Book Reviews, September 1957, September 1957
“The Millionth Chance,” by James Leaser. 176 pp., 8¾ in. by 5½ in. (Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 90, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1. 18s.)
This is the story, dramatic, tragic but technically and historically enthralling, of the loss of the airship R101, which crashed and caught fire near Beauvais in France while on a flight from Cardington to Egypt and India in October 1930.
James Leasor covers this episode of aviation history with generous thoroughness and if it may at first seem unnecessary to deal in detail with the last thoughts and actions of those who entered the Government-built R101, never to return, Leasor makes up for this by telling a very interesting and complete story of this happening, which carries in its tragic wake an indictment of civil service methods and political promptings of technical personnel.
From this book we learn not only of the loss of R101, which spelt the end of airship construction in this country, but a great deal about the history and technicalities of airship design and operation.
“The Millionth Chance” comes in the category of a book “unput-downable.” All of relevance seems to have been included, to unfold in an enthralling, easily read yet not too dramatised account that is a credit to Mr. Lessor. He does, however, seem to have missed one interesting point — R101 left Cardington without a C. of A. and never once did the French authorities so much as raise an eyebrow in our direction over this serious irregularity. Leasor could have paid some tribute to the French for this before describing in detail the hysterical scenes at the funeral of the R101s victims.
Whether the Appendix is convincing depends on the reader’s belief or otherwise in Spiritualism. — W. B.
“Ferrari and Maserati in Action,” by Hans Tanner. 59 pp., 10 in. by 7½ in. (Hamish Hamilton, Ltd., 90, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1. 16s.)
We believe this book was intended to be two books, comprising the complete history of the Maserati and Ferrari concerns. It has appeared at long last as one slim volume, in which the text very superficially covers the racing history of the two great Italian marques race by race, but not by any means in detail. The photographs save the day, these being an excellent selection by some of the World’s greatest motor-racing photographers; the reproduction does them justice. — W. B.
G. T. Foulis & Co., 7, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.2, have issued “Racing a Sports Car,” by Charles Mortimer and “Car Body Renovation,” by ,J. Dewar McLintock in their 7s. 6d. “Handy Series.”
lliffe & Sons, Ltd., have published a second, thoroughly-revised and enlarged edition of “Car Driving as an Art,” by S. C. H. Davis (12s. 6d.) and a revised edition of the “Design and Tuning of Competition Engines,” by Philip H. Smith, A.M.I.Mech.E. (G. T. Foulis & Co., 35s.) is now available.