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What can we learn from 007? page 4
Stephen B. Tippins Jr.'s op-ed column on James Bond.

 Fifty years ago, James Bond was first portrayed in film by Sean Connery in 'Dr. No.'
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Date published: 11/18/2012


Britain's postwar doldrums remolded Englishmen into something less than their former selves. This was the real-world environment into which James Bond was born. Bond, Sean Connery told Playboy back in 1965, was a refreshing change of pace for the "predominately grey" Britain of the mid-20th century. 007 displayed characteristics that were then rare and appealing, chief among them: his "self-containment, his powers of decision, his ability to carry on through 'til the end and to survive. There's so much social welfare today that people have forgotten what it is to make their own decisions rather than to leave them to others. So Bond is a welcome change."

Yet Bond wasn't really a change so much as he represented an inherited idea of high-minded masculinity--inherited, I think, not from Ian nor from the commandos and officers the author knew from Naval Intelligence, but from Ian's father.

Maj. Valentine Fleming was a Tory MP from Henley and an officer of the Oxfordshire Hussars during World War I. He died near Picardy, France, in the trenches, in May 1917, after which he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Incidentally, a fellow named Winston Churchill wrote the major's obituary:

[Major Fleming] had that foundation of spontaneous and almost unconscious self-suppression in the discharge of what he conceived to be his duty without which happiness, however full is imperfect. That these qualities are not singular in this generation does not lessen the loss of those in whom they shine. As the war lengthens and intensifies it seems as if one watched at night a well-loved city whose lights, which burn so bright, which burn so true, are extinguished in the distance in the darkness one by one.

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Stephen B. Tippins Jr. is an attorney in Buford, Ga. This column is reprinted with the permission of The American Conservative, in which it first appeared.