrillers, or even works of capital-L Literature, do: complete and total immersion in its world. While reading this book, I became convinced James Bond was real. Not even an exaggeration. Pearson worked with Ian Fleming, later writing a biography of him, and he is successful in incorporating his knowledge of the crea For a book with such an un-Bond-like title written by an author nobody has heard of before or since, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 accomplishes something few other spy thrillers, or even works of capital-L Literature, do: complete and total immersion in its world. While reading this book, I became convinced James Bond was real. Not even an exaggeration. Pearson worked with Ian Fleming, later writing a biography of him, and he is successful in incorporating his knowledge of the creator and his creation into a work that honors both, punctiliously follows the template of a non-fiction work, and is overall a fun read. What shatters the illusion? The ending. It's so unbelievable and stupid it makes the movies Moonraker and Die Another Day seem like Le Carré could have written them. Because of this, I'm glad Pearson never wrote a follow-up Bond adventure. But what's here is something any Bond fan can enjoy, the last two pages notwithstanding.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fred Klein

    The premise of this book is ridiculous and implausible: The Ian Fleming series of James Bond novels were written in order to convince the Russians that James Bond was a fictional character so that they'd stop trying to kill him. The author of this biography is given access to the "real" James Bond, who fills him in on the details of his life that Fleming left out and where Fleming exaggerated and made stuff up, with lots of references to the novels, and even a cameo appearance by Honeychile Ride The premise of this book is ridiculous and implausible: The Ian Fleming series of James Bond novels were written in order to convince the Russians that James Bond was a fictional character so that they'd stop trying to kill him. The author of this biography is given access to the "real" James Bond, who fills him in on the details of his life that Fleming left out and where Fleming exaggerated and made stuff up, with lots of references to the novels, and even a cameo appearance by Honeychile Rider from DR. NO. Yes, it's absurd, but it's a lot of fun for James Bond fanatics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Kennedy

    I really enjoyed the book! A must for a Bond fans. Think of it as another book in the bond series. Pearson gives the story behind the novels of James Bond, the creation of the novels and some interesting facts about the case as remembered by the actual James Bond. I listened to the newly released audiobook from audible and found it to be very believable.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pam Masters

    As a long time Bond fan, I couldn't stop reading this book. The way Pearson wrote the story was amazing. You could almost believe that maybe James Bond was a real person that Ian Fleming helped out. It was true to form. The only point I have is that it mentions a brother that I never realized Bond had. Then again, I haven't read a lot of Fleming's stories. But this has made me want to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Purple Osprey

    I'm not ashamed to admit it almost had me fooled :) I came across e-book edition by accident, started reading it and the book is just that good. For the moment there I really thought it was for real:) Hence the five stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    Interesting book based on the premise James Bond really existed . The book attempts to fill in the gaps Fleming left in his series of novels and flesh out some of the details barely covered by him .

  28. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    I read this one when it first appeared. A long time Bond fan, I thought it was a well-written biography that tied in with Fleming's literary Bond and not the movie Bond. Charlie Higson is carrying this on with his Young Bond series, the fifth of which will be published in the Fall.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe Rodeck

    Original idea: What if James Bond was a real person? Fine for James Bond fanatics with all his legends and trivia. But this might as well have been written by a priest! Where are the sexy Bond girls and villainesses literally dripping with sexuality?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    A clever and original idea well executed by a man who knew Ian Fleming well and wrote the only authorised biography of the creator of 007.

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