Diamonds Are Forever (novel)

Diamonds Are Forever (novel)
Diamonds Are Forever  
First edition cover
Author(s) Ian Fleming
Cover artist Pat Marriott
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series James Bond
Genre(s) Spy novel
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date 26 March 1956
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Preceded by Moonraker
Followed by From Russia, with Love

Diamonds Are Forever is the fourth of Ian Fleming's James Bond series of novels. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on 26 March 1956 and the first print run of 12,500 copies sold out quickly. Much of the background research undertaken by Fleming formed the basis for the non-fiction book The Diamond Smugglers, which was published in 1957.

The story centres on how James Bond, an agent of the MI6, closes down a diamond smuggling operation, the pipeline of which originates in the diamond mines of Sierra Leone and ends in Las Vegas. Along the way Bond meets and falls in love with one of the members of the smuggling gang, Tiffany Case.

The novel received broadly positive reviews at the time of publication and was serialised in the Daily Express newspaper, firstly in an abridged, multi-part form and then as a comic strip. In 1971 it was adapted into the seventh Bond film in the series and was the last Eon Productions film to star Sean Connery as James Bond.



British Secret Service agent James Bond, 007 is sent on an assignment by his superior, M. Acting on information received from Special Branch, M tasks Bond with infiltrating a smuggling ring running diamonds from mines in Sierra Leone to the United States. Bond must travel as far as possible down the pipeline to uncover those responsible. Using the identity of Peter Franks, a country house burglar turned diamond smuggler, he meets Tiffany Case, an attractive go-between who developed an antipathy towards men after being gang-raped as a teenager.

Bond discovers that the smuggling ring is operated by "The Spangled Mob", a ruthless American gang run by the brothers Jack and Seraffimo Spang. Bond follows the pipeline from London to New York, where he is instructed by Shady Tree to earn his fee through betting on a rigged horse race in nearby Saratoga. At Saratoga Bond meets Felix Leiter, a former CIA agent working at Pinkertons as a private detective investigating crooked horse racing. Leiter bribes the jockey to ensure the failure of the plot to rig the race. When Bond goes to pay the bribe, he witnesses two homosexual thugs, Wint and Kidd, attack the jockey.

Bond calls Shady Tree to enquire further about the payment of his fee and is told to go to the Tiara Hotel in Las Vegas. The Tiara is owned by Seraffimo Spang and operates as the headquarters of the Spangled Mob. Spang also owns an old Western ghost town, named "Spectreville", restored to be his own private vacation retreat. At the hotel, Bond finally receives payment through a rigged blackjack game where the dealer is Tiffany Case. However, he disobeys his orders by continuing to gamble in the casino after "winning" the money he is owed. Spang suspects that Bond may be a 'plant' and has him captured and tortured. However, with Tiffany's help he escapes from Spectreville aboard a railroad push-car with Seraffimo Spang in pursuit aboard an old Western train. Bond re-routs the train to a side line and shoots Spang before the resulting crash. Assisted by Leiter, Bond and Case go via California to New York, where they board the Queen Elizabeth to travel to London. However, Wint and Kidd observe their embarkation and followed them on board. They kidnap Case, planning to kill her and throw her overboard. Bond rescues her and kills both gangsters; for precaution, he makes it look like a murder-suicide.

Case subsequently informs Bond of the details of the pipeline. It begins in Africa where a dentist would pay miners to smuggle diamonds in their mouths which he would extract during a routine appointment. From there the dentist would take the diamonds and rendezvous with a German helicopter pilot. Eventually the diamonds would go to Paris, and from there to London. There, after telephone instructions from a contact known as ABC, Case would then meet a person to explain how to smuggle the diamonds to New York City. After returning to London, Bond flies on to Freetown in Sierra Leone and then to where the next diamond rendezvous takes place. With the collapse of the rest of the pipeline, Jack Spang (who turns out to be the mysterious ABC) shuts down his diamond smuggling pipeline by killing its participants. Spang himself is killed when Bond shoots down his helicopter.

Characters and themes

According to the author of "continuation" Bond novels, Raymond Benson, the character of Bond develops in Diamonds Are Forever, building on what Fleming had written in the previous three novels.[1] This growth arises through Bond's burgeoning relationship with the book's female lead, Tiffany Case. According to Fleming's biographer, Andrew Lycett, after the novel was completed, "almost as an afterthought, [Fleming] appended four extra chapters, recording what happens on the Queen Elizabeth";[2] and allowing the question of marriage to arise, because Bond falls in love with Case, the first time he has done so since Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.[1] According to Benson, Tiffany Case is portrayed as tough, but lonely and insecure and "is Fleming's first fully developed female character."[1]

The main theme in the novel is expressed in the title, according to Benson and the theme that diamonds are forever is used to contrast other, less permanent aspects, especially love and life.[3] Towards the end of Diamonds Are Forever Fleming uses the lines "Death is forever. But so are diamonds"[4] and Benson sees diamonds as a metaphor for death "and Bond, who carries the diamonds from London to New York, is the messenger of death."[3]

Academic Jeremy Black points to the theme of travel in Diamonds Are Forever, which was still a huge novelty to most people in Britain at the time.[5] This travel between a number of a locations did exacerbate one of the issues identified by Black: that there was no centre to the story. In contrast to the previous novels, where Casino Royale had Royale, From Russia with Love had Istanbul and Dr. No had Jamaica, Diamonds Are Forever had multiple locations and two villains and there was "no megalomaniac fervour, no weird self-obsession, at the dark centre of the plot".[6]


Goldeneye, where Fleming wrote all the Bond novels, including Diamonds Are Forever.

In 1954 Fleming read a story in The Sunday Times about diamond smuggling from Sierra Leone.[7] Fleming engineered a meeting with Sir Percy Sillitoe, the ex-head of MI5, then working for De Beers diamond traders.[7] The subsequent material went into Diamonds Are Forever and a non-fiction book Fleming also wrote, The Diamond Smugglers.[7] In August 1954 he flew to the US for research, visiting Saratoga Springs after his friend, William Stephenson, sent him a magazine article about the spa town.[8] In the US, Fleming travelled with two friends, Ivar Bryce and Ernest Cuneo, whose name was changed to 'Ernie Cureo' for the role of Bond's taxi-driving ally in Las Vegas (Bryce's name had already been used as an alias for Bond in Live and Let Die).[9]

Whilst at Saratoga Fleming and Cuneo visited a mud-bath: they took the wrong directions and ended up at a run-down establishment, which was used for the Acme Mud and Sulphur Baths scene in the book.[10] Fleming also met a rich socialite, William Woodward, Jr., who drove a Studillac – a Studebaker with a powerful Cadillac engine. According to Henry Chancellor, "the speed and comfort of it impressed Ian, and he shamelessly appropriated this car" for the book.[11] Woodward was killed by his wife shortly afterwards – claiming she mistook him for a prowler – and when Diamonds Are Forever was published, it was dedicated "to Bryce, Cuneo and to 'the memory of W. W. Jr., at Saratoga, 1954 and 55'."[12]

Fleming also visited Los Angeles with Cuneo, going to the Los Angeles Police Intelligence headquarters, where they met Captain James Hamilton, who provided Fleming with information on the Mafia organisation in the US.[13] From Los Angeles the pair travelled to Las Vegas, where they stayed at the Sands Hotel; Fleming interviewed the hotel owner, Jack Entratta, where he learnt the background to the security systems and methods of cheating that he used in the novel.[13]

As well as appropriating the name of Ernie Cuneo in the novel, one of the homosexual villains, 'Boofy' Kidd, was named after one of Fleming's close friends – and a relative of his wife – Arthur Gore, 8th Earl of Arran, known to his friends as "Boofy". Gore heard about the use of his name before publication and complained to Flemnig about it, but was ignored and the name was retained for the novel.[14] Fleming wrote Diamonds Are Forever at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica in the early months of 1955, returning to London with the completed manuscript in March that year.[15]

Release and reception

Diamonds Are Forever was released on 26 March 1956 by Jonathan Cape[16] with a cover designed by Pat Marriott[17] and cost 12s. 6d.[18] As with the four previous Bond books, the first edition (this time 12,500 copies) sold out quickly;[19] the US edition was published in October 1956.[20] The novel was serialised in the Daily Express newspaper from 12 April 1956 onwards,[18] and the serialisations undertaken by the newspaper had led to an overall rise in the sales of the novels.[21] From November 1956 sales of Diamonds Are Forever, as well as Fleming's other novels, all rose following Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden's visit to Fleming's Jamaican Goldeneye estate, which was much reported in the British press.[20] The book later received a boost in sales in 1971 when the novel was adapted for the cinema by Eon Productions, with Sean Connery cast as Bond.[22]


Julian Symons, writing in The Times Literary Supplement thought that Fleming had some enviable qualities as a writer, including "a fine eye for ability to convey his own interest in the mechanics of gambling and an air of knowledgeableness".[23] However, Symonds also saw defects in Fleming's style, including "his inability to write convincing dialogue";[23] For Symonds, Diamonds Are Forever was Fleming's "weakest book, a heavily padded story about diamond smuggling",[23] where "the exciting passages are few."[23]

Milward Kennedy, writing in The Manchester Guardian, though that Fleming was "determined to be as tough as Chandler, if a little less lifelike",[24] whilst Maurice Richardson, in The Guardian's sister paper, The Observer, thought that Bond was "one of the most cunningly synthesised heroes in crime-fiction".[25] Richardson noted in his review that "Mr. Fleming's method is worth noting, and recommending: he does not start indulging in his wilder fantasies until he has laid down a foundation of factual description."[25] Elements of a review by Raymond Chandler which he wrote for The Sunday Times were used as advertising for the novel: Chandler wrote that it was "about the nicest piece of book-making in this type of literature which I have seen for a long time...Mr. Fleming writes a journalistic style, neat, clean, spare and never pretentious".[26]

Writing in The New York Times, Anthony Boucher—described by a Fleming biographer, John Pearson as "throughout an avid anti-Bond and an anti-Fleming man"[27]—was mixed in his review, thinking that "Mr. Fleming's handling of American and Americans is well above the British average",[28] although he felt that "the narrative is loose-jointed and weakly resolved",[28] whilst Bond resolves his assignments "more by muscles and luck than by any sign of operative intelligence."[28]


Comic strip (1959-1960)

Fleming's original novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The original adaptation ran from 10 August 1959 to 30 January 1960.[29] The strip was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky.[30] Diamonds Are Forever was published again in 2005 as part of the Dr. No anthology by Titan Books.[30]

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

In 1971 the novel was loosely adapted into a film starring Sean Connery as Bond; the film was directed by Guy Hamilton and produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman's Eon Productions.[31] Diamonds Are Forever marked the final Bond film undertaken by Sean Connery with Eon Productions, although he returned to the role of James Bond twelve years later with Kevin McLory's Taliafilm company for Never Say Never Again.[32]


  1. ^ a b c Benson 1988, p. 103.
  2. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 268.
  3. ^ a b Benson 1988, p. 102.
  4. ^ Fleming 2006, p. 289.
  5. ^ Black 2005, p. 25.
  6. ^ Black 2005, p. 27.
  7. ^ a b c Chancellor 2005, p. 84.
  8. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 258.
  9. ^ Macintyre 2008, p. 93.
  10. ^ Chancellor 2005, p. 84-85.
  11. ^ Chancellor 2005, p. 158.
  12. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 272.
  13. ^ a b Benson 1988, p. 10.
  14. ^ Macintyre 2008, p. 90.
  15. ^ Pearson 1966, p. 305.
  16. ^ Lycett 1996, p. 289.
  17. ^ Chancellor 2005, p. 85.
  18. ^ a b Fleming, Ian (12 April 1956). "Diamonds Are Forever". Daily Express: p. 8. 
  19. ^ Pearson 1966, p. 333.
  20. ^ a b Benson 1988, p. 15.
  21. ^ Lindner 2009, p. 16.
  22. ^ Lindner 2009, p. 21.
  23. ^ a b c d Symons, Julian Gustave (27 April 1956). "Contemporary Pictures". The Times Literary Supplement: p. 251. 
  24. ^ Kennedy, Milward (6 July 1956). "Some Matters of Life and Death". The Manchester Guardian: p. 6. 
  25. ^ a b Richardson, Maurice (1 April 1956). "Crime Ration". The Observer: p. 8. 
  26. ^ "Display Advertising". The Observer: p. 9. 1 April 1956. 
  27. ^ Pearson 1967, p. 99.
  28. ^ a b c Boucher, Anthony (28 October 1956). "Report on Criminals at Large". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Fleming, Gammidge & McLusky 1988, p. 6.
  30. ^ a b McLusky et al. 2009, p. 97.
  31. ^ Brooke, Michael. "Diamonds Are Forever (1971)". Screenonline. British Film Institute. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Barnes & Hearn 2001, p. 152.


External links

See also

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