Agent 007 is back. As James Bond fans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first film featuring the famous secret agent (Dr. No), Daniel Craig reprises the storied role in Skyfall, which makes it North American debut November 9. To mark 007's return, we're highlighting some books that delve into the history and cultural significance of Bond...James Bond. So grab a shaken (not stirred) martini and dive in.
Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies by Roger Moore
No man alive has more experience with James Bond than actor Roger Moore, who has portrayed the secret agent on-screen seven times, the most of any actor (although Sean Connery comes close with six appearances). It's only fitting then that Moore is the actor to come out with a book examining 50 years of Bond films. Bond on Bond is an anthology full of rare photographs from the movie sets, interesting details about the many gadgets, clothing and locations used in the films, and many of Moore's own humorous anecdotes about what it's like to play Bond and his thoughts on the other actors who have suited up as 007. It's also full of fascinating Bond trivia. For example, did you know that actor Desmond Llewelyn, who played arms expert Q for nearly two decades, was a technophobe and could barely operate a video recorder? Also, while Sean Connery's Bond was fond of cigarettes and martinis, Roger Moore sought to differentiate himself as 007 early on by smoking cigars and drinking bourbon.
Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond by John Cork and Maryam D'Abo
There's an old adage that behind every great man is a great woman, and it's very true when it comes to James Bond. Fans are often as excited to find out about who the next Bond girl will be as much as Bond himself. Bond Girls Are Forever is a photo-rich look back at iconic Bond girls, from classic heroines like Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) to femme fatales like Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp (Famke Janssen). The book also explores the historical context of the Bond girls. In the 1960s and 1970s, the film's producers were sometimes accused of objectifying women. But decades later, many film experts would agree that some of the Bond girls were the most dynamic, complex and powerful female characters to ever grace the silver screen. Revisioning 007: James Bond and Casino Royale by Christoph Lindner
Perhaps no other Bond actor in film history has been under more scrutiny than Daniel Craig. When Craig was first announced as the successor to Pierce Brosnan (who had largely been seen as an excellent choice) the reaction was quite mixed, with some applauding the unconventional selection of a blond, blue-eyed Bond, and others so angry they took to the internet to organize boycotts against "James Bland." The 2006 remake of Casino Royale, however, proved to be a major hit with fans and critics alike and became the highest grossing Bond film of all time, (if inflation isn't taken into account). In this book of essays, Christoph Lindner delves into how filmmakers created a post-9/11 Bond for a new generation: a darker, angrier Bond in more complex times. The essays examine how Casino Royale and Daniel Craig's portrayal of 007 differ from the movies and actors of the past with respect to politics, technology, fashion and even social perceptions of masculinity. The Music of James Bond by Jon Burlingame
What James Bond film would be complete without a fresh take on that legendary theme song? Jon Burlingame, who has authored several books about film and TV composers, turns his attention to 50 years of Bond songs, some of which were so popular they competed in the music charts against the likes of the Beatles. Throughout the years, legendary artists like Paul McCartney (Live and Let Die), Duran Duran (A View to a Kill), Gladys Knight (License to Kill), and Nancy Sinatra (You Live Only Twice) have contributed to the vast musical history of 007. Listening to the catalogue of Bond songs is like taking a tour through pop music history, from the unforgettable horns and voice of Shirley Bassey in 1964's Goldfinger to the heavy rock n' roll of Chris Cornell and his song You Know My Name from Casino Royale.
Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond by Andrew Lycett
As much as Bond fans love the spectacular action on screen, many would argue the heart and soul of the character remains in the novels written by Ian Fleming. The former British naval intelligence officer came from a wealthy family, and was no stranger to the adventure, opulence and womanizing that would define his greatest literary creation. In this comprehensive biography, Andrew Lycett traces the genesis of Bond back to Fleming, and describes how his background as a spy and later a journalist gave him the tools and resources he needed to eventually write his first Bond caper --Casino Royale. While Fleming was never a particularly critically acclaimed writer, he revitalized the spy novel genre and sparked the multibillion dollar empire that James Bond would become. Fleming, however, turned out to have a self-destructive streak. He was a heavy drinker and smoker much of his life and died at age 56, only 11 years after publishing his first Bond novel.
Have you read a good book about Bond? Let us know in the comments below!