Thrilling Cities is Bond creator Ian Fleming’s collection of travel writing from his 1959 round the world adventure for the Sunday Times. His assignment: “Make a trip of the most exciting cities of the world and describe them in beautiful, beautiful prose — within a month.”
It’s his view of thirteen cities he visited in two trips in 1959 and 1960. The cities covered are: Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, Honolulu, Los Angeles and Las Vegas (the two cities are examined in one chapter), Chicago, New York, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, Geneva, Naples and Monte Carlo.
Fleming’s account is highly personal and deals with his visit and his experiences and impressions. Each chapter closes with what Fleming called “Incidental Intelligence”, dealing with the hotels, restaurants, food and night life.
Fleming describes the way he travels:
“All my life, I have been interested in adventure and, abroad, I have enjoyed the frisson of leaving the wide, well-lit streets and venturing up back alleys in towns. It was perhaps this habit that turned me into a writer of thrillers, and, by the time I had made the two journeys that produced these essays, I had certainly got into the way of looking at people and places and things through a thriller-writer’s eye.”
Fleming’s comments on New York were so cutting that when the book was published in the US, the American publishers asked if he could tone down the wording. Fleming refused, but instead wrote the short story “007 in New York” to be included in the US version by way of recompense
The dust jackets are also ‘thrilling’!