by Christopher Hilton. 171pp. 8” x 5”. (Transworld Publishers Ltd, 61-63 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 5SA. £3.95)
For a straightforward biography of this country’s leading Formula One driver, you will struggle to find better value than this Corgi paperback by the Daily Express motor sport correspondent.
Writing for the layman, Christopher Hilton concentrates on the racing (with politics inevitably rearing its ugly head from time to time) rather than on the Mansell family or the technology of the sport.
The emphasis is on the man’s struggle for recognition, by the public and by his peers, and Mansell’s life-story seems to have been perfectly scripted for just such a rags-to-riches tale.
Treatment is basically chronological, with occasional digressions and with a chapter on 1987 rather limply tagged on for this second edition. The driver’s downs, ups and more downs are vividly catalogued, though in a sufficiently distanced style to distinguish this from an official biography.
Sixteen pages of black and white plates in the centre include a nice shot of the hero sliding his Lotus-Renault towards the unforgiving Armco while leading the infamously-deluged 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. Pictorial coverage can hardly be described as comprehensive (there are, for instance, no photographs at all from Nigel’s pre-Formula One days), but then you don’t expect that from cheap paperbacks.
What does grate at times is the author’s distinctly jerky form of journalese – sentences are unnecessarily stilted, phrases annoyingly repeated. The story is exciting enough to stand on its own merits, without this attempted injection of urgency.
The hero himself emerges well from the tale, his self-belief comfortably vindicated by results. And by concentrating on the man’s quest for recognition rather than for the World Championship, of course, the biographer comes close to manufacturing a happy ending!