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A Book Review of Live and Let Die

Updated on July 12, 2012

This book lets the reader see the human side of Bond


Live and Let Die was written by Ian Fleming and released in 1954. I never read a novel of James Bond, but I had seen a few movies from Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. All of them were very entertaining, but it sometimes seemed like it was more a movie about incredible stunts than about characterization.

In the book Live and Let Die we get to see how James Bond ticks. If anyone had the notion of being a secret agent this book would scare it right out of you. It is a lonely, dangerous, profession. At one point Bond wonders if he will survive an airplane ride and philosophies that “You start to die the moment you are born, The whole life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy..”

The plot of the book is about the US government and British forces joining together to capture a ruthless black man named Mr. Big who has done many crimes in America and is working with the Soviets. Those are two big strikes against him and Britain and America team together to get this guy.

The great thing about the novel is getting inside the mind of Bond and seeing that for all the bravado on the outside, inside he is as scared as a real person would be in similar circumstances. Bond always has his life on the line and so he enjoys the things some of us take for granted. Throughout the novel Bond has meals that he really enjoys or that aren’t so great. His meals turn into some of the bright spots in his day. He can sit and relax enjoy a great meal and then smoke a cigarette.

The only thing I don’t like about the novel is the way they spell out the way some black people may have talked in that time. It is similar to Gone with the Wind and those parts may offend some people in this day and age, and it makes the sentences harder to read also.

In this book Bond becomes friends with an American Agent named Felix Leiter. It is great to see that Bond has the heart to form a friendship. The scenes the two men have together make Bond more human and it makes the book much better than the movies.

We have Bond, we have the super villain Mr. Big, so of course we must have the lady for Bond. The lady in this novel is named Solitaire. She is the fortune telling girlfriend of Big Big. Solitaire is tired of living with a crazy man and asks for Bond’s help to escape. James thinks it will be easy, but throughout this novel Bond has many obstacles to overcome.

The book takes the reader from New York, to Florida, and then Jamaica. It is interesting to hear the observations made by Bond and other characters in the book concerning some of the cities in the various places. Solitaire tells James about St. Petersburg, Fla. “At this time of year, Florida’s the biggest sucke-r trap on earth. On the east coast they fleece the millionaires. Where we’re going they just take it off the little man. Serves him right, of course. He goes there to die. He can’t take it with him.”

Bond responds “For heaven’s sake what sort of place are we going to?”

The book also shows us the homesick Bond and how he got to sleep by remembering the last time he saw London “He thought of the bitter weather in the London streets, the grudging warmth of the hissing gas-fire in his office at Headquarters, the chalked-up menu on the pub he had passed on his last day in London: Giant Toad & 2 Veg.”

Live and Let Die is full of exciting adventures and danger at every turn. The novel has us moving alongside Bond and we don’t know what is happening with the villain. It makes the novel more involving as we hope that Bond is on the right track and that he can outwit his opponent. Mr. Big is a nasty man without a redeeming quality which makes the reader want to cheer Bond on even more.

In the movies James leaps into action without preparation, but in the book we find a man that prepares very carefully before putting his life on the line.

Live and Let Die is an exciting novel that has adventure, romance, and mystery. The reader will there beside Bond hoping that he can stay one step ahead of his prey and score a victory in which good triumphs over evil and karma seals the fate of the villain. Good show Bond. Cheers.

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