For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre
|For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley
|Summary: The man and the man behind the man.
|Date: April 2008
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
This may be one of the hardest books I've had to review so far; I don't think anyone who's been alive and conscious in Britain any time in the past fifty years, can approach anything James Bond related without bringing an extreme amount of prejudice with them.
This book then, has been released to coincide with the exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, running from 17 April 2008 – 1 March 2009. The book, like the exhibition, focuses on Ian Fleming and James Bond – where one ends and the other begins if you like. Not having seen the exhibition myself, it's hard to say how much this material does tie in to the exhibition, but from a quick browse on the Imperial War Museum's website, it looks like a number of items photographed for the book are items actually on display at the exhibit.
So you may ask, how does a book not entirely about Bond or Fleming, but about both at the same time, fit together. This book looks at the process of Bond's creation as a fantasy in the mind of Fleming, and draws a lot of evidence together to show how the two fit together. To quote the book: it is a personal investigation into the intersection of two lives, one real and one fictional.
The chapters present a number of themes, ranging from the life of Fleming and the Creation of Bond, through to all the goodies you'd expect on girls, cars, guns, food and gadgets. Odd little facts are abundant: it turns out throughout the books, Bond only has 19 Vodka-Martinis (his signature drink), compared to 37 Bourbons, 21 Scotches and 35 Sakes. There are lots of these titbits throughout the book – the kind of thing that's going to appeal to any Bond fan.
This is the crux when it comes to this book: it's going to appeal to Bond fans and send some of them to the exhibition to get a first hand look at all the goodies pictured herein. A lot of fans who go to the exhibition are going to buy this to expand on, and act as a reminder of, what they've seen. It is so colourful and has so much in it, it is the kind of book you can dip in and out of and I'm sure will find its place as a coffee table book for a lot of people.
It does have a number of fantastic illustrations, from double page spreads of Fleming and Connery meeting on the set of Dr No, to Daniel Craig's blood-stained shirt from Casino Royal. From Halle Berry's bikini from Die Another Day, to Rosa Klebb's dagger shoes in From Russia With Love. Lots of early pictures of Fleming and a jealousy inducing shot of Goldeneye, his house in Jamaica.
This book really took me back to my first feelings about the Bond of the films, and, for me, how the highlight of bank holidays was at 3pm when the Bond film came on. As a teenager, I read the novels and my interest in Bond was further fuelled. Now, as a writer, I find another level of fascination with this book, in how such a loved character stemmed from the writing of an undoubtedly talented author.
Bond fans won't need to be told twice to go out and buy this. For everyone else, this is a case study about an author whose strange life led to the creation of one of the most enduring action heroes the world has ever known. I'd still ask them though, why the hell aren't you a Bond fan?
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If you have an interest in film then you might be tempted by Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto or Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh by Amy Raphael (Editor). You might enjoy some fiction along Bond lines: The Ad Man by Timothy Dickinson.
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre is in the Top Ten Books For Your Boyfriend.
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