Meet The Real James Bonds: Fast Cars, But No License to Kill

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It seems the life of James Bond isn’t actually that far from reality.

A new book released yesterday, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909–1949, written by Professor Keith Jeffery, is the first history of the Secret Intelligence Service, written with full and unrestricted access to the closed archives of the Service for the period 1909–1949.

In the book Jeffery describes the escapades of one Wilfrid “Biffy” Dunderdale, MI6’s man in Paris before and during the second world war, who is said to be the model for James Bond. “Biffy”, named because of his prowess as a boxer, was a friend of Ian Flemming, the author of the James Bond books, and is described as “a man of great charm and savoir faire” with a “penchant for pretty women and fast cars.” (See a special on James Bond)

The book even tells the story of how Dutch MI6 agent, Peter Tazelaar, landed ashore on a beach near a casino at Schevening, The Hague, at 4.35 am on November 23rd 1940. He was dressed in a special rubber suit, which he then proceeded to strip off, revealing full evening dress. The event somehow managed to find its way into the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger! (see video)

However, one myth busted by the book is that agents were ever given a “license to kill”. They were given weapons training for self-defense, but never the permission to kill the enemy. So, it’s not all quite like the movies after all. (via the Guardian)