The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond by Simon Winder (2006)
I really must confess to never having read a single one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. But as a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it was impossible to miss their impact on popular culture. My interest in Eurospy phenomena has always been the offshoots: James Eastwood, The Man from Uncle, Where the Spies Are. But writer Simon Winder has made it all unnecessary for me to do so since he’s published this amusing little book.
Subtitled A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond, the book is a document about Winder’s love/hate affair with Bond James Bond. He re-accounts how he saw Live and Let Die at a local theater while munching on a rum flavored chocolate bar. As a young adult he would travel the world as a book seller trying to cop a very Bondian attitude to the various countries he visited (much to the amusement of the wait staff). Although he views Bond as a hopeless bit of nostalgia for the late British Empire, he admits Sean Connery does look mighty real behind the wheel of a fast automobile.
I could go on for pages about this book: it’s a non-stop delight to read. Winder is able to put Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator, into perspective and muse on all the second banana actors who battled 007. He writes about being in a nation that was in decline in the 1970’s and the difficulties of raising kids in a modern age. But I’ll let the reader experience his witty comments for themselves.
This is one of the best “fan” publications I have ever read. Devoid of postmodern babble and full of love/disgust for it’s subject. (First published in 2010)
Update: Simon Winder went on to write 2 exceptional travel and history books: Germania and Danubia. The first is a look at the history of the German lands, the second a focus on the Habsburg empire. I’ve read the first and can’t reccomend it enough. I’m reading the second and taking my time with it. Both are written in the profound wit he employed so devastatingly in the Bond book.