James Bond and London, the capital of Britain, go hand in hand. A James Bond adventure, whether it is cinematic or literary, would hardly be complete without some form of patriotism towards Mother England and off hand I can only think of a few adventures (mainly short stories) where no scenes talk place in Britain. This simple fact, coupled with the fact that every man wishes to be like James Bond, gives good reason for a book such as James Bond’s London to be written.
Gary Giblin took up the challenge of writing such a book in January 1998. I shall not go into full details here as they’re covered in Jordan Charter’s interview located here. However, what started as a book entitled James Bond’s Britain eventually had to be subdivided into two books. As a result of a lot or hard work James Bond’s London was published in December 2001.
To begin with, James Bond’s London isn’t your average book, nor is it what I originally envisaged it would be; but that’s not a bad thing, quite the opposite actually. What Giblin has presented is a travel guide to the world of James Bond in London. Quite simply, the book is the most useful source for anyone who wants to travel in the footsteps of James Bond, something, which could easily seem a mammoth undertaking.
Giblin has been very particular in the material that he has covered. By his own admission in an interview with CommanderBond.net he has omitted literary material not written by Ian Fleming; of course indicating he is a purist to the work. Giblin has also omitted non-EON Productions cinematic material; again a sign of purity as there is only one true James Bond film series.
That said, the amount of material Giblin has included is still amazing. There a literally hundreds of locations that can be found in the novels and in the films. What is most amazing about the film locations is how many of them were used for non-British locations in the films. For instance the car park from Tomorrow Never Dies is actually in London and not Hamburg. Also, aside from locations that we read of and watch are locations where significant events of the Bond world took place. For instance, the birthplace of Ian Fleming or the former offices of EON Productions. If it’s Bond related and it’s in London you’ll find it in James Bond’s London.
Thankfully, for those of us not well versed in travelling around London Giblin has an explanation of how to get to each location. Not only does he include the standard address, suburb and postcode but also details for getting there via the London Underground. As a part of this he’s mentioned the platforms and the stations one should use and once leaving the station which streets one should follow.
The locations in the book are also well categorised. Rather than organising the locations by film, novel or perhaps relation Giblin has taken the initiative of organising them by location. So one could simply spend a day in a certain part of London and visit several Bond related locations. The guide makes it that simple.
As for the detail on each location Giblin has included quite a lot. To describe each location Giblin has used icons to begin with; for instance a clapperboard icon represents a film related location. As a part of the textual description for each location Giblin has not only included Bond related information but information on the locations non-Bond history. Readers will not only learn a great deal about Bond but a great deal about London too.
In passing good comments about the work that Giblin has done one must also highlight downfalls to James Bond’s London – something that is not an easy task let me assure you. While I can find no fault in the material that Giblin has presented I must say that I was disappointed to find that the book was not offered in a hardback edition. However, in saying that one can definitely appreciate the fact that Giblin and the Daleon, whom published the book, made all attempts to keep the prices low. My only other complain is about one of the icons in the book; the skull and cross bone. The icon is disproportionate and according to Giblin this is a problem that occurred at the printers.
All in all James Bond’s London is a must have for any Bond fan of any calibre. Gary Giblin has researched extensively into all aspects of the locations and the films and help from Bond legends such as Peter Lamont have made this a completely unique and factual reference guide.