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The Relationship Between 
John F. Kennedy and Ian Fleming James Bond 007

President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was known to be a big fan of Fleming and listed From Russia With Love as one of his top 10 favourite books. Bizarrely, both Kennedy and his assassin Lee Harvey Oswald are believed to have been reading Bond novels the night before Kennedy was killed.


From Russia With Love 1957 first_fleming_frwl1.jpg (386917 bytes)

Published 8th April 1957 by Jonathan Cape in London

The James Bond 007 series of books written by British author Ian Fleming were mildly successful in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After Fleming met President John F. Kennedy, the books became extremely popular in the United States, resulting in a series of 007 movies.

Questions you may have are:

  • What was Fleming's background?
  • What was the relationship between Kennedy and Fleming?
  • What did Kennedy do to make the books popular?


Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming served in British Intelligence MI6 during World War II. From this experience, he learned the workings of the system of spying and the secret service. He started writing his series of James Bond books around 1952 and wrote a book every year or two until completing 14 books.

Fleming and Kennedy Meet

Fleming was somewhat dashing and had many friends within British government. Thus, he was invited to a party in Washington D.C. held by newly elected American President John F. Kennedy.

Fleming was introduced to President Kennedy, and in their conversation, he told Kennedy that he had a way to get rid of Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba. This piqued Kennedy's interest, since Castro had been a thorn in the side of Kennedy.

Gave amusing suggestion

Fleming said that Castro's beard was the key. Without the beard, Castro would look like anyone else. It was his trademark. So, Fleming said that the U.S. should announce that they found that beards attract radioactivity. Any person wearing a beard could become radioactive himself as well as sterile!

Castro would immediately shave off his beard and would soon fall from power, when the people saw him as an ordinary person.

Kennedy had a good laugh about this bizarre suggestion.

Kennedy tells about books

John F. Kennedy was a young and fun-loving president. He had a good sense of humor and certainly enjoyed a joke or two. His style and grace caught the Country by storm.

When he found out that Fleming had written some spy stories, Kennedy promised to read one.

Later, in a press conference, a reporter ask President Kennedy what type of books he liked read. He said his favorite books were the James Bond series, by Ian Fleming. Once the public found out about it, the books rose to the best-selling list.

In conclusion

After President Kennedy was given an amusing suggestion of how to get rid of Fidel Castro by author Ian Fleming, he promised to read some of his books. They became favorites of the President, and when this was broadcast in the press, they became national best sellers.

Some lessons learned here are:

  • Being charming with a good sense of humor helps in becoming successful
  • A promotional plug from the President can be invaluable
  • Movies aren't as good as the books

(Note: Although the series of books were popular and well-written in their time, the series of James Bond movies that followed have become the epitome of gadgets, special effects and violence.)

John F. Kennedy reading book 1963

Kennedys favorit
Det hela kan nog enklast förklaras med att det var ett antal händelser som sammantagna gjorde allt till den succé det hela är idag. Först, naturligtvis, Ian Flemings oftast underbara intriger samt valet av huvudperson, den hemlige agenten med numret 007 i Hennes Majestäts Hemliga Tjänst. Men det skulle inte räcka.
Något som satte fart på försäljningssiffrorna var när USA:s president John F Kennedy talade om att han alltid hade den senaste James Bond-thrillern på sitt nattduksbord. Plus det faktum att några år senare ett par filmproducenter av klass fick tag i Flemings böcker och gjorde film av dem.

En viktig person i Ian Flemings thrillers är vapenexperten Geoffrey Boothroyd som var en verklig person och som tagit brevkontakt med Fleming och förklarat för honom att “om han ville att Mr Bond skulle överleva fortsatta uppdrag måste han byta vapen från sin Beretta till en Smith & Wesson.


Ian Fleming meet John F. Kennedy
Våren 1960 träffade han Ian Fleming via gemensamma bekanta, en av sina mest kända läsare: senator John F Kennedy, som senare samma år skulle väljas till USA:s president.
Under en middag blev Fleming och Kennedy goda vänner. Fleming träffade även hans bror Robert Kennedy
Ian Fleming skickade bröderna Kennedy var sitt signerade exemplar av sina Bondböcker.

Tidskriften Life publicerade en lista, där president John F Kennedy listade sina tio favoritböcker. Ian Flemings From Russia, With Love fanns på nionde (9) plats. året var mars 1960.
Plötsligt var James Bond riktigt känd i för almänheten i USA. Försäljningssiffrorna för Flemings böcker blev en succe.





Mini-quiz to check your understanding

1. Why was Fleming invited to Kennedy's party?

Fleming knew Marilyn Monroe R

The President often liked to invite interesting people to his parties

Kennedy thought he might meet James Bond

2. Why was Kennedy amused by Fleming's suggestion about how to get Castro out of power?

Because Fleming sounded so stupid in making such a suggestion 

Because Castro was standing right behind Fleming at the time

It was a clever idea, yet also funny R

3. What did Kennedy do after speaking to Ian Fleming?

He read a few of Fleming's books R

He called the newspapers to tell about Fleming's books

He had Fleming arrested

If you got all three correct, you are on your way to becoming a champion in learning from history.
If you had problems, you had better look over the material again.


The following are resources on this topic.


Biography of John F. Kennedy - from the White House site

John F. Kennedy Library site

Biography of Ian Fleming

007 -  MGM/UA officiell sit


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kennedy_book.jpg (3377367 bytes)
Bill Clinton meeting John F. Kennedy  1963