Written by Ajay Chowdhury
James Bond’s London (Published in November 2001 by Daleon Enterprises) is subtitled “A Reference Guide to the Birthplace of 007 & His Creator” and takes the reader on a journey through the London of the Ian Fleming novels and the Eon productions only.
As “a collection of villages”, London is an unwieldy place to organize sensibly but Giblin has succeeded by dividing book into two parts, the first dealing with locations in 27 districts of Central London and the second dealing with the sites in the outer rim of Greater London.
Each entry is symbolized as being either a “Literary” or “Film” locale (leaf and reel life sites), an “Ian Fleming” or “Spy” locale (dealing with the Bond creator’s and real life espionage haunts), a “Disguised” locale (a site re-dressed by film productions). Each of the above is further distinguished as a “Trespassers Will Be Eaten” locale (stay away and do not bother the natives!) or a “Shaken and Stirred” locale (visit at all costs!). Information on how to get to each locale is included and various sites are accompanied by black and white photographs either of the locale being used in James Bondage or as the location looks today. The book also features a foreward by old Eonian, Peter Hunt, a special tribute to Ian Fleming by Christopher Lee and a superbly stylish cover from Jeff Marshall.
An obvious labour of love, Giblin has sculptured one of the most useful and interesting James Bond reference books ever published. With access to core Eon personnel (many of whom remain the enduring, unsung heroes of the Bond films) and the archives of Ian Fleming (Glidrose) Publications Limited (the literary copyright holders of Ian Fleming’s spy) as well as an assortment of colourful characters, Giblin has discovered a wealth of new information on the world of James Bond. The use of photographs is sparing yet stunning. There are some wonderful production shots, premiere night stills but the piece de resistance is a shot of Broccoli, Saltzman, Connery and Fleming at a contract signing – brilliant! The entry by each location has been meticulously researched and creatively referenced from a dazzling depth and array of sources. The connective tissue the book provides makes Britain’s capital come alive with James Bond history.
The book also serves a multi-faceted guide through London’s modern lore. History hounds, cineastes and literature buffs will find many fascinating and surprising entries seemingly unconnected with Bond but bound by links which any serious study of Bond will unearth. At its best, Bondmania is "edu-tainment", an almost scholastic activity whose net encompasses a whole lot more than just its kernel of a series of films and novels. The world of 007 is a portal to learning about writing and publishing, film appreciation, travel and international affairs, and James Bond’s London is strong evidence of 007 being a touchstone of popular culture in the 20th Century.
But don’t get the impression that Giblin has written a dry, academic text. It is shot through with knowing humour and studded with a trivia quiz challenging enough for the most hardened Bond fan as well as a clever 007-point guide to enhancing your trip to London. The reviewer is a Londoner who often entertains foreign visitors to the city and can vouch for the accuracy and sense of the entries and the user guide and would urge all readers of the book to employ Giblin’s sage-like advice if in London.
Gary Giblin has promised to return with James Bond’s Britain and hopefully James Bond’s Europe and James Bond’s America and on the strength of this book, the reader will be eager to travel with Giblin again. James Bond’s London is an undoubted James Bond bible and an instant 007 Collector’s classic.