Indulge me in a little pulp fiction. I have never read an Ian Fleming book, and I have only seen one James Bond movie. It was a Roger Moore version–I can’t remember which one–and I was not impressed; I want my spy stories to be serious. I loved Mission Impossible and hated Get Smart when I was young. So when Richard Spencer did yet another Radix podcast on James Bond, they mentioned that the books were very different from the movies, so I had to read one.
Figuring I would get necessary background in the first installment, I picked Casino Royale. It’s a good, short book. Notice how so many books today are long and serialized? Movies are similar. It’s a relief to be able to zip through a complete story. The plot was tight–nothing fantastical–and the writing good enough. Bond was not the Movie Bond. there was nothing frivolous. Bond has a real human side. The story lingers in my mind days after reading it. I’ll probably read another eventually.
It made me think of the Cold War; Casino Royale was published in 1953, the end of the beginning of the Cold War. A few notes about the time:
- The Berlin Airlift, 1948, touched off the Cold War;
- Alger Hiss trial, 1948;
- China goes Communist, 1949;
- Senator McCarthy’s Wheeling speech on the infiltration of Communism in the State Department, 1950;
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg give away the nuclear secret, 1950;
- The Korean War, 1950-53;
- Whittaker Chamber’s Witness, 1952;
- Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, 1953;
- National Review founded, 1955
The Cold War must have been a huge shock after the struggle of World War II, and now a dark sinister cloud descended over the country, with the government honeycombed with a large Fifth Column. Right wing resistance was rising from a liberal-dominated society.
More on the home front:
- Boring baseball, and the New York Yankees dominate, win five straight World Series, 1949-53
- Levittown, NY: the birth of suburbia, 1947-51
- The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, 1955
I won’t try to comment on the significance of Ian Fleming’s Bond. It’s good pulp.