Summer 2018 Book Reviews – 1
Armed with a shelf’s worth of the latest titles, the following titles have a distinct motoring flavour, from heroes to overviews and Iain Robertson recommends them for either coffee table status, or practical reading purposes.
Derek Bell – All my Porsche Races
By Derek Bell and Richard Heseltine
ISBN: 978 1 907085 65 9
There is a huge problem with ardent fans reviewing their heroes’ latest exploits, if a semi-autobiographical tome (275pp full-size hardback) can be described as Mr Bell’s latest endeavour. I count myself as one of his band of supporters, having known Derek personally for more decades than I like to recall. He is, without doubt, one of the most internationally renowned and best-loved racing drivers of all time. Never less than charming, always prepared to smile, ceaselessly photogenic and possessing both wit and words of genuine wisdom, Derek never forgets a face and seldom forgets people’s names. Yet, this superb book, another from the Porter Press stable of excellence, is actually about a slice of his working life that was dedicated to #Porsche. He won the infamous Le Mans 24-Hours Race no less than five times…four at the controls of a fire-breathing Porsche. However, he notched-up three wins at the Daytona 24-Hours, two titles in the World Sportscar Championship and no less than thirty years piloting Porsches at the premier levels of motorsport. To say that his career has been illustrious would be an understatement. He commenced it at the wheel of a Lotus Seven (winning in his first-ever race), continued it with an F1 debut for Ferrari, then McLaren, Surtees and Tecno, although his Porsche Golden Years started in 1971 and ended in 2000. Derek, awarded an MBE for his efforts, remains stoically British, resides in West Sussex and continues to drive and race Porsche’s historic models. The co-author of this fine book is Richard Heseltine, a well-regarded journalist and motorsport historian, steeped in Porsche and also a fan of his co-author. The book is peppered with over 200 monochrome and colour photographs that only serve to illustrate both the joy that Derek has always extracted from his ‘job’ and his undying enthusiasm. He may be 77 years of age but his talent has never been dulled. As a record of his Porsche years, this book has tremendous value but it also highlights his capabilities as an all-rounder, prepared to hop from one class of racing car to another with equal aplomb and a run of constant successes. A great book about an important part of the life of a truly great man!
The Perfect Car – Biography of John Barnard
By Nick Skeens
ISBN: 978 1 910505 27 4
When a book cover is in a carbon-fibre type of finish, it could only be about one person; the amazing, innovative design genius that is John Barnard. This is the man that revolutionised Formula One, with developments that would filter down through myriad lower classes of motorsport. During his time at McLaren, he designed the first carbon-fibre composite chassis. When at Ferrari, he developed the first semi-automatic, paddle-shift gearbox in F1. If you are into motorsport, at whichever level, this 652pp hardback, complete with 125 photographic images, has to be on your ‘must-read’ list. Without John Barnard, in many respects the sport would not be as advanced as it is today. However, Nick Skeens has dug deeply into his subject matter to reveal the broader story of an intense character that is married to his profession, while he also attempts to create stability for his family. Its contents also delve deeply into design engineering, which is Barnard’s forte. As a measure of his independent thinking, he achieved the ultimate balance, when in the employ of Enzo Ferrari. Instead of relocating to Maranello, the home of the ‘Prancing Horse’, he established his own Ferrari facility near to Guildford, Surrey, because he wanted to pop home for lunch. However, his long list of achievements in the motorsport scene has resulted in countless drivers being grateful for his much-valued input. His developments have led to many World Champions being created. Of course, his work has also led to a privileged status for his family and the author (Skeens) manages most expertly to underscore the Barnard principles, many of which have been totally against the odds, the vast majority of which have been innovative and ground-breaking. If you thought that you knew John Barnard, this book will reveal that you knew very little. It is brilliantly written, neatly illustrated and another story about a truly great man.
The #Beatles in 100 Objects
By Brian Southall
ISBN: 978 1 78739 096 6
Were you to read Aunt Mimi’s critical comment about her charge, John Lennon (“That guitar is okay but you’ll never make a living with it!”), you might wonder where one quarter of The Beatles might have found himself. Thank heavens he kept playing the guitar. This delightful little paperback (256pp) contains more than 100 images of some of the quirkiest items that made The Beatles what they became. The author, Brian Southall, was the head of media activities for EMI and worked with each of the band members. As a result, his knowledge is everything. Having written several books about his charges, this one is probably the lightest in tone and also the most revealing about the world’s most famous band. It will hold appeal for Beatles’ fans and that vital ‘new generation’ of aficionados that has woken up to the importance of the group, its music and its individual members. Their musical influence remains timeless. Among the ephemera is an ashtray from the Abbey Road studios that Ringo used while playing his drums. McCartney’s hand-written notes for ‘Hey Jude’ are worth closer examination and ‘Rocky’, George Harrison’s hand-painted guitar, is wholly memorable. There is so much to see and read about, you will not fail to be moved by the contents of what is a charming paperback record.
Foreword by Darrel L Williams
ISBN: 978 1 78739 066 9
I am sure that Google Street Maps did not start a craze for mapping from afar, although they are sure to have spiked curiosity for anyone wishing to know what our world looks like from another perspective. I do, which is what makes this excellent book from the Carlton stable so engaging. All of the images in this large-format, 224pp hardback have come from the LandSat NASA/USG satellites. They show natural wonders, human landscapes and hidden patterns across three substantial chapters that are often magical, always curious and never less than fascinating. As the scientist involved most closely with the project, Darrel L Williams suggests that they are more than just pretty pictures, although he hopes that we enjoy them as such regardless. There are volcanoes, ice floes, icebergs, river courses, deserts, lakes, plateaus and islands represented in colourful variation. They are spectacularly beautiful views that will help you to understand more about the geology and geography of many parts of the world. As a consummate coffee-table tome, I find this book both educative and entertaining, which is precisely how it should be.
Setting Up a Home Car Workshop
By Julian Edgar
ISBN: 978 1 787112 08 7
Veloce Publishing Ltd (www.veloce.co.uk)
The ultimate ‘man cave’ has to contain racks of tools and a purposeful bench. However, going the extra mile to create your own home workshop (for your car) is something that a growing number of people are intent on doing. This excellent paperback (160pp, medium format) is packed with first-class illustrations and photographs to help ardent DIYers to meet their goals. Step-by-step it shows how to establish a home-based car workshop, with the primary aim of saving money, helping you to exercise your own talents and to achieve the detail finish that you want. Scarcely a stone has been left unturned in the author’s endeavours to provide a means to create the ultimate workshop. However, as there is so much more to just buying equipment, he also provides useful guidance in the art of welding techniques and the operation of hand tools. He even digs into design and fabrication, expounding his own skills in suspension, engine management and even aerodynamics. Most importantly, he underscores the value of safety in all areas. As one of the most useful books about automotive aspects that I have read in a while, I can recommend this one strongly to anybody turning their ‘man cave’ into an effective car workshop.