As a family, we while away long car journeys with the Young Bond series. However, despite many happy hours listening to the dashing Etonian face up to baby Blofelds, I had never thought to place our hero in a social and historical context. Not until reading Angus McLaren’s gripping account of a violent robbery in December 1937 did I properly appreciate that the decade in which Bond supposedly came of age was a period in which ideas about masculinity as well as class were profoundly disrupted and that peacetime as well as war can be a stimulus for redefining notions of manhood.
Playboys & Mayfair Men opens with a detailed description of the crime that sits at the heart of McLaren’s forensic examination of 1930s society. Throughout the winter of 1937 and the spring of 1938 the British tabloids were ablaze with accounts of a robbery by four former public