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on 7 August 2017
A positively engaging read about 30 Assault Unit (30 AU) during WW2 (with a brief modern history included at the end of the book) and Ian Fleming (the writer of the James Bond series).

I must be honest in saying that, at first, I loathed the including of material about James Bond since I wanted to read about war and not another series entirely. I found myself reading between the lines and picking out the materiel I wanted to read, in the first few chapters at least. For the most part of the book, after the begging and until the end, James Bond features only lightly across each chapter but by the end I'd come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to tell the story of Ian Fleming and 30 AU without writing about the James Bond series. Footnotes largely relate to James Bond and I ignored most after realising. I can't be quite sure how to conclude my opinion on such including of material. I've read it, I don't feel like it wasted my time, that is all.

Beside the above, and on the whole, I found it a valuable account of WW2 to read. It includes detail of much but keeps them light. It provides a chronological account of 30 AU throughout WW2 and concludes in the modern day. It has interesting bits in the intelligence that was obtained and stories of how famous writers like Ernest Hemingway was involved in the war, if only briefly. There is another author mentioned that struck me but fail to recall a name. I'd say if spies, intelligence and alike are favourable reads then this is a volume that might take your interest for that angle.

The book includes a section of photographs that span some handful of pages but beside that the book is a wall of text. Given all this time on I can't help but feel additional material in the forms of maps, scanned documents and alike would have positively expanded the work and only added to its contribution of books on WW2. The book doesn't fail without the including of such material but certainly other volumes of WW2 books provide content that show me things this one does not. The book serves its purpose mind, and tells the story, so that's most important.

There's a couple of full stops missing on two unrecorded pages and a sentence that starts and makes no sense on an unrecorded page also. I'm surprised proof-readers, editors and alike haven't picked this up. One for the sharp eyed that has no real effect on anything when all considered.

The covers a nice design and makes it easy on the eye. The font of the book is spaced for an engaging read but not so much that one is left looking from top to bottom of a page to read the next sentence (metaphorically). Very well typesette'd and formatted. Printed on cream like paper that makes the blackness stand out and easier on the eye.

Overall for the small fee, perhaps less than £3, you can pay for a used copy of this volume on Amazon it really is a steal. Despite my three star rating for the various disagreements stated above I'd recommend this without a doubt to the addition in ones collection. I think perhaps my next hunt is to obtain the other titles from this author and see how they compare. But then that's an authors job done, isn't it? When a reader feels the need to explore more volumes and purchase another copy the book must have left an impression.
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on 27 December 2011
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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on 24 August 2017
good
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on 7 August 2015
Great Story
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on 4 October 2011
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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on 31 January 2012
I don't profess to be a reader. Be this the case, the author gives a good factually correct story, but does not go into a story telling format. It's far too much overview and concentrates on people and titles that frankly could have been mentioned and dropped. I also noted the tendency to over explain some things and constant use of German unit names, when clearly when the unit is explained and the equivalent English title is used the author should just continue with that version to aid and help the flow of the reader. Unlike most books I have read, I did not feel the need to finish this book and was disappointed in the story line in general. My opinion! Give it a go and judge for yourself.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 February 2017
Fleming has always intrigued me. A man of so many facets, failures and successes. Working in Naval Intelligence at such an exciting time with his responsibilities obviously left him with a head full of ideas to use for his books in later life.

WW2, like any war, is notable for the development of certain techniques and military units. 30 Commando is very notable in that genre. I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone but I strongly recommend that, if you buy this book, you also buy Gentle Johnny Ramensky: The Extraordinary True Story of the Safe Blower Who Became a War Hero. The two are inextricably linked and although I found Fleming's book to be the most interesting, the story of Johnny Ramensky is that of a folk hero and war hero who never could settle in civilian life but flourished in war, rather like Fleming himself.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 July 2012
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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VINE VOICEon 24 October 2011
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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on 12 February 2015
There's plenty in this book and it's definitely worth reading. But, after early accounts of the setting up of 30 Commando, the book becomes a general history of episodes in the war in which 30 Commando was involved, with occasional reminders of such, and even more occasional reminders, some in footnotes, of how this relates to Ian Fleming. The general parts about the war tend to be either lists of names and organisations, or historical stuff that a lot of readers would know anyway. The book isn't what it sets out to be or claims to be. Perhaps I'm getting jaded, but there it is.
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