Book Reviews, July 1947, July 1947

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[ln the past there have been comparatively few books on motoring, in comparison with the quantity published relating to other outstanding interests. Recently, however, quite a number of new motoring titles has appeared and it seems that very many more are due in the future. We incline to the view that there is room for all, or, at any rate, for most of these new books, but that many motoring enthusiasts will now begin to pick out those that interest them, whereas formerly they added every new title to their collection. Consequently, book reviews will have a new significance, and it is the intention of Motor Sport to continue to deal fairly and impartially with new motoring titles as they come to hand. — Ed.)

The Development of Road Motors — 1898-1946,by R. W. Kidner (The Oakwood Press, 7s. 6d.).
This little paper-cover work, running to 138 pages with its index, is a pocket survey of the evolution of the motor-car. It is a companion volume to an earlier book covering the period 1769-1897 and it forms part of a series in “a short history of mechanical traction and travel.” In trying to cover such a vast subject in so small a compass, Mr. Kidner can offer little more than a catalogue or the more outstanding cars of this span, although he ties this material together interestingly enough. Those who cannot obtain odd issues of old motoring journals will find this little work a pleasing reminder of many fine cars — and, for that matter, commercial vehicles are also covered. Cyclecars and steam vehicles are included as well, so obviously only a line or two can be devoted to each. The illustrations, apart from a few plates, take the form of 177 line drawings, mostly very good, although some have taken on rather a caricature aspect. The only error we spotted was that describing the Trojan as belt-driven, whereas it actually had a continuous-chain final drive. Kidner can hardly be said to have produced a comprehensive history, but as a refresher course, particularly for people with veteran and vintage leanings, his is a pleasing addition to the motoring bookshelf. The earlier work and this new book are obtainable from the publishers bound in cloth as one volume, price 14s. 5d., post free.

Henry Ford — His Life, His Work, His Genius, by William A. Simonds (Republished by Floyd Clymer).
It is opportune that as we mourn Henry Ford, this comprehensive description of his life and achievements, written by one who was associated with Ford for over twenty years, should be made available through Floyd Clymer’s reprint service. The book, nicely bound, now runs to 366 pages and contains a large number of illustrations. Clymer’s generous offer to supply books to this country and await payment until the money can be made payable to him, still holds good.

Rotary Valve Engines,by M. C. Inman Hunter,M.I Mech.E., M.I.A.E. (Hutchinsons, 21s.)
It is refreshing, nowadays, to find such a comprehensive (214-page) book, beautifully produced, devoted to a specialist subject. Inman Hunter (who has, we believe, carried out his own research work on a rotary valve head fitted to a “10/28” Talbot engine) has gone very thoroughly indeed into his subject and his account is well written, with much interesting detail, and magnificently illustrated and indexed. He covers his field historically as well as technically, dealing with early gas-engines which had rotary valves, old patents covering this form of valve, and describing such rotary valve engines as the Itala, Darracq, Speedwell, etc. The various versions of Burt McCollum rotary-sleeve valve are also described. The early work of R. C. Cross, who commenced his researches in 1922, is included and later chapters deal fully with engines like the Cross, Aspin, Rotol, etc.

The author writes, as one would expect, as a keen rotary valve advocate, and freely compares the advantages of such engines with those valved otherwise. Naturally, his book is mainly about petrol engines, but steam and gas engines are also included. In the air jet propulsion is ousting the piston engine, but this is not the case in respect of road transport, and as rotary valves spell higher compression ratios and greater efficiency, students of I.C. engine design will find this new book a worthwhile study.

The Story of the T.T.“, by G. S. Davison (The T.T. Special, 7s. 6d.).
In this little book, which runs to 134 pages with its index, the author gives what can best be described as a potted history of the I.O.M. motor-cycle T.T. races from 1908 to 1939. A chapter is included on the Manx G.P. and one of the most valuable features is a table of the results of all the T.T. races, with the fastest lap made in each. From this we are instantly reminded of the old Ultra-Lightweight races (a 174-c.c. Rex Acme lapped at over 54 m.p.h. in 1925) and Sidecar events. Another useful feature is Davison’s analysis of entries race by race. He writes well and has interviewed famous old-timers in order to capture the spirit of the early days. But T.T. history is so important and so absorbing that we could wish the author had covered the subject more fully. Much remains to be told of these races, and it is a pity that technicalities of the more famous machines have been omitted. A pity, too, that the illustrations could not have been better reproduced and that the book only runs to cardboard covers and a plastic binding — which, however, enables it to open out flat. We are not sure whether cartoons are fitting to a serious work of this nature. These criticisms apart, Davison has done a good job of work and those who want their book-shelves to unfold the complete story of motor-racing must add this volume to their collection.