A Spy Is Born : Dennis Wheatley & The Secret Roots Of Ian Fleming’s James Bond by Jeremy Duns

Espionage aficionado and author of the acclaimed Paul Dark thrillers, Jeremy Duns, has published a fantastically well researched insight into the influence that Dennis Wheatley and his hero, Gregory Sallust , had on the creation of Bond.
It is an absolute must for literary Bond fans and PussyNoMore can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s available from Amazon.
As an aside, The Pussy would also recommend the Sallust novels as a great source of entertainment. Albeit snowflakes and those prone to faux outrage should give them a wide berth.

Comments

  • Posts: 1,992
    I second every sentiment! A Spy is Born provides irrefutable, undeniable proof that Dennis Wheatley's Sallust novels were an important influence on Fleming and Bond. As he has done on previous multiple occasions, Duns has performed the sort of literary scholarship and detective work that very few other people have devoted to Fleming. His monograph deserves to be read by everyone interested in the genesis of James Bond.

    Incidentally Pussy, which Sallust novels would you recommend for first-timers?
  • edited September 2019 Posts: 488
    Plenty of espionage action in Wheatley's Duke de Richleau series as well, spanning pre-World War I to the 1950s -- along with the occasional excursion into occult investigation (as in The Devil Rides Out).

    A terrific series!

    De Richleau and his crew of stalwart friends tangle with the likes of Spanish anarchists, Serbian terrorists, the Soviet NKVD, fascists and Marxists (Spanish Civil War), the German Abwehr and Gestapo, etc.

    51rj1fynu-l._sl1500_.jpg
  • Revelator wrote: »
    I second every sentiment! A Spy is Born provides irrefutable, undeniable proof that Dennis Wheatley's Sallust novels were an important influence on Fleming and Bond. As he has done on previous multiple occasions, Duns has performed the sort of literary scholarship and detective work that very few other people have devoted to Fleming. His monograph deserves to be read by everyone interested in the genesis of James Bond.

    Incidentally Pussy, which Sallust novels would you recommend for first-timers?

    PussyNoMore would go with ‘Contraband’ because it’s fun to see the marked similarities with ‘Casino Royale’.
    Second up would be ‘The Scarlet Imposter’ because apart from being a great book (it’s the novel that gives Sallust his number - Secret Agent No.1) it also serves as an important work from a historical perspective. Published on January 7 1940 it is probably the first spy novel to be set during the Second World War.
    Having reflected on Dun’s work, The Pussy is firmly of the opinion that the two biggest influences on Fleming and his creation of Bond were undoubtedly Wheatley with Sallust and Jean Bruce with OSS117 and it is deeply ironic that neither get a mention from either of Fleming’s official biographers.
  • CraterGuns wrote: »
    Plenty of espionage action in Wheatley's Duke de Richleau series as well, spanning pre-World War I to the 1950s -- along with the occasional excursion into occult investigation (as in The Devil Rides Out).

    A terrific series!

    De RIchleau and his crew of stalwart friends tangle with the likes of Spanish anarchists, Serbian terrorists, the Soviet NKVD, fascists and Marxists (Spanish Civil War), the German Abwehr and Gestapo, etc.

    51rj1fynu-l._sl1500_.jpg

    CraterGuns speaks wise words !
    The de Richleau series represent a smorgasbord of swashbuckling stories.
    Albeit, the good Duke was much more involved in the occult than in espionage and probably had no influence on Bond.
    PussyNoMore salutes CraterGuns’ good taste.

  • edited September 2019 Posts: 488
    Currently I have only the last three books in the Duke de Richleau series left to read... Of the eight I’ve read so far, only one is an occult tale (“The Devil Rides Out”). One of them is a “Locked Room mystery” crime story — my least favorite. The rest are all adventure/espionage tales.

    In all of them, however, there is quite a good deal of (interesting) travelogue info, and frequent passages about what the characters are drinking, smoking, and eating for breakfast/dinner in the various locales...
  • CraterGuns wrote: »
    Currently I have only the last three books in the Duke de Richleau series left to read... Of the eight I’ve read so far, only one is an occult tale (“The Devil Rides Out”). One of them is a “Locked Room mystery” crime story — my least favorite. The rest are all adventure/espionage tales.

    In all of them, however, there is quite a good deal of (interesting) travelogue info, and frequent passages about what the characters are drinking, smoking, and eating for breakfast/dinner in the various locales...

    Mais oui some of the Duke’s adventures can certainly be classed as straight thrillers but the most famous, ‘The Devil Rides Out’, along with ‘Gateway To Hell’ and ‘Strange Conflict’ are very much occult tales.
    Moreover, the makeup of the Duke’s character - down to his eyebrows - had something of the occultist about him. Certainly he was no model for Bond.
    Your comments about locations and lifestyle details are spot on.

  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    edited September 2019 Posts: 3,174
    I love Wheatley's writing because it is so much like Fleming IMO.

    I've only read The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil a Daughter and The Ka of Gifford Hillary

    I will definitely seek out the Gregory Sallust books now though.

    I have just ordered A Spy Is Born from Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation.
  • Mais oui some of the Duke’s adventures can certainly be classed as straight thrillers but the most famous, ‘The Devil Rides Out’, along with ‘Gateway To Hell’ and ‘Strange Conflict’ are very much occult tales.
    It looks like of the three I have yet to read, two of them are occult tales...

    Apparently, the 11-book series breaks down thusly:

    Adventure/Espionage - 7
    Occult/Supernatural - 3
    Mystery/Crime - 1
  • I love Wheatley's writing because it is so much like Fleming IMO.

    I've only read The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil a Daughter and The Ka of Gifford Hillary

    I will definitely seek out the Gregory Sallust books now though.

    I have just ordered A Spy Is Born from Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation.

    The similarities between Wheatley and Fleming are marked albeit Pussy agrees completely with Duns’ appreciation that Fleming was the better writer whilst Wheatley was the superior plotter.
    They were certainly two great storytellers and it’s sad that Wheatley is all but forgotten.
    Just writing this provokes a desire to revisit Sallust. PussyNoMore thinks he’ll revisit ‘The Scarlet Imposter’ .

  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,174
    I love Wheatley's writing because it is so much like Fleming IMO.

    I've only read The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil a Daughter and The Ka of Gifford Hillary

    I will definitely seek out the Gregory Sallust books now though.

    I have just ordered A Spy Is Born from Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation.

    The similarities between Wheatley and Fleming are marked albeit Pussy agrees completely with Duns’ appreciation that Fleming was the better writer whilst Wheatley was the superior plotter.
    They were certainly two great storytellers and it’s sad that Wheatley is all but forgotten.
    Just writing this provokes a desire to revisit Sallust. PussyNoMore thinks he’ll revisit ‘The Scarlet Imposter’ .

    I've just ordered 'The White Witch Of The South Seas' off of a used book website.

    I know it's the last Sallust book but it's the best price i could find out of the series.

  • edited September 2019 Posts: 488
    As far as I know, ALL of Wheatley’s novels are available as e-books. That’s the only way to get them, really, here in the States (aside from used, extremely hard-to-find moldy old paperbacks).

    The Wheatley e-books I’ve purchased for my Kindle are published by Bloomsbury Reader and cost around $5.
  • There’s a good range of Wheatley’s Sallust novels available from www.Abebooks.com at reasonable prices.
    Pussy uses them a lot and can heartily recommend their services.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited September 2019 Posts: 13,395
    Interesting discussion. I bought this book by Jeremy Duns when it came out a while ago. I always buy his books as they come out as he is a brilliant Bond researcher and gifted writer.

    If anyone is interested I started a discussion thread here on Dennis Wheatley's books over five years ago. Feel free to contribute reviews, recommendations or just general discussion there:

    https://www.mi6community.com/discussion/9360/the-dennis-wheatley-1897-1977-author-discussion-thread
  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,174
    There’s a good range of Wheatley’s Sallust novels available from www.Abebooks.com at reasonable prices.
    Pussy uses them a lot and can heartily recommend their services.

    That's where I got it from @PussyNoMore !!!!

    I use Abebooks a lot and have got some real bargains. I recommend them as well.
  • There’s a good range of Wheatley’s Sallust novels available from www.Abebooks.com at reasonable prices.
    Pussy uses them a lot and can heartily recommend their services.

    That's where I got it from @PussyNoMore !!!!

    I use Abebooks a lot and have got some real bargains. I recommend them as well.

    Bravo !
    The Pussy particularly likes the ‘Arrow’ paperback Wheatley editions. The cover art was exceptional and the ‘Luger’ motif was great branding.

  • Probably the closest cinematic equivalent to Sallust is the Richard Burton character in Where Eagles Dare.

    And a few years earlier, in the 1964 novel They Used Dark Forces, Wheatley pretty much pulls out all the stops, roping in some of his Black Magic tropes for good measure. Sallust ends up infiltrating Hitler’s bunker during the final days of the Reich, and the result is like sticking 007 into Downfall.
  • Posts: 512
    Probably the closest cinematic equivalent to Sallust is the Richard Burton character in Where Eagles Dare.

    And a few years earlier, in the 1964 novel They Used Dark Forces, Wheatley pretty much pulls out all the stops, roping in some of his Black Magic tropes for good measure. Sallust ends up infiltrating Hitler’s bunker during the final days of the Reich, and the result is like sticking 007 into Downfall.

    Great analogy about ‘They Used Dark Forces’
    “Like sticking 007 in Downfall “ indeed !

  • Posts: 1,992
    In more good news, Jeremy Duns has made available his superb essay "Enemy Action: the literary assassination of Ian Fleming." It was written a few years ago, disappeared when Jeremy revamped his website, and is now back online!
  • Revelator wrote: »
    In more good news, Jeremy Duns has made available his superb essay "Enemy Action: the literary assassination of Ian Fleming." It was written a few years ago, disappeared when Jeremy revamped his website, and is now back online!

    Literary aficionados, Revelator brings important news.
    Duns’ essay is fascinating and is compulsory reading for any self respecting Fleming aficionado.
    The Pussy thinks it deserves its own post but doesn’t want to steal the Revelator’s thunder.

  • Another excellent piece from Jeremy, who rightly points out that Fleming was - still is - an easy target for general-purpose pundits for whom the name “Pussy Galore” neatly encapsulates everything anyone needs to know about the world and values of 007 and his creator, handily obviating further research.

    The same applies to Wheatley and even poor old Captain WE Johns, who as writers certainly have their faults, but also considerable virtues. As Wheatley himself acknowledged, his prose may not have been too hot, but he knew how to spin a yarn. And it does Johns a disservice to dismiss his Biggles books as cringe-inducingly dated odes to “Tally-ho, chaps!” jingoism.
  • Posts: 512
    Another excellent piece from Jeremy, who rightly points out that Fleming was - still is - an easy target for general-purpose pundits for whom the name “Pussy Galore” neatly encapsulates everything anyone needs to know about the world and values of 007 and his creator, handily obviating further research.

    The same applies to Wheatley and even poor old Captain WE Johns, who as writers certainly have their faults, but also considerable virtues. As Wheatley himself acknowledged, his prose may not have been too hot, but he knew how to spin a yarn. And it does Johns a disservice to dismiss his Biggles books as cringe-inducingly dated odes to “Tally-ho, chaps!” jingoism.

    PussyNoMore couldn’t agree with you more and we must all act to prevent the arts becoming the home of homogeneous righteousness!

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