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

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  113 ratings  ·  27 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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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...more
Tim Mayer
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...more
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 Sometimes, he will make a historical reference and will go pages without any context to explain it.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.
May 18, 2012 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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
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....more
Mary Ann
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
Fraser Sherman
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
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
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 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
David Spalding
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.
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...more
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...more
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
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
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.
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.
Kori Klinzing
Wandering, repetitious, and slightly boring, Winder's memoir/analysis/history is nevertheless an interesting look at the collapse of the British Empire and the humiliating decline of it's global importance, a world that shaped, indeed could not have done without, Ian Fleming's Bond.
Twisted, but where else are you going to find such in-depth meditation on such an important subject? As Ben Crair recently said, "is that a nipple on the cover?"
Peggy Richter
I found the history of post-war Britain very insightful, but Bonds development fell a bit short.
A lovely exploration of the Bond myth.
Snarky look at the the Bond books.
DramaQueen marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2014
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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.
More about Simon Winder...
Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe Sea Longing The Feast (Penguin Classics) Doctor No (James Bond, #6)

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