Book Reviews, August 1975, August 1975

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“Francois Cevert” by Jean Claude Hall. 213pp. 8¾ in. x 5½ in. (William Kimber & Co. Ltd., Godolphin House, 22a, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AE, £3.50)

Nearly every racing driver of note in the F1 field has now had a book published about him and here is one about Francois Cevert, who was killed in practice for the Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1973. I do not like it. It is over-obsessed with morbidity, as indicated by the sub-title, “A Contract With Death”. I suppose William Kimber, who have published the biographies of Emerson Fittipaldi, Jackie Stewart, Jo Siffert, Jack Brabham, Joehen Rindt, Graham Hill, Mike Hawthorn, Stirling Moss and Peter Revson, are pleased to have netted a book about Cevert. But they could have got a kinder author to write it.

While the account of this driver’s racing activities and driving methods is up to standard, the amount of pathos included, particularly how the driver’s death was announced to those near and dear to him, is not. There is, admittedly, plenty of the former material, written to appeal to both enthusiast and novice. But the last chapter, too dramatically recalling the fatal accident to the TyreII-Cosworth, should have been omitted. So should the Epilogue which is pure journalese. The pictures are good.—W.B.

“A Traction Engine Miscellany” by Ronald H. Clark, MI Mech.E. 243pp. 11¼ in. x 8½in. (Goose & Son Publishers Ltd., 9a, Victoria Street, Basingstoke., Hampshire. RG21 3BT. £10.00).

The author is extremely well-known in the traction-engine world and in this book, which is packed with illustrations and drawings, he ranges about across the years, covering various aspects of the movement, in what is his tenth book, if one includes a novel and his history of the Brough-Superior motorcycle.

Thus one finds odd snippets of information here, how traction engines were tested, how some of them indulged in dramatic accidents, how cranes were fitted to them, their dimensions, details of single and multi-cyiinder types, etc., etc. The contents conform to the George Borrow quotation the author has chosen–“The dog that trots about finds a bone”. So this book will no doubt be of great appeal to avid steam enthusiasts, especially in this 21st Anniversary year of the NTEC, With its great road-run from Nettlebed to Appleford scheduled for the 12th of last month. It contains a staggering number of pictures, 349 in all. But it seems very expensive, nevertheless.—W.B.

“The Batsford Colour Book of Vintage Cars” by Anthony Harding. 63pp. 8⅗ in. x 7⅗ in. (B. T. Batsford Ltd., 4, Fitzhardinge Street, London, W1H 0HA. £2.30).

Very superficial, this is a classic pot-boiler, because unless I am very much mistaken, the colour prints, four of which are by our own London Art Tech., have been used previously, in similar Batsford books by Michael Sedgwick. The once-famous motor book house will have to do better than this to re-establish itself in this lucrative market-place—W.B.