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4.0 out of 5 stars The pleasure was all mine Mr Fleming., 14 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Casino Royale: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
As all Bond fans know, Ian Fleming's first novel "Casino Royale" was where the James Bond 007 Phenomenon began.

Written in the early 1950's when the world was trying to come to terms with the rebuilding process of life after WWII and the prospect of a future nuclear war against the Soviet Union was all too real.
Enter a former Naval intelligence officer who whilst holidaying at his house in Jamaica, sat down with a Gold plated "Royal portable typewriter" and decided to create an espionage novel like no other before.

The James Bond of Flemings novels is generally agreed to be a highly romanticised version of Fleming himself. Certainly he knew the upper class side of the spying game and Casino Royale's central plot is allegedly based on a real life incident that Fleming had in a portuguese casino.

The Plot essentially revolves around Bond trying to bankrupt a man named "Le Chiffre", who although not a SMERSH agent, has ties to the Soviets and is up to various illicit activities. Bond proposes to do this by taking him on (with funding from M) in a high stakes game of Baccarat at the Casino of the title.

When reading Casino Royale, you have to bear in mind that at the time of writing, post war rationing was still in full force. The descriptions of Bond and Vesper slurping champagne and eating exotic foods was deliberately inserted to give the post war readers in Great Britain some relief from the daily existence they faced. Similarly, Bond racing around in his Bentley Four and a half litre living the playboy life style at the baccarat table was a world they could only dream of.

James Bond as he is depicted in Flemings novels is not the super man of the Eon film productions. He is Snobbish, arrogant, chauvanistic and detached. The moments that he does show tenderness and understanding are usually as a result of having first been too harsh, then trying to appease. All that said, he is a human being and dedicated to the mission at hand. He makes good calls, bad calls and has to fight his way out of more than one error of his own making.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and it is a far darker world that 007 inhabits in literary form. There is a danger to his life that one reflects could be the undoing of him at any moment. I would argue that the character of Vesper Lynd was a bit underwritten and certainly we dont get to know very much about her until the final twist. I also have doubts about Bonds motivations towards her, which seem to fluctuate between indifference and infatuation a bit too conveniently.

A product of its time, but essential reading for any true Bond Fan.
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