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Goldeneye Paperback – August 9, 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars 199 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“Parker’s entertaining and well-researched biography dishes up a rich stew for fans of popular literature, travel writing, British and West Indian history, and filmmaking, all sauced with plenty of titillating celebrity gossip.”
Booklist (starred review)

“This is no guilty pleasure. It’s a straight-up delight of a biographical narrative that crisply illuminates Bond, Fleming and the era when the sun was setting on the British Empire and dawning on the jet age. Parker is out to explain an era, a writer and a remarkable character. Mission accomplished”
Dallas Morning News

“A wonderful biography. If you like Bond, you’ll like this book.”

“Fans of James Bond books and films, along with those intrigued by the man behind the spy will devour the captivating stories within these pages. Readers interested in Jamaica’s relationship with Britain and America as the country moved toward independence will also appreciate the historical, cultural, and political realities and their context within Fleming’s work.”
Library Journal

“Throughout Matthew Parker’s account of Fleming’s post-war sojourns in Jamaica, and how they shaped his fiction, we can imagine Bond himself looking on and feeling a perverse stab of envy. Parker tells a wider story; that of an island and its people at a turning point in their history. Parker’s highly readable account of Fleming’s Jamaican life is less
Thunderball and more Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. Bond himself might have been a touch jealous.”
The Telegraph

“Hugely enjoyable and deliciously gossipy.”
The Telegraph

“Against a backdrop of the island’s evolution from colonialism to independence, Matthew Parker tells the story of Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, of the psychological fallout of the end of the British Empire and of how Bond parachuted in to offer solace in the form of escapist fantasy. With Goldeneye now a luxury resort and the public appetite for Bond movies undiminished, Parker’s book is an astute reminder of the price we pay for fantasy.”
The Washington Post

“Matthew Parker’s
Goldeneye spies on Ian Fleming’s love affair with Jamaica”
Vanity Fair (Hot Type Pick)

“Unique. Parker's
Goldeneye is an appealing Caribbean history dressed as pop culture, and he adds complexity to Bond's legacy of vodka martinis, car chases and women in bikinis.”
Associated Press

“The author parallels Fleming's life with postwar events that planted the seed for the Bond character. He summarizes each of the Bond books as they reflect Cold War history―e.g., the Suez Crisis, the independence movements and increasing economic turmoil. A well-written look at Fleming's life, though the book is even better as an indictment of the anachronistic colonialism of the 1950s and the end of the British Empire.”

“An outstanding survey packed with insights key to understanding Ian Fleming's world and how it translated to his famous James Bond character and scenarios, as well as a cultural and social survey of Jamaica's evolving importance in the world.”
Midwest Book Review

“The iconic image of bikini-clad Ursula Andress stepping out of the Caribbean sea in the first James Bond movie ‘Dr. No’ is the stuff of fantasy. Now, Parker tells the story of the equally fantastic life of Bond creator Ian Fleming on the beaches of Jamaica, where he spent two months of every year from 1946 to 1964 at Goldeneye, the villa he built on the island’s northern coast, hobnobbing with celebrity residents Errol Flynn, Noel Coward and Lawrence Olivier. Read it while drinking a martini ― shaken, not stirred.”
New York Post

“The soil from which Bond sprang is as virile as the spy himself. In exploring Jamaica, the island where Bond was born, Parker casts the entire canon in a refreshing―almost tropical―light. Through exhaustive research and interviews, Parker assembles an intricate portrait of not just Fleming, his coterie and his Goldeneye villa, but of Jamaica and the post-War remnants of the British Empire.”
Paste Magazine (Best Books of March)

“Fascinating. Parker treats each Bond novel, beginning with
Casino Royale, with respect and expertise, taking care to show that Fleming often integrated his deep knowledge of Jamaica into the plotlines. The depiction of Fleming’s own life of luxury in Jamaica, meanwhile, is mesmerizing. The book is as charming as Bond himself, leaving us a greater understanding of the world’s most famous spy, his creator, and the house in which he was conceived.”
Publishers Weekly

“Without Jamaica it is safe to say, there would have been no Agent 007. Matthew Parker sets the record straight in
Goldeneye, his superb account of Fleming's Jamaica. This well researched, excellently written book tells of a rapid literary decline.”
The Financial Times

“Insightful and engagingly written. Compelling.
Goldeneye thoroughly explores Fleming’s life and provides glimpses of his neighbors and guests, among them Noel Coward, British royals, and, of course, Sean Connery. But the book’s real value is its examination of how Jamaica and Bond formed a microcosm of England’s changes in the 1950s and early ’60s.”
The Seattle Times

“Parker gives us insight into how this exotic local nurtured Fleming's writing, as well as a glimpse at some of the interesting guests he entertained there, and a look into colonialism and the crumbling British Empire. This is Bond's real origin story.”
Book Riot

“As much a testament to Jamaica as it is to Bond. The perfect book to understand the roots of one of the world’s most legendary cultural icons.”

“Sparkling. Full of great quotes and salacious gossip. The Commander would be pleased.”
Open Letters Monthly

“I could not put down this story. For devotees of James Bond, or Jamaica, or the British Empire of old,
Goldeneye is most entertaining reading.”
Providence Journal

“The first book to explore the north-shore estate where the author and former intelligence officer Ian Fleming spent two months each year and wrote all the Bond books. The purchase of his tropical lair, the retreat from society, the way Fleming spent the latter half of his life there―these are all apparently telltale signs of a man who just can't handle getting older. What Parker's new book shows is how much that crisis latched itself onto James Bond, and how the defiant fantasy he provided against decline both restored Fleming and gave life to an immortal franchise.”
The Atlantic

“A sophisticated history of how Fleming’s character developed. This is the beginning of the story of how Fleming and Jamaica, that desultory duo that generated Bond novels, first made contact.”
The Buffalo News

“A completely fascinating, authoritative and intriguing book―especially for anyone interested in Ian Fleming and the James Bond phenomenon.”
William Boyd, author of 'Any Human Heart'

“The book that James Bond obsessives have been waiting for―a beautiful, brilliant history of Ian Fleming at home at Goldeneye, all of sun-drenched, gin-soaked, bed-hopping colonial Jamaica outside the window and 007 at the moment of his creation. This is THE BIG BANG OF BOND BOOKS―the world-weary romance, the impossible glamour, the sex, the travel, the legend, the longing for escape and adventure―it all starts right here.”
Tony Parsons

“Supremely enjoyable. Matthew Parker has created a completely new picture of Fleming, Bond and the role of Jamaica in the making of the legend.”
John Pearson, author of 'The Life of Ian Fleming'

“Matthew Parker's brilliant book
Goldeneye is indispensable for anyone interested in the inner life of the enigmatic Ian Fleming and the whole James Bond phenomenon he created.”
Nicholas Rankin, author of 'Ian Fleming's Commandos'

“What makes Parker's book particularly fascinating is the way that, as a result of close and intelligent reading, he teases out how Fleming drew on the island, its culture and its post-war development for much of the atmosphere and incidental detail in the Bond series.”
Literary Review

“Entertaining. Parker makes a convincing case that Jamaica is crucial to a proper understanding of the man and his work.”
The Spectator

“Best read somewhere hot, sipping something cool is Matthew Parker's brilliant addition to the canon of Jamaican travel writing and 007-ology,

“Fascinating. Less a dry narrative of sandal wearing chaps paying over the odds for their Morland cigarettes than a studious array of thoughts and insight.”
Mark O’Connell, author of 'Catching Bullets, Memoirs of a Bond Fan'

“One of the attractions of Matthew Parker’s book is that he not only reminds us of the origin of the Bond novels, but he fills in a lot of background about Jamaica―both its political path to independence and its later development as a tourist destination. Those seeking a world of sea, sunshine, girls, rum, tobacco and self-indulgent luxury will find it evoked here―and it is this they will remember, not the Spartan house Fleming built.”
Country Life

“You might think there is nothing new to say about Ian Fleming―that every detail of his life has been obsessively picked over by biographers. Matthew Parker, though, has produced a book a illuminating as it is intriguing. Written in a quick-fire, atmospheric prose style that clearly owes something to Fleming’s own, it cracks along with all the urgency of a Bond novel.”
Daily Mail

“The evocation of the writer's voluptuous existence in Jamaica (and the unspoilt island itself) is nonpareil. Parker's record of a key period in the life of the writer makes a fascinating read.”
The Independent (UK)

“An amazing portrayal of British racial and colonial attitudes in the 1950s and 60s.”
Andrea Levy, author of 'Six Stories and an Essay'

“Persuasive, well researched and entertaining.”
The Guardian

“Matthew Parker’s account of Fleming’s experiences among the island’s dissolute late-colonial visitors―from film stars and royalty to the secret services―shows how a combination of a jet-set crowd and the exoticism of the setting inspired the James Bond books, all of which were written there.”
New Statesman

“An enjoyable, sun-soaked, alcohol-sodden addition to Bond literature.”
The Times (UK)

About the Author

Matthew Parker is the author of three previous non-fiction books, Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II; the Los Angeles Times bestseller Panama Fever, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year; and The Sugar Barons, which was an Economist Book of the Year. He lives in England.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Pegasus Books; Reprint edition (August 9, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 264 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1681771578
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1681771571
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 199 ratings

About the author

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Born in Central America, Matthew Parker spent part of his childhood in the West Indies. He has written for most UK national newspapers, literary and historical magazines, as well as lecturing around the world and contributing to TV and radio programmes in the UK, Canada and US. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, his bestselling and critically-acclaimed books include Monte Cassino, Panama Fever, The Sugar Barons and Goldeneye. His most book, Willoughbyland, tells the strange story of England's short-lived colony in Suriname. He lives in east London with his family and annoying dog. More at

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
199 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great reading that packs lots of information in!
By WorldTravelr on September 3, 2021
I just came back from staying at Ian Fleming's Goldeneye resort in Jamaica and it really left an impression. I've always been a James Bond fan and have just started reading more about the fascinating character who wrote the books. A real life intelligence officer who was born wealthy and enjoyed the finer things.

This book is a little all over the place ... it skips back and forth from Fleming to Oracabesa, Jamaica. You have to be a lover of history to enjoy this book. Don't expect it to be only exciting spy stories or biography type stuff with lots of gossip. That stuff is in there ... but it's mixed in with the history and economics of Jamaica.

The pictures are fascinating. You get to see a lot of candids of Ian Fleming, all in black and white. You get to meet the folks in Fleming's inner-circle and outer-circle and glean some inner workings to his methods of writing. There's a lot on Jamaica's politics as is changed from a colony of the crown to a sovereign nation and the troubles that brought.

The writer's style is easy to read, although certainly in-depth. I enjoy how the writing style isn't overly flowery or descriptive. There isn't a lot of salacious or vicious gossip in the book but enough interesting behind the scenes info. to get your attention.

Overall this is an enjoyable read for any James Bond fan ... or someone who has, or would like to, visit Goldeneye or Jamaica.
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Reviewed in the United States on August 6, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars Creative and extraordinary life cut short by alcohol and excess.
By Andy H. Cr. on November 23, 2018
James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming had an interesting life and Parker’s book highlights his time in Jamaica, which seemed especially idyllic at times. Parker also suggests that James Bond’s adventures were particularly appealing to the British public after the second world war and during the years of post-war austerity because they allowed an especially appealing form of escapism. Such an approach helped lead to the novels’ spectacular success.

James Bond was of course a fictional character and his vices consequently never caught up with him. The same could not be said about Fleming, who drank heavily and like James Bond smoked about 70 cigarettes a day, usually of an extremely high nicotine content. He also had James Bond’s weakness for women and often entered into difficult and sometimes destructive relationships. Late in his life, Fleming’s furious wife was provoked to suggest that if he stayed faithful for a whole three months he might even enjoy it.

Fleming died of heart failure at age 56 largely because of his complete disregard for his own health. This is an especially poignant loss because life could have been wonderful at this time. In Jamaica, when he was writing the Bond novels, he usually did so from his Goldeneye beach house. He would often begin the day snorkeling on his own reef where he enjoyed the many varieties of beautiful fish, and sometimes brought a speargun to obtain his lunch. His Jamaican cook provided him with delicious meals including those made from his own catch of the day. He would then sit at a table near the beach writing his novels and enjoying the beauty of the ocean and also the tropical birds. By the time of his death, two of his books had already been made into movies, and he was doing well financially. Unfortunately, true Bond mania did not hit until the third movie, Goldfinger, was released after his death.

In a weird sort of way, Fleming seem to recognize the problems with his own reckless lifestyle in his later books. In some of these books, Bond’s deadliest enemy is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who is his exact opposite. Blofeld did not drink or smoke and was not interested in sex. He did not even eat very much. I am not a psychiatrist so I have no idea why Fleming put Bond against this sort of villain, but he seems an unusual creation. In any event, alcohol and nicotine must have been wonderful for Fleming because he gave up everything for them. And everything was a lot.
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Top reviews from other countries

Kenneth Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars From Jamaica with love
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2019
2 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 30, 2015
13 people found this helpful
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Talk Tidy
5.0 out of 5 stars He bought and fell in love with Goldeneye which became the haven he needed to ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2014
20 people found this helpful
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hairy faced git
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 29, 2019
2 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is writing of a wonderful standard. It's research that needs commending and above ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 29, 2014
6 people found this helpful
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