More than 50 years after the publication of Casino Royale and after many dozens of books analysing Ian Fleming's work (and the films) from almost every conceivable angle, it must be hard to come up with yet another perspective. In tying Fleming/Bond into a general ramble about Britain, the loss of Empire and the political landscape of the 50s/60s/70s, Simon Winder succeeds in this, and the book is a welcome, quirky addition to the list. Sadly, it is let down by the type of errors which seem too easily to creep into so many books of this type. For example: Vivienne Michel (in The Spy Who Loved Me) was French-Canadian and not English, as Mr. Winder claims; in Casino Royale, Felix Leiter hands Bond an envelope stuffed with Francs, not Dollars; the third car in the chase from Kent to London (Moonraker) was an Alfa Romeo, not an Aston Martin; Sean Connery was not a former Mr. Universe; and so on. Nit-picking this may seem, but such basic errors in research and/or proof-reading undermine the author's claims to know the subject and deflect the reader from following the serious points that are trying to be made. The author's rather naive political viewpoint also comes to the surface a little too often, and grates, but, as he expressly acknowledges, he is certainly no historian and it's not enough to seriously spoil the overall effect. The book follows no strict chronology, so it's easy to pick up and put down without losing the flow. It's worth a read.
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