Topic: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

Anyone read Pearson's "James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007"? If so, how is it? As I read through the Fleming novels and a handful of the Gardner novels some years ago, I came across Pearson's book at the library once and, though I never got around to reading it, have always been intrigued by it.  Can anyone out there vouch for it (or not as the case may be)?

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Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I thought it was very good, very much in the Fleming style.  ajb007/martini

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I still have yet to read it.

1.On Her Majesties Secret Service 2.The Living Daylights 3.license To Kill 4.The Spy Who Loved Me 5.Goldfinger


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

Me too, TP - I loved it. I first read it in the early 80s as a teenager and have read it subsequently.

It does much to 'fill in the blanks' using the patchy information about Bond from Fleming's novels. And it's a fascinating read in the insight it gives, written (as TP says) much in. Fleming's style. Pearson was one of Fleming's biographers so he knows what he's on about.

Give it a go!  ajb007/martini

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

ajb007/biggrin  I too found it in my teens, Found it in a market book stall and had never
Heard of it before ( I was still picking up the Fleming books at the time ).
  As C&D points out it " Fills in the blanks"  ajb007/martini
In fact the last time we got a dog, I pushed like mad to get him called Drax.  ajb007/wink
Sadly my daughters out voted me.  ajb007/crap

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

It's one of my favourite Bond books, dovetails perfectly into Fleming's novel canon.



Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I've only read it once, a long time ago, but from what I do recall, it does a very good job of creating the literary Bond's background story. Now, I don't know how 'Authorised' it is, and whether Bond's background in that book was created by Pearson or from words that Fleming had previously written (or both), but thankfully I don't recall any inconsistencies between the two.

But it is accepted as canon and I would recommend this for any Fleming purist.

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Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I've read it several times...it's a good read, I'd recommend it  ajb007/martini

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Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I'm halfway into it.  I really am enjoying it.


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

Very good. Fun and enjoyable and as others have said, it compliments Fleming's work rather than contradict it. Pearson knew Fleming, was a biographer and was authorised by his estate to write it which was not that long after Fleming's death. He did a good job of weaving the various plots from the books together and filling in the extra bits. I would put it second to Colonel Sun amongst the continuation novels...if you can call it that.


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I had a reread of Pearson's Bond Biography, following the new Horowitz. I had already skimmed through Fleming, making note of all the biographical clues, and specifically meant to compare what Pearson wrote with all those clues. I ended up with 12 pages of notes, and believe me its hard to judge a book on its own merits when reading like that. Most of Fleming's clues do get expanded here, a few dozen stories-within-the-story of varying length, as well as much that is all new. Pearson also deliberately contradicts Fleming almost as much as he follows the continuity, as this is part of the central conceit.

This book was published 1973, same year as Live and Let Die, for context. Just as the films themselves were shifting to a new, increasingly ironic and cartoony tone for the seventies.

When I was a lad, I had the PAN edition, which has a beautiful cover that matches perfectly the messy desk editions of Fleming's books then in-print. Unfortunatley I have long since lost that one, and this books turns out to be very scarce in any edition. The version i now have is the 1985 British Grafton printing. I don't imagine the pagination is the same.
Those mid-seventies PANs listed both the Bond Biography and Colonel Sun as being part of the official series of 16 books, so it is a shame it is now so hard to find.

This book purports to be a sequel to Pearson's Fleming Biography, with Pearson discovering new information about the existence of a real James Bond after his previous book's publication. But that one was a conventional biography told in the objective third person voice. This one is told in the first person, and it's framing device takes the form of a novel, a thriller in fact, with "Pearson" himself a character following up and consequently being introduced to the "real" James Bond. The rest of the book is the first person narrative of "Pearson" interviewing Bond, intercut with increasingly lengthy flashbacks, much like the dissolves back and forth in time in a movie. After a certain point the flashbacks settle into the pacing of short stories.

(Fleming, Pearson, and William Stephenson are all characters in this book, coexisting in the same world as Bond, M, Honey Rider and the whole gang. I shall put their names in quotes when referring to the fictionalised versions of their characters within Pearson's book, as it can get confusing.)

The first chapter, leading up to the introduction of Pearson's Bond, is itself a decent pastiche of Fleming's style, with an opening sequence on an airplane and a flashback to "Pearson" receiving his own mission in the same Secret Service offices where Bond worked.

"Fleming" is an ongoing character throughout the flashbacks, an acquaintance of Bond's who was personally responsible for much of Bond's career in the Secret Service. It was "Fleming" himself who suggested to M the plan to fictionalise Bond's adventures, to somehow fool SMERSH.
(I cannot believe a word of this, and the conceit undermines my belief in this book as a whole. Why would M agree to this? He insists Bond have plastic surgery to remove an identifying scar, why would he then publicize Bond's existence? and why would someone known only by an initial agree to publicize his own?)
By the time of FRWL, SMERSH have figured out the scheme, and destroyed their files on Bond out of fear of reprisals from above, which is the real reason "Fleming" seems to end that book with Bond's death. But then M himself insists "Fleming" continue, as the series is good P.R .for an increasingly controversial Secret Service department.
Then the very book we are reading is yet another Secret Service scheme, as for some reason they now wish to set the record straight.
(It'd be so much easier to accept the actual biographical flashback parts of the book if it had all been written as a conventional biography, instead of using this high concept framing device, which makes so little sense.)

At the end, "Pearson" mentions Colonel Sun, but only when Bond is offstage and unable to verify whether that adventure really happened, or if "Robert Markham" also was trying to fool Britain's enemies (because why? the hugely popular film series wasn't confusing Britain's enemies enough?)

Can this book be considered in continuity with what Fleming wrote? Unfortunately, by definition no, at least as a whole.
This book takes place on a seperate level of reality than do Fleming's books. Bond is a more realistic character in this book, and living in the same world as fictionalised versions of Pearson, Fleming, and William Stephenson. The 14 Fleming books, which we are familar with, exist as popular fictional books within this level of reality, books-within-the-book.
This is what DC Comics continuity used to call Earth Prime, a parallel dimension more convincingly similar to our reality, but not quite because the fictional hero also lives within it, and the real life characters are somewhat fictionalised versions of themselves.
(And therefor, in YOLT, when the Obit tells us there has been a series of popular books within the world Fleming has been describing to us, the contents of these books-within-books are themselves yet another level of reality we know no other details of. An infinite regression)

We are told "Fleming" employed artistic license to embellish what really happened. Pearson adds to this effect by repeatedly and explicitly contradicting what Fleming wrote (when did Bond get the Bentley? when did he lose his virginity? how many cigarettes a day does he smoke?), and having both Bond and Honeychile Rider complain about how "Fleming" misrepresented them.

At the very beginning, Urquhart (a new character working for the Secret Service) tells "Pearson" "Fleming" knew very little about wine, undermining "Fleming"'s credibility. This is a reversal of the wellknown Fleming trick where he would demonstrate his expertise by babbling persuasively about wines or motor cars for pages on end, before introducing something fantastical. In Pearson's version, "Fleming" is revealed to be a poseur, thus every word he wrote about James Bond is open to doubt.

One very cool and subtle touch: at one point, Bond trails off telling his story, more interested in observing some hummingbirds. In this reality, since Bond is a real person, "Fleming" did not have to search for name for his fictional hero. Therefor he was not named after a published ornithologist (who so far's we know never existed in this reality), and instead Bond the secret agent is a bit of an amateur ornithologist himself.

On the flip side, isolated fragments can be read out of context and they will serve as satisfying expansions of some of the cryptic clues Fleming gave us as to Bond's life. For example, when reading Casino Royale, upon coming to the all-too-brief reference to the Monte Carlo mission before the war (PAN ed., pgs 24/25), you can flip to precisely that section of this Biography and read Pearson's version (Grafton ed., pgs 73-94), and it will fit in seamlessly without significant contradiction.
In these sections the pace slows down and they read like proper short stories, and some of them are quite imaginative. There is even one all new mission that seems to be the inspiration for the next year's movie!

These are the best bits of the book, and what makes it essential, but I will have to take time to prepare another post in which I corelate Fleming's various clues to specific passages in Pearson's book, because there are several dozen that get nicely expanded, and as many all new Previously Unseen Missions.

Aside from all the continuity stuff, there are some themes Pearson develops throughout his story.

Les sensationes fortes: Bond is addicted to danger, an addiction he first discovers as a teenager when he skis a very dangerous hill he has not adequately trained for. This addiction is recognised and exploited by Maddox (another new character) to draw Bond into working for the Secret Service when he is still a teenager.

Women: Bond's mother Monique Delacroix was dissatisfied with her marriage and had affairs, and rejected Bond when he recognised her in public with another man. This rejection was the reason for his inability to form healthy relationships with women as an adult.

What other life could he lead? Pearson tells us that after the Hildbrandt Rarity Bond settled down to a gigolo's life, helping Liz Krest spend her husband's money while living on the yacht (this story happens much earlier in Pearson's version, before Bond becomes a double oh). His lifestyle with Liz Krest  parallels the life Honeychile Rider is preparing for him in the story's framing sequence, she also is now a fabulously wealthy widow with an 80 foot yacht, a crew of twelve, and lots of money Bond can help her spend.

Spoiler Bond is about to marry Honey the very next day as the story is ending, when Tanner arrives at the very last minute with a new mission, to save our hero from a fate worse than death just in the nick of time.

Last edited by caractacus potts (3rd Feb 2019 14:51)


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I found Pearsons book to be, I don't know, not quite what I expected. For some reason the feeling I got from it was like it was the "James Bond: The Authorized Biography of the Movie 007" more than that of the Bond of the novels.

Something about the way the described escapades of the Young Bond in the turmoils of prewar Europe that reeked of a script for a bad Saturday morning kids cartoon.

Pearsons Bond is very much The Super Spy of the screen; he knows everything and is indispensable to Her Majestys Government and the security of the world. Ian Flemings Bond is a civil servant, one who is willing to do the rough stuff for his service with a limited capabilities and certainly a limited survivability.

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

I enjoyed the odd framing device because it calls into question the perceived time-line / history and Fleming's interpretation of them. It's a double deceit as we already know Bond is a fictional character so he thus becomes a fictional-fictional character. As you say, Caractacus, it allows Pearson to not follow established history or personas and twist what we know. I thought it a clever and well written novel. I don't remember many of the short story escapades, one was a gambling expose (The Luminous Reader?) which takes place in Monte Carlo, I think, and another a weird voodoo thingamajig which I thought was almost the worst of the novel. I remember being disappointed Pearson hadn't appropriately followed up the Irma Bunt-plague-infested-rats story he was describing.... It ended rather well I thought, neatly echoing Casino Royale, "That's it, the bastard's gone."

All in all for me, one of th best continuation novels. I must re-read it. It's been a while.


Re: Anyone read Pearson's Authorized Biography of 007

Read it twice, or thrice if the audiobook counts as a read.  Loved it.  Interesting how this and the young Bond novels were creative in their embellishments on Bond’s origins stories like the 4.5 Litre Bentley and Bond’s parents considering how the film series is beginning to encroach in that territory with much artistic license. 

What’s interesting is that with the above mentioned premise that the Authorized Biography is the reality, it likewise authenticates the codename theory as the codename fact.  This is also the premise of the Bond character in Alan Moore’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” in which Bond at anytime resembles the Bond actor in residence...all as part of the ploy to thwart the UK’s enemies.  In 2019 as we await Bond 25, the truth of the matter is that James Bond is real!

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....