It’s a rare and out of print book, but I kept an eye out for it on eBay for a while… Then it popped back up on my radar and within a price, I would reasonably pay.
It’s interesting that I had read the parody or spoof of this book How to Archer first, but there’s something about reading the straight-laced version, especially in today’s social and cultural climate that makes this feel almost like a spoof of itself, more so than what Archer did. However, it’s just a relic of its time.
What is this book? It’s just a quick read of pointers fully titled “The Book of Bond: or every man his own 007” from author Lt-Col William (‘Bill’) Tanner who states “My recommendations are in the highest possible degree authentic, i.e., they constantly refer to the published adventures of 007.”
Those adventures are: Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, From Russia, with Love, Doctor No, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, and The Man with the Golden Gun.
There are distinct sections of this book: Drink, Food, Smokes, Looks, Exercise, Clothes, Accessories, Cars, Places, Chat, Culture, Gambling, M, Girls, and Research. Many of these have appropriate subsections.
To give you the fullest extent of the contents, I’ll give you a sampling for each chapter, which will be both humorous in hindsight and intriguing insight into a bygone era. I don’t feel this is a must-have for all Bond aficionados unless you’re a completionist, so I’ll share enough to give you a taste.
On Drink, “The most reliably rewarding of all 007 activities. You may fail dismally to make the slightest impression on anybody by your alcoholic performances and still have acquired much valuable knowledge, not to speak of the pleasures to be enjoyed on the way.”
On Food, “Your position here is being a gourmet while pretending not to be. You notice and enjoy what you eat – nobody grudges that to a man who might be dead next week – and in fact you know everything worth knowing about food, but have no time at all for the memorable-meal approach.”
On Smokes, “Smoking a lot shows you are on the right side and is one more of those instant ways of demonstrating your adventurousness. But don’t overdo this: never use tobacco before breakfast, for instance. Treat it as a pleasure, not a habit.”
On Looks, specifically expression, “Decisive, authoritative, ruthless, ironical, brutal, cold and taciturn are some of the descriptions to go for. A tall order for one face…”
On Exercise, “Most aspiring 007s are pretty hopeless at games and sports and also chronically unfit. This is true of most people in any group. But then most people don’t have to put up a show of athletic prowess and of fitness. The solution to the problem, as to others examined in this manual, is to know what to say you do and to knock on the head any question of being seen doing what you say you do. As always, never discuss anything. Confine yourself to isolated, unanswerable remarks.”
On Clothes, “The keynote here is to avoid anything gaudy or flamboyant or obviously expensive.”
On Accessories, “Unnecessary ornament of any kind, in fact, is inclined to be suspect.”
On Cars, “Note: Any reasonable robust rear bumper will do to incapacitate a halted Triumph TR 3 driven by a girl and thus effect an introduction.”
On Places, “Although, characteristically, you know everything worth knowing about where you’ve been, you haven’t been everywhere. You go where you’re sent, as you can smilingly remind anyone who looks surprised at your ignorance of St Tropez or Copenhagen or Bethnal Green. Your grazetteer is not a bulky affair.”
On Chat, “What you say is less important than how you say it. Always speak abruptly, angrily, contemptuously, roughly, sharply, shortly, sourly, and/or testily.” and there’s lines to remember like ‘A friend of mine who’s head of French Counterintelligence once said to me, “I enjoy strong sensations.” I am like him.’”
On Culture, “If caught in a theatre, explain you’re only there because the man you’re following is too.”
On Gambling, “No part of the character of a 007 is more important than his status as the scourge of the casinos and the hammer of the big London bridge games.”
M, “When 007ship begins to strike you as too expensive, too strenuous, or (above all) too juvenile a pursuit, the time has come to make the switch to Mship.”
Girls, “You, the attractive and intelligent girl who has travelled thus far through these pages, will not have done so without forming an accurate as well as admiring picture of the 007 in your mind. These notes are intended to supplement the knowledge you have already acquired and give it a practical turn.”
Research, “These days, the lone researcher in any line of inquiry tends to be at a disadvantage. The big discoveries emerge from co-operation, the big results are arrived at by groups. In our field, competition and rivalry are peculiarly unproductive.”.
As you can tell, it’s very dated, though not quite as misogynist as I would have suspected for a book about becoming Bond published in 1965. The absolute best part of the whole book is the “Chat” section, as it is the most fun to read.
At the end of the day, it’s interesting, but probably not worth your money given it’s rarity unless you can pick it up on the cheap…
Read the Secret File of technical information and quotes from The Book of Bond: or Every Man His Own 007 by Lt.-Col William Tanner.