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  • Published: 3 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781787302426
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $42.99
Categories:

Ian Fleming

The Complete Man




A fascinating new biography of the man behind James Bond, by an award-winning biographer and novelist who has unprecedented access to the Fleming Archive.

A fresh portrait of the man behind James Bond, and his enduring impact, by an award-winning biographer with unprecedented access to the Fleming family papers.

Ian Fleming's greatest creation, James Bond, has had an enormous and ongoing impact on our culture. What Bond represents about ideas of masculinity, the British national psyche and global politics has shifted over time, as has the interpretation of the life of his author. But Fleming himself was more mysterious and subtle than anything he wrote.

Ian's childhood with his gifted brother Peter and his extraordinary mother set the pattern for his ambition to be 'the complete man', and he would strive for the means to achieve this 'completeness' all his life. Only a thriller writer for his last twelve years, his dramatic personal life and impressive career in Naval Intelligence put him at the heart of critical moments in world history, while also providing rich inspiration for his fiction. Exceptionally well connected, and widely travelled, from the United States and Soviet Russia to his beloved Jamaica, Ian had access to the most powerful political figures at a time of profound change.

Nicholas Shakespeare is one of the most gifted biographers working today. His talent for uncovering material that casts new light on his subjects is fully evident in this masterful, definitive biography. His unprecedented access to the Fleming family papers and his nose for a story make this a fresh and eye-opening picture of a man whose life was overshadowed by his famous creation.

  • Published: 3 October 2023
  • ISBN: 9781787302426
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 864
  • RRP: $42.99
Categories:

About the author

Nicholas Shakespeare

Nicholas Shakespeare was born in 1957. The son of a diplomat, much of his youth was spent in the Far East and South America. His novels have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Vision Of Elena Silves, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, Snowleg and The Dancer Upstairs, which was chosen by the American Libraries Association in 1997 as the year's best novel, and in 2001 was made into a film of the same name by John Malkovich. Recent books include Secrets of the Sea and Priscilla. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is married with two sons and divides his time between Oxford and Tasmania.

Also by Nicholas Shakespeare

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Praise for Ian Fleming

A magnificent work of empathy and detection

Colin Thubron, Sunday Times, on Bruce Chatwin

A fascinating account of the man behind the myth

Ian Thomson, Guardian on Bruce Chatwin

An epic piece of work of immense satisfaction... Awe-inspiring

The Times, on Bruce Chatwin

Quite simply, one of the most beautifully written, painstakingly researched and cleverly constructed biographies of this decade

Literary Review, on Bruce Chatwin

Comprehensively researched, elegantly written, perfectly balanced between the life, the books and the ideas

Independent on Sunday on Bruce Chatwin

This is a marvellous book about Ian Fleming, but it's also one of the most engaging portraits of a particular period of British history that I have read in a long time

Antonia Fraser

This is a marvellous book about Ian Fleming, but it’s also one of the most engaging portraits of a particular period of British history that I have read in a long time

Antonia Fraser

Shakespeare has the rare ability to reinvigorate subjects that had seemed exhausted. If, like me, you thought you knew all there was to be known about Ian Fleming, prepare for a surprise...written with such brio that the pace never slackens

Adam Sisman

What a masterful and definitive study this is, enhanced by a novelist’s skill in making it so eminently readable and page-turning. I learned a great deal that I did not know. It is compulsively absorbing.

David Stafford

Shakespeare has the rare ability to reinvigorate subjects that had seemed exhausted. If, like me, you thought you knew all there was to be known about Ian Fleming, prepare for a surprise: the creator of James Bond turns out to be more interesting and less unpleasant than we had thought him to be. Shakespeare’s life of Bruce Chatwin showed him to be a very fine biographer, as well as a much-admired novelist; his life of Ian Fleming is equally compelling. Though a long book, it is written with such brio that the pace never slackens – much like a Bond, one might say.

Adam Sisman

Written with Fleming-esque brio and insouciance, with a feeling for the tragic aspects of his life as well as the ironic comedy of it..elegant...the research here is impeccable.

Telegraph

This excellent biography is as worldly and clever as one could wish.

Philip Hensher, Spectator

A monumental record of Fleming’s life. The completeness of the book is beyond doubt. Shakespeare leaves no future biographer much to discover. Fleming’s place in history is assured.

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Elegant and painstakingly researched

Observer

A sustained and engrossing homage to the Olympic icon of a beleaguered Britain, and a writer damned to fame. With scarcely a dull page, it’s a chip off the old block... steeped in exceptional research....stitches up the loose ends of Fleming’s story into a satisfying 21st-century biography.

Robert McCrum, Independent

The Complete Man is packed with women, their characters and stories carefully filled in...highly accomplished and readable

New Statesman

Fascinating, well researched, neatly written

D.J. Taylor, Literary Review

The most comprehensive picture yet of Bond’s creator… definitive

Economist

A definitive biography that deepens and reshapes previous versions of Fleming’s life… light-footed and swift-moving despite its copious research… Shakespeare’s Fleming rises from these richly textured pages as a more substantial and sympathetic figure than the preening snob of myth.

Financial Times

An exceptional novelist & a prodigious researcher, Shakespeare has produced a compelling narrative that justifies his bold subtitle The Complete Man. Like his seminal life of Bruce Chatwin, he has tackled & unravelled an extraordinarily complex subject

Sydney Morning Herald

A scintillating read...Shakespeare presents his readers with a rounded portrait of a complicated man...remarkable and beautifully written...wholly successful

Entertainment Focus

[This book] impressed me enormously… stupendous research

Spectator, *Books of the Year*

Shakespeare, renowned biographer of Bruce Chatwin, reveals a story worthy of a Bond novel in his life of Ian Fleming. The painstakingly researched yet fast-paced book explores Fleming’s childhood, dramatic war years and complex personal life and reveals how they shaped his hugely successful books

Financial Times, Best Books of the Year

Will surely be the last word on James Bond’s creator. Shakespeare’s intimate grasp of Fleming’s social milieu makes this superb biography even more authoritative

William Boyd, Spectator

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind on the best book of the year.... the writing is phenomenal. It’s so good that I barely have space for three other great books.

Michael Smith, author of The Real Special Relationship.

A revealing insight into postwar, post-Empire Britain...A terrific read

Michael Wood, BBC History Magazine

Shakespeare leaves no stone unturned in his biography of a man as enigmatic as his creation

Sunday Times, *Books of the Year*

A fascinating book

Round & About

This biography…[is] definitive, tracing Fleming’s childhood, military service, espionage and writing career

Economist, *Books of the Year*

A must-read

Evening Standard

A fascinating work

Scotsman, *Books of the Year*