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Ian Fleming’s first-ever installment in the James Bond series, published in 1953, establishes what would become standard tropes in the 007 books and film adaptations for decades to come, including Daniel Craig’s first outing as the British spy in a film of the same name. Fleming, who drew on his own experience spying for Britain to develop the novel, created an iconic killing machine whose suave exterior is explicitly designed to hide a brokenness within. Bond’s entanglement with another agent, Vesper, defines his choices (and misogynistic outlook) in future adventures. And while his face-off with gambling villain Le Chiffre at the baccarat table drives the plot of Casino Royale, it’s the mystery of who is betraying 007 by giving information about him to various bad actors that keeps the pages turning. The Bond series would go on to sell over 100 million copies. Titles within have recently been re-edited to remove racist language. —Eliana Dockterman

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