Book Review: Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye: Keeping Spain out of World War II


by Mark Simmons

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2018. Pp. xvi, 192+. Illus., maps, personae, gloss., biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 161200685X

Ian Fleming’s War

Sometime Royal Marine Simmons, the author of numerous articles and books on naval and military history, and travel, has produced an informative, often amusing, and at times very insightful look at Ian Fleming’s role in British naval intelligence during the Second World War.

As the title indicates, Fleming had role in the ultimately successful effort to prevent Spain from joining the Axis – “Operation Goldeneye” – but Simmons covers a lot of other territory as well. It’s a great story, well told. Simmons roams across several decades, spanning several continents, and threads through his account of the operations in which Fleming took part with an informal biography of the man.

In the process, Simmons also gives us an outline history of British intelligence in both world wars. We get glimpses at the actions and thinking of scores of important actors, most notably Winston Churchill, Francisco Franco, and Wilhelm Canaris, but also lesser characters, such as the anti-Nazi Spaniard Juan March and José Enrique Varela, and the pro-Nazi Ramón Serrano Súñer. He often goes into some detail about numerous specific schemes, double crosses, commando raids, and more.

In the process, Simmons also explains the influence of many of these persons and events on the “life” and adventures of Fleming’s hero, James Bond, as can be seen in the title of one novel, Goldeneye, which was also the name of Fleming’s house in the Caribbean. 

A good read for anyone with an interest in the Second World War, covert operations, or the Bond series.


Note: Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye is also available in several e-editions

StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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