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August 12, 2016 Last updated: August 15, 2016

Podcast #225: The Real Life James Bond

Bond. James Bond.

007 is a masculine film icon. He’s handsome, debonair, and dangerous. He completely epitomizes the French idea of savoir faire — the ability to know what to do in any situation.

Bond is so damn manly, it’d be easy to think that he was purely the creation of author Ian Fleming’s imagination. But in fact, Bond was inspired by a real-life WWII spy, and his life and career was even more Bond-like than James Bond himself.

My guest today has written a biography of the real-life inspiration for James Bond. His name is Larry Loftis and he’s the author of the book Into The Lion’s Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov: World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond. Today on the show we talk about Dusko Popov and his career as a double agent during WWII. Larry and I discuss how Dusko got involved with spying, the insanely dangerous missions he went on, and the real-life encounter between him and Ian Fleming that inspired one of popular culture’s most iconic characters.

Show Highlights

  • How Larry stumbled across the amazing, true-life story of Dusko Popov
  • How Popov became a double agent for the UK during WWII
  • Why being a spy is one of the most dangerous jobs to have during war
  • How Popov was reporting to six different agencies from three different countries at the same time
  • Why Popov took the enormous risk of becoming a double-agent
  • Dusko’s Bond-like personality and charm
  • Why Lisbon was a hotbed of espionage activity during WWII
  • Ian Fleming’s career as a naval intelligence officer
  • The real-life backgammon bet that Ian Fleming saw Dusko partcipate in that inspired Casino Royale
  • Popov’s mission in the United States
  • How J. Edgar Hoover made Popov’s job of keeping his German cover difficult
  • How Walter Winchell nearly blew Popov’s cover by writing an article about his relationship with movie star Simone Simon
  • Why returning back to Lisbon by orders of the Germans consituted Dusko’s “jumping into the lion’s mouth”
  • Popov’s training with famed combat fighters William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes
  • Popov’s life after the war
  • Life lessons on being a man from Dusko Popov
  • And much more!

Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast

into the lion's mouth book cover larry lofts

Into the Lion’s Mouth is a history book that reads like a fast-paced spy thriller. You’ll learn a ton about WWII espionage while anxiously wondering what’s going to happen next to Dusko. The perfect summertime read.

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Read the Transcript

Coming soon!