Website last updated: 19-11-2023

The Battle For Bond written by Robert Sellers (1st Edition)

By: FSWL team
The Battle for Bond Robert Sellers
The Battle For Bond: The Genesis of Cinema's Greatest Hero by Robert Sellers published by Tomahawk Press.

300 pages of a story that will rock the world of James Bond - fully illustrated. Don’t miss this opportunity! Includes over 100 rare and never before seen photos.

Cinema history might have been very different had the first James Bond film not been Dr No (1962) in 1962 starring Sean Connery, but Thunderball (1965) directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1959 and starring Richard Burton as agent 007. It sounds preposterous and unbelievable, but it almost happened.

The Battle for Bond unravels the untold story behind the most controversial part of the James Bond legend using previously unpublished material including letters and private documents. It is a tale of bitter recriminations, betrayal, multi-million dollar lawsuits and even death.

It starts way back in 1959 when colourful Irish film producer Kevin McClory collaborated with Ian Fleming and Hollywood screenwriter Jack Whittingham on a screenplay for what was intended to be the first ever James Bond film, entitled Thunderball. When the project collapsed, Fleming instead used its plot as the basis for his next Bond novel, but without permission. An incensed McClory and Whittingham sued.

The resulting trial was one of the most high profile and complex of the 1960s. Essentially the creator of the 20th century’s greatest fictional character was in the dock, accused of plagiarism. Already gravely ill, many of Fleming’s friends feared the pressure of the trial would have a detrimental effect on his health. Tragically they were proved right when only a few months later Fleming died of a massive heart attack aged only 56.

As for Kevin McClory, he became a millionaire over night, winning the film rights to Thunderball. He was now in the enviable position of being able to make his own 007 movie. But the already established Sean Connery series was a hard act to compete with and McClory instead decided to join forces with Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in a one-off deal to co-produce Thunderball. Released in time for Christmas 1965, Thunderball was the Star Wars of its day, becoming one of the most successful films in movie history.

Part of McClory’s court victory entitled him to remake Thunderball at a future date, resulting in Never Say Never Again (1983), which saw Sean Connery returning to the Bond role after a 12 year absence and was the film that Broccoli tried desperately to ban. Following its success McClory tried in vain to start his own 007 film series, using the rights he owned in Thunderball, but was thwarted at every turn in a succession of increasingly hostile legal battles against Broccoli and Bond studio MGM. McClory even made the claim that he was co-creator of the cinematic James Bond character and demanded a share in the three billion dollars of profits the 007 series had earned.

Even in the late 1990s McClory was still determined to make more Bond films and in one last giant court battle the entire future of James Bond was to be decided. Would the Broccoli family and MGM, home to the 007 series since 1962, emerge triumphant. Or would Kevin McClory’s 40-year claims on the Bond character succeed.

In preparing the book the author was granted exclusive access to a wealth of previously unpublished material including hundreds of letters from the principal characters in the Thunderball story, including Fleming himself, business and private documents and never before seen papers from the 1963 court case. And also the five different screenplays that were written for Thunderball - two from Fleming and three from Jack Whittingham.

The author also interviewed many of the actors and production people who worked on Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. Their memories and colourful anecdotes bring to life two of the most successful and universally popular Bond movies of all time.

Robert Sellers is the author of several entertainment books including biographies on Sean Connery, Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise. He was also the author of ‘Very Naughty Boys’ the history of George Harrison/Monty Python’s Hand Made Films, a book Empire magazine called, ‘essential reading.’

"This has all the intrigue of a first-rate espionage thriller, complete with twists, turns, betrayals and double-dealings. A superb piece of research immaculately presented, its revelations will leave Bond fans awestruck! A brilliant page-turner with all the qualities of thriller, this is easily the best film book published this year." - Film Review

"Robert Sellers’ dedication and thorough investigation into this Bond story results in a book that is a must for any serious fan of the franchise." - Cinema Retro Magazine

"The most important book ever published about the evolution of Ian Fleming’s James Bond… a must read!" - Graham Rye - 007 Magazine

The first edition of The Battle for Bond was withdrawn in March 2008 following persistent threats of legal action from the Ian Fleming Will Trust. The first edition included a very small number of the documents used in evidence at the Fleming plagiarism trial, which we believe we had the right to reproduce. The Fleming Trust disagreed, claiming that the documents were their copyright – a fact that we never disputed, but we believed that their use in the context of this book fell under several exclusions in the Copyright Design and Patents Act.

Reproducing these documents in any event was not critical to the book, and the documents themselves were of no great significance. So we were surprised at the threats from the Ian Fleming Will Trust, who could have asked for the small payment their use would have incurred or simply an acknowledgment of their ownership in the next edition. Instead, they wanted the book removed from sale – literally banned over this small and insignificant matter. They were unwilling to discuss any other course of action but the banning of the book. Their behaviour left us with the impression that they were attempting to ban the book largely due to the fact the Ian Fleming plagiarism case was something that they did not want publicised, particularly in the year of the Fleming centenary.

We could have fought them in court, but we are no match for the bottomless pit of money they were apparently willing to invest in this matter, so we took the commercially sensible decision to deliver the remaining UK stock of the book to Olswang, their solicitor’s offices in London.

The banning of the book created intense media interest in the book and the Fleming plagiarism case, and as a consequence of this renewed interest, we soon will be publishing a revised and updated new edition of the book, which we would not have done had the Ian Fleming Will Trust not intervened. As our friends at Cinema Retro magazine have concluded:

“It’s hard to fathom what the Fleming estate hoped to gain by these actions. They've taken a low-profile book and given it enormous exposure. Sellers was not uncovering a scandal: the courtroom case involving Fleming was major news at the time and has been extensively covered in every biography of the author. For the sake of trashing 300 copies, they have insured that the book will now be highly-sought by readers who might otherwise would have never known it existed.”

The story was also covered by Bookseller Magazine, the Sunday Times and the BBC. Watch the BBC coverage here.

Tomahawk Press and the author, Robert Sellers would like to acknowledge the overwhelming support we have had from the James Bond fan community, to whom we say thank you.

Order the revised 2008 edition of The Battle For Bond at a discounted price from Amazon UK:



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