DRESSED TO KILL: James Bond the Suited Hero, is a specialized Bond book focusing on Bond’s style in both Fleming and film, changes in style with both time and actors and how Bond stands out from the more blue-collar American men of action. Worth rereading for Sex For Dinner, Death for Breakfast, if only for Albert Broccoli’s quote on what makes Bond special: he “epitomizes a certain inimitable British style, knowing what to wear, what to drink, what to say — and when to break the rules.”
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (all rights to cover with current holder) was the very bizarre sequel to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in which Bond, depressed over Tracy’s death, is heading out the Secret Service door—so M tries the Hail Mary play of sending him off to Japan. His mission: convince top Japanese intelligence officer Tiger Tanaka (despite Ian Fleming’s marked distaste for Germans, he seems fine with turning a WW II Japanese spy into an ally) that despite Britain giving independence to its semi-civilized colonies (Fleming’s view, not mine!), it still has what it takes to become an intelligence partner like the USA. This leads Bond to a bizarre castle that “Dr. Shatterhand” has stocked with piranhas, poisonous plants and snakes, thereby making it irresistible to suicidal-minded Japanese — only when Bond enters the citadel, he discovers Shatterhand is Blofeld. It’s easy to see why Eon Studios dropped this plot and I haven’t even gotten to the ending where Kissy Suzuki convinces an amnesiac Bond that he’s her husband for real.
THE WAR ON WOMEN IN ISRAEL: A Story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom by Elana Maryles Sztokman shows that the right wing of all three Abrahamic religions does indeed worship the same god, and he’s a misogynist. Sztokman shows how the influence of the Ultra-Orthodox sects has created an Israel where women have to sit on the back of the bus, six year olds get mocked and stoned for immodesty and a funeral home wouldn’t allow a woman to speak at her own mother’s funeral, much of which happens without either legal or (according to some rabbis) religious justification. Sztokman also shows the problems that the lack of civil marriage or divorce have created, for example when a spat between rabbis led to hundreds of women getting retroactively unconverted, leaving them and their children unable to get married. Sztokman charts her own resistance as dating back to being kept away from prayer ceremonies at the Wall (“This was the core of Jewish identity—yet my being a Jew mattered less than being a woman.”). Somber, but informative.
CLUBLAND HEROES: A Nostaglic Study of Some Recurrent Characters in the Romantic Fiction of Dornford Yates, John Buchan and Sapper by Richard Usborne is a 1953 book reissued in 1970s and I’m afraid its age is showing. When Usborne first wrote this, probably plenty of people could remember reading these guys in their youth, but I’ve never heard of Yates, have read one Buchan (he’s best known now for Hitchcock adapting his Thirty-Nine Steps) and I only know Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond by a couple of movies. So this probably has limited appeal; I only read it because I thought it would shed light on previous generations of spies for Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, but it didn’t (a lot of these characters were talented amateurs working for British intelligence). Partly that’s because it’s more nostalgic than analytical, and I have no nostalgia, obviously, for these guys.