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The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond

3.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  173 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Bond. James Bond. The ultimate British hero--suave, stoic, gadget-driven--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. By inventing the parallel world of secret British greatness and glamour, Ian Fleming fabricated an icon that has endured long past its maker's d ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Picador (first published June 2nd 2006)
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Nov 23, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Arthur Wyatt
Read this book some years ago, not long after I finally read King Solomon’s Mines. It was a snug fit. H. Rider Haggard was all about justifying the empire and it’s hierarchies; Bond, Winder suggests, was a way for England to reframe its role in a world where the sun did regularly set on the British Empire. We may not be big anymore, Bond suggests, but we’re still the best there is at what we do. .

Thought of it with pleasure when I saw James Bond collect the Queen for the Opening Ceremonies of t
Tim Mayer
Nov 09, 2010 Tim Mayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really must confess to never having read a single one of Ian Flemming'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 off-shoots: James Eastwood, The Man from Uncle, Where the Spys 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
Kirstin DeGeer
The historical information is very interesting but the book becomes a bit of a tough read because it is half historical fact and half autobiography. The author's style is also a bit frustrating. He bounces all over the place without transitions. Sometimes, he will make a historical reference and will go pages without any context to explain it. He also makes serious suppositions about Bond's influence on the British public without, I felt, a great deal of evidence. In the end, the book felt a lit ...more
Mar 12, 2009 Matthew is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging and funny - less a fan book and much more of a cultural history of Britain from 1945-1970. Bond, and characters like him, presented an independent, assured, worldly fantasy to British fans uncertain as to their role in a post-colonial, post-WW2 world.
Oct 23, 2015 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies, biography, humour
A peek at the car crash that was postwar Britain, and how an extraordinary character, born of a mind that was peculiar at best, came to represent its hopes and dreams.

As well as interesting insights, there was a great deal to make me laugh out loud, from the author's confessions of childhood Bond games to his hilariously cruel description of A View to a Kill-vintage Roger Moore as looking like an exploded yoghurt discovered at the back of the fridge.

I didn't always see eye to eye with Simon Wind
May 18, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I'm not sure what I expected from this book, but whatever it might have been the book itself changed all that. For all of the fussy score-keepers out there it's probably worth at least a "3.5" given both the writing and my interest in the material.

I know very little about Mr. Winder other than what he himself includes in the text and the liner notes. On the other hand, I have read all of the Fleming Bond books (and even several thereafter) as well as seen all of the movies that he also cites. Wh
Miles Kelly
This is quite a fun book and has some interesting information in it but Simon Winder can't decide what sort of book he is trying to write. He is a serious and knowledgeable student and fan of Ian Fleming and the Bond books, but he also wants to send them up and show that he does not take them too seriously. Unfortunately his comic interventions to my mind fall flat. And although his book is short it could do with some editing because there are many sentences which you feel he was undecided about ...more
Aug 09, 2015 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Winder has a love/hate relationship with Ian Fleming's Bond books as well as the films. His encyclopedic knowledge of what he loves to hate about them is impressive. His book was published just before the films with Daniel Craig as Bond hit the scene. I had never considered that the creation of Bond might be a response to a declining empire in need of a hero. Winder's humor was biting and engaging. I also learned more about English history during and after the world wars.
Aug 13, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
THE MAN WHO SAVED BRITAIN: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond. (2006). Simon Winder. ****.
It is impossible to categorize this book into any standard genre. Perhaps we can call it an extended essay dealing with nostalgia and memory, where connections are finally made between first impressions and today’s world. The author is a popular historian in England, and has put together several well-received anthologies on a variety of topics. I can’t class this one as an anthology,
Aug 09, 2014 Palmyrah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A fanatical, mean-spirited little book, intermittently amusing, in which the author proposes on purely circumstantial evidence that the popularity of the James Bond books and films is due to the consolation they provided to (mostly conservative) Britons traumatised by the loss of the British Empire and their country’s economic collapse after the Second World War.

In support of this absurd thesis, Simon Winder rewrites some recent British and world history, dismisses the rest of it as a catalogue
Apr 12, 2015 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Man Who Saved Britain
A Personal Journey into the Distrubing World of james Bond
Author: Simon Winder
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
Published In: New York
Date: 2006
Pgs: 285


A shattered great power ensconced in the post-World War II ruin. A proud world power brought low. In this world, Ian Fleming created an alternate world of secret British greatness and glamor. In Bond’s world, Britain was a player, The Player. Fleming via Bond has his say on much of t
A. Bowdoin Van Riper
The Man Who Saved Britain is a hot mess of a book: chaotic, self-indulgent, sloppy, and – underneath it all – frequently brilliant and insightful. Any scholar or serious fan of the James Bond novels and films will probably be seized, at least once while reading it, with an urge to throw it across the room. Even so, every scholar and serious fan should read it.

Winder’s central insight is that the James Bond novels were, in complex and overlapping ways, deeply rooted in post-WWII British culture.
A thoroughly enjoyable book that is at once a memoir, a cultural history of Britain from the Second World War through the 1970s, and a meditation on the troubling nature of being a James Bond fan in modern times. Written and released prior to the Bond reboot represented by the Daniel Craig films, The Man Who Saved Britain describes James Bond as simultaneously a pernicious fantasy of the racist, imperialist right-wing and a figure of comfort who helped postwar Britain manage its inevitable decli ...more
Elan Durham
Jul 03, 2015 Elan Durham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay ... I really took my time beginning 'The Man Who Saved Britain', but once I got started, there was something so charming and witty about author Simon Winder's premise and style of narration that I collected several quotes to demonstrate why if you are a fan of 007 you should run - not walk - to the nearest book store (or to order it, or borrow it from your library - as I did after accidentally discovering it's neat cover on a shelf, in a small, unfamiliar library I'd never befor ...more
Fraser Sherman
Feb 17, 2014 Fraser Sherman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm familiar with the idea that the Bond books were a reaction to Britain's decline from "empire" to "tiny island" and thought a book on the topic would be great. Not this book, though. Winder comes off tediously querulous, venting about everything from Bond films (hates most of 'em) to the British government to Ian Fleming's cigarette holder. He's also way off on a lot of things he blames on uniquely British traits (Americans, I am astonished to learn, NEVER worry about immigrants corrupting Th ...more
Nov 13, 2015 Pepeluche rated it really liked it
No obstante que este libro aborda un estudio sobre el quid de mi héroe favorito, James Bond, la narrativa resulta un poco aburrida ya que el autor se da vuelo narrándonos episodios de su infancia. Si creen que lo hace para mostrarnos lo que vivió cuando era niño y lo que se vivía en ese entonces con el 007, están equivocados. Más que nada el autor ejemplifica la economía de Inglaterra y el sistema político con lo que ha vivido desde niño. Claro que a final de cuentas el resultado es el esperado: ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Shaun rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't quite the book I was expecting. I though this would be a book solely about the James Bond films and books and their influence on British society. Instead he used the Bond franchise as a metaphor for the historical events that occurred in Britain from post World War II to the 1970s. Very informative though the author is also very opinionated about certain historical events and personalities. He is also very opinionated about Bond, he tends to like the early films and novels and ignore ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was due back to the library but I couldn't let two of his books go unfinished. I like his writing style but it can lack focus and be maddening. His jocular, conversational style often lacks helpful transitions and you can get lost. Fortunately this topic is wide enough to accomodate and he explains from the outset that this is part memoir, part history of Britain, and of course biography of Bond and Fleming. Oddly enough, reading this book helps me make sense of the awkward, grim period ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Ivy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivy by: Bond, James Bond
Shelves: read-half-of-it
Oh brother, two books I only read half of in one week! I hope I'm not making a habit of this. In the case of "The Man Who Saved Britain", it wasn't so much the book's fault, I just miscalculated my interest in the James Bond franchise. I think seeing Timothy Dalton grapple with the role in the Miami Vice-tinged "Licence to Kill" was what killed my brief fling with the super spy. Also, this book examines the effects and context of James Bond through a very British scope in a very conversational t ...more
Lyn Elliott
Feb 14, 2015 Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd amalgam of political analysis (the plight of fading Britain in the 1940s and 1950s, loss of empire, economic distress), James Bond fandom and critique of Ian Fleming's James Bond books and films.

As in the other two books of Winder's that I've read, he combines serious political and historical analysis with sometimes farcical personal anecdotes loosely connected to the main theme of the book.

I found it informative on the progress, decline and fall of the British Empire; the raffish
Jul 01, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining though highly personal (and therefore not the least bit objective to my eye) view of Ian Fleming's literary creation in the social history of post-War Britain. Intriguing insights and observations. Fun to read before watching THE HOUR, for two views of late 1950s England.
Brad Angle
Interesting perspective on the decline of the British Empire, with a lot of real history mixed with observations about the Bond books and movies. The book rambles all over the place with no clear direction. The author is extremely cynical, about both Britain and the Bond stuff, but he is at least mildly entertaining and funny.
Apr 01, 2015 Peveril rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rambling and unsatisying. There are some interesting and some amusing threads, but nothing feels followed through and it never fully connects with its stated objective. Winder is as usual quite readable, but I won't be reading this one again.
This book was very insightful and as someone who has viewed many James Bond movies, but has not read any of the books, it was interesting to hear one person's take on what Ian Fleming's books said about the culture and time he was writing in. Rather than just recapping the Bond saga the book tackles such issues as World War II and its impact, particularly on Britain, as well as globalization, communism, and the progressive movements of the 1960s.

The writing style is somewhat disjointed, the aut
Dec 21, 2010 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very fun book.
A personal recollection of a citizen of Great Britain who grew up during the grimmer realities of the post-war era, and who isolated the political, social, and personal dynamics that drove Ian Flemming's creation of James Bond. The Bond in the novels is not the Bond in the movies, and more than the mannequin figures that appeared on the screens, the James bond in the novels reflected a class-based, conservative, bitter, and grumpy ode to lost empire.
There are ironies thro
Dec 07, 2007 Phlip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excerpt from an email at the time I was reading it: "a curious little book about the decline of the British nation subsequent to World War II juxtaposed against the rise of Ian Fleming, "The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond", by one Simon Winder. The book is much better than its title might suggest, nor is the book really about anything that it's title suggests, but rather about the decline of Britain. I suspect the publisher changed the title in ...more
Margaret Sankey
Nov 17, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Reread for both my British class and Skyfall, this is a very witty study of how Ian Fleming captured the British post war mentality (losing great power status, austerity, anxieties about empire and rivalry with Americans) in the Bond book and then the increasingly outlandish movies. The tone is as dry as a proper martini, especially on the darker aspects of the series' racial politics, "This resolves a central problem: if Bond were up against, say, a fit Canadian, he would have no visual advanta ...more
May 31, 2010 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what the point of this book is. Actually, I do get the point--that England as a nation was feeling low after WWII and the crumble of Empire, and James Bond let the British revel in what represented "the best" of their culture and feel good about themselves. Really didn't need 300 pages to get to that point, though...A bit self-indulgent, and unclear what kind of genre to be. Memoir? History? Literary/cinema analysis? It doesn't do any of these things particularly well.
A history of James Bond and postwar Britain 1950s early 60s told through the experience of growing up in the 70s.
iain meek
A fascinating personal trawl through the Bond works and the social and political background of the times in which the were produced. A stroll rather than an academic work- something of an autobiography. Loss of real empire leads to adoption of a fictional empire of influence- his thesis.
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SIMON WINDER has spent far too much time in Germany, denying himself a lot of sunshine and fresh fruit just to write this book. He is the author of the highly praised The Man Who Saved Britain (FSG, 2006) and works in publishing in London.
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