I am often amused when noted authors, critics, literary scholars, et al, state with the kind of authority reserved only for God himself that James Bond is the worst spy ever. A simple Google search will reveal a lot of writing on that subject, and a lot of it very vitriolic, especially from authors who were contemporaries of Ian Fleming but did not then and do not now share his kind of success.
These critics procede to note with great enthusiasm all of the parts of the Bond movies and books that "just aren't realistic" and "not what a real spy would do."
For some reason, these guys and gals do not like James Bond.
Is it the success of Ian Fleming and the Bond films, which have done more to influence spy stories than Brian Freemantle ever will, and who the hell is Brian Freemantle anyway? John le Carre is a known Fleming-basher, but I'll dare say more people know Fleming's name than le Carre's, and I will bet that many more have been entertained by Fleming's work than le Carre's....um....well, it certainly isn't drivel. But it's not terribly entertaining.
Perhaps it's the influecne of the Bond Lifestyle, because most guys want to be Bond. Maybe that's what makes the critics angry. Guys want to have the clothes, the cars, the women, the guns, and the adventures, that James Bond has. Other writers and filmmakers have been able to tap that area of the imagination, but Fleming/Bond are tops in the category; we note that the Bond critics have not been able to achieve the same result.
Maybe Graham Greene and Len Deighton wish they had created a hero that influential.
The value of the Bond character goes beyond the millions of dollars the books and films generate. Ian Fleming and James Bond inspire the imagination. If you remember nothing else about the adventures, you know were you somehow transported into a world where a spy could indeed behave the way Bond does, and not only get away with it, but still accomplish his missions, get the girl, and, basically, stick it to the slug heads who say that's not the way it's supposed to be.
Nobody wants to read about a paper-pushing desk-jockey. (Sorry, Len--I tried but I couldn't get through The Ipcress File.) I don't want to know that the CIA and MI6 are bloated bureaucracies where it's a miracle anything ever gets done and how the hell did we survive the Cold War with such asinine egos working in those buildings?
That's why Bond is popular. He gets the job done. Oh, and he's fun. That's something the slug heads seem to forget. They also seem to forget the fact that James Bond isn't real, and that's important. Fleming never claimed to be writing non-fiction. Why y'all so upset? Why cut down more trees just to write books that are "more realistic."
Nobody reads fiction for realism.
We read fiction to be entertained. Ian Fleming has been enteraining me since I was 13 years old, and I'm almost 40 now. There is no other author who has remained at the top of my reading list for so many years.