There have been numerous books about the long-running international phenomenon that is James Bond; my bookshelves sport several volumes related to his appearances in books, films and other incarnations.
Paul Simpson‘s recently published “Bond vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007,” timed to coincide with the release of the 24th Eon Productions’ Bond movie “Spectre,” is one of the best – packed with more colorful background and insights than many of the dossiers compiled on Ian Fleming‘s master spy over the past five decades.
No, it’s no as exhaustive as the James Bond Encyclopedia, but it contains essentials and more on Bond in every media form. Not only do we get details about Fleming’s background as well as the novels and short stories that first brought Bond to life, but we’re also treated to looks at literary successors from Kingsley Amis in 1968 (“Colonel Sun”) to Anthony Horowitz in the present day (“Trigger Mortis”was released in September). There are sections on the radio, TV and comic strip versions of 007 as well as the girls, gadgets, guns and cars that have adorned his fantasy espionage world.
And of course, there’s a look at the six film James Bonds – Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig – and what each has brought to the series since the words “Bond, James Bond” were uttered at a West End London gambling club baccarat table in 1962’s “Dr. No.” And Simpson goes beyond the background and trivia to chart the cultural course Bond movies have taken us on for 53 years and counting.
The veteran writer’s style is as smooth as a perfectly-poured vodka martini, and his knowledge of the character Fleming once described as a “blunt instrument” is commanding (he previously co-authored “The Bond Files” as well as contributing essays to reprints of the Bond newspaper strips). Newcomers to Bond’s world will get quite an entertaining education; longtime enthusiasts will likely learn several things they didn’t know before. And with more than 150 photos and illustrations “Bond vs. Bond” is as easy on the eyes as Shirley Eaton’s Jill Masterson. It’s the perfect companion for all things Bond.