Ian Fleming was 35 when he first visited Jamaica for a conference concerning German U-Boats—though, to hear Parker's account of it, the island appealed to his boyish side. Fleming loved Jamaica for its recreational activities, its Caribbean folklore (basically, his belief that it contained lots of buried treasure, informed by his terrible “four-penny horrors” habit), and the kinglike reception he got from the locals merely for being British (he arrived at the tail end of its time as a crown colony). How he came to establish an estate there was equally quixotic: At the end of the war, Fleming told his friend Ivar Bryce, he would relocate to Jamaica to “swim in the sea and write books.”
That he actually did so seems like something right out of Bondian fantasy, which in turn seems inspired by his annual stays there. Three years later, Fleming managed to secure two months of paid leave each year from his job at the Sunday Times and commissioned an ascetic, box-like house near Oracabessa that he named "Goldeneye," after a wartime operation in Gibraltar. It may have also come from the fact that Oracabessa means "Golden Head" in Spanish, and that Fleming had enjoyed Carson McCullers' novel Reflections in a Golden Eye. In the early years, he spent his Jamaican vacations fishing with harpoon guns and steel tridents (not unlike the unique, yet totally preposterous, underwater battle in Thunderball). He tempted fate by carrying on conspicuous affairs with many of the island’s expatriate British elite, most of whom were taken (his most important mistress, Anne Rothermere, was married to a viscount who was the proprietor of the Daily Mail). He purportedly drank a bottle of gin a day and insisted his staff call him “the Commander.”
Having established such an ideal getaway location, Fleming didn't have to imagine too hard when he first designed Bond. The spy's name, famously, was swiped from the author of The Birds of the West Indies, which he kept on his shelf at Goldeneye; Domino (Thunderball) and Solitaire from (Live and Let Die) came from the names of tropical birds; Vesper (Casino Royale) referred to a cocktail of frozen rum, berries, and herbs Fleming was served at one of Jamaica’s Great Houses. The glamorous details were exaggerated and improvised, and the political reality of Jamaica’s brewing independence movement distilled. At the beginning of Dr. No, Bond, put off by the unfriendliness of the locals, predicts the Queen's Club will soon be "burned to the ground"—a threat that's extinguished when Bond saves the island from an outsider, a horrendously racist villain identified as a "Chigro."
Parker downplays the blatant offensiveness of the Bond books—to various ethnicities, women, carnivorous sea creatures, Americans—by making the point that Fleming was prejudiced against anyone who wasn't British. It's in service of an interesting thought: Bond's blinkered machismo, he suggests, resulted from Fleming's own fearful preoccupation with the decline of his youthful hopefulness. Fleming always told reporters that he wrote the first Bond book, Casino Royale, to avoid “the hideous spectre of matrimony.” Parker proves it was also a premeditated effort to bankroll life after marriage, distract the writer from his declining health, and willfully combat Britain’s reduced, post-WWII power.