Created by the pen of Ian Fleming in Casino Royale (1953), this fictional character was a member of the British Secret Service who undertook clandestine missions for his chief, known only as “M.” The books proved an immediate best-seller, and more than 20 movies since Dr. No in 1961 have made the series the most successful of all time, having been seen by an estimated half of the world’s population.
The extent to which the fiction was based on fact has been the subject of much debate, and several candidates have been suggested for the basis for Bond—including Fleming himself, who served in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II and worked closely with the Secret Intelligence Service. The parallels between Bond’s organization and the real SIS are many, and the author undoubtedly drew on his own experiences, and those of his contacts, for his plots.
His closest friend throughout his life was Ivar Bryce, a wartime British Security Coordination officer who completed secret missions in South America during World War II, and a double agent, Dusko Popov, whom he encountered in the gaming rooms of Estoril, Portugal, in 1941 may have been the inspiration for Casino Royale.
Although intelligence professionals are sometimes quick to disown Bond’s adventures as unrealistic, his gadgetry is studied with interest by technicians anxious to develop new communications and surveillance equipment.