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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of the Bond Formula
"Live and Let Die" was Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel. In Casino Royale (Vintage Classics) he established the character of Bond, ending with the latter resolving to go after Soviet Intelligence's terror machine, SMERSH. In fact, Fleming was partly out of date in using SMERSH in this way because in reality it had been disbanded before the nineteen fifties when he...
Published 18 months ago by Graham Mummery

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A product of its era which pales in comparison to Casino
Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel is sadly nothing like as impressive as the first. In Live and Let Die, Bond is dispatched to the US to investigate the sudden appearance of a horde of Captain Morgan's treasure, and criminal mastermind Mr Big, whose deeds the gold is financing.

While the book is a believable portrayal of 1950s Harlem, Florida and Jamaica,...
Published on 21 Mar 2011 by J. R. Johnson-Rollings


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of the Bond Formula, 12 Oct 2012
By 
Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England) - See all my reviews
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"Live and Let Die" was Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel. In Casino Royale (Vintage Classics) he established the character of Bond, ending with the latter resolving to go after Soviet Intelligence's terror machine, SMERSH. In fact, Fleming was partly out of date in using SMERSH in this way because in reality it had been disbanded before the nineteen fifties when he was writing. But it was a useful conceit and playing on fears generated by Cold War which was then at its height.

"Casino Royale" had shown many features that will continue to appear in the Bond novels. But the first book is in some ways different from other Bond books in that the main thriller action largely takes place the first two thirds. In "Live and Let Die," the James Bond format is established which was also largely followed in the films also, even when they departed from the novels: Bond is briefed by M about an enemy agent (in this case an American gangster and SMERSH agent, Mr Big) and sent abroad to break his operation. In the course of the adventure which moves from New York via Florida, to its climax in Jamaica, he encounters an assortment of villains, henchmen plus the inevitable beautiful woman.

This is combined with Fleming's atmospheric descriptions of the places Bond visits which are often very accurate and based on local knowledge, for example his his descriptions of the winds in Jamaica. The characterizarion of Mr Big, as with all the villains, is highly effective: a Negro who uses Voodoo (which Fleming had read about, and maybe misrepresents) to cultivate a fear. There is also the first use Barracuda's which seem to be a favorite animal of Bond villains for disposing of people, and which Fleming was familiar with as an enthusiastic skin diver. Plus as always there is the pace of the writing which Kingsley Amis called the "Fleming sweep" that keeps the reader interested from beginning to the end.

Fleming, to me, is one of the most effective thriller writers ever. His ability to provide this mixture of pace, thrills and atmosphere is as always a winning combination. This is perhaps not my personal all time favorite Bond novel. That would be either From Russia with Love (Vintage)or Dr No (Penguin Modern Classics) which were still to come. But "Live and Let Die" still is near the top of the very best Bond novels and, unlike thrillers from some other authors, remains fresh and very readable even on repeated readings.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted, 15 Oct 2002
"Live and Let Die" is the second and, in my opinion, one of the best of the original Bond novels. "Casino Royale" wonderfully introduced the world to James Bond 007 but "Live and Let Die" is a more satisfying adventure.
James Bond 007 is pitted against Mr.Big, a member of SMERSH who uses the voodoo religion to terrify both his subjects and his enemies.
As with all the original Bond novels, certain elements haven't aged well. In places it does have a somewhat racist tone and everyone knows about how our hero treats the fairer sex. It's hard to forget that these books are around fifty years old. Though having said that, the depiction of James Bond with his frustrations, fears and morale doubts is still compelling reading.
"Live and Let Die" is amazing piece of work. It is not a novel that is rich in symbolism or meaning but is its focus is something more visceral. Live and Let Die is escapism, thrusting the reader from one narrow escape to the next, from one shock to the next. It contains passages of pure excitement and an amazing sense of danger. Not as far fetched as some of his later works, Live and Let Die has a very well balanced tone. "Midnight among the worms" is one of the most memorable and exciting chapters I have ever read.
If you want to get to know the literary or just want to get your heart pounding then read "Live and Let Die".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining read, 20 April 2013
By 
Doug "Doug" (York, England) - See all my reviews
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This is my second Bond book.

The story is a little more complex than Casino Royale, the first of the "Bond Books"

This book is well worth reading and has excellent characterisation, and a very strong descriptive narative, as with all good writing each sentence seems to move the story on, overall this is a good story very well told.

One has to remember the book was published in 1954 and so may seem a little racist in its language to our more sensitive ears, however in all other respects the writing is timeless.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and after the perhaps slightly simplistic story in Casino Royale found this a much more accomplished novel.

I am looking forward to reading the next one...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Live and Let Die: Ian Fleming, unabridged reading by Rory Kinnear - Bond tangles with the notorious Mr Big, 2 Sep 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live and Let Die (Audio CD)
First published in 1954, this is the second print outing for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Following the superb Casino Royale, it cemented the character of the international man of mystery and set him on the road to legendhood.

Bond is dispatched to America to look into the activities of Mr Big, notorious gangster and possible KGB agent. He and his old friend Felix Leiter are soon plunged into a dangerous adventure as they uncover a scheme to use salvaged pirate treasure to finance KGB operations in America. The consequences for Leiter are brutal, as with all of Flemng's Bond books there is a level of visceral violence and torture that makes the skin crawl.

There is an added dimension to this book, as well as fighting the usual Russian agents, Bond must also deal with the spiritual world. Big is a voodoo priest, and uses the cult to run his underground empire effectively. Bond has to counter Mr Big's magic as well as his bombs and bullets.

As usual Fleming writes with verve, passion, and an eye for the grotesque. His overblown detailed descriptions still read well and thrill. There is a feeling of tension running throughout the book, a feeling of constant danger, exploding every now and then in big action set pieces. It's a real thriller.

It's not a book without it's problems. Mr. Big's organisation is composed of people drawn from ethnic minorities in America, and to the modern reader Flemings attitudes and descriptions can seem a little, er, old fashioned. It's not exactly politically correct (though for the day in which it was written these were the prevailing attitudes, so perhaps Fleming can be excused) and can be uncomfortable for the more sensitive modern reader. 4 stars for the book.

Rory Kinnear's unabridged audio reading is excellent. He manages the range of accents and voices with ease, providing many distinct voices and never slipping into insensitive stereotyping as would be so easy to do. He has a great pace, and a feel for the rythm of the book. 5 stars for the reading.

The book is on 6 discs, and clocks in at around 7 hours runtime. The discs are in a spindle case. There is a short, disposable, interview with Kinnear at the end of the sixth disc. All in all it's a great product, 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...it was written a long time ago., 19 Mar 2013
By 
David (Dumbarton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I'm only just getting into Bond, with only the Daniel Craig films as background. After reading Casino Royale I naturally moved onto this. I thought that the Bond in Casino Royale was a bit of a...well...an arse! But this book takes the character's bad traits to a whole new level.

It's...interesting. A good read, don't get me wrong, but it deals with quite a lot of race issues that were present in the 1950s and uses the predictable approach. There are many uses of words now deemed as "racial slurs" and since it deals with a black villain who manipulates peoples belief in Voodoo, the caricatures of black culture are many.

If you can see past the poor handling of race issues, a symptom of the book aging terribly, then it's a good read and I'd recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better that Casino Royale, 25 Oct 2012
Bonds second outing under the pen of Ian Fleming finds him in both the USA and Jamaica.

Pitted against the notorious Mr Big (who has found a stash of pirate treasure and smuggling it into the USA to aid SMERSH). Through Voodoo and the threat of the zombie Baron Semedie he controls enough black muscle to track Bonds every move.

After the disapointment of Casino Royale, it was pleasing to see a much tougher, slicker Bond emerge. A Bond that won't fail to get your pulse racing as he plans his next onslaught against the plentyful bad guys.

If you have seen the film, then you will be suprised to find that very little of the screenplay will be found in the novel. We still get to meet the gorgeous Solitaire though, and another Bond steadfast we encounter is his friend Felix Leiter, but whether we will meet him again remains to be seen. If we do then he definately won't be running around......

An enjoyable read and one that has left me wanting more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A product of its era which pales in comparison to Casino, 21 Mar 2011
By 
J. R. Johnson-Rollings (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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Ian Fleming's second James Bond novel is sadly nothing like as impressive as the first. In Live and Let Die, Bond is dispatched to the US to investigate the sudden appearance of a horde of Captain Morgan's treasure, and criminal mastermind Mr Big, whose deeds the gold is financing.

While the book is a believable portrayal of 1950s Harlem, Florida and Jamaica, and the plot stays firmly set in reality, the book is let down by the writing style, which has little of the richness of detail and emotion that was present in Casino Royale. Bond has become grittier, and although brief patches of the character shine through, much of the narrative here is action based and fast moving.

It's worth touching on the obvious racial overtones that are present, but my interpretation is not that the book is racist - indeed it shows a number of viewpoints that struck me as being more progressive than I had expected, particularly M's comments early on and the character of Quarrel later, who although acting as something of a servant to Bond is still depicted as respected and an expert in his field. If anything, I found the book treats matters of race with much more delicacy than the Roger Moore film based upon it.

This book is certainly not up to the level of its predecessor, and, perhaps because of the settings, doesn't survive the test of time so well. While still a fairly enjoyable read, I've felt it detracted slightly from my opinion of the series I last read as a teenager.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Second time is a charm, 13 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Live and Let Die (Kindle Edition)
This is the second Bond book and for readers who only know the character played by Sir Roger Moore, this may be a bit of a jolt to the senses. As other reviews point out, the language is dated and as such it should be treated as a product of its time. The story contains all the elements of the best 007 adventures; exotic locations, larger than life villains and impossible odds for James to overcome. If you like your cold war thrillers to be viewed through 21st century tinted glasses, you may struggle, but otherwise this is Fleming at his best.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another super title, 15 July 2008
By 
S. Thompson "Wiltshire Saint" (Devizes, Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live and Let Die (Paperback)
Having just read this book in two days I had to respond to the reviewer who called it racist and gave it one star.

Yes, the attitude of Fleming to black people is undoubtedly outdated by today's standards. However it certainly isn't racist in any supremacist sense. After all the villain, Mr Big, is arguably more intelligent than Bond and it portrayed in a convincing and extremely fair-handed way. Bond's helper in Jamaica is also black and is given much respect by Bond because of his local knowledge and attitude. Of its time - yes. Racist? Claptrap. These politically-correct attitudes applied to historical literature are to be ignored for the nonsense they are.

That dealt with, I can only recommend this book to all Bond fans, indeed anyone who likes a darn good well-written and pacy yarn. Infinitely more engaging than the film with Moore in the starring role.

Buy it, enjoy it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Period Classic, 22 Dec 2008
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Live and Let Die (Paperback)
As with Bond's debut, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die can only be reviewed through the prism of the time it was written. Judging it based on contemporary views and mores is pointless and unfair. It is as much a piece of period fiction as any work by Dickens, Elliot or Austen is. Yes, to contemporary ears the references to Negros, etc and the descriptions of 60's African American and black Carribean culture do sound at best incredibly old fashioned and at worst derogatory (although I do not believe they were intended to be), but all were considered perfectly acceptable at the time the book was written. Dismissing the entire book because it includes such old fashioned language and imagery when none of it is intended to be derogatory (and in terms of the descriptions of Harlem and Jamaica at that time may well be accurate) would be unfair and would mean ignoring the positives the book has to offer.

And there are many of the latter. As with Casino Royale, Live and Let Die is another first class thriller. Again Fleming's spare journalistic style gives the book a hard-boiled stripped down feel that perfectly complements a plot that is fast paced and never lets up. There is also more action than in Casino Royale, with Bond repeatedly involved in scrapes and lucky escapes as he takes on SMERSH agent 'Mr Big'. Add in some wonderful supporting characters such as the enigmatic Solitaire and returning CIA Agent Felix Leiter, the usual smattering of factual information that Fleming peppers his books with and a dollop of sex and you have a top class Bond novel.

It also manages to go a long way to eradicating memories of the Bond movie of the same name, with its veneer of 'Blaxspoitation' cool and obsession with voodoo imagery. Although voodoo does play a part in the novel this is a far superior effort compared to the movie. There are no hook handed henchmen or comedy American sheriffs on display here, and Solitaire is far from Jane Seymour's permanent damsel in distress.

In fact three of the best scenes in the book appear not in the film version but in the later movies 'For Your Eyes Only' and 'License to Kill'. Why the film makers chose to omit them first time around who knows, but they missed a trick by doing so.

So ignore the outdated imagery that especially impacts the first third of the book, accept that you're reading a period novel not a contemporary thriller and push all thoughts of Roger Moore in flares hunting down Heroin smugglers in Seventies New York out of your mind. That done you can settle back and enjoy a fantastic thriller on its own terms.
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Live and Let Die (James Bond)
Live and Let Die (James Bond) by Ian Fleming (Hardcover - 29 May 2008)
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