“Motoring Cavalcade,” by W. J. Bentley (144 pages, 7 in. by 9¾ in., 16s. Odhams Press, Ltd., 96, Long Acre, W.C.2).
Inevitably this motor history book goes over ground which has been covered fairly fully elsewhere. Indeed, the author shamelessly quotes liberally from well-known works and we discern from some of his paragraphs that he has read Motor Sport for a considerable number of years.
Do not let this statement of fact stop you from buying this attractive value-for-money volume. Not only are all the chapters nicely written and arranged, so that in one book a comprehensive slice of history is available, but many fresh facts — at all events to this reviewer — have been skilfully worked in, these alone making the parting from 16s. a happy enough episode. Moreover, a whole verse of G. Stewart Bowles’ “Song of the Wheel” and some amusing poems from The Automobile Magazine of 1903 and from Alice in Motorland (1905) are quoted, which again make the purchaser part easily with his money.
Each chapter is headed by a quotation, the illustrations on art paper range from good photographs to cartoons and technical sketches and the whole style of this new Odhams publication appeals.
The mistakes, many no doubt the result of careless proof reading, appeal less — one sticks out a mile, where in a caption H. G. Hawker is credited with having done 150 m.p.h. in an A.C. over the flying half-mile at Brooklands in 1921 and where the latest sports Mercedes-Benz is described as a 300 5L.
But by all means buy this book. It will keep you in excellent company while recovering from a Motor Show chill or while browsing in your chair before the fire on Boxing Day — when the pioneers, of which this work tells, were out grappling with an Exeter Trial. — W.B.
“Mask of Dust,” by Jon Manchip White (192 pages, 5 in. by 7½ in. 10s. 6d. Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd., E.C.4).
This is a motor-racing novel all about T. H. White’s “beetle-men ” — the professional version. May we borrow from a more celebrated book reviewer and dismiss it by remarking that you will like it if this is the kind of book you like? The perfect motor-racing novel has not yet happened, although “Speed Triumphant” was a very near miss. This one deals with the gory, over-dramatised, fatal-accident aspect which so many novelists deem the correct approach where racing cars are concerned. If you number racing drivers amongst your friends, it will annoy you. It rings true in places and could pass a racing day at the seaside for some of you. The B.B.C. broadcast a play-version of it — but don’t let that influence you as to whether you buy it or two gallons of petrol and a tot of Castrol instead! — W.B.
“Rolls: Man of Speed,” by Laurence Meynell (159 pages, 5¼ in. by 8 in., 9s. 6d. The Bodley Head, 28, Little Russell Street, W.C.1).
This book is published by the Bodley Head in its children’s series “Men of the Modern Age,” but this is no reason for not recommending it to grown-ups.
The author paints an interesting picture of the evolution of man in his quest for speed, from the taming of the horse onwards, introduces us to early motor cars, and so to the subject of his biography, the Hon. C. S. Rolls. The story he tells is enthralling, inspiring and is enhanced by many new pictures. The flying aspects of Rolls’ life are dealt with, besides his motoring interests.
Some parts of this book bear the stamp of repetition, so that, while refreshing our memories, we are conscious of having read the same matter elsewhere, that dealing with the Rolls-Royce cars which the Hon. C. S. Rolls made famous coming largely from Nockolds’ “Magic of a Name” for instance.
But this is a good book, well presented, with a charming dust-jacket by Frank Wootton of the 1906 T.T.-winning 20-h.p. Rolls-Royce — and there are other good pictures of this car, the “Silver Ghost” and others of the same illustrious make and era inside. We wait with keen anticipation the new work in this series which will cover the life of Lord Nuffield. — W.B.