PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

The fact that anyone can find anything new to say about the James Bond franchise is commendable. The fact that they can say it as well as Sean Egan does in James Bond: The Secret History and make even the well-trodden 007 trivia that we’re so familiar with sound fresh and exciting is something to be celebrated. 

This is a book for Bond fans everywhere – an extremely well-researched and snappily written excursion into the universe of the world's favourite secret agent that leaves no avenue unexplored: in his chatty and engrossing style, Egan effectively debunks the popular romantic notion that, when he was serving in the Royal Navy, Ian Fleming was a kind of ‘real life’ James Bond, examines Fleming’s inspirations and Bond’s literary beginnings and then interestingly and rather sadly charts the increasing weariness the author felt towards his character. Fleming, by all accounts, hated the process of writing the books and, in a way that was unconsciously mirrored by at least a couple of the actors who would play Bond in the movies (although for different reasons) would deliver each of the later manuscripts to his publisher declaring this one will be the last. Then there are the films and the seemingly endless struggle to keep Bond on the big screen (each release is given a thorough overhaul, as is the famous dispute between the Bond producers and Kevin McClory, who seemingly never missed an opportunity to be a thorn in Broccoli and Saltzman’s backside). The comic books are covered, including a nod to Dynamite, who are the current comic licensees as are the video games, all of the more recent Bond novels (including the Young Bond series), which brings up right up to SPECTRE and the growing likelihood that it will be Daniel Craig’s last entry in the series. It’s also great to see an author give Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan their due. Moore and Dalton have especially borne the brunt of fan criticism, but Egan is at pains to point out that the series would not be what it is without their input.

We think most Bond fans will agree that there isn't a better time for this book to be released - SPECTRE, although a decent 007 outing, fell far short of the benchmark set by Skyfall and divided the fans and critics, and what Bond devotees need right now is a little positivity; a reminder not only of what a juggernaut James Bond is and has been, but an injection of hope for the future. ‘Today is possibly the most exciting of all times for Bond fans’, writes Egan and you know what? On the basis of this fine book, I think he might very well be correct.



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