Jeremy Clarkson on Ferrari

By Jeremy Clarkson ISBN 1-902989-05-8

Published by Lancaster, £245.00 run limited to 1500 copies

This is puzzling. And worrying. Jeremy Clarkson is one of the finest writers in this business today; he is intelligent, amusing, incisive and convincing even when, on occasion, he is wrong. Yet he has lent his name to one of the better candidates for the most disappointing book I have ever reviewed.

First, the good bits. This limited edition work is properly bound, comes in a sturdy case and is printed on paper in keeping with the price. It contains a comprehensive history of almost all Ferrari's road cars, even those racers that could be used in public. There are useful technical specifications too.

The first problem is the vast bulk of this book doesn't read like Clarkson at all. Sure, each chapter is opened with some suitably erudite and amusing prose but the actual car histories are bewilderingly lacking in his trademark style and humour. Keith Bluemel is credited as its technical editor and you, like me, will draw your own conclusions from that. But even this issue pales besides the photography which I would regard as unacceptably poor in a book costing a tenth of the price. Many of the shots seem to be little more than snaps; some, staggeringly, are not even truly in focus while others appear to be poor quality duplicates blown up far beyond their modest capabilities. More than this, too many of the photographs — even those which are sharp and well composed — are just plain boring.

What could have been a landmark celebration from a gifted writer of the most hallowed marque of all has turned into, at best, an overpriced and entirely missed opportunity. At worst, it is a cynical exploitation of two famous names that fails to come within a light year of doing justice to either. AF