Books on Bond

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited July 2012 in Reviews Posts: 19,724
Please post all reviews of books on the subject of James Bond, his world, his legacy etcetera (including biographies of Fleming, actors and filmmakers involved with Bond) here.


  • Posts: 1,817
    One of the few things I've read about Bond is the essay of Umberto Eco -widely know writer, professor and semiologist- called 'The narrative structures of Ian Fleming". It was first published in Italian in a collection of papers by the name of Il caso Bond (The Bond Affair), latter on his book Il superouomo di massa. It's also in the English collection of Eco's articles The Role of the Reader, I believe.
    For anyone who is interested in a semiotic approach to the literary work of Bond, this would be interesting. It has a very useful theoretical frame for the analysis of Fleming's books but also could apply to the movies.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 19,724
    by John Burlingame


    Super interesting books have already been written about the James Bond phenomenon, most notably ‘James Bond: The Legacy’. They have meticulously analyzed the production of each film, revealing some of the most intriguing backstories and sensational details concerning the world of 007. Yet one element has up until this point been neglected with devious persistence: the music of James Bond.

    Struggling with this fact, I’ve been wondering for years why so little attention is paid to perhaps the second most essential part of each Bond film. After all, I have this personal theory that about 50 % of any overall film experience is directly influenced by the music, whether one makes a deliberate effort to listen to it or merely subconsciously adds it to the sum total of all audio-visual stimuli. Also, we’re not talking about just any random bit of film music here, but rather we are dealing with arguably one of the most powerful and iconic monuments in the whole of filmmusic history: Bond music. So why so many books have been written about all kinds of Bond related issues (even some rather obscure ones I dare say) but none about the rich history of the Bond music, has been beyond me…

    …until early this year, when famous Bond music expert John Burlingame published his close to 300 pages long odyssey into the fascinating world of the Bond music. ‘THE MUSIC OF JAMES BOND’ proves to be a lot more than merely another book in an already exhaustive catalogue of Bond books, but a much needed and long desired highlight that immediately claims a spotlight position next to The Legacy, Bond Girls Are Forever and a few other ones.

    The story of the music of Bond is cut up logically into a one-chapter-per-film structure. How else would one approach it after all? Omitting the usual production talks about the film – for which one can easily pick from the other books available – Burlingame dives straight into music talk. A very brief plot summary, required to connect musical cues and tracks to specific moments in the films, is about the only general information we get. But right after that we learn why a certain composer was selected for the music, including why Barry was absent from various films, how the theme song(s) came to be, how sometimes the composing of said theme songs proved a tedious effort , how the score got put together, sometimes rushed, how the whole thing got marketed and finally, how press and production people commented on the music. In each chapter we read copious quotes from those directly involved. In a separate section, Burlingame also breaks down each score into the various elements that are heard in the film and locates them, if possible, on the released soundtrack.

    There are some nice photos too, some of which I’ve never seen before. For those who want to know, we go from DN to QOS and both CR67 and NSNA are included: they get the same treatment as all the other films. We learn about projects that weren’t allowed to come to fruition and we read about some behind-the-scenes quarrels that weren’t well-documented before.

    What we don’t get is music talk that gets too technical for the musically uneducated like myself. For instance I know what a ‘bridge’ means but I have only a faint memory of what all the symbols on music sheets signify. Thus, were this some detailed study into the factual compositions, I’d be feeling annoyingly ignorant all the time. But, luckily, the book isn’t about that at all.

    I love ‘THE MUSIC OF JAMES BOND’ and I can recommend it to everyone. If you love John Barry, you’ll want to read this book and hear what the master himself had to say about his Bond experiences. If you want to know why he wasn’t around when he wasn’t, allow yourself to be indulged. If you desire more knowledge about the other composers, again, this book will work the magic for you. So pick up that copy, read it and then read it again. It’s one of the biggest literary surprises and treats for us, Bond fans, in years.
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