||27th March 1961
||Emilio Largo, SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Count
Lippe, Guiseppe Petachi
||Hijacking of nuclear bombs for blackmail of Western
||Domino Vitali, Patricia Fearing
||Shrublands, Sussex, UK; Paris, France; London, UK;
||Shrublands rack, hijacking of bombs, card game with
Largo, underwater swim under Disco Volante, underwater
A new criminal organisation has been formed, by the name of
SPECTRE. They steal two atomic weapons, and blackmail the
governments of Britain and America with the threat of their
Above: 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK). Artwork
by Richard Chopping.
Official Blurb (Penguin 2002 Edition)
When a stranger arrives in the Bahamas, the locals barely turn
their heads, seeing another ex-pat with money to burn at the casino
tables. But James Bond has more than money on his mind: he's got
less than a week to find two stolen atom bombs hidden among the
coral reefs. While acting the playboy, Bond meets Domino, sultry
plaything of secretive treasure hunter Emilio Largo. In getting
close to this gorgeous Italian girl, Bond hopes to learn more
about Largo's hidden operation...
Official Blurb (Penguin 2004 Edition)
Blofeld – leader of the terror organization SPECTRE –
is holding the world to ransom. He has stolen two powerful atomic
weapons and will destroy a major city if his demands for £100,000,000
are not met. Given one week to find the missing bombs, Bond goes
to the Bahamas, where he encounters sultry Domino – mistress
of Blofeld’s right hand man, Emilio Largo. By getting closer
to her, 007 hopes to find out more about Largo’s hidden
operation among the coral reefs, but soon finds himself getting
deep into shark infested waters...
In Thunderball, Fleming created a tale of breathless excitement
amid the stunning scenery of the Bahamas, and in the chilling,
puritanical killer Blofeld, he introduced Bond’s arch nemesis.
- Take it Easy, Mr Bond
- The Rack
- Tea and Animosity
- Violet-Scented Breath
- "Fasten Your Lap-Strap"
- "Big Fleas Have Little Fleas..."
- Multiple Requiem
- The Disco Volante
- The Man from the CIA
- "My Name is Emilio Largo"
- Sour Martinis
- Cardboard Hero
- Swimming the Gauntlet
- The Red-Eyed Catacomb
- How to Eat a Girl
- When the Kissing Stopped
- Time for Decision
- Very Softly, Very Slowly
- The Shadower
- Naked Warfare
- "Take it Easy, Mr Bond"
Above: British Book Club hardback edition (1961). Artwork
The girl looked him up and down. He had dark, rather cruel
good looks and very clear, blue-grey eyes. He was wearing a very
dark-blue lightweight single-breasted suit over a cream silk shirt
and a black knitted silk tie. Despite the heat, he looked cool
and clean. 'And who might you be?' she asked sharply.
'My name's Bond, James Bond ...'
Above: British Pan
paperback 14th edition (1965); American Signet
paperback 1st-23rd editions (1962 onwards); British
Pan paperback 1st-12th editions (1963), designed by Raymond
M hilariously sends Bond to a health farm with a diet of soup,
and there Bond comes Count Lippe, whose small tattoo arouses Bond's
suspicions. Lippe tries to kill him on a spinal rack, but Bond
gets his revenge by scorching Lippe in a Turkish bath. This upsets
SPECTRE, the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism,
Revenge and Extortion, who are a criminal organisation currently
plotting from a front in Paris. Blofeld, their leader, and Largo,
No1, have arranged a plan to steal nuclear bombs from NATO and
by bribing pilot Giuseppe Pettachi to fly his vulcan to the Bahamas
after poisoning the crew they do so, demanding $100,000,000 or
they will blow up a valuable site and then a city.
M has a hunch that the plane may have gone to the Bahamas, and
Bond flies there after Lippe tried to kill him, but was himself
assassinated by SPECTRE because his misfortune had endangered
the plot. Bond meets up with old buddy Felix Leiter, and their
suspicions are aroused by a group of wealthy treasure-hunters,
led by Emilio Largo. Various tiny pointers, including Largo's
reaction to Bond using the word spectre in the casino, cause an
underwater survey of his ship, the Disco Volante, to be undertaken.
His suspicions of a hidden underwater compartment are confirmed,
and he barely survives an encounter with an armed SPECTRE diver.
Felix calls in the US Navy's submarine Manta after spotting a
supposedly dead nuclear-physicist with Largo's men.
Bond and Felix spot the Vulcan's wreckage hidden underwater,
and Bond finds the bodies of the crew and the plane, minus the
bombs. He takes Petacchi's ID bracelet, and shows it to his sister
Domino (who he had previously met and who is Largo's mistress)
after he has sex with her. Distraught, she agrees to take a geiger
counter aboard the Disco and signal Bond when the bombs are back
on the ship. However, no signal proceeds because she has been
found out and tortured by Largo.
So the Disco Volante leaves Nassau, but the submarine can't follow
the hydrofoil through the shallow waters. Bond and Leiter choose
to gamble by awaiting Largo's arrival at a US rocket base nearby,
and when Largo does turn up with the bomb they encounter him in
a massive underwater battle, in which Largo is about to kill Bond,
but is instead speared by Domino who had escaped his cabin. The
bombs are recaptured, and Bond and Domino recover from their ordeals
together at a hotel.
"Perhaps it's just that in England we don't feel quite
as secure as you do in America. The war just doesn't seem
to have ended for us - Berlin, Cyprus, Kenya, Suez, let
alone these jobs with people like SMERSH that I used to
get tangled up in. There always seems to be something boiling
up somewhere. Now this damned business."
"He had disobeyed many orders in his life, but this
was to disobey the Prime Minister of England and the President
of the United States - a mighty left and right."
"Not bothering to open the low door of the MG, the
girl swung one brown leg and then the other over the side
of the car, showing her thighs under the pleated cream cotton
shirt almost to her waist, and slipped to the pavement."
"Women are often meticulous and safe drivers, but
they are very seldom first-class. In general Bond regarded
them as a mild hazard and he always gave them plenty of
road and was ready for the unpredictable."
"Leiter banked the little plane sharply. 'But you
see what I mean? If that little heap of ironmongery isn't
worth a quarter of a billion dollars my name's P. Rick.'"
"A girl, sunbathing naked on the roof of a smart cabin
cruiser, hastily snatched at a towel. 'Authentic blonde!'
Above: British Pan paperback 15th-17th
editions (1971 onwards)
Above: British Panther
paperback 1st edition (1978); British Coronet paperback
4th edition (1988), illustration by Bill Gregory; British
Penguin paperback edition (2002)
Mixture - of good living, sex and violent action -is as
before, but this highly polished performance, with an ingenious
plot, well documented, and plenty of excitement"
- The Times
"Mr Fleming's special magic lies in his power to impart
sophistication to his mighty nonsense; his fantasies connect
with up-to-date and lively knowledge of places and of the
general sphere of crime and espionage."
- Times Literary Supplement
"He writes in a style which combines the sophistication
and worldliness of S.S. Van Dine (brought up to date), the
sex and violence of Spillane, and the excitement of Eric
- Los Angeles Times
"Thunderball is the best written book since Diamonds
are Forever, four books back. It has pace and humour and
- Financial Times
"The book is a mystery story, a thriller, a chiller,
and a pleasure to read"
- New York Times
Above: Penguin USA paperback 1st edition