Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Eds.: Robert G. Weiner, B. Lynn
Whitfield, and Jack Becker
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Second edition.
When I reviewed the first edition of James Bond in World and Popular Culture for CommanderBond.net in 2010, I claimed the essay collection was a milestone in Bond studies, “the most recent yardstick by which future collections will be measured.” I was correct—with one proviso.
When it debuted, jbwpc was the most ambitious attempt in print to bring together a wide palate of interdisciplinary perspectives on the place of 007 and Ian Fleming in everything from movies, literature, music, and comic books to examinations of James Bond’s cultural presence in academic contexts. However, immediately after the publication of the first edition, contributors and readers quickly complained about the cover-to-cover plethora of editorial and proofreading problems. Taking heed, the three editors realized the volume had been rushed and began a campaign to ensure a second edition would be clean of such errors and indeed become the measuring stick of such collections in the future. Fortunately, initial sales were small and few copies of the problematic first version are out there—presumably these are now unintended collector’s items.
For those who missed the troubled launch of this collection, now is the time to explore what 29 authors contributed to this hefty tome—over 500 pages of text. The six sections include “Experiencing the World of Bond” which explores posters, dances in the title sequences, architecture, designer clothes, and Bond videogames. Part Two covers the music of the films before seven essays look at gender, feminism, and the Bond girls. Then Ian Fleming is examined for his influences, those he influenced, and myths about his life and work. More cerebral material is in “Part V: Colonialism, `Britishness’ and the Bond Identity” which brings in socio-political concerns. Then, we get insights into lighter matters, as in the Bond Parody, Casino Royale, James Bond Jr. comic-books and other fare demonstrating this is a volume with articles that should appeal to both specialists and general audiences as well.
With such a wide range of approaches, clearly most readers are likely to gravitate to sections or specific essays focused on areas of their particular interest. Bond fans, of course, are likely to at least thumb through essays that might not seem, at first glance, either entertaining or enlightening. But that’s one delight of this collection—the surprises and fresh looks into matters not covered elsewhere. True, some articles are summaries of previously published material or are merely listings of 007 audiobooks or mentions of Ian Fleming in non-Fleming literature. Edited by librarians, JBWPC is clearly a reference work for public and school libraries; however, it’s also one for anyone with more than a passing interest in Her Majesty’s Most Famous Secret Servant.
Listen to Wes Britton’s audio interview with editor Rob Weiner for the “Dave White Presents” radio program posted HERE: