cover image Love and Let Die: Bond, the Beatles, and the British Psyche

Love and Let Die: Bond, the Beatles, and the British Psyche

John Higgs. Pegasus, $28.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-639-36330-8

The James Bond films and the Beatles “were arguing for futures that were entirely contradictory,” according to this scintillating study from journalist Higgs (William Blake vs. the World). The two cultural phenomena are, Higgs contends, the clashing Freudian embodiments of Thanatos (the death drive) and Eros (love): Bond, the emotionally numb guardian of the British Empire, is an arrogant, cold-blooded operative who uses violence as a means to protect the status quo, and most of the women he sleeps with die. The Beatles, working-class upstarts who scoffed at the establishment, were the dream lovers of countless teenage girls, and their songs wielded “enormous emotional power.” Higgs builds his case around evocative profiles of the Beatles and their fandom—“When girls scream at boybands, the sound is at a higher pitch, simultaneously constant yet out of control”—and of Bond’s evolving persona and his real-life alter-egos, including his creator, Ian Fleming—whom Higgs writes had a “romanticized imperial imagination” and allowed his racism to seep into the Bond books—and Bond’s first screen avatar, Scottish actor Sean Connery. The result is a thoughtful romp through pop culture that’s full of fresh ideas and sharp connections. Alison Lewis, Frances Goldin Literary. (Feb.)