Within its elegant prose, Williams’s book is packed with detail, about Dick’s friends and colleagues, about his gilded life of dinners, dances and house parties, about finances, even down to the cost of insuring Dick’s lorry. More, he straddles two worlds, knowledgeably describing the racing while also placing the whole in its social and political context, such as Seaman’s difficult decision to remain with Mercedes being coloured by the often-forgotten factor that both countries tried to prolong friendly relations – Britain to avoid war, Germany to neutralise a threat.
Dick’s battles with his family over money and his German wife are vividly portrayed, alongside the careful planning and preparation that matched his controlled skill at the wheel.
Was Seaman merely the lucky, selfish child of money, turning a blind eye to evil? This excellent book suggests that careful, thorough, talented, ambitious Dick only displayed the same single-minded drive we admire from someone without advantages who makes it against the odds. After all, which of us would be able to refuse when a long-pursued prize was dangled in front of us?
A Race with Love and Death Richard Williams Simon & Schuster, £20 ISBN: 978-1-471179-35-8
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