A couple of the latest broader interest books have arrived on the desk of Iain Robertson, both are eminently current and go some way towards explaining their respective popularity ratings.
Lewis Hamilton – F1 Champion
ISBN: 978 1 78097 822 2
By Bruce Jones
Having known flame-haired motorsport journalist, Bruce Jones, for more than 30 years, I can think of no scribe better placed, or more qualified to write a telling profile about the brilliant British motor racing champion, Lewis Hamilton. To be fair, this book is merely an update, to take into account the racer’s 2015 season victory, his third, in the world’s premier motor racing series. However, it also celebrates a decade of Lewis Hamilton, at the head of his game. The author makes a very pertinent introductory comment, when he elucidates that we have an unique relationship with our sporting stars…building them up and shooting them down, should they fall. However, the truth is that Mr Hamilton’s sense of his own importance has also turned him into a ‘Marmite’ performer in his own right. When he is not in the ‘winner’s circle’, the sense of lip-out, spoilt boy is abundantly obvious. Yet, on the right day, in the right race, his quicksilver responses and remarkable turns of speed ensure that, when he is not contemplating a future career as a ‘rap artist’, he is the consummate modern sportsman, within the confines of one of the most dangerous sports. If you were unaware of his story, Bruce’s erudite commentary will introduce you to a stellar racing hero, peppered with interesting quotations and the peaks and troughs of his career so far. Very few stones are left unturned and Bruce is not averse to hints of the invective in a mostly frank and well observed biography. The support photography is superb, with some of the colour plates being surprisingly intimate and candid. It is a good book, of slightly compact size (128pp) but it fits with all similar biographical books in the same vein.
Tour de France – Legendary Climbs
ISBN: 978 1 78097 790 4
By Richard Abraham
Cycling has always been a worthy pastime in Great Britain, whether by necessity, for convenience, or for pleasurable leisure purposes. It always used to reach its British pinnacle with the annual Milk Race. However, a combination of the 2012 Summer Olympics, the phenomenal TdF race being won by British cycling stars, the allure of the yellow jersey and Channel Four’s on-going terrestrial TV coverage of the amazing Gallic event has ensured that cycling is now a pinnacle activity for more than one reason. Renowned for its Alpine climbs and demonstrations of extreme human effort, many travellers to the continent try to follow in the foot-pumps (as opposed to steps) of their two-wheeled heroes. This beautifully illustrated book is a travelogue spread over 224pp, created in conjunction with Google Earth and using that organisation’s satellite maps. Its contents deal with the history, the social impact and the physical endeavour involved in escalating the mountain passes of the Alps and Pyrenees. Its author has ridden the same routes and knows from first-hand experience just what is involved. However, the detail in the imagery and the sheer beauty of the areas covered broaden the appeal of this book way beyond the two-wheeled fraternity. I may not be much of a cyclist any more but I derived tremendous pleasure from reading this excellent book and I feel encouraged to try some of those climbs personally…albeit from within the luxurious confines of a motorcar.