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December 2020

Red-shoulder!

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Red-shouldered Hawk in my backyard. Nice way to end the year.

These hawks are seen often in my hometown of Allendale, N.J.

In his guidebook "Birds of Mt. Desert Island," the real Bond called the Red-shoulder a "rare transient and summer resident: may occasionally nest of Mt. Desert Island."


James Fleming's Comment about My Book

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James Fleming is the editor of The Book Collector and nephew of Ian Fleming (who founded the highly regarded quarterly in 1952, the same year he wrote Casino Royale).

When he heard about this book and its pledge to raise money and awareness for conservation the Caribbean, he wrote in The Book Collector:

"The title is The Real James Bond ... It's coming out in [2020] and the charity is The Nature Conservancy's initiative in the Caribbean. Both Ian and the real James Bond would have approved."

The book is out, and because of the pandemic, I'll still be doing lots of Zoom talks (and raising money and awareness for Caribbean conservation) in 2021.

I hope to some in-person talks as well -- perhaps beginning with the Acadia Birding Festival and other events on Maine's Mount Desert Island, the real James Bond's favorite summer place.

Email me if you'd like me to talk to your group: 1realjamesbond (at) gmail.com.

(Thank you, James!)


Shoutout to the Academy of Natural Sciences

Lauren Duguid of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences, who played a key role in the museum's recent Real James Bond display, created an amazing botanical snowflake for the museum's holiday greeting.

The snowflake was inspired by plants collected on the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition.

in the YouTube video above. you can see how she made the snowflake.

Thought I'd share it here. (Thanks, Lauren and the Academy!)


A Neat Writeup in Variety

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I was pleased to learn that Variety included The Real James Bond in its new article, "The Best Gifts for James Bond fans." 

Matthew Chernov writes:Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 5.10.22 PM

It’s common knowledge among 007 fans that Ian Fleming borrowed the name of a highly respected American ornithologist when it came time to christen the main character of his literary spy series.

What is less well known is the biographical story of the real James Bond.

Born to a wealthy family, but financially cut off while in his twenties, the birding Bond lived a remarkably exciting life of his own, filled with shotgun-toting adventures and island-hopping expeditions in the name of science.

His colorful biography is brilliantly chronicled in author Jim Wright’s fascinating new book “The Real James Bond: A True Story of Identity Theft, Avian Intrigue, and Ian Fleming.”

You can read the full article here.

You can read other reviews and praise here.


Remembering John le Carré

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I was saddened to hear of the death of the spy novelist John le Carré, who was a great writer and, from my brief dealings with him, one of the good guys.

When I was researching The Real James Bond, I came across the odd fact that le Carré (David Cornwell) illustrated Animals and Ourselves, a nature book written by fellow British spy Maxwell Knight, who worked with him in MI5. 

My favorite Cornwell illustration is reprinted above. What a gentle touch.

Continue reading "Remembering John le Carré" »


The Real James Wright

Today is the birthday of the great American poet James Wright, born in 1927. He died 40 years ago at age 52.

Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a writer. So I was chagrinned when I learned in my teens that a writer with my name had already won the Pulitzer Prize. That's one reason my byline is Jim Wright, not James.

He's in a league of his own.

I found this celebration of Wright's poem on the Poetry Foundation's website:

Paul Zweig of the Partisan Review [observed]: "Long before [he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize], Wright had been acknowledged by a generation of poets as the artisan of a new language for poetry: A style of pastoral surrealism, built around strong images and a simple spoken rhetoric."

You can read my favorite Wright poem, "A Blessing," here.


Save the Date: Linnaean Society Zoom Talk

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If you love the birds of the Caribbean and stories about spies, be sure to watch the Linnaean Society of New York City's Zoom program featuring a special presentation about my book, The Real James Bond.

The talk includes a look at Wunderle_photo-Oct_2020 three extraordinary birds collected by Bond that are part of the American Museum of Natural History's collection.

What's more, the event will feature special guest Dr. Joseph Wunderle of BirdsCaribbean. Wunderle is not only the editor of the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology. but he also knew the real Bond and was once accused of being a spy.

The event, on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at  7 p.m, is free and open to the public.

You can learn more about the talk here.

You can learn more about the Linnaean Society here.


Butterflies Collected in Eastern Penintentiary

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When I was researching The Real James Bond, I took a break one afternoon and toured Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary.

It is an amazing place, and I highly recommend taking a tour when it reopens after the current Covid mess is over.

I was astounded by an exhibit of butterflies collected by an inmate -- inside the prison walls in the middle of Philadelphia.

Continue reading "Butterflies Collected in Eastern Penintentiary" »