Guide to James Bond

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For Your Eyes Only (1960)

Bond makes his next appearance in the collection of short stories, For Your Eyes Only. The first story is “From a View to a Kill”, which begins with the murder of a NATO despatch rider in France. Bond, who is in Paris at the time, is tracked by local agent Mary Ann Russell and sent to investigate, taking the place of another despatch rider on the run. The assassin comes after him, but Bond is ready and kills him instead. He then discovers the enemy’s secret lair in the forest, but the men there get the better of him, until he is saved by Mary Ann Russell.

The story “For Your Eyes Only” begins with the murder of the Havelocks, a Jamaican couple who have refused to sell their estate to a former Gestapo officer named von Hammerstein who is the chief of counterintelligence for the Cuban Secret Service. They are killed by two Cuban hit men under the direction of Major Gonzales. But the Havelocks are close friends of M, who had been best man at their wedding in 1925. Von Hammerstein is currently at an estate he is renting at Echo Lake in Vermont. Bond volunteers to sneak over the Canadian border and kill him. But when Bond arrives at the estate, he finds that the Havelocks’ daughter, Judy is there on a revenge mission. Judy shoots von Hammerstein in the back with a bow and arrow as he dives into a lake. In the shoot-out that follows, Bond kills Major Gonzales and the two Cuban gunmen. He then takes Judy off to a motel.

For the story “Quantum of Solace” the scene shifts to the Bahamas, where Bond is having dinner with the governor and a boring Canadian couple. After they have left, Bond remarks that he'd always thought that if he were to marry he would marry an air hostess. Whereupon, the governor tells a tale. A rather innocent colleague of his in the Colonial Service named Philip Masters fell for a pretty young air hostess named Rhoda Llewellyn who had taken an interest in him on a flight to London. They married. He was then posted to Bermuda. But she found colonial life boring and began a long, extremely indiscreet affair with the eldest son of a rich Bermudian family. As a result Masters had a nervous breakdown. While recovering he was sent to Washington to negotiate fishing rights. The governor’s wife had a talk with Masters's wife and her affair came to an end. When Masters returned, he divided their home in two and refused to have anything to do with his wife in private, although in public they put on a brave face as a happy couple.

The governor has a theory that gives the story its title. He says that he has seen couples repair relationships after flagrant infidelities – even murders. But once the “quantum of solace” – the amount of basic humanity the couple feel for each other – drops to zero, then it is time to get out.

Although Masters thought he had taken an apt revenge on his unfaithful wife, he never recovered emotionally. After a time Rhoda married a rich Canadian and went on to find happiness again. Bond remarks that she hardly deserved her good fortune, but the governor says Masters had always been a weak character. Perhaps “Fate” had chosen Rhoda as its instrument to teach him a lesson. The governor then reveals that the dinner companions Bond found so boring were Rhoda and her Canadian husband.

This dinner party plainly took place on Bond’s night off. He neither killed anyone, won a bundle at a casino nor bedded some tortured beauty.

The action returns in the story “Risico”. Bond is sent to investigate a smuggling operation based in Italy, which is flooding Britain with drugs. M puts Bond in touch with a CIA informant named Kristatos who tells Bond that a man named Enrico Colombo is behind the racket. When Bond sets out to investigate, he is captured and taken aboard Colombo’s ship. Colombo explains that he is a relatively innocent cigarette smuggler and tells Bond that Kristatos is actually the one behind the drug smuggling operation, which is backed by the Soviets. Bond agrees to help Colombo eliminate Kristatos. They set off to Santa Maria, a small fishing port north of Ancona, where Kristatos’s men are loading a shipment of drugs. Bond, Colombo and his men attack Kristatos’s ship. Bond discovers Kristatos detonating a bomb to destroy the warehouse and kills him as he tries to escape. Then Colombo, out of gratitude, gives Bond the key to his mistress’s hotel bedroom.

The story “The Hildebrand Rarity” finds Bond diving in the Seychelles. Through his friend Fidele Barbey, Bond meets American millionaire Milton Krest. Bond and Barbey agree to help in the search for a rare fish with spiny fins named “The Hildebrand Rarity” after the scientist who discovered it. But it transpires that Krest only wants to collect the fish to justify the tax-free status of his yacht, which he claims is used for scientific research. On board is Krest’s English-born wife, Elizabeth. During the trip, Krest verbally abuses everyone around him and physically abuses his wife, whipping her with a stingray tail he calls the “Corrector”. When they reach the atoll where the rare fish was last spotted, instead of trying to catch it with a net, Krest pours poison into the water, killing the local sea life. With the dead specimen of the Hildebrand Rarity, they head for home. Along the way, Krest gets very drunk, insults Bond and Barbey, and schedules another appointment for his wife with the “Corrector”. He also threatens to get the crewmen to throw Bond overboard, after seeing him talk to his wife.

That night, Bond hears Krest choking and goes on deck to find Krest dead with the Hildebrand Rarity stuffed down his throat. Bond throws Krest into the sea, making it look as though, in his cups, Krest simply fell overboard. Once the formalities have been completed in the Seychelles, Mrs Krest invites James to accompany her to Mombasa, her next destination. Knowing that she probably killed her husband, Bond hesitates for a moment, then accepts her invitation.

Thunderball (1961)

At the beginning of Thunderball, Bond is in poor physical condition and M sends him to Shrublands health farm. There he meets Count Lippe who is, curiously, a member of the Red Lightning Tong from Macao. Lippe tries to kill Bond by tampering with the spinal traction machine. Bond is saved by nurse Patricia Fearing; he then seduces her and gets his own back on Lippe by trapping him in a steam cabinet.

Bond is fit for action again, when a communiqué is received from SPECTRE, then headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. It says that SPECTRE has hijacked an RAF V bomber with two nuclear bombs on board and is demanding £100 million for details of its whereabouts. Otherwise it will destroy a piece of property worth more than £100 million, killing people and causing panic. Then SPECTRE will blow up a major city.

As a member of SPECTRE, Lippe had been despatched to Shrublands to keep an eye on Giuseppi Petacchi, a NATO observer seconded to the RAF. On board the V bomber, he murdered the crew and flew the plane to the Bahamas where he landed it in shallow water. Petacchi was expecting a reward. Instead he was killed, along with Lippe, who was now considered unreliable after his run-in with Bond.

M suspects that the bombs have been taken to the Bahamas: as the islands are close to the US coastline, the bombs could be carried there easily on a motor launch. Bond is sent to investigate in what is designated Operation Thunderball. In Nassau, he meets Dominetta “Domino” Vitali. She is the mistress of Emilio Largo, who is ostensibly in the Bahamas on a secretive treasure hunting expedition. This piques Bond’s interest.

Felix Leiter, who is back with the CIA, turns up. Bond discovers that Largo’s yacht, the Disco Volante, has an underwater compartment where the bombs could be transported. They also find the submerged V bomber. Bond dives on it and recovers Giuseppe Petacchi’s dog tags. It transpires that Petacchi is the brother of Dominetta Vitali.

After Bond has made love to Domino, he reveals the fate of her brother. She agrees to take a Geiger counter on board the Disco Volante to see if the bombs are there. Meanwhile, Bond and Leiter board the US submarine Manta to follow the Disco Volante. But Largo captures Domino and the Geiger counter and tortures her.

As Largo’s men begin to deploy one of the bombs, a team of divers from the Manta attack. After saving Leiter’s life, Bond confronts Largo. He manages to thwart Largo’s plan to plant the bomb, but is trapped by Largo in a narrow passage in the coral. Largo clamps an octopus over Bond’s mask and is about to kill him, when Domino arrives and fires a harpoon through Largo’s neck. Both Bond and Domino end up in hospital. Though he can barely walk, Bond makes it to Domino’s room before collapsing.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)

The next of Bond’s lovers we know about is a young French-Canadian woman named Vivienne Michel. In a prologue to most editions of The Spy Who Loved Me, Fleming says that he found a manuscript written by Vivienne Michel on his desk one morning. He was interested because it presented a view of James Bond “through the wrong end of the telescope so to speak”. After clearing for any infringement of the Official Secrets Act, Fleming says, he sponsored its publication.

In the first part of the book, entitled “Me”, Vivienne writes of the loss of her parents and her childhood in Quebec. At the age of sixteen, she was sent to a finishing school in England. After two unsuccessful relationships, she returns to Quebec, then sets off on a road trip down into the US on a motor scooter.

In part two, “Them”, she gets a job in The Dreamy Pines Motor Court. When the motel was closing for the season, she is asked to stay on to hand the keys over to the owner, Mr Sanguinetti. She is alone at night when two men turn up claiming they are from Sanguinetti’s insurers and have come to take an inventory. It turns out they are two gangsters named Sluggsy Morant and Sol “Horror” Horowitz. When she tries to escape, they beat her, strip her naked and threaten to rape her. She is fighting them off when the front door buzzer sounds.

Part three is called “Him”. The man at the front door is English. It is Bond. His car has a flat tyre and he needs a room for the night. When Sol and Horror try to turn him away, he threatens to make trouble for the motel’s owner. Viv goes to help Bond get his bags from the car and informs him that the men are armed. Bond arms himself and when he registers he tells them he’s with the police.

Bond then, uncharacteristically, starts running at the mouth. Usually taciturn, he talks about Operation Thunderball and how he killed an ex-Gestapo assassin working for SPECTRE who had been hired by the Russians to kill a Soviet defector in Toronto. Then he takes some Benzedrine to keep him awake in the night..

That night Sol and Horror set fire to the motel in what Bond has already figured out is an insurance scam. They try to kill him, but Bond has put a makeshift dummy in his bed, which they shoot. He rescues the girl. Together they confront the villains. Bond kills one of them. When Vivienne hits the other, who is trying to escape, his car runs off the road into the lake. Bond and Vivienne then make love. It is unlike anything she has experienced before. Sluggsy then reappears and Bond finishes him off.

In the morning Bond has gone. The cops turn up, sent by Bond. The police captain has checked out Bond with Washington and warns Vivienne to keep away from men like him: “They are not for you, whether they are called James Bond or Sluggsy Morant.”. They are, he says, a “different species”.

The Spy Who Loved Me was not well received and Fleming persuaded Jonathan Cape not to reprint the book, or publish a paperback version. Many critics do not consider it part of the James Bond canon.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)

There was no doubt that Ian Fleming was back on form with his next novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and sales soared. James Bond was back in the centre of the action, pitted once more against SPECTRE and its mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who made a fleeting appearance in Thunderball.

At the beginning of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond believes that Blofeld is dead. For a year, he has been pursuing Blofeld and SPECTRE and can find no trace of them. Frustrated, he is taking time to draft his letter of resignation from the Secret Service during a driving holiday in France. Returning to Royale-les-Eaux, he stops a young woman from drowning herself, only to be grabbed by two gangsters.

He first saw the girl as she raced past him in a Lancia Flaminia Zagato Spyder with the hood down. By chance they are both staying at the Hotel Splendide in Royale where he is told that she is La Comtesse Teresa di Vicenzo, though she calls herself Tracy. That night at the casino, she is humiliated when she cannot pay her losses. To help her out, Bond tosses chips over to her and apologizes for forgetting that he had agreed to play as her partner that night. Afterwards, they make love. In the morning, she tells him that he is a lousy lover and throws him out.

The two gangsters take Bond to meet Marc-Ange Draco, Tracy’s father and head of the Union Corse – the Corsican equivalent of the Mafia. He offers Bond £1 million to marry his daughter. Bond refuses, but says he will see her again. He then asks Draco whether he knows anything about Blofeld. Draco knows that Blofeld is alive as he has recently recruited three members of the Union Corse for SPECTRE. He soon reports that Blofeld is in Switzerland.

For two months, the Secret Service can find no sign of Blofeld in Switzerland. Then the College of Arms reports that Blofeld has claimed the right to use the vacant title of Comte Balthazar de Bleuville. Impersonating Sir Hilary Bray from the College of Arms, Bond goes to visit Blofeld in his Alpine lair, Piz Gloria. He finally meets Blofeld and pretends to start work on his genealogy. Meanwhile he entertains himself with the other residents of the Piz Gloria – ten young English women who are being cured of various allergies under the aegis of Blofeld's partner in crime, Irma Bunt. In fact, the girls are being brainwashed to spread biological agents that will destroy the agriculture that post-World War II Britain is dependent on.

With this information, Bond makes his escape on skis and is fired at. This causes an avalanche. Bond narrowly escapes being buried. Nevertheless, Blofeld’s men are still after him. He reaches the village of Samaden where the festivities for Christmas Eve are in full swing. Knowing that Bond is at Piz Gloria, Draco has sent Tracy there. She rescues him by disguising in her parka. They make off in her car. A Mercedes follows, firing at them. Round a hidden bend, Bond jumps out and turns a sign so it directs the car following into a deep ravine.

Bond returns to England in time to have Christmas lunch with M at his home, Quarterdeck. According to an expert from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, fowl pest is already ravaging the country. Blofeld has to be stopped. Meanwhile Bond has decided to marry Tracy and visits Draco in Marseilles. To help out his soon-to-be son-in-law, Draco volunteers to take care of Blofeld. With his men, they fly into Switzerland in a stolen army helicopter, identifying themselves on the radio as a Red Cross aircraft flying plasma to Italy. They land at Piz Gloria. As fighting breaks out, Blofeld heads for the bobsleigh run. Bond follows. Blofeld sets off down the run on a one-man sled with Bond close behind. Blofeld drops a grenade that blows Bond over the side of the run. He lands in soft snow. Then Blofeld’s mountain-top lair blows up, but the man himself has escaped.

Bond then makes his way to Munich where Tracy is waiting. They marry in the British Consulate, but Bond refuses Draco’s £1 million wedding present. As they head off down the autobahn to Kitzbühel for their honeymoon, Bond spots Blofeld in a Maserati that flashes past. A bullet takes out the windscreen of Tracy’s Lancia. The car crashes. Tracy is killed; Bond survives.
You Only Live Twice (1964)

Uniquely, You Only Live Twice begins with an epigraph. It is a quotation from the seventeenth-century Japanese poet Basho and reads:

You only live twice:

Once when you are born,

And once when you look death in the face.
As the book begins, Bond is partying with Japanese girls in a geisha house in Tokyo, apparently unaffected by the death of his wife. This is not the case. Only a month before, M feared that Bond was slowly going to pieces. He had bungled two assignments and nearly got himself killed. Sir James Molony advised that there was only one way to turn Bond around – send him on an impossible mission.

Bond is sent to Japan to get access to Magic 44, the decrypts of all Soviet radio transmissions that the Japanese normally share only with the Americans. In Japan, Bond meets Tiger Tanaka, head of Japan’s Secret Service, and offers in exchange Blue Route, similar decrypts from China. But the Japanese already have Blue Route. Nevertheless Tanaka shows Bond an example of MAGIC 44, which concerns a direct threat to Britain. Bond sends this home, averting a major crisis.

When Tanaka and Bond get to know each other, Tanaka says he will give the British access to MAGIC 44, if Bond will complete a mission that has already killed Tanaka’s best man. Dr Guntrun Shatterhand, a Swiss botanist, has opened a garden in a remote Japanese castle and has stocked it with poisonous plants and insects, as well as deadly snakes and fish. The area is dotted with fumaroles, geysers of scalding mud that erupt hundreds of feet into the air at regular intervals. Although helium balloons with a skull and crossbones flying above the castle warn people to stay away, these only act as an advertisement. Every year, thousands of Japanese flock to the garden to commit suicide. If Bond kills Shatterhand, Tanaka will give the British MAGIC 44.

Bond agrees to take on the assignment, especially when he is shown photographs of Shatterhand and his companion. They are none other than Blofeld and Irma Bunt. During his extensive preparation for the mission, Bond is trained as a ninja and disguised as a Japanese. The plan is for Bond to attack the castle by climbing a cliff on the seaward side. To reach its foot, Bond needs the help of the Ama people of Kuro Island whose girls dive naked for fish. On Kuro Island, Bond meets the stunning Kissy Suzuki, who had been a Hollywood actress before returning to the simple life of a fisherwoman.

Kissy leads Bond through the straits to the cliff below the castle. He climbs it and hides in an outhouse. From there, he witnesses both the suicide and the murder of people entering the garden. He also sees Blofeld and Bunt, swathed in protective clothing, going for a walk. That night, Bond breaks into the castle, but is foiled by an oubliette – a trapdoor in a castle floor that hides the entrance to a dungeon. He pretends to be a Japanese beggar who is deaf and dumb, but Irma Bunt recognizes him by his scar.

Blofeld takes Bond to his “Question Room” and seats him above a fumarole that he says is set to blow at 11.15. With a minute to go, Bond leaps from his seat. This proves that he is not deaf and dumb, but has understood what Blofeld was saying. Blofeld arms himself with a samurai sword ready to behead Bond. But Bond has spotted a stave leaning against a wall. He grabs it and strikes Bunt a fatal blow so that she cannot raise the alarm. Then he fights Blofeld, stave against sword. Using his ninja training, Bond defeats Blofeld, disarms him and strangles him. He then turns a big stone wheel that controls the fumarole and makes his way out on to the balcony. He grabs the mooring rope of one of the helium balloons and cuts it free with Blofeld’s sword.

As Bond sails out over the straits, the pressure from the fumarole blows the top off the castle. Bond is hit on the head with a piece of debris and falls in the sea. When the news reaches London, M posts an obituary in The Times. But Bond is not dead. Kissy has seen him fall and rescues him. The blow to the head has left him with amnesia, though. Eventually Kissy becomes pregnant, but before she can tell him, he finds a square of newsprint they use as lavatory paper with the word “Vladivostok” on it. This rekindles a vague recollection and he decides he must go there to find out what else he can recall. This inconclusive ending sets up the last of Fleming’s Bond novels.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1965)

Months after James Bond disappeared in Japan, he reappears in London. He is now under the control of the KGB. He has been briefed by a Colonel Boris to talk his way through the security checks at SIS headquarters, then insists on seeing M. Although there are indications that Bond is now working for the KGB, M agrees to the meeting. Bond explains that he had been picked up by the police in Vladivostok and handed over to the KGB. They interrogated him, but he could not remember anything. However, Bond says, the Soviet interrogators convinced him of the need for peace. But first the warmongers must be eliminated, he says as he pulls a pistol from his pocket and sprays deadly cyanide at M. Instantly a sheet of armour-plated glass descends from the ceiling, blocking the jet. Bond is quickly subdued. It is clear that he has been brainwashed. Sir James Molony is called in, once again, to reverse the process.

Bond’s deprogramming is successful, but now he has to prove himself again. He is assigned to kill Francisco “Pistols” Scaramanga, a freelance assassin who is believed to have killed and maimed several British secret agents in the West Indies. Scaramanga is also known as “The Man with the Golden Gun” because he uses a gold-plated, long-barrelled, single-action Colt .45. Bond is sent to Jamaica, where he meets up with Mary Goodnight, his former secretary who has now been posted to the Caribbean.

Operating under the name Mark Hazard, Bond meets Scaramanga in a Jamaican bordello. Bond introduces himself as a security man looking into fires in the cane fields. Scaramanga hires him to look after security at a meeting of stockholders in a tourist development near Negril which he has shares in. Also working undercover at the half-built resort is Felix Leiter, who has been recalled to duty by the CIA and is setting up bugs in Scaramanga’s meeting room.

The stockholders are American gangsters and a KGB agent. Their aim is to undermine Western interests in the Caribbean sugar industry to boost the value of the Cuban sugar crop. Scaramanga knows that Bond is after him and proposes to dispose of his limey assistant when business is concluded. The US mobsters also want to move in casinos, which had recently been kicked out of Cuba by Fidel Castro, while the KGB man wants to sabotage Jamaica’s bauxite industry. They are seeking protection money from the oil companies in the Caribbean and discuss smuggling girls and drugs into the US from Mexico.

After an evening of lewd entertainment, Scaramanga intends to take his party on a train ride to see the marina at Green Island Harbour, twenty miles away. On the trip, Bond is forced to show his hand when he sees a figure that appears to be Mary Goodnight tied across the tracks ahead. It turns out to be a dummy, but Bond is committed to a gunfight. He is saved by Leiter who has smuggled himself aboard the train.

Bond and Leiter fling themselves into a swamp, while the driverless train crashes into a river. Leiter has broken his leg and is immobile. Bond, although wounded, sets off after Scaramanga who has also escaped from the train. He finds Scaramanga sprawled among the mangrove roots, bleeding, crawling with insects and fending off a snake with a stiletto.

Scaramanga throws the knife at Bond. Bond dodges, but is loath to kill an unarmed man. Then Scaramanga pulls a Derringer, shoots Bond and grabs for the stiletto. As Bond falls he looses off five shots, killing Scaramanga. Bond thinks he has only suffered a flesh wound, but Scaramanga’s bullet has been dipped in snake venom so even a slight wound would be fatal. Luckily a doctor recognizes the symptoms of a snakebite and administers anti-venom in time to save Bond.

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