Casino Royale (1953)

Author: Ian Fleming
Published: 13th April 1953
MI6 Rating:

Data Stream
Villains: Le Chiffre
Plot: To recoup SMERSH funds by winning at the casino.
Bond Girls: Vesper Lynd
Allies: Felix Leiter, Rene Mathis
Locations: Royale-les-eaux, France
Highlights: Gambling scene, torture scene

Capsule Synopsis
Le Chiffre has lost 50 million Francs of his nation's money on a private venture, and unless he can recoup his losses, a SMERSH assassin lies in wait. James Bond 007 is sent to beat Le Chiffre - a dangerous agent from the USSR - at the casino and ensure his death comes at the hands of his own people.
Above: 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK)

Official Blurb (Penguin 2002 Edition)
Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome; chillingly ruthless and very deadly. This, the first of Fleming's tales of agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called simply 'Le Chiffre' - by ruining him at the baccarat table and forcing his Soviet spymasters to 'retire' him. It seems that lady luck is taken with James - Le Chiffre has hit a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules, and Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster and an unexpected saviour...

Official Blurb (Pan 1963 Edition)
JAMES BOND - secret agent and dedicated gambler, now famous the world over, makes his FIRST APPEARANCE in this startlingly original tale of espionage in a French seaside town.

Chapter Listing

  1. The Secret Agent
  2. Dossier for M
  3. Number 007
  4. L'Ennemi Écoute
  5. The Girl from Headquarters
  6. Two Men in Straw Hats
  7. Rouge et Noir
  8. Pink Lights and Champagne
  9. The Game is Baccarat
  10. The High Table
  11. Moment of Truth
  12. The deadly Tube
  13. 'A Whisper of Love, A Whisper of Hate'
  14. 'La Vie en Rose?'
  15. Black Hare and Grey Hound
  16. The Crawling of the Skin
  17. 'My Dear Boy'
  18. A Crag-like Face
  19. The White Tent
  20. The Nature of Evil
  21. Vesper
  22. The Hastening Saloon
  23. Tide of Passion
  24. Fruit Défendu
  25. 'Black-Patch'
  26. 'Sleep Well, My Darling'
  27. The Bleeding Heart
Above: British Pan paperback 9th-12th editions (1962 onwards)

'A dry martini,' Bond said. 'In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice cold, then add a thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'
'Certainly, monsieur.'

Above: British Cape hardback 4th-13th editions featuring Pat Marriott artwork (1957 onwards); British Pan paperback edition (18 April 1955 onwards); American Berkley paperback 9th edition (1986)

M has approved a plan to eliminate the SMERSH agent Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre has stolen funds from his Russian punishment, and in order to save his life he is planning to win it back at the Casino in Royale-les-eaux. Bond’s orders are to oppose Le Chiffre with English funds and bankrupt him, thus taking SMERSH’s money, and leaving them to murder the renegade killer.

Bond arrives in France and is assisted by Rene Mathis of France’s intelligence service, and the CIA’s Felix Leiter, with whom he builds a lasting friendship. Attractive British agent Vesper Lynd is also attached to Bond, whose presence in Royale is known immediately, as two Bulgars blow themselves up while trying to bomb 007.

Bond then confronts Le Chiffre at Baccarat, but seems to have been wiped out of his 16 million (old) Francs, before Leiter adds another 32 million, with which Bond bankrupts Le Chiffre. Bond and Vesper celebrate, but she is kidnapped by Le Chiffre and his men, whom Bond pursues. However, Bond is captured when the SMERSH man lays a bed of spikes on the road and 007 crashes. Le Chiffre sadistically interrogates Bond with, among other things, a carpet-beater against the genitals, to find out where the 40 million Bond has won is, but as Bond is about to die, a SMERSH operative sneaks into the house and kills Le Chiffre. He has no orders to kill Bond, but instead writes SM (for SMERSH) on the back of Bond’s hand.

Bond comes round in hospital, considering leaving the SIS before Mathis persuades him otherwise. Predictably, he falls in love with Vesper, and go for a romantic week on the French coast. But Vesper suddenly kills herself, explaining in a note that she had been a Russian double-agent. Bond, who had been about to ask her to marry him, reports back to London that ‘the bitch is dead’

"Bond was not amused. ‘What the hell do they want to send me a woman for?’ he said bitterly. ‘Do they think this is a bloody picnic?’"

"When , dazed and half-conscious, he raised himself on one knee,a ghastly rain of pieces of flesh and shreds of blood-soaked clothing fell on him and around him, mingled with branches and gravel."

"He likes the solid, studied comfort of card-rooms and casinos, the well-padded arms of the chairs, the glass of champagne or whisky at the elbow, the quiet unhurried attention of good servants".

"Bond reflected that good Americans were fine people and that most of them seem to come from Texas."

"Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to the men"

"I've got the corpses of a Japanese cipher expert in New York and a Norwegian double agent in Stockholm to thank for being a Double O. Probably quite decent people. They just got caught up in the gale of the world…"

Above: British Pan paperback 13th-23rd editions (1963 onwards)

Above: American Popular Library paperback edition "You Asked For It" (1955); British Penguin paperback edition (2002 onwards); American Penguin paperback edition (2002 onwards)


"A superb gambling scene, a torture scene which still haunts me, and, of course, a beautiful girl"
- Raymond Chandler

The first part of the book is a brilliant novelette in itself, dealing with the unlikely but imaginative plot to ruin a Communist agent by gambling against him for high stakes... But then he decides to pad out the book to novel length and leads the weary reader through a set of tough clichés to an ending which surprises no one save operative 007.
- New York Times

Casino Royale has action, suspense, even romance - yes, Bond falls for that "bloody woman" - but most interesting and valuable, it provides a fascinating glimpse into a world long gone. It was a mostly Anglophile world, although you might spot the odd Yank, like Bond's CIA agent friend Felix Leiter, of whom "Bond reflected that good Americans were fine people and that most of them seemed to come from Texas."
- April Chase

"Don’t miss this. A sort of Peter Cheyney de luxe, with everything of the very best and most expensive."
- The Observer (Maurice Richardson)

Above: British Pan paperback 29th-33rd editiona (1972 onwards)

Publication Timeline
1953 April 13 - 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) released - cover devised by Ian Fleming
May - 2nd edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover devised by Ian Fleming
1954 March 23 - 1st edition Macmillan hardback (USA)
May - 3rd edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover devised by Ian Fleming
June - 2nd edition Macmillan hardback (USA)
3rd edition Macmillan hardback (USA)
1955 April - 1st edition Pan paperback (UK)
April - 1st edition Popular Library paperback (USA) - "You Asked For It"
2nd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1st edition Albert Bonnier paperback (Sweden)
1957 November - 4th edition Jonathan Capte hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
1958 3rd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1959 5th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
4th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1960 February - 1st edition Signet paperback (USA)
6th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
5th edition Pan paperback (UK)
6th edition Pan paperback (UK)

7th edition Pan paperback (UK)
8th edition Pan paperback (UK)

1962 October - 6th edition Signet paperback (USA)
7th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
9th edition Pan paperback (UK)
10th edition Pan paperback (UK)
11th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1963 April - 7th edition Signet paperback (USA)
July - 8th edition Signet paperback (USA)
August - 9th edition Signet paperback (USA)
September - 10th edition Signet paperback (USA)
8th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
12th edition Pan paperback (UK)
13th edition Pan paperback (UK)
14th edition Pan paperback (UK)
15th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1964 16th edition Pan paperback (UK)
17th edition Pan paperback (UK)
18th edition Pan paperback (UK)
19th edition Pan paperback (UK)
20th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1st edition Plon paperback (France)
1965 August - Book club edition Macmillian/Doubleday hardback (USA)
9th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
21st edition Pan paperback (UK)
22nd edition Pan paperback (UK)
23rd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1st edition Editôra Civilização Brasileira paperback (Brazil)
1st editoin A.W. Bruna & Zoon paperback (The Netherlands)
1966 24th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1st edition Skrifola paperback (Denmark)
1967 25th edition Pan paperback (UK)
26th edition Pan paperback (UK)
27th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1968 10th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
1st edition Olaf Bouwer hardback (South Africa)
1969 28th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1971 May - 1st edition Bantam paperback (USA)
1972 29th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1973 11th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
30th edition Pan paperback (UK)
1975 31st edition Pan paperback (UK)
32nd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1976 12th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
33rd edition Pan paperback (UK)
1980 July - 1st edition Jove paperback (USA)
13th edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK) - cover art by Pat Marriott
1982 May - 1st edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1984 1st edition Aschehoug paperback (Denmark)
1st edition Zwarte Beertjes paperback (The Netherlands)
1986 9th edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1988 1st edition Coronet paperback (UK) - Introduction by Anthony Burgess
1st edition Coronet/General paperback (Canada) - Introduction by Anthony Burgess
1990 1st edition Aspect hardback (Russia)
1991 1st edition Printest/GART hardback (Estonia)
1992 1st edition Pragma paperback (Czechoslovakia)
1993 1st edition Scherz paperback (Germany)
1994 May - 1st edition MJF/Fine Communications hardback (USA)
1995 1st edition The First Edition Library hardback (USA)
1996 1st edition Center Poligraph hardback (Russia)

April 4 - 1st edition Viking/Penguin hardback (UK) - Photography by Toby Mcfarlan Pond
April 4 - 1st edition Penguin paperback (UK) - Photography by Toby Mcfarlan Pond
August - 1st edition Penguin paperback (USA)