Book Reviews, August 1954, August 1954

Author

W.B.

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“Popular Mechanix Auto Album.” 160 pp. (Popular Mechanics Company, 200, East Ontario Street, Chicago 11, Ill.)

This is a story of the motor car in picture and prose from 1769 to 1952, somewhat sketchy, its pictures chosen mostly for “news value” and including a selection of early automobile advertisements. It covers a lot of ground easily and an additional attraction is a list of more than 2,000 makes, compiled by H. N. Rogan, of the A.C. of Michigan, on the inside covers. A book which will no doubt possess greater appeal in America than in England.

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“Auberges de France.” Prepared by the Club des Sans-Club. 850 pp. 4 1/2 in. by 7 1/2 in. (The Club des Sans-Club, 34, rue de Trevise, Paris. 15s.)

This famous handbook, issued annually for the past thirty years, is the “membership card” of the famous Club des Sans-Club. It tells you all you could possibly desire to know about good eating in France and elsewhere in Europe, its recommendations being based on reports sent in by its members, as are those of Raymond Postgate’s Good Food Club in England. The book is in English, and the translations alone will enhance your Continental holiday!

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“One Off,” by N. T. Havert. 168 pp. 5 1/2 in. by 8 1/2 in. (G. T. Foulis and Co., Ltd., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2. 15s.) If you are looking for a book dealing with the construction of a Ford Ten-engined sports car (with torquoise throttle connections and water pump, and a chromium-and-plastic ash-tray) this is the book you need. (We notice that “One Off” is dedicated to the makers of Tide, Dreft, Whisk, Daz, Rinso, Persil, Dirtypaws and Rosalex — this reviewer would like to add his appreciation of Omo as an excellent hand-cleanser.)

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“Slide Rule,” by Nevil Shute. 249 pp. 5 1/2 in. by 8 1/2 in. (William Heinemann, 99, Great Russell Street, W.C.1. 18s.)

In this autobiography Nevil Shute tells a very readable and interesting story of his life as an airship and aeronautical engineer and an author. His descriptions of life before and during the 1914/18 war, and of the aviation industry immediately after the Armistice, will please students of that fascinating period, and his later accounts of how the privately-built R100 airship succeeded where the State built R101 failed so tragically and of how the firm of Airspeed Ltd. prospered in the face of innumerable setbacks and financial struggles, are both informative and exceedingly well set down.

Those who enjoy modern autobiography will find it difficult to summon sufficient will-power to lay “Slide Rule” down, and the book fills one more gap in the library of the aviation enthusiast. There are, too, some glimpses of early motoring, and Nevil Shute endears himself to this reviewer because he writes straightforward material devoid of superficial padding and because he refers to his vehicles, and, indeed, his typewriter and other implements, by their makes — of the former we read of Rudge Multi motor-cycle, Morgan three-wheeler (while at Oxford), Morris-Cowley and Singer coupé.

This is a really good book, giving pleasure in keeping with its price. — W. B.