Book Review of: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born


The Commander, the Author and the Escape that made it happen
by Ujjwal Dey

Review of: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica by Matthew Parker

Our world has always been changing but it seems like 20th century was a rapid metamorphosis of Earth and its inhabitants. This book by well known author Matthew Parker traces the life of Ian Fleming – especially during the creation of his evergreen Hero – James Bond. From the tumultuous beginnings of Ian Fleming’s childhood to his recruitment in Secret Service for Britain, we see a real human being shaped by the many forces that assaulted the 20th century. Rising to the position of Commander in the eventful World War II, Fleming certainly had experience and creativity to employ in his job in the military establishment. But this book’s focus of course is bringing to fore the man and his environment that created James Bond.

The ideal man or the perfect gentleman has always been an important mythic figure for boys growing up and aiming to establish themselves as Men of the modern era. James Bond personifies this emotion of all boys of all ages. He is tough but falls in love. He serves Britain but he also travels the world. He lives larger than life adventures and yet he is just another disposable soldier in the barracks. 007 is licensed to kill. Yet, we all pray for him to succeed against all odds as if he was a real representation of the security we seek as citizens of the free world.

Parker does a great job of describing the Jamaica of Ian Fleming. It was a different life, different economy and different culture compared to the comforts of Britain. But Fleming took two months off every year from his post-war job to retreat to Jamaica. Here he laid the foundation for his immortal creation by establishing “Goldeneye” – the home away from home, where he would let his creative fury flash into high seas with the first epic titled, “Casino Royale”. Many titles followed each year with his determined routine, dedicated to shaping the James Bond we all know and admire.

Yet, this book is not constrained to Fleming and Bond. It has a host of interesting characters and lives and celebrities – all of whom have a connection to Goldeneye. Not to forget Jamaica itself. Jamaica’s transformation from British colony to independent nation is as engaging as that of any of the other freedom struggles against Britain at that time.

Post-World War II world was truly exciting. Unknown fears, delicate economies, frustrated victims, terrorised broken citizens, the Red / Iron Curtain of USSR, the effects of the Atomic Age, the very fragile nature of everyone’s hopes and dreams. Ian Fleming introduced the world to James Bond in this precisely timed moment. Parker’s book provides us the background and a back door to Ian Fleming’s life as author of James Bond. We see what Fleming did and what he conveyed to the world while supposedly at a “vacation” at a Caribbean island. Parker certainly has included fascinating pictures and images to add to our appetite for the man behind the most famous man – James Bond.

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