Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Larry Loftis has written a number of legal books and articles, but it is only with Into the Lion’s Mouth that he decided to venture into a narrative. More precisely, he decided to tell the sadly-overlooked story of Dusko Popov, a young Serbian playboy who arguably became the greatest spy in human history and without a question served as the inspiration for James Bond. This book is a completely factual narrative that seeks to transpose a true life in all of its veracity into a thrilling story that will hopefully enlighten the world about a historical figure whose world-shaping actions remain largely in the shadows today.
Table of contents
Larry Loftis Presents the James Bond Origin Story
James Bond is the kind of figure that doesn’t need any introduction no matter who you are, how old you might be or where you’re from. Having appeared in countless movies always embodying the aspects that make him the manliest man amongst all men, Bond seems like a larger-than-life kind of entity, someone that could have only spawned from the wild imagination of the artist in Ian Fleming. However, as you’ll soon discover with Larry Loftis‘ first historical book, Into the Lion’s Mouth, the internationally-recognized character was actually based on someone very real: Dusko Popov.
Reality is often much more surprising than fiction, and in our case that goes double: Bond couldn’t hope to hold a candle to Popov‘s accomplishments. Indeed, we are about to embark on the story of the man who was possibly the greatest spy in human history, one who was so adept at his secretive work that many of his actions, some of which certainly shaped history, have been outrageously-overlooked not only during the last few decades, but even during the time when he performed them.
A Life Made for a Novel
To start things off, whenever it comes to a historical book such as this one the first concern that comes to mind is the extent to which the author believes he or she needs to balance facts and fiction. Virtually every topic from the past we choose to explore will have some holes and blanks to fill, and unfortunately there are a few authors who approach this conundrum with less integrity than others.
In Larry Loftis‘ case, I will assure you that everything in Into the Lion’s Mouth is 100% factual, accurate and thoroughly researched, with there even being 75 pages of notes and sources added for the critical thinkers amongst us who wish to verify the truths we are presented with. He doesn’t use his imagination to stuff the few informational voids he encountered for the mere sake of entertainment, preferring to stick solely to the historical truth.
Few agents, double or otherwise, invite risk. Fewer still actively seek danger. Dusko wanted both.― Larry Loftis , Into the Lion’s Mouth
With all that being said, you can rest easy for Popov‘s life is more than unique and eventful enough to be turned into a work of literature. There is no need to add anything to his exploits, mostly because they already far exceed the actions attributed to fictional spies.
He was everything you would expect the perfect spy and model for James Bond to be: a womanizer, talented shooter, big spender, seemingly eccentric, and working simultaneously undercover for the FBI, MI5, MI6 as well as the Abwehr (the Third Reich’s intelligence agency), pretending to play every side of the fence while truly furthering the Allies’ cause.
Time and time again he undertook extremely dangerous missions that required extreme finesse, intelligence and manipulation, more often than head voluntarily jumping from the frying pan into the fire for the sake of what needed to be done. His ability to inform the Allies and misinform the Axis made Popov a key player in countless strategic operations… had he not deceived the Germans about D-Day it might have taken a wholly different route.
I could go on and on about the tremendous impact he has had on the war, but this should give you a good idea of what Dusko’s life story was like: one that demanded immeasurable courage and was filled with espionage, intrigue, assassins, lovers and eternal enemies.
A Necessary Enlightenment
Chances are that this is one of the first, if not the first time you’re hearing about Popov, and the reason for that is quite simple: the best spies keep their work secret, at least until its revelation can no longer impact the nation they serve.
Many of his exploits came to light progressively and over many years, leaving him overshadowed by many of the larger historical figures who lived during those times… and there definitely wasn’t a shortage of them, with the 20th century having proven itself to be a veritable breeding ground for dictators and bloody conflicts.
What Larry Loftis does here is quite necessary, in the sense that he seeks to educate us and point our eyes to the man who was possibly the most important and least recognized in those times. Perhaps even more importantly, he opted to do it through a thrilling narration, a course of action with merits recognized by an increasing amount of authors.
It certainly shows that he took his time in crafting the perfect prose, making all the sentences blend in together and flow seamlessly with the help of precise and yet relatively simple vocabulary. There is never a dull moment, nor are we treated to useless details and descriptions; the focus is largely directed towards advancing Dusko’s incredible story.
Ultimately, Into the Lion’s Mouth is the kind of work you’ll learn more from than any old boring history book. Loftis knows exactly how to keep your attention, withholding the right information at the proper times, nearly always keeping us on the edges of our seats and wondering how our protagonist will deal with the new impossible conditions presented before him. And the best part? Whenever you take the time to put the book down and reflect on what you’ve read you’ll remind yourself that none of this is fiction and that there was actually a person who went through all those borderline mad gauntlets and trials.
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The Final Verdict
As you might gather from all you’ve just read, I have nothing but kind words for this thrilling and extremely informative book that should sit on the bookshelves of all those who are even slightly interested in the topic of WWII espionage.
To see Popov as the mere inspiration for a fictional character doesn’t do him justice; he was very much his own unique person that influenced countless lives and even entire countries from the shadows, constantly putting himself in harm’s way to do what he believed to be right.
Into the Lion’s Mouth is without a doubt one of the best books (and very few) books written about this person, making it arguably the best place to become acquainted with the man who can claim in good conscience the title of world’s best spy.
Espionage, like rugby, is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen.― Larry Loftis , Into the Lion’s Mouth
Larry Loftis is an American author and attorney who has been published in Law Review journals such as the University of Florida Law Review and the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law.
Additionally, he has also published a book in the realm of non-fiction, Into the Lion’s Mouth , chronicling the exploits of severely-overlooked World War II spy Dusko Popov.