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From Russia, with Love  
First edition cover
Author Ian Fleming
Cover artist Richard Chopping
Devised by Fleming
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series James Bond
Genre(s) Spy novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date 8 April 1957
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Preceded by Diamonds Are Forever
Followed by Dr. No

From Russia, with Love,[1] published in 1957, is the fifth James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming and is considered one of the best in the series, as voted by its readers. The 1963 film version has been cited by several critics as the best of the film series.[2][3] Initially, the novel was not a bestseller in the United States of America, but sales quickly jumped when an article in Life Magazine on March 17, 1961, listed From Russia With Love as one of U.S. President John F. Kennedy's ten favorite books.[4][5]


Plot summary

From Russia with Love differs from Fleming's previous Bond novels in that the first third of the novel revolves around SMERSH executioner Red Grant, as well as the organization, SMERSH itself. (Bond himself is not mentioned by name until the end of Chapter 5, and does not actually make an appearance until Part 2 of the novel commences with Chapter 11.)

The novel is a series of elaborate plots and counterplots between the British and the Russian intelligence agencies. It begins with SMERSH, the Soviet counterintelligence agency, seeking to redeem itself from a series of failures that have raised the ire of the Soviet government. SMERSH plans to commit a grand act of terrorism in the intelligence field. For this, SMERSH has targeted British secret service agent, Commander James Bond. Due in part to his role in the defeat of Le Chiffre, Mr. Big, and Hugo Drax, Bond has been listed as an enemy of the Soviet state and a "death warrant" has been issued for him. He is to be not just killed, but "killed with ignominy", his death precipitating a major sex scandal which will run through the world press for months and leave his reputation and that of his entire service in tatters.

1959 Pan paperback edition. 208 pages.

Kronsteen, SMERSH's chess-playing master planner, and Colonel Rosa Klebb, head of Operations and Executions, devise the operation. They persuade an attractive young cipher clerk, Corporal Tatiana Romanova, to pretend to defect from her post in Istanbul, claiming to have fallen in love with Bond after a glimpse of his file photograph. As an added incentive, Tatiana will provide the British agent with a Spektor, a SMERSH decoding device much coveted by MI6. She is not told that the plan, if successful, will entail not just Bond's death but also her own.

After all the actors on the Soviet side are introduced and the assassination plot is launched - although its full details have not been revealed to the reader - the action moves to London, where Bond is introduced. MI6 is unsure of Romanova's story, but the prize of the Spektor is too tempting to ignore and M orders Bond off to Istanbul, where much of the book takes place. Bond meets and quickly forms a comradeship with Darko Kerim, head of the British Service's agency in Turkey. Kerim shows Bond his secret means of spying on the Soviet Consulate. Kerim takes Bond to a celebratory meal with some Gypsies, in which Bond witnesses a brutal catfight, interrupted by an attack by Soviet agents. In retaliation, Bond helps Kerim assassinate a top Bulgarian agent.

Bond duly encounters Romanova and the two make love. He and Kerim believe her story, and in due course she delivers the Spektor machine as promised. Bond, Kerim and Tatiana board the Orient Express for London, but they have not got far before Bond and Kerim discover three MGB agents on board traveling in cognito. Kerim uses bribes and trickery to have two taken off the train, but he is later found dead in his room with the body of the third agent, the two having killed each other.

Bond is on the alert, and is relieved when an awkward fellow MI6 agent, Captain Nash, arrives on the train to serve as added protection for the rest of the trip. Tatiana is suspicious of Nash, telling Bond that nash is Russian for "ours", but Bond reassures her that Nash is "quite a common English name." But when Bond wakes up to find Nash pointing a gun at him, he realises that it has all been a trap: "Nash" is none other than Donovan "Red" Grant. Bond has given him his gun and is helpless. The trap has closed.

However, there is a flaw in Kronsteen's plan. Although SMERSH accurately predicted the responses of Bond and his fellow agents to the carefully selected stimuli, they failed to remember that Grant is not only a psychopath who enjoys killing for its own sake but also an Irish Catholic from Northern Ireland, who evidently shares the anti-British attitudes common in the society where he grew up. (In Grant's biography in the early part of the book, it is mentioned that he had been marginally involved with the IRA.)

2002 Penguin Books edition.

Instead of killing Bond immediately, as Kronsteen's plan called for, Grant cannot resist crowing at him, becoming careless and overconfident: when he is about to shoot Bond, his farewell words are "Sweet dreams, you English bastard". Grant's lapse of attention gives Bond the chance to improvise a defence, with the result that the two fight, Grant is killed and the entire Soviet scheme collapses.

Later, after successfully delivering Tatiana and the Spektor to his superiors, Bond has a final encounter with Rosa Klebb, which leaves her captured but 007 poisoned and seemingly dead from the final kick from a poisoned blade concealed in her shoe, though he would recover in time for his next adventure. Tatiana, who has no further place in the Bond saga, has successfully defected to the West, entirely at the initiative and instigation of SMERSH (since for herself, she had been quite content to live out her life in Moscow).

Boothroyd and the book cover

As a result of the correspondence between Fleming and weapons expert Geoffrey Boothroyd, Fleming gave Bond a Walther PPK pistol in Dr. No and made a "Major Boothroyd" a character in the novel. (The real Boothroyd held no such rank.) Boothroyd provided Richard Chopping, the illustrator of the first edition cover of From Russia, With Love, with his own .38 Smith & Wesson snubnosed revolver modified with one third of the trigger guard removed to coincide with Fleming's wishes of a design for the book cover of a pistol with a rose. Boothroyd had to assist the police with their enquiries when a similar weapon was used in a triple murder in Glasgow[6] explaining that his weapon had been posted to Ian Fleming for a book cover. Peter Manuel was later arrested for the murder, convicted and executed.

Ian Fleming in Istanbul

Ian Fleming happened to be in Istanbul on September 1955 covering the International Police Conference for the London Sunday Times when the Istanbul Pogrom broke out, with the city's Greek community brutally assaulted by mobs with the tacit consent of the Turkish government of the day. Fleming's account, entitled "The Great Riot of Istanbul", appeared in that paper on 11 September, 1955.

Quite soon afterwards, Fleming started work on a fictional James Bond novel of which a large portion is set in Istanbul, which became From Russia with Love. The book makes no mention of the city's Greek community. However, Fleming does make the point of depicting the Turkish police and security services as completely passive and uninterfering in the fictional private war conducted in Istanbul between British and Soviet agents, just as they did not interfere in the actual anti-Greek pogrom which Fleming personally witnessed.

According to William F. Nolan, Fleming based Tatiana Romanova of From Russia With Love on Christine Granville.[7]



The cinematic From Russia, with Love was released in 1963, produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. It was the second James Bond film in the official EON Productions series, and the second to star Sean Connery as the suave and sophisticated British Secret Service agent James Bond.

The main villains change from SMERSH (a division of Soviet Intelligence) to SPECTRE (a fictional terrorist organisation). Rene Mathis (from Casino Royale) appeared in the book, but not the movie. The story stayed true to the novel, except action sequences such as the boat chase were added.

Comic strip

Fleming's novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the British Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide. The adaptation ran from February 3 to May 21, 1960, and was written by Henry Gammidge, and illustrated by John McLusky. The James Bond 007 Fan Club published a reprinting of the strip in 1981. From Russia with Love was reprinted again in 2005 by Titan Books in the Dr. No collection, which in addition to Dr. No, also included Diamonds Are Forever.

Video game

In 2005 it was adapted into a video game by Electronic Arts and featured all new voice work by Sean Connery as well as his likeness and the likeness of a number of the supporting cast from the film. This game adhered to the basic plot of the movie but with changes made for better game-play such as the addition of the jet-pack from Thunderball and the Aston Martin DB5.


  1. ^ The title is sometimes printed with a comma, as From Russia, with Love, depending upon the publisher. It is more commonly[citation needed] printed without the punctuation.
  2. ^ Michael Brooke. "From Russia With Love (1963)". screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  3. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Top 100 Runner Up: From Russia with Love". Reelviews. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  4. ^ Donald McCormick, The Life of Ian Fleming (London: Peter Owen, 1993)
  5. ^ Martine Beswick, Daniela Bianchi, Dana Broccoli, Syd Cain, Sean Connery, Peter Hunt, John Stears, Norman Wanstall. (2000). Inside From Russia with Love. [DVD]. MGM Home Entertainment Inc.. Retrieved 2007-08-04. 
  6. ^ Richard Wasey Chopping: The Times obituary | Times Online Obituary
  7. ^ FILMFAX Magazine Oct 2003-Jan 2004

External links

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