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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking Story
Enjoy this tale of the illicit transport of diamonds from Southern Africa, well told with a natty pace and some considerable insight, although now sadly dated. However, the parallels to the epopnymous Bond are apparent in the legible and easy to read writing style. If you've enjoyed the Bond books (not necessarily just the films), you'll enjoy the Diamond Smugglers...
Published on 31 July 2001 by anon

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For Insiders Only
I was very disappointed.

Ian Fleming came from a family of very prominent bankers (the family bank, Robert Fleming & Co, was sold in 2000 for 7.7 bln dollars to Chase Manhattan). Ian's paternal grandfather, Robert Fleming, was the pioneer and the undisputed leader of the investment trust industry in the UK. Andrew Bonar Law, Winston Churchill, the Hambros,...
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by Alexander Bagaev


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For Insiders Only, 16 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Diamond Smugglers (Paperback)
I was very disappointed.

Ian Fleming came from a family of very prominent bankers (the family bank, Robert Fleming & Co, was sold in 2000 for 7.7 bln dollars to Chase Manhattan). Ian's paternal grandfather, Robert Fleming, was the pioneer and the undisputed leader of the investment trust industry in the UK. Andrew Bonar Law, Winston Churchill, the Hambros, Jacob Schiff, etc, etc, were business associates and family friends. This explains the intimate relationship that Ian Fleming enjoyed with the Morgans in the U.S. during most of his professional life (it all started through another lifelong associate and friend of the Flemings' bank, Edward Grenfell, of the Morgan, Grenfell & Co fame).
More relevant for this particular story - "The Diamond Smugglers" - is the Flemings' equally lifelong association with the Oppenheimers and Barings and their business - the De Beers / Anglo-American conglomerate. The intricacies of this particular relationship are best described by Ian Fleming's biographer, Andrew Lycett, in his lesser known book "From Diamond Sculls to Golden Handcuffs". It is the story of the London brokerage firm Rowe & Pitman that was famous during both world wars for producing top level intelligence officers and counted the Flemings, the Oppenheimers, the Barings, and the Morgans not only among its clients but also among its partners. Ian Fleming was one of them for ten years, including the 5 years he spent as personal assistant to the chief of NID. Finally, after the war, Ian Fleming became Foreign Manager at Kemsley Newspapers, owner of the Sunday Times, and ran a world-wide network of correspondents recruited among retired officers of the SIS/MI6 and other intelligence services.
In the late 40s' and 50s' the diamond business of De Beers / Anglo-American ran into big trouble because of all the murky international dealing and smuggling that developed over the course of WWII. And it was only natural that, needing urgently a smart plaidoyer, the Oppenheimers, Morgans and Barings turned to Ian Fleming. He was one of them, he was privy to all the secrets, and he had all the right connections in the intelligence world.
I am pretty sure that the resultant documentary story about the smugglers, though very short, is full of the usual Ian Fleming's heavy hints and smart allusions meant to make the story an enjoyable reading. But, you have to have the clues. If clueless, you are left wondering as you listen to John Blaize (it's an alias), the British ex-MI colonel now in charge of security at De Beers, whom Ian Fleming interviews and who keeps on shuffling through the copious and presumably top secret notes that he prepared for the occasion. You do wonder, because in the narrative, as penned by Fleming, John Blaize never - I repeat: never - comes up with any specifics or details, let alone such that would require precise referencing.
But then again, this was always Ian Fleming's style. He himself admitted it, in a perfectly erudite way:
"In a letter to CBS in 1957 he (Ian Fleming) wrote:
'In hard covers my books are written for and appeal principally to an 'A' readership but they have all been reprinted in paperback both in England and America and it appears that the 'B' and 'C' classes find them equally readable, although one might have thought that the sophistication of the background and detail would be outside their experience and in part incomprehensible.'"
(Quoted in 'The moments of Bond'. By Tony Benett and Janet Woollacott, first article in 'The James Bond phenomenon: a critical reader'. By Christoph Lindner. p.14)
He may have misjudged about his James Bond novels. He didn't about "The Diamond Smugglers".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking Story, 31 July 2001
This review is from: Diamond Smugglers (Hardcover)
Enjoy this tale of the illicit transport of diamonds from Southern Africa, well told with a natty pace and some considerable insight, although now sadly dated. However, the parallels to the epopnymous Bond are apparent in the legible and easy to read writing style. If you've enjoyed the Bond books (not necessarily just the films), you'll enjoy the Diamond Smugglers. Most notably, the links between this and the parts of the plot of the film 'Diamonds Area Forever' is obvious, insomuch as the depth of research and clarity of storytelling shine through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not James Bond, 27 Oct 2013
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This book was written by Fleming as a result of being approached by an ex-MI5 agent who wanted to tell of his experiences in the Diamond trade. I believe it came about due to this agent reading Diamonds are Forever and makes an interesting contrast to that totally fictitious work. If you are a fan of Fleming and Bond get this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Little Gem, 2 April 2013
This review is from: The Diamond Smugglers (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
While Fleming's fictional creations (007 and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) have long been famous, his forays into non-fiction tend to be overlooked. He was the Foreign Manager of Kelmsey Newspapers (then owners of the Sunday Times) 1945-1960, employing a worldwide network of correspondents in much the same way as M used agents in the 007 books.

Originally published in 1957, this tells the story of IDSO (the International Diamond Security Organisation), a small private intelligence agency created in 1953 by DeBeers and the major diamond corporations to tackle IDB (Illegal Diamond Buying). Headed by Sir Percy Sillitoe (head of MI5 1946-1953) it was wound up in 1957. Fleming was approached to tell its story, not least because his 4th Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956) had been published the previous year.

Fleming's main contact went by the alias 'John Blaize' and was a senior agent of IDSO. He wrote the introduction here, underlining (60 years on) the necessary secrecy of their work. It's a fascinating picture of international crime fighting by a very few British public school men whose wartime service had led them to Military Intelligence: very much a mirror of Bond's post-war secret service, in contrast from the real MI6 of Burgess and Maclean.

The story suits Fleming down to the ground. Half a dozen interviews with Blaize (conducted in Morocco, over Easter week 1957) yield nine chapters, each relating a different battle of IDSO. The un-romanticised, procedural nature of the work is fascinating: liaison with local police; use of informers; undercover stings; diplomatic wrangling. The tone is surprisingly ironic thanks to Blaize himself, who could have stepped from the pages of a Len Deighton novel a decade later. No one expects the war on smuggling to end: instead, the more professional operation will get the upper hand.

Admittedly it's very short. Obviously dated, some may baulk at the colonial picture of administration still prevalent in Africa at the time (and in many ways to this day) but this is the unvarnished truth. The attitudes expressed towards Africans (white & black, rich & poor, honest & crooked) are very candid, but also remarkably even handed and supported by evidence. Even non-Bond fans will not go wrong here.
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The Diamond Smugglers (Vintage Classics)
The Diamond Smugglers (Vintage Classics) by Ian Fleming (Paperback - 4 April 2013)
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