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How James Bond inspired CIA to replicate mind-boggling gadgets

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 16:53

London: The real-life CIA copied outlandish gadgets from James Bond films Goldfinger and From Russia With Love, according to a University of Warwick analysis.

The study was carried out from declassified letters and interviews revealing the bond between Ian Fleming and Allen Dulles.

However, the relationship between the former CIA director and the spy thriller writer went far deeper than raiding the novels for technological inspiration.

Dr Christopher Moran from the University of Warwick has trawled through declassified letters and media reports from the 1950 and 60s for the study, Ian Fleming and the Public Profile of the CIA, published in the Journal of Cold War Studies.

"There was a surprising two-way influence between the CIA and the James Bond novels during the Cold War, stemming from the mutual admiration between Allen Dulles and Ian Fleming," he said.

"This ranged from the copying of devices, such as the poison-tipped dagger shoe in From Russia With Love, to the agency using the 007 novels to improve its public profile," he added.

"It`s even more striking that this was going on at time when mentioning the CIA was strictly off-limits for the US media and cultural establishment, whereas Fleming, as a British author, could say what he liked," he said.

"For a long time, the James Bond books had a monopoly on the CIA`s public image and the agency used this to its advantage," he added.

Declassified letters between Allen Dulles and Ian Fleming reveal the former CIA boss`s strong affection for the Bond novels - he even persuaded the author not to pension off 007 in 1963.
And in a rediscovered 1964 edition of Life Magazine, Dulles describes his meeting with the `brilliant and witty` Fleming in London in 1959 where the author told him that the CIA was not doing enough in the area of `special devices`.

On his return to the US, Dulles urged CIA technical staff to replicate as many of Bond`s devices as they could.

The article details how the CIA successfully copied Rosa Klebb`s infamous spring-loaded poison knife shoe from the film From Russia with Love.

The letters between Dulles and Fleming also show how the CIA tapped into James Bond for public relations support, with the author agreeing to include a number of glowing references to the CIA in his later novels.

He did this out of respect for Dulles, a close friend, but the effect was to promote the image of the CIA.


First Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 16:52

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