A deep-dive into the 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 Britain's aspirations over sixty dramatic years.
John Higgs offers a rambling and often brilliant meander through the British male psyche ... In pairing these pop-cultural phenomena, Mr. Higgs... is onto something. It is unfortunate that his ingenuities do not extend to musical analysis ... 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.
An intermittently fascinating but lumpy cultural history ... Who won the war for the British psyche? Higgs can’t really say, opting for some muddy middle ground between Bond’s self-confident swagger and the Beatles’ emotional intelligence. This prevaricating doesn’t do Higgs any favors. His intriguing thesis winds up losing steam about halfway through the book ... There are also niggling errors: Harrison wrote a song called Apple Scruffs, not Apple Scrubs. Higgs is on to something here, but with Love and Let Die, he doesn’t quite deliver on an alluring premise that prompts some fundamental questions about the soul of Britain.
Though he inevitably covers some well-trodden territory, much of the detail is poignant and entertaining ... Love and Let Die works well as a collection of sharp and pacy stories, though it is a pity Higgs has a weakness for grandiose flourishes ... It is clearly true that Bond and Beatles embody different attitudes to class, privilege, violence, masculinity and Englishness. But Higgs wants to go much further and claim that they are engaged in a kind of permanent 'struggle for the soul of [British] culture' ... None of this is very plausible. There has been a vast amount of pushback against the politics and sexual politics of Bond’s world that has not needed to evoke the Beatles as a counterweight ... Higgs is a lively writer and has assembled many intriguing nuggets from six decades of British popular culture. I remain unconvinced that the eternal battle between Eros and Thanatos provides the key to them all.