BOOK REVIEWS, August 1941, August 1941

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BOOK REVIEWS

“Dick Seaman,” by Prince Chula of Thailand (G. T. Foulis & Co., Ltd. 8s. 6d.). Prince Chula of Thailand deserves warm congratulations from every angle on his latest, and long-promised, book—the biography of the late Richard Seaman. He tells a very readable story of the whole of Dick’s life, from childhood to his racing days, from exploits with Bugatti, M.G., E.R.A. and the famous rebuilt 1927 Dehxge, to the great days with the Mercedes-Benz team. Apart from the motor-racing element, very detailed descriptions are given of Seaman’s habits and surroundings. Prince Chula does not flinch at disclosing iatimate facts about the great driver’s life and many hitherto unknown matters are seen in their proper perspective for the first time within the covers of this book—covers so gaily decorated by ” Bias ” black and silver folder. It would be unfair to the author to quote all these re vealings, but the first is that Seaman roes d his M.G. as an independent, Pnd not as a member of Straight’s stable, although Straight entered him so that his family should not know that he was personally preparing a car for racing events. Dick’s immense resolve to win the German Grand Prix was fantastically fulfilled—he should have

been an entirely happy young mar.. Yet Prince Chula’s biography is a sad account, and one realises as it unfolds how far from perfect human life may be, in spite of health, wealth and ability. Read this unquestionably great book and you will understand. You will realise, too, just how much this completely unassuming and cultured young man did, not merely for motor-racing, but for his country. Prince Chula pays nice tribute to Mrs. Beattie-Seaman’s part in her son’s achievements. To say that this is the book of the year when it is the only motoring book likely to come out this year, may sound redundant, but it is a very great and remarkable work. There are 382 pages and 17 excellent photographs, including two of Dick with Erica—now Mrs. Tongue. The foreword is by the Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe, P.C., C.B.E., etc., the epilogue by Monkhouse ; both have done their work as well as Prince Chula has done his much lengthier task. In memory of Seaman you should read this book. ” A.A.S.F.” by Charles Gardner. (Hutchinson & Co. Ltd. 7s. (Id.) So many enthusiasts for rapid motoring now play, or work, in the air, that no excuse is needed for reviewing Charles Gardner’s great book,. which gives a very

vivid account of the Advanced Air Striking Force in France during the early days of this war. Gardner was observer for the B.B.C. at this eventful period in the history of the R.A.F. and he tells a most interesting story, equally of flying and news-recording over the ether. The only motoring references concern his 1934 9-h.p. Mathis, bought in France for official journeys for the sum of 130, and his later f.w.d. Citroen, which saw some adventurous runs. Nevertheless, this is a book all of us should read and one which parents and friends of R.A.F. personnel might very well have ready as on-leave reading-matter. It is interesting to note that most of Gardner’s best broadcasts are written in a quite impromptu style, the English good, but with no apparent attempt to choose particular words or phrases, or to seek brevity. A number of printers’ errors has crept in, excusable in war-time, but the standard of production is very high and the 30 photographs are very well presented, in motor-racing volume style. Personalities are splendidly picked out, some excellent jokes put over, and the book is, throughout, a clever balance of detailed historic facts and modern-as-the-minute anecdote. Enthusiasts in and out of the R.A.F. will find it a ready means of topical enjoyment.