Author: Ian Fleming
Publication date: 26th March 1964
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
Best read after Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the reader finds Bond with a personal score to settle with Blofeld after being widowed on his wedding day.
With his life in tatters after Tracy was killed by Blofeld at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, M temporarily relieves 007 of his Double-O number and sends him to Japan on an apparently impossible diplomatic mission; convince the Japanese Secret Service to allow Britain access to Russia’s top secret cipher traffic being intercepted by Japan.
Bond is shown Japanese life by Tiger Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service and a former Kamikaze pilot for whom the war ended before he participated in a suicide mission. When Bond is asked to take a care of an embarrassing problem for the Japanese in exchange for access to the Russian cipher traffic he learns that Dr Guntram Shatterhand, who owns the castle in whose “garden of death” Japanese flock to kill themselves, is no other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Along the way Bond finds himself at a Ninja training camp, and lives in a Japanese fishing village before entering the Garden of Death for himself.
You Only Live Twice is the last James Bond book to published during Ian Fleming’s lifetime, as he died of a heart attach in August 1964.
What we say
In the third novel of the Blofeld trilogy M sends Bond to Tokyo on what he considers an impossible a diplomatic mission. Still in mourning for his wife, James Bond is drinking and gambling heavily, a shadow of his former self.
On the verge of sacking him, M instead decides to give Bond one last chance. He must persuade the Japanese secret service to allow Britain access to decrypted Russian radio transmissions. Bond’s mission soon takes on a personal element though.
The book features some great observation gained from Fleming’s trip there in 1959 although Japan and its culture is viewed through the lens of a rather cynical westerner. The book was the last to be published in Ian Fleming’s lifetime.
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