Cities featured: Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Geneva, Naples and Monte Carlo.
Thrilling Cities is a travelogue written by Ian Fleming – author of the popular James Bond book series. Originally featured as a series of articles for the British Newspaper The Sunday Times, Thrilling Cities collates each of Fleming’s short articles from two trips undertaken in 1959 and 1960.
Whilst in the midst of writing his legendary series of James Bond novels, Fleming was persuaded by the editor of The Sunday Times to take an all-expenses paid trip covering some of the world’s most trilling cities. Fleming undertook his first trip across eight cities in Asia and the United States in 1959 followed by, due to the success of his original trip, a 1960 road trip around a number of cities in Europe.
Although initially reluctant to undertake The Sunday Times generous offering, Thrilling Cities reads like Fleming in his element. Travel was always a key part of each James bond novel and this project allowed Fleming to indulge in what was always one of the best parts of his writing – a distinctive sense of place.
Reading Thrilling Cities never felt like reading a conventional tour guide or travelogue as Fleming always manages to intertwine a unique narrative within each of the thirteen cities he visits. From visiting a police chief in Los Angeles, to discuss the rise in drug crime, to meeting with infamous gangster Lucky Luciano at a café in Naples, Fleming always manages to dig deep beneath the superficial surface of each city.
Appropriately, each chapter ends with Incidental Intelligence, where Fleming outlines some of his favourite hotels, restaurants and nightclubs in each of the cities featured throughout the book. Although most of his recommendations no longer exist, one could imagine these were the kind of places that would have been frequented by Fleming’s famous 00 spy.
Thrilling Cities may feel dated at times, at almost 60 years old, and is certain to terrify the more politically correct contemporary readers. Nevertheless, the book offers a fascinating insight into a time that no longer exists, capturing a moment in time that unfortunately only exists within the pages of a book.