A deep-dive into the unique connections between the two titans of the British cultural psyche—the Beatles and the Bond films—and what they tell us about class, sexuality, and our aspirations over sixty dramatic years.
The Beatles are the biggest band in the history of pop music. James Bond is the single most successful movie character of all time. They are also twins. Dr No, the first Bond film, and Love Me Do, the first Beatles record, were both released on the same day: Friday 5 October 1962. Most countries can only dream of a cultural export becoming a worldwide phenomenon on this scale. For Britain to produce two iconic successes on this level, on the same windy October afternoon, is unprecedented.
Bond and the Beatles present us with opposing values, visions of the British culture, and ideas about sexual identity. Love and Let Die is the story of a clash between working class liberation and establishment control, and how it exploded on the global stage. It explains why James Bond hated the Beatles, why Paul McCartney wanted to be Bond, and why it was Ringo who won the heart of a Bond Girl in the end.
Told over a period of sixty dramatic years, this is an account of how two outsized cultural phenomena continue to define American aspirations, fantasies, and our ideas about ourselves. Looking at these two touchstones in this new context will forever change how you see the Beatles, the James Bond films, and six decades of cross-Atlantic popular culture.
"With Love and Let Die, Higgs makes a powerful case for the enduring significance of 007 and the Fab Four."
"An often brilliant meander through the British male psyche, the place where Bond the well-bred assassin blends with the self-made moptops from Liverpool. All things must pass, but Bond cannot die and the Beatles’ music still plays. Both franchises will pump out the product for eternity. This book is an excellent and oddly illuminating way to pass the time between installments."
– The Wall Street Journal
"Higgs builds his case around evocative profiles of the Beatles and their fandom and of Bond’s evolving persona and his real-life alter-egos. The result is a thoughtful romp through pop culture that’s full of fresh ideas and sharp connections."
– Publishers Weekly
“The author’s examination of these two cultural icons, and the way they captured the imagination of Britain and the world, is imaginative and illuminating. A very interesting blend of pop culture and history.”
"The first Bond movie and the first Beatle single, Dr No and "Love Me Do", were both issued on October 5, 1962, and from this remarkable coincidence, John Higgs weaves a daring, dazzlingly entertaining pop cultural critique. It’s smart and analytical, yes, but it’s also enormously good fun. There’s something provocative or revelatory on every page."
– The Mail on Sunday
"In Love and Let Die, John Higgs cleverly uses these two coeval phenomena to recount the cultural history of post-imperial Britain.In Mr. Higgs’s telling, the two British icons also embody contrasting attitudes to life and politics. He teases out this conceit with a critic’s attention to detail."
– The Economist
"The two post-war British phenomena, one representing Death, the other Love, are contrasted in many other ingenious ways."
– The Spectator
"Poignant and entertaining. Higgs is a lively writer and has assembled many intriguing nuggets from six decades of British popular culture."