The Man who Saved Britain

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As victory over Japan was declared in 1945, Britain was a relieved but also a profoundly traumatized country. It was a very peculiar trauma, created by having won the war while in many ways losing it. The war had ruined Britain's image of itself as a great power. It had only prevailed through the assistance of the two greatest nations on earth; and it now found itself bankrupt, dependent and - despite the efforts of the new Labour reform government - with no discernable future. This feeling prevailed for decades and it still seeps into national life today. The Man Who Saved Britain explores this trauma through a figure who can now be seen as the quintessential British figure of the time, the great necessary invention who provided a palliative of sorts to many millions of people: James Bond. Ian Fleming was an upper-class wastrel who found purpose and excitement in the War, working on spying operations, finding a legitimate glamour and heroism for himself unguessed at before hostilities broke out. For him as so many others, the elation over British survival was more than stifled by the reality of the new British impotence. By writing Casino Royale and inventing the magical, parallel world of secret British greatness, Fleming fabricated a durable icon - one who for millions of bored former servicemen holding down dreary jobs or for members of the ruling class, lashed almost daily by the humiliation of internaional events throughout the 1950s, made life more bearable. Written with humour, wit and a great deal of personal insight and affection, Simon Winder illuminates and makes sense of the oddities and contrasts which emerged in Britain as a result of the war.