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on 27 May 2014
James Bond returns to form after the latest outings in Goldfinger and For Your Eyes Only.

SMERSH has been dismantled by Nikita Khruschev and now a new organisation has arrived in the shape of SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence Terroism Revenge and Extortion). This outfit consists ex members of SMERSH, Gestapo officers and the Mafia. Their leader is Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

The principal villain in this story is Blofeld's number two and chosen successor Emilio Largo. SPECTRE have stolen two atomic bombs from a British aircraft and have sent ransom demands to the British Prime Minister and President of the United States.

Operation Thunderball is put into motion. Through intelligence Bond is sent to the Bahamas where he is reunited with Felix Leither (Ex CIA) and the pair of them share more action together.

Bond is also helped by Domino Vitali. Domino is Largo's mistress before falling for Bond.

There are some good action scenes like the attempt on Bond's life in the health farm and under water where most of the action in this adventure takes place.
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on 20 June 2017
Confession: I hated the movie for it's excessive underwater sequences. Connery (the best Bond) was wasted there.

However, the book is splendid. Possible one of the best Bond books, and interesting for it's occasional social comments (for example, the young taxi driver who "wants to be Tommy Steele"). Fleming didn't do that too much.
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on 17 March 2017
great
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on 2 December 2015
Gift
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on 10 May 2015
Thunderball is the 9th James Bond book by Ian Fleming. It’s one my favourites of the original series.

It has it all:

- M – check,
- Moneypenny – check,
- May – check,
- Felix – check,
- Exotic location – check,
- Beautiful girl with catchy name – check,
- Car – check,
- Walther PPK – check,
- Blofeld and SPECTRE – check,
- Atomic bombs – check.

I could go on but you get the picture …

I liked the way that the book opens with Bond in need of a serious detox. Fleming describes a hangover, I’m guessing from his own experience, in a wonderful way. After reading this I realised just how descriptive Fleming was with his prose. This is especially the case when we get to the underwater battles later in the book. Fleming must have loved the sea and diving. His portrayal of frogman Bond is rich and atmospheric, for example: Bond sneaking around the Disco, the battle with SPECTRE scuba divers and the various sea life.

The novel is a tough straightforward thriller with an exciting plot. The 1967 movie of the same name follows the book. If you’ve seen this then it’ll help you to conceptualise the story and scenes described.

It all rattles along at a nice pace with a sprinkle of humour and panache. Thunderball also has less violence as compared to other books in the series too.

The focus of Thunderball is on Bond himself. Again, Bond comes off as a rather vulnerable person, riddled with self-doubt. He’s definitely not the superhero that we see in some of the movies. Of course, we get the usual misogyny and abuse. But by this point in series it doesn’t come as much of a shock any more.

We also get to see Bond in scenes with some favourite characters. Not only M but Moneypenny, who was missing from the last couple of novels. Felix Leiter and Bond’s Scottish housekeeper, May who gives Bond a telling off also appear too. The only character that is missing is Q meaning he gadgets and gimmicks so prevalent in the movies are missing. For me this enhances the story and definitely doesn’t make the book less entertaining.

The last part of the novel was a slight let down. In a Bond movie this part of the story is the big climax but not here. What Fleming gives us is rather lukewarm. There’s no big punch or crescendo as we nonchalantly learn that Blofield has escaped.

So in summary, this is a fun novel and worth reading even if you’re not the biggest Bond fan. The exotic mixture makes for an exhilarating page turning thriller. A polished performance from Fleming, with an action packed ingenious plot full of excitement.
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on 12 February 2012
Of all the James Bond books, this one feels the most cinematic, though I do wonder whether my knowledge that the novel is based on an idea for a film influences me in feeling this. When two British atomic weapons go missing, M puts everyone on alert, and sends Bond on a mission to the Bahamas to track them down.

Thunderball seems to be different from the earlier books. Bond feels slightly less rough around the edges - he's mellowed perhaps? His over-opinionated ways are much lessened, and he comes across even as slightly vulnerable. The other characters are the opposite. Whereas before there was in depth background about Goldfinger, Rosa Klebb, Dr No and so on, in this book Largo seems to be nothing more than a puppet. Blofeld gets the rich detailed treatment in an early chapter, but is promptly ignored from then on, making Bond's battle with Largo feel rather perfunctory and impersonal.

The detail of the settings is also sparser than before. In earlier books the reader is treated to long descriptions about the different winds, visits to Harlem, casinos, cars and so on, all of which are missing from this book. Instead, the focus seems to be on action and actual investigation - it would be fair to say this is almost the first novel in which Bond has actually had to do some proper spying. It is written as if for the screen and not the page.

I would go as far as to say that the opening is probably my favourite section of the book. This is the part in which Bond is himself and has his usual foibles. It's the part that gives Blofeld such a brilliant background - setting up an ambitious idea on Fleming's part to have an enemy that could feature in several novels.

Overall though I'm afraid I didn't find it to be at the better end of the series, lacking the unique elements that characterise Bond's earlier outings. It's certainly not bad though, just perhaps more in line with a run-of-the-mill thriller.
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on 2 February 2010
The ninth of the classic James Bond novels, I was looking forward to this one after being completely gripped by 'Moonraker' and 'Live and Let Die' when I read them a few years ago. This one... wasn't so good. It was interesting and detailed, and it had a well thought-out plot and some well-timed humour. It had all the utter chauvinism one expects of 007, all simpering secretaries and bourbon-swigging machismo - which is sort of part of the charm of these old stories. But 'Thunderball' just lacked the building suspense, the deadly peril, and the nerve-wracking finale of the other Bond stories I've read - all the things that really set the books apart from the cheesy action of the movies - and that really disappointed me. There were a couple of thrilling moments, but nothing to make me sit back and think, 'wow'. I'll still be reading more of 007's adventures, but I won't be hanging onto this one to read again.
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on 28 April 2004
Thunderball was the 9th James Bond book by Ian Fleming and it is one of his best 007 books.
The story sees secret agent James Bond 007 being sent to try and recover two atomic bombs that have been hijacked by the terrorist organisation SPECTRE, lead by their ruthless leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who has given the UK government 7 days to pay SPECTRE a ransom of £100,000,000 or the bombs will be detonated in two unspecified but high profile locations in the US or UK. Whilst investigating in the Bahamas 007 meets Domino Petachia girl who is the lover of a millionaire explorer Emilio Largo who is in the Bahamas with a group of businessmen with the intention of treasurehunting from his luxury yacht the Disco Volante. Bond becomes suspicious of Largo and is convinced that Largo has stolen the bombs and is stowing them on board his yacht and is using the treasure hunt as a cover to avoid arousing suspicion, but trying to convince the government and 007's boss"M" that there is a case for action proves difficult so Bond and CIA agent Felix Leiter must use their own initiative and recover the bombs before time runs out.

This book sets a very fast pace early on and is a very engaging novel which leaves you wanting to turn to the next page quickly and it is a very sharp piece of work by one of the best thriller writers in history.
If, like me, you have seen the 1967 film version of this book it will help you to understand the plot and create a better picture in your mind of the story that is taking place.
Even if you are not a Bond fan but enjoy a good thriller novel then this is definitely worth a read.
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First published in 1961, Thunderball is the ninth print outing (and the eighth full length novel) for Ian Fleming's superspy, James Bond. It's an absolutely cracking read, and my favourite of the series following Moonraker.

The book starts off with Bond sent to health farm by M. While there he runs into a certain Count Lippe, and as a result unwittingly incommodes the plans of a major new crime syndicate, SPECTRE. Not long after a couple of nuclear missiles are hijacked, and Bond is on his way to the Bahamas following up what seems to be a slender lead, but one that soon turns into a certainty and Bond is in a race against time to get the missiles back before a major city is wiped out.

This is a great read, with Fleming's trademark action set pieces, superbly colourful scene setting prose and larger than life villains. This is the first of the trilogy of books featuring Blofeld, though Bond doesn't actually come face to face with him here. Opening with a great description of the mother of all hang-overs (Fleming writing from experience) Fleming never really lets up with his great descriptive prose, managing to make every detail clear in the minds eye, making every location and character come to life. Right through to the final underwater battle you feel totally immersed in the action.

Another mark in favour of this excellent book is the slightly vulnerable depiction of Bond. Not quite the self confident impervious hero of earlier books (and of the big screen), this Bond has the occasional bout of self doubt, making him seem more human than before.

It's a thrilling read from a master of the form, 5 stars.
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First published in 1961, Thunderball is the ninth print outing (and the eighth full length novel) for Ian Fleming's superspy, James Bond. It's an absolutely cracking read, and my favourite of the series following Moonraker.

The book starts off with Bond sent to health farm by M. While there he runs into a certain Count Lippe, and as a result unwittingly incommodes the plans of a major new crime syndicate, SPECTRE. Not long after a couple of nuclear missiles are hijacked, and Bond is on his way to the Bahamas following up what seems to be a slender lead, but one that soon turns into a certainty and Bond is in a race against time to get the missiles back before a major city is wiped out.

This is a great read, with Fleming's trademark action set pieces, superbly colourful scene setting prose and larger than life villains. This is the first of the trilogy of books featuring Blofeld, though Bond doesn't actually come face to face with him here. Opening with a great description of the mother of all hang-overs (Fleming writing from experience) Fleming never really lets up with his great descriptive prose, managing to make every detail clear in the minds eye, making every location and character come to life. Right through to the final underwater battle you feel totally immersed in the action.

Another mark in favour of this excellent book is the slightly vulnerable depiction of Bond. Not quite the self confident impervious hero of earlier books (and of the big screen), this Bond has the occasional bout of self doubt, making him seem more human than before.

It's a thrilling read from a master of the form, 5 stars.
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