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October 2019

Save the Date: Book Launch, March 3

I am pleased to announce that the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia will host the official book launch for "The Real James Bond" on Tuesday evening, March 3.

I'll do a talk, a Q&A, and book signing.Bond1936 7.5 in

Bond worked for the Academy from 1926 into the 1980s. The Academy also published the first edition of his "Birds of the West Indies" in 1936.

A copy of the landmark book will be among the Bond items and other rarities on display. Exciting details to follow.

The Academy event will be the first of several book talks in March, April and May, including two major birding festivals.

Watch this space for more information.

The Real James Bond & Cassin's Kingbird

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A Cassin's Kingbird was photographed at the Cape May Hawkwatch on Sunday morning, Oct. 13. If accepted by NJBRC, this will be the first state record.  

That struck me as very cool since this bird of the Southwest was named for John Cassin, who like the real James Bond was an ornithologist who worked for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, roughly 80 miles away. 

What else do Cassin and Bond have in common?  I guess you'll have to wait until my book comes out in February.

More information on John Cassin here.

More about Cassin's Kingbird here.

(Wikimedia Commons photo above by John Reynolds.)


Advance Praise for 'The Real James Bond'

IMG_6048In advance of the book's publication, I asked a few experts on birds, the real James Bond, and Ian Fleming, to look at the manuscript in hopes they'd have a kind word or two.
I share them now, with my great appreciation.
    If The Real James Bond does nothing more than convince readers that an ornithologist can be something other than proper, stodgy, or dull, it will have done a great service.
    This fast-paced, fun book puts the lie to the Miss Jane Hathaway stereotype, painting a portrait of a man who more than lived up to his role as reluctant namesake to the world's favorite secret agent.
    As a bonus, there's a rogue's gallery of ornithologists who contributed to covert operations throughout recent history.
    As an ornithologist, I feel much cooler now."
                               -- Julie Zickefoose, author/artist, The Bluebird Effect
    Wonderfully researched, full of surprises, and written with zip and panache.
                               -- Matthew Parker, author of Goldeneye
    A refreshingly authentic and engagingly written look at the ornithologist behind the iconic name.
                             -- Pete Dunne, bird watcher, author, and retired 
                                director of the Cape May Bird Observatory
    Bond. James Bond. Here is the intriguing back story of three heroes.
    One was a charming museum ornithologist, one a flamboyant ex-naval intelligence officer turned best-selling author, and the third, of course, our suave MI6 agent who saves the world over and over again.
    But this good read is neither fiction nor fantasy. Rather Jim Wright has penned a fine biography that meshes three fortuitously intertwined worlds."
                         -- Frank Gill, co-founder of eBird and author of Ornithology

The Real James Bond and 007

Die Another Day Birds of the West Indies
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In the 2002 007 film "Die Another Day," James Bond the secret agent posed as James Bond the ornithologist and even held a copy of one of the later editions of Bond's landmark field guide -- with Bond's name obliterated.

There's a classic scene between Pierce Brosnan's binoculars-toting, mojito-drinking James Bond (below) and Halle Berry's bikini-clad Jinx Johnson. In the scene,  set in Cuba, Bond says he's an ornithologist and professes he's there "for the birds."

As a result, the book has become a bit of a collector's item, although the book is often misrepresented in on-line sales.

The actual one is the 1990 Collins U.K. edition, pictured above left.

Much more about the real James Bond, Ian Fleming and 007 are in my upcoming book.

Brosnan as ornitholoigist in die another day

More About the Birdman

RealJamesBond_CVR(1)The cover of my upcoming book has generated a bit of speculation.

Is the bird's head that of:

a. A Cuban Green Woodpecker.

b. A Flameback Woodpecker from Asia

c. Another species of woodpecker, going undercover.

I decided to ask Molly Shields, who should know -- she designed the cover for Schiffer Publishing.

Molly says: "I had fun working on this cover! I got the image from a Cuban stamp...  a Cuban Green Woodpecker, Xiphidiopicus percussus."

More about the Cuban Green Woodpecker here. (The photo in the link is by Michael J. Good of the Caribbean Conservation Trust,  the leader on my Cuba trip three years ago.)

Below: Earl Poole's drawing of the Cuban Green Woodpecker from Bond's Birds of the West Indies (1936 first edition).

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Who Is the Birdman on the Cover?

RealJamesBond_CVR(1)I am a big fan of the bird/man on the front cover of my upcoming book, but what kind of bird's head is that?

A couple of birding experts weighed in.

It is either a Cuban Green Woodpecker or a Flameback Woodpecker from Asia. Or another species of woodpecker, going undercover.

I will post the definitive answer (from the cover designer) this Friday.