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Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII Paperback – 3 May 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571250637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571250639
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Fascinating book ... this is myth-shattering stuff: prepare to be shaken and stirred.' --Daily Mail

'Fascinating book.' --Guardian

'It is, first of all, chock-a-block full of wonderful stories and odd characters, and secondly awash in wonderful, arcane knowledge of the seamy and secret side of World War Two...suavely blended, like one of Bond's Martinis.' --Michael Korda, The Daily Beast

'Rankin, in his vivid way, shows that Fleming earned his Navy stripes. With a vast knowledge of covert operations, he produces an entertaining account of this hitherto shadowy unit.' -- Sunday Times

'In the real life derring-do of real men comes a tale only marginally less believable than Bond at his most fantastical.' --The Times

'Fleming's war record has been portrayed as patchy ... But Nicholas Rankin, in his vivid, unfussy way, shows that Fleming was a man of steel who earned his Navy stripes ... [He] offers thoughtful analysesof 007 novels such as Moonraker, which he sees as a warning about former Nazi scientists in Britain's weapons programme ... As Churchill's Wizards, his previous book on camouflage and deception, showed, he has a vast knowledge of covert operations, scientific innovation and the history of the second world war, which he combines to produce a convincing and entertaining account of a hitherto shadowy but influential commando unit.' -- Andrew Lycett, Sunday Times

'Blessed with an elegant and spare prose style, Rankin excels at putting the intelligence Commando's story into the wider context of the war and in showing how Fleming worked their names and exploits into his Bond adventures.' --Christopher Sylvester, Daily Express

'Nicholas Rankin's fascinating book is an account of the 30AU's progress through the war. From time to time it reads like a Boy's Own story, so flamboyant are the characters and so vivid Rankin's accounts of the deadly scrapes and firefights the commandos found themselves involved in. The research is prodigious and lucid now I finally understand how an
Enigma machine works and one gains a real sense of how these maverick units functioned, very much akin to the Long Range Desert Group and the fledgling SAS.' -- William Boyd, Guardian


'This book will appeal to those interested in the history of the Second World War as well as to fans of James Bond. For some, the combination of the two will be irresistible. If you thought that James Bond was a creature entirely in Ian Fleming s imagination, Nicholas Rankin shows that the origins of many of his characters and escapades were based on real experiences in Naval Intelligence ... Nicholas Rankin has intertwined very cleverly a new and unvarnished account of the Second World War with the light heartedness of James Bond s style but he never romanticises the war. This is a good read for war buffs and a fascinating background to the Bond stories.' --Douglas Osler, Scotsman

'An excellent book. Not only is [Rankin's] examination of the commandos themselves lucidly detailed, but he finds time to draw clear parallels between Fleming's intelligence work and the intricacies of Bond's immortal character.' --Julian Fleming, Sunday Business Post

'Nicholas Rankin's fascinating book is an account of the 30AU's progress through the war. From time to time it reads like a Boy's Own story, so flamboyant are the characters and so vivid Rankin's accounts of the deadly scrapes and firefights the commandos found themselves involved in. The research is prodigious and lucid now I finally understand how an
Enigma machine works and one gains a real sense of how these maverick units functioned, very much akin to the Long Range Desert Group and the fledgling SAS.' -- William Boyd, Guardian


'This book will appeal to those interested in the history of the Second World War as well as to fans of James Bond. For some, the combination of the two will be irresistible. If you thought that James Bond was a creature entirely in Ian Fleming s imagination, Nicholas Rankin shows that the origins of many of his characters and escapades were based on real experiences in Naval Intelligence ... Nicholas Rankin has intertwined very cleverly a new and unvarnished account of the Second World War with the light heartedness of James Bond s style but he never romanticises the war. This is a good read for war buffs and a fascinating background to the Bond stories.' --Douglas Osler, Scotsman

Book Description

Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII by Nicholas Rankin tells the true story of Ian Fleming and the 30 Assault Unit during the Second World War, the real-life inspiration for James Bond.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Nick Rankin has delivered a must-read! "Ian Flemings Commandos: The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWll" is a fantastically concise yet comprehensive account of the team of British elite soldiers and Naval officers who were picked for some of the most risky yet important wartime missions. The book is a sprawling saga covering the run up to war, the contexts in which the need for German intelligence arrived and the formation of a specialist team who were overseen by Ian Fleming, later the author of James Bond who next year celebrates 50 years of cinematic exploits.

This is not to say that the exploits that this book goes on to detail are focussed around Bond's creator, whose story has been expounded upon elsewhere and because "although Fleming originated the idea of what he first called an `advanced intelligence unit', then an `intelligence assault unit', he himself was forbidden to go in with them on their first mission because his wartime job in Naval Intelligence made in privy to many secrets... that could never be allowed to fall into enemy hands" [P.3]. The book goes on to provide an even more enthralling story of the men themselves who throughout the war were sent in to the front lines to "pinch" enemy intelligence.

"Ian Fleming's Commandos..." is a hugely engrossing page turner that mixes historical fact, with humour (a recruit in training's confused midnight peeing in the wardrobe of guesthouse) and pathos that comes from the toll of war (30 AU members on the Dieppe raid witness their comrades shot down before their eyes.) This is an impressive book that puts into perspective the vital intelligence and everything that went into acquiring it during the war. Recommended.
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By Mr. Pj Williams VINE VOICE on 24 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who has a sort of vested interest in the commandos of ww2, my grandfather being one of them. So I purchased a copy just to see if there was anything it added to what I already knew in general and I was interested in 30 assualt unit as I had never delved into thier history.

Great rewarded by the style of the book, its engaging from the off and found myself sneaking off to read pages when I should have been doing other things, finishing in three days. It begins with the how Ian flemings career came about in naval intelligence, also how the commandos are created alongside. Then its onto the importance of technology and acquiring of said technology from the enemy. and Finally it reads like the war diary of 30 Assault unit for the final third. All the way through Fleming and his writing of bond are alluded to as the history of 30 AU and its members as well as other people pop up in the books.

Mr Rankin knows his subject and delivers with great poise and consistency of narrative. There are even flashes of humour that while amusing do not detract from the seriousness of the issues. he covers all the bases as far as popular military history is concerned even going to a greater technical detail than some and even analysing quite deftly some of the aspects covered by the book.

All in all one for military historians of all ilks- the casual reader will enjoy the pace and narratives where as the more serious reader will enjoy the former as well as the depth in which Mr Rankin deals with the subject matter and his treatment being very even handed.

anyone who enjoyed Operation Mincemeat last year or Operation Fortitude this year will love this book and will be a little sorry when its finished but will look forward to more from The author
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If a reader who had not the slightest interest in Special Forces units who operated in World War Two picked up this book, I venture to suggest that they would not be able to put it down.

Although I was aware of the existence of 30 Assault Unit from biographical books about the author Ian Fleming, those authors did not attempt to delve into the mechanics of this unit and therefore, if I thought about it at all, I simply wrote it off as another ad hoc unit, such as RM Detachment 385. But the author, Nicholas Rankin has performed a sterling job in producing this thoroughly well-researched book, having spoken to many members of the unit, crammed the book chock-a-block full of background information and injected it with crafty humour. Above all else, it is extremely well-written.

In the `acknowledgements' section, Mr. Rankin mentions that his daughter chided him for writing too slowly - but it's paid off. The meticulous attention to detail will, I hope result in this book being in the best-sellers lists for a long time to come.
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Format: Hardcover
Rankin has written here a book which promises more than it delivers, but still delivers a satisfying story. It's a bit about Ian Fleming, who wrote James Bond, and how he was involved in the creation of 30AU, a specialist squad of commandos whose job was stealing Axis weapon systems and other items of military significance. Its best when it focuses on the Enigma stuff early on, and also is interesting whenever (generally in a footnote) it talks about something that cropped up in a Bond book. There is even some literary analysis of Bond in places, something I had not thought possible - although given the classical education Fleming received, I should not have been so surprised.

But the book is not truly about Fleming, or Bond, but really about the exploits of a bunch of Commandos who did crazy things in the North Sea, the Western Desert, Italy, France and Germany. Often as not these exploits were not at first glance spectacular - "we found a widget!" is not the stuff of which legends are made - but the importance of what they did can be seen from the few examples given in the book. Did what they do shorten the war and save lives? The answer has to be yes.

From the first page, to the story of the capture of the archives of the Kriegsmarine which largely closes the book, this is an excellent ride: a look into some of the darker corners of WWII that you usually look past. It may not be for the serious historian in the field, but for those of us with an interest in WWII, it's a great read.
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