Jamaica Feed

Helping Nature in the Caribbean

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The real James Bond loved birds and the West Indies, and he was an advocate for protecting them both -- especially preaching the need to end the slaughter of rare species in the Caribbean.
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The headline above was from an article in The New York Times in the mid-1930s. Bond was a noted ornithologist with a brand-new book, "Birds of the West Indies," by then. (But contrary to the sub-headline) he had no doctoral degree ... )

The introduction to the book went into great detail about the dangers facing the birds of the West Indies -- from humankind to hurricanes.

 One of the goals of this book is to raise awareness -- and money -- to help the environment in the Caribbean. To that end, all proceeds from talks and appearances generated by this book will go to The Nature Conservancy's Caribbean initiative.

Continue reading "Helping Nature in the Caribbean" »


Bond, Fleming and Kling-klings

Kling-Kling Bird at GoldenEye
One of my favorite birds in Jamaica is the  Kling-Kling, a.k.a the Greater Antillean Grackle or Jamaican Grackle. I saw these mischievous birds both times I visited GoldenEye, the resort created from Ian Fleming's winter residence in Oracabessa.

The first time, one was rearranging the napkins at the waterside bistro (above).

Continue reading "Bond, Fleming and Kling-klings" »


Fleming's Copy of 'Birds of the West Indies'

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936 7.5 in (1)When Ian Fleming stole the real James Bond's name from the cover (or title page) of Birds of the West Indies in early 1952, which edition was he looking at, the 1936 first edition or the 1947 second edition?

It's a subject of debate, with many Fleming experts siding with the 1947 edition. At this point, there's likely no definitive answer,  just theories.

But according to the noted ornithologist himself, the copy in question was the original 1936 edition, as he recounted to  Philadelphia Bulletin columnist Pete Martin in an interview published in October 1964.

Bond and his wife Mary had visited Goldeneye on Feb. 5 that year,  and (sadly) Fleming had died on Aug. 12.

Bond said that Fleming had (at least) two editions of Birds of the West Indies at his home in Jamaica. 

First, Bond said that Fleming "had the first edition -- the one that Bond quote ofn Fleming's 1936 editioncame out in 1936." [Pictured here].

Bond also said: "When we saw [Fleming], he had by then bought the latest edition of Birds of the West Indies.

In a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary on Fleming that was filmed the day that the real James Bond visited, Fleming's copy of Birds of the West Indies from the early 1960s is shown. (See below.)

My new illustrated biography, The Real James Bond, devotes an entire chapter to the day that Bond and Fleming met, and another chapter on the many versions of Birds of the West Indies that were published over the years.

One big question regarding that day remains: Whatever happened to Fleming's 1936 edition of Birds of the West Indies?

It is not in the Lilly Library's archive of Fleming's books at Indiana University. (I checked.)

You can read about James Bond's licenses to kill here.

You can read more about the day Fleming and Bond met here.

CBC BotWI Fleming interview


When Bond Met Fleming: Feb. 5, 1964

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On Feb. 5  56 years ago, James and Mary Bond left their room at the Mona Hotel (once the Mona Great House) outside Kingston in Jamaica and drove over the Blue Mountains to drop in unexpectedly -- but not uninvited -- at GoldeBond meets Fleming PFL DSCN9866-001neye, the winter home of Ian Fleming.

Things were a bit tense at first, as Fleming feared that Bond was going to try to sue him for identity theft. Fleming even challenged Bond about a bird identification to see if Bond was for real.

Bond passed, and they soon got along famously.

Although much has been written about that day, one mystery remains.

I write about the meeting -- and the mystery --  in "The Real James Bond," published by Schiffer Books.

The top photo, of the Fleming Villa at GoldenEye, is courtesy of Island Outpost.

The photo above right, the only known image of their meeting, was taken by Mary Bond and is used here courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The photo below, of the Mona Hotel, was also taken by Mary Bond and is used here courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia as well.

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'Real James Bond': 1st Extensive Interview


James Bond Radio -- InterviewBack in August, when Schiffer Books announced a publication date for "The Real James Bond," writer Matthew Chernov contacted me immediately about an interview.

I said, "Sure -- but closer to when the book arrives."

Well, time flies, and here we are.

This online interview is the first in-depth look at the book, and hopefully worth waiting for.

You can read it here.

The book arrives in four weeks -- on Friday, Feb. 28. You can order a copy from Schiffer now by clicking the book's dustjacket in the top right-hand corner.

(The photo of me is by Kevin Watson. Thanks, Kevin!)


The Famous James Bond - Ian Fleming Photo

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On February 5, 1964, James and Mary Bond paid an unexpected visit to Goldeneye and met Ian Fleming.

It turned out to be a historic day, with Fleming and Bond talking about their books and Fleming giving Bond a copy of his soon-to-be-released "You Only Live Twice."

Fleming inscribed the book:

“To the real James Bond from the thief of his identity, Ian Fleming, Feb. 5, 1964 (a great day!).”

Mary Bond took the above photo, which is now in the archives of the Rare Book Department in the Free Library of Philadelphia.

It is the only known photo of the two men together. It is widely used -- alas without proper credit or attribution.

You can read more about the photo, the day, and the parallels between the two authors in my book.

By the way, I'll be doing a free talk at the Free Library on Saturday, April 11.

More info here.

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Ian Fleming and the Domino Effect

Common Yelllowthroat Watson                                                                                                                          Photo by Kevin Watson

As we mourn the passing of Christine Auger, the French actress who played a femme fatale in "Thunderball," it's worth noting that her character, Domino, was named for a ... bird.

Matthew Parker, author of "Goldeneye," pointed out in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio that "when you go back to [Ian Fleming's]  books, you start seeing Jamaica everywhere ... Two of his heroines are even named after rare birds found in Jamaica: Solitaire and Domino."

The Domino Bird in question is known in the states as the Common Yellowthroat. The bird was nicknamed the Domino because the black feathers around its eyes resemble the domino mask so popular with comic-book heroes and carnival-goers.