From Russia With Love Themes

From Russia With Love Themes

The Hot Threat of Cold War

From Russia with Love is a James Bond novel in which Bond himself does not even actually appear until nearly one-hundred pages. The first ten chapters provide extensive insight into the people and mechanism involved in the Soviet Union espionage system. This is a way of introducing the character of Red Grant who is the central figure in that Russian spy system’s assassination bureau, the infamous SMERSH. Essentially, the first third of this James Bond novel is really about Red Grant and significant danger he presents to the agents working to keep democracy safe from communist infiltration. Although the Cold War had been in full swing and the Red Menace had destroyed across American, even as late as the year of publication, 1957, the primary conceptualization of Russian operatives working in the service of communism was still primary limited to the communist party members said to be lurking around every street corner. From Russia with Love was an instrumental fictional tool changing this perspective. The hefty load of plot development given over to what Fleming claimed was a realistic portrait of the inner workings of the Russian spy system—through the explosion of popularity of the novel after making Pres. Kennedy’s list of favorite books—may well have played a much bigger role in transforming the Soviet threat from the actor who lost his job for attending a few meetings to the sinister reality of spies whose job was never to be detected by the public.

Post-Colonial Regret

A very strong current of regret at England losing the colonial hold over the world over the course of the 20th century permeates the novel. Most of the characters deemed worthy of suspicion are foreigners and darkly complexioned ones at that. Red Grant is himself a figure who starts out as an untamed Irishman who flirts with the IRA and is so wild as to experience almost a werewolf-like transformation into a rabid killer when the moon is full. Naturally, the only possible force strong enough to civilize such a creature s service in the British Army. Perhaps the most astonishing demonstration of the theme of just how much the world lost—as well as England—when they were forced to give up their colonies arrive in the recollections of Karim Bey. The Turkish head of operations for England’s spy agency shares a lovely little anecdote with Bond about keep a naked woman he kidnapped chained until she, naturally, fell in love with him.

Betrayal and Defection

The final chapter in Red Grant’s story begins with his defection to the Soviet Union following his being civilized by the British. Soviet agent Tatiana Romanova is used as a honeytrap pawn in a much larger conspiracy to kill James Bond and create an international scandal which is contingent upon her faking her own decision to detect from the Russians, unaware that her own death has already been written into the narrative. The fact that two major characters are working within the dirty little corner of espionage dealing with betrayal of one’s country by defection is not incidental. Fleming composed From Russia with Love amidst a flurry of high profile and potentially devastating real life defections on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.