Read From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming Online


Every major foreign government organization has a file on British secret agent James Bond. Now, Russia's lethal SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination. SMERSH has the perfect bait in the irresistible Tatiana Romanova, who lures 007 to Istanbul promising the top-secret Spektor cipher machine. But when Bond walks willingly into the trap, a game of cross and douEvery major foreign government organization has a file on British secret agent James Bond. Now, Russia's lethal SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination. SMERSH has the perfect bait in the irresistible Tatiana Romanova, who lures 007 to Istanbul promising the top-secret Spektor cipher machine. But when Bond walks willingly into the trap, a game of cross and double-cross ensues, with Bond both the stakes and the prize....

Title : From Russia with Love
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451020307
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 191 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

From Russia with Love Reviews

  • j
    2019-03-13 03:36

    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).

  • Brina
    2019-03-13 07:40

    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.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-04 08:59

    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.

  • Grace Tjan
    2019-02-25 01:00

    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; ande. 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)

  • Manny
    2019-03-18 03:42

    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...

  • Carmen
    2019-03-04 01:43

    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?

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-03-14 04:55

    In ways this is my favorite Bond book so far. Not sure why. Perhaps because the writing feels a bit more 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.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-03-18 00:41

    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!

  • Richard Derus
    2019-02-24 06:43

    Rating: 4.5* of fiveIt'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.

  • Robert
    2019-03-15 07:46

    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

  • Leslie
    2019-02-22 02:01

    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.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-01 02:43

    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.

  • BrokenTune
    2019-03-21 02:01

    "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. WomenThe 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.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Richard
    2019-03-14 00:37

    5/10To 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.

  • Donna
    2019-03-25 02:00

    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.

  • Jayson
    2019-03-19 01:48

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

  • Manny
    2019-02-27 04:59

    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.

  • El
    2019-03-17 04:55

    From Russia With Love, movie trailer.My Bond project continues with From Russia With Love, the second Bond film and the fifth Bond book (and yes, this out-of-order thing is totally starting to bug me... but I will prevail!).So most interesting, in the movie the group that's after Bond is the non-specific SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), whereas in the book it's the very, very Soviet organization SMERSH (...mumble mumble mumble something Russian mumble mumble... roughly translated to "Death to Spies" or something or other). According to Wikipedia, SPECTRE became a thing so as to be apolitical. Good luck with that, film industry.Doesn't matter what they're called, they are a mean, lean killing machine.And when they get a lady involved, then it's all just about sex.This book has taken the sexism to a whole new level in which Tatiana makes some comment about getting fat, and will Bond beat her if she gets too fat that he can't have sex with her, and he totally says he will. That charmer, Bond. I'll take three just like him.Interesting anecdote - apparently Bond has a scar! In the movie the scar was shown on his lower back (right lower quadrant, I believe) and it was teeny tiny, like maybe he just had a pesky kidney removed or something. But in the book he has some scar across his face and across one shoulder. I haven't read all the books prior to this one yet, so I don't know what the real deal is with that, but my point is that we don't get to see that side of him at all in the movies. Sean Connery with the lovely puppy-dog brown eyes... the real Bond is supposed to be blue-eyed and all Scarface. I call bullshit on the whole film industry. It's like they weren't even trying.Also missing from the book - a cat. There is no mention of a cat in the book. There is, however, a cat in the movie. Kitty gets to eat fishies. But why leave it out of the book? Maybe the cat was the director's cat in real life and he wanted to immortalize the animal on screen. Whatever, I missed the cat in the book.The movie also included a helicopter and a boat scene that were definitely not in the book, so if you're into that sort of stuff, I recommend the movie. The book, as usual, was a little less action-y than the film, but that's to be expected.Somehow this was slightly better than Dr. No, but it could just have been my mood was improved while reading this one.But really, Bond is such a douche.Next up: Goldfinger.

  • David
    2019-03-24 03:03

    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.)

  • Quentin Wallace
    2019-03-10 06:51

    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.

  • Arnis
    2019-03-22 00:34

  • Joshua
    2019-03-10 08:48

    An oh-so-innocent Russian cipher clerk is recruited into a SMERSH plot, being told that she would feed England false information after "defecting". Little does she know that the actual plan is to humiliate MI6 by staging a murder-suicide between her and her escort, James Bond.This is technically a review of the Simon Vance audiobook, but it's an unabridged reading.The Good: Action scenes: Fleming writes them so well. That penultimate scene with the top SMERSH killer is my favorite scene in the book.Feel: It has that compulsively-readable, fast-paced, insubstantial, not-probable-but-not-quite-absurd, spy thriller feel.Villians: Red Grant and Rosa Klebb do rank up there. I must admit that Grant, with the exception of his absurd full moon urges, is one of the most menacing villians I've read.The Bad:Bond Acts Like A Tool: From reading Casino Royale, I knew that there was a certain quality of fatalism to Bond. However, in this book he acts with such little care. Although a lot of his risky actions were justifiable, there were some points where it is obvious that Fleming needed to keep the plot going. The biggest example of this was when Bond, despite escorting a defector and some extremely valuable cargo, decides to complete a train ride which he knows has a trap somewhere, because he, by his own admission, is perversely curious to see what it is. Nice way to put England first, James.The Bizarre:Misogyny and Racism: Fleming was very much a product of his time. One of his characters casually mentions that the Turks are unfit for civilization and that they are only happy when they have a Sultan around to rule them. And then he goes on about how he once tamed a wild girl by chaining her naked to his table. Perhaps if I was Turkish or a woman, I would find this all offensive, but I am neither, so I just find it funny as hell.That Gypsy Women Semi-Naked Duel To The Death Scene: Did that scene have any (non-erotic) reason for being written? Any at all?All in all, it's not perfect, but I think it was worth the read. I recommend it to fans of fast-paced thrillers.

  • Devlin Scott
    2019-03-08 05:59

    This book is very special to me for one particular was the first book I had bought with my own money when I was a child. It was, of course, the cover that compelled me to purchase it, I think most of us are guilty of judging a book in this manner. I used to while away the hours in a local bookshop. I would walk up and down the isles dreaming of all the wonderous adventures each tome held within. Then, I saw the spy section of the shop. The covers, the titles, all left me in awe of what the life of a fictional spy might be like. It had to be exciting to be a spy; each cover told me so, how could they be wrong. I didn't have the money so I explained my dilemma to the shopkeep and asked him what I could do to own one of these great spy thrillers. He saw my plight and, as he had a kind heart, he suggested that I help him for the day to earn a copy of the Bond of my choice. I swept and dusted. I washed racks and windows. I even unpacked boxes of new and used books while he placed them on the shelves. Finally, at the end of the day my reward had come; all I had to do was choose...From Russia with Love. It had to be this one. There was just something about the cover (of course, I read the back to see what it was about). It was a wonderous adventure and I scrimped and saved and worked as a child to get them all.It is still my favorite from the entire Bond/Fleming collection.Devlin

  • G.R. Reader
    2019-03-25 03:54

    I think I was about seven. We had a copy of this book lying around the house, and Mom told me not to read it, it was totally dumb, but of course I did anyway. I thought it was kind of cool, especially how they had the grandmaster plan the honey trap. Really I wanted it to work, and I was a bit annoyed that Bond got away again.That weekend, Mom had invited a lesbian couple over for dinner (we were living in the Bay Area at the time). I spent the whole evening staring at their shoes. In the end, one of them asked me why, and I said...No, it's just too embarrassing. Don't let your daughters read this book until they're old enough to have acquired some sense.

  • Benjamin Thomas
    2019-03-13 03:50

    My chronological journey through the world of the original James Bond novels continues with the fifth novel to be written and published, and widely held as the beginning of the best part of the entire series. In this one, Russia is tired of continually losing the battle in the grand spy game and has decided to assassinate one of the West’s most prestigious spies. After considering several countries’ intelligence programs to target, they settle on Britain’s MI-6 and who better than the famous James Bond.The first 1/3rd of the novel and perhaps a bit more is all build-up, from the Russian’s point of view, their leadership, their assassins, etc. Mr. Bond himself does not enter the novel until almost half-way through. But it’s a fun ride to watch Bond fall into the trap they have set for him and try to get out.Historical note: Up to this point, Ian Fleming and his publishers had been disappointed in the sales for the first four Bond books and they had failed to crack the all-important American market. Fleming was reportedly ready to throw in the towel completely (and had even thought to go so far as to kill off his main character) but he would give it one last try. He really put his all into it with much re-writing and re-thinking, resulting in this fifth novel which shows a definite step up in quality. It’s also the longest Bond novel and the resulting best seller status that resulted launched the golden period of Bond novels to come, including the following novel, James Bond: Dr. No.For fans of spy fiction, these novels are must-reads.

  • Aaron
    2019-03-22 02:35

    James Bond is lured into thinking that a beautiful Russian agent, Tatiana Romanova, loves him and wants to defect with a code machine, but she's a trap set by SMERSH. Red Grant, the USSR's top executioner, is on a collision course to meet and kill Bond on the Orient Express. (view spoiler)[Bond kills Grant but appears to succumb to poison in the final moments, delivering a killer cliffhanger that doesn't exist in the movie. (hide spoiler)]Yet another great spy thriller by Ian Fleming, whose writing style and mastery of the tradecraft of the period constantly impresses me. It was the 1950's, so yes, Fleming writes women as you would expect someone writing a macho novel of the time would. But overlooking that instead of viewing it as though it were written today, the characters are detailed and interesting, the action is excellent, and the book delivers a deeper story than the movie (which I've seen about ten times).

  • Gary
    2019-03-23 02:57

    Someone criticized this novel saying it was dated......I am baffled.....that's like reading the biography HAMILTON,and saying it's "dated." History is never dated. This book is based on an organization that was real in Soviet Union, Russia....and yes, historically it used to be Russia,and then the Soviet Union,and then back to Russia,and the novel focuses on a certain time in the history of that country and of England as well. Yes it's fiction. I don't get how it is "dated." ;)I enjoyed it immensely, but then I was a history teacher for 31 years and a history buff. Historically, this novel was considered to be John F. Kennedy's favorite novel....that's historically. Again, it's fiction.Read it, enjoy it. Historical fiction, and fun at its best.

  • Joseph
    2019-03-22 07:39

    The book makes the movie seem campy. No witty James Bond, but serious spy business. The story is a bit dated; there is no longer a Soviet Union, but those old enough to remember the Cold War and the spy novels of that time will appreciate this book.

  • Gerald
    2019-03-17 06:42

    From Russia with Love was the fifth of Ian Fleming's 007 books, published in 1957. Apparently he wasn't sure whether he wanted the franchise to continue, and you have to read the sequel, Dr. No, to find out how some of the plot points in this one were resolved.Interesting, I think, is that the movie Dr. No (based on the sixth book) was the first James Bond film, and From Russia with Love was the second. Swapping the order of the plots actually necessitated some changes to the stories. In the movie, Dr. No is part of an international crime syndicate, SPECTRE. However, the Russian coding machine (based on the German's WWII Enigma device) was called Spektor in the novel and apparently renamed Lektor in the movie. SPECTRE is nowhere mentioned in either of the novels. In the novel From Russia with Love, it is the Russian assassination bureau SMERSH that hatches the plot to kill Bond using the Spektor and a beautiful woman as bait. In the movie, the planner Kronsteen instead works for SPECTRE, which intends to steal the Lektor along with luring Bond, then kill him and return the machine in return for a big SMERSH ransom payment.Bond is a somewhat anachronistic character now, a gentleman bad boy back when most heroes played nice. Now they're all bad boys, and worse. And he was an unabashed male chauvinist. I'll leave it for the reader to marvel at rather than explain too much, but Tatiana Romanova is a rake's pipe-dream of a character, like all of the Fleming babes. She lives to serve the fantasy image she's created of Bond in her mind, and she commits the spy's cardinal sin of starting to believe her own cover story.This book starts very slowly, with much more expository heavy lifting than you'd expect from a spy thriller. The action only accelerates about two-thirds of the way through. Fleming's literary predecessors included Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, and his slow storytelling pace seems like a throwback.Also odd, it seemed to me, were his opinions of Istanbul. Fleming hates the Turkish food and finds the city dirty and under-lit at night. Contrast this image with today's Istanbul, which has a population of fifteen million and growing (larger than Los Angeles) and world-class amenities.[ Cross-posted on ]

  • Jeff
    2019-03-23 07:43

    I first read this about 43 years ago when I was a 12 year old boy just starting at grammar school. 007. A beautiful Russian agent. Rosa Klebb. Red Grant. Gypsy girls fighting to the death. The Orient Express. A periscope to spy on Russian secret service meetings. Bond's briefcase. The blade in Klebb's shoe. Such iconic moments. What's not to like?Maybe a bit dated, certainly not politically correct, but a thoroughly entertaining read.And it brought back some lovely memories of me as a boy lying in bed and being thrilled.