The Man Who Saved Britain

The Man Who Saved Britain

A Personal Journey Into the Disturbing World of James Bond

Book - 2006
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Bond. James Bond. The ultimate British hero--suave, stoic, gadget-driven--he was more than anything the necessary invention of a traumatized country whose self-image as a great power had just been shattered by the Second World War. Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, was an upper-class wastrel who had found purpose and excitement in the war, and to whom, like so many others, its end was a terrible disappointment--the elation of survival stifled by the reality of the new British impotence. In 1952 Fleming set out to repair this damage. By inventing the magical, parallel world of secret British greatness and glamour, he fabricated an icon that has endured long past its maker's death.

To grow up in England in the 1970s was to grow up with James Bond, and The Man Who Saved Britain is first of all the story of the author's relationship with the "national religion." Simon Winder lovingly and ruefully re-creates the nadirs and humiliations of fandom while illuminating what Bond's evolution--from books to film, from his roots in the 1940s to his "managed decline" today--says about the conservative movement, sex, the monarchy, food, attitudes toward America, class, and everything in between. The Man Who Saved Britain is an insightful and, above all, entertaining exploration of postwar Britain through the palliative influence of one of its most legendary icons, the larger-than-life Agent 007.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780374299385
0374299382
Characteristics: xvii, 285 p. ; 22 cm.

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lukasevansherman
Dec 16, 2015

Whatever you think of James Bond, there's no denying his iconic stature. No doubt timed to dovetail with the release of "Casino Royale," English author Simon Winder's new book on Bond is both a brisk cultural history and a deconstruction of the Bond myth. Winder grew up with Bond and weaves in personal anecdotes with reflections on the decayed, failing British Empire the produced Bond. Winder sees the Bond of the books and the films as a kind of pop fantasty of imperial conquest and ruthless efficiency in a time of Britain's utter, almost comical decline. Winder's writing is breezy, tart, and highly opinionated and his placing Bond in a specifically English context is often illuminating. However, there's also a school marmish disapproving streak that seems to miss out on just how fun the best Bonds are, this in spite of sexism, racism, imperialism, and pretty much any un-p.c. charge you want to launch. He also doesn't quote from many sources (like other nationalities' views on Bond) giving the book an overly personal slant. Still, it is an always entertaining and sometimes insightful take on one of England's great contributions to pop culture.

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