Spy Fact vs. Spy Fiction
A discussion on James Bond, Ian Fleming, and Real Intelligence

The School of Arts and Sciences at AUD hosted Dr. Christopher Moran, Associate Professor in US National Security at the University of Warwick's Department of Politics and International Studies, for a talk on James Bond, Ian Fleming, and Real Intelligence, titled Spy Facts vs. Spy Fiction. The discuss covered the history of intelligence and international affairs.
Dr. Moran, a leading historian of intelligence history, explained why intelligence history matters and he used Ian Fleming and James Bond to illustrate his point.
First, he showed how Ian Fleming was not merely an author of fiction, but an intelligence professional with experience in Britain’s intelligence community before, during, and after the Second World War. Fleming was deeply involved in planning and overseeing intelligence operations and his Bond stories reflect this, and not just fantasy.
Second, he showed how the supposed line that divided spy fact and spy fiction is not such a clear line. The two overlap. Many Bond plots and themes reflect and even comment upon world affairs, from non-state actors to the ethical and moral issues governments, intelligence services, and historians continue to debate today.
Fleming actually influenced the CIA’s planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion and its covert operations against Fidel Castro in 1960 and 1961. And intelligence services have actually attempted to recreate Bond technology in their real-world activities - such as Director of Central Intelligence William Casey’s interest in developing facial-recognition technology after seeing it in a Bond film, A View to a Kill.
This was also apparent in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as the Kremlin was threatened by the Bond series and its pro-West imagery. Thus, Soviets supported Andrei Gulyashkia, a Bulgarian writer who wrote an anti-Bond story, Avakoum Zakhov vs. 07, where East-bloc intelligence finally killed Bond.
All of this shows the importance of intelligence history, a new field of inquiry within the historical profession,” concludes Dr. Moran.
Convening the talk, Dr. James Lockhart, Assistant Professor of History at AUD, commented that this event “helped cultivate a new relationship between the Department of International and Middle Eastern Studies at AUD and University of Warwick's Department of Politics and International Studies in England.”