by T. R. Nicholson. 180 pp. 8 3/4 in. 5 1/2 in. (Cassell and Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4SJ. £2.50.)
This is a scissors-and-paste job. Nicholson, having unearthed all manner of fascinating motor travel books in writing his masterly studies of pioneer travel by car—”Adventurer’s Road”, “The Trailblazers”, “Five Roads to Danger” and “The Wild Roads”, has cut some of them up, to provide extracts for his present book. The result is not very palatable, because the ploy seems to be, to offer instances of trouble and adventure in such travels, and so only the extreme bits of this sort of thing go in, from each worthwhile full-length book.
We are given extracts ranging from Henry Sturmey’s journey from John o’ Groat’s to Land’s End in a Daimler in 1897 to Humfrey Symons’ unsuccessful onslaught on the London-Cape record with an 18/85 Wolseley in 1939.
This is all very well, but reading the books themselves in their entirety would be much more rewarding and most of the 34 rare titles Nicholson has picked from could presumably be run to earth in the right libraries. We have dealt with some in our long-lived “Cars In Books” feature and this makes the point that what Nicholson with his scissors and glue-pots has done is far more suited to the pages of a magazine than as subject matter for a full-scale book.
We get bites from the Victor Bruces’ remarkable 9,000 miles in eight weeks with an AC saloon in 1927 which took in a Monte Carlo Rally and a 1,000-mile run round Montlhéry, bits about the Court Treatt Cape to Cairo journey with the Crossley trucks (I recall contemplating making a Meccano model of one of them at the time, back in 1927), about John Prioleau and his Morris Cowley “lmshi”, the trans-African Jowett expedition of 1928, etc., all carefully divided into continents and meticulously cross-referenced. Yet it somehow doesn’t add up to anything worthwhile, perhaps because of chronological jumps, as front 1907 to 1902, 1905, 1906, 1921 and back to 1908 and 1903 in describing adventures on European roads, or because too-recent books, like “Mr. Lionel” by Martin Harper, which was published in 1970, are quoted from, or because the extracts whet the appetite without sustaining it, or give too little about the ears themselves. Some indifferent pictures are included but as usual Cassell stick these altogether in the middle of the text, to the reader’s detriment.
This is another of Nicholson’s now-expected pot-boilings. A pity, fur surely he has another real book within his experienced and skilful compass ? There are still a few worthwhile subjects remaining.— W. B.
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A reprint of the “Castrol Rally Manual” is now available from PSL, 9, Ely Place, London, EC1, at £1.20. The original of this book by Peter Browning sold out in under three months—verb. sap. Postage costs 8p extra.
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The “Handbook of Automobiles 1925-1926”, by the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, published in New York, which contains 385 uniform pictures of the American cars, taxis and commercials of those years, together with specifications, is obtainable in the UK for £2.00, from Constable & Co. Ltd, 10, Orange Street, London, WC2H 7EG. It runs to 418 pages.