38 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Books like this can easily be pretty stodgy, or seem like you've read them before. When a friend gave me this book (knowing that I'm a car guy), I wasn't expecting much. I mean, if you've read one sports biography, you've read them all. But I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by "The Limit". In fact, once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.
Essentially, "The Limit" is the true story of the main people involved in the 1961 Gran Prix season: Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips and Enzo Ferrari (plenty of Stirling Moss, and Fangio too). That was all interesting to me, as I knew little about them or that the '61 season was sort of the "Golden Year" in racing. But what made it more interesting is that this isn't a textbook. "The Limit" blends the non-fiction with a narrative flow that makes it more enjoyable to read.
The book begins with a young Phil Hill, his home life, and how he began racing. Then it tells of how he entered into the professional racing world. It's all told in such a way that you care about him - he's not just some robot racer, as those guys sometimes seem. You get excited for him as he is invited to race for Ferrari, and all that that entails - both in his relationship with Enzo Ferrari, and Ferrari's development of the race cars - particularly the Sharknose Ferrari. Fascinating stuff.
It also tells the parallel story of Count Wolfgang von Trips, Hill's future teammate at Ferrari, who is equally likeable as Hill. They are both interesting people, but the writing never makes it seems like they are Gods or something. They are just guys who opted out of their "rich" lives. They bought cars and started racing, and were really good at it, and lucky. And also - Enzo Ferrari comes across as a complete and contradictory character he was, without judgment or apology. So I think "The Limit" really showed a lot of restraint (it is also a trim 300 pages, when it could've easily been twice as long).
In the end, "The Limit" was unexpectedly moving (as I didn't know what happened at the end of the `61 season - don't look it up before reading!). Of course, I knew that car racing is/was dangerous for drivers and spectators, but this book really shows that people DIED often, like every race. When these drivers got in their cars, they were facing death - one slip, and you died. But this book talks about how they coped with that very real fear - and the way they still had to drive at the "limit" in order to win.
Basically, if you want to be transported to a time when racers drove on comically skinny tires, without big sponsors, seat belts, roll bars - you'll enjoy this book. That said, this is not a coffee table book - don't expect tons of photos or even long descriptions of Ferraris. The cars are handled here as they were by the mechanics and drivers of the period - not as Godly works of art - but merely as tools to get the job done.
I'm giving it 5 stars. It's really a great read and I will recommend it to friends - as I think the book would appeal to the seasoned car enthusiast, not to mention readers with only the faintest interest in car racing.
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Michael Cannell admits up-front that he's not a racing fan, and it shows. "The Limit" is plagued with distracting errors. A Ferrari 156 did not produce 400 bhp; more like half that. Phil Hill was not the first American to win a Grand Prix; that was Jimmy Murphy, who won the French event in 1921 driving a Duesenberg. Moreover, Cannell struggles with technical concepts like drum-brake overheating and heel-and-toe pedal technique. Sometimes he muddles race-course layouts and starting-grid assignments.
Really, it doesn't matter, because Cannell isn't telling a racing story here. He's telling a human story about two complicated men and their struggles to rise through a dangerous profession. For the most part, Cannell succeeds in portraying Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips, and other individuals who competed in sports cars and Formula One during the decade stretching from the early 1950s to the early 1960s.
As an outsider, Cannell is genuinely appalled by the casualty rate among drivers and spectators during those years, even fascinated. Quite often, his accounts border on the lurid. Cannell describes one Ferrari crashing into a crowd like a "big red razor blade." The death toll speaks for itself; there's no need for embellishment. It's also worth remembering American driver Dan Gurney's assessment of the era: "We were all volunteers."
Unfortunately, that perspective is missing from the book. Cannell relies heavily on secondary sources for his narrative. He's also done some primary research, and the interviews provide fresh context. There are holes, however. Gurney isn't mentioned, though he and Hill were close, particularly in later life. Jim Hall wasn't consulted, despite Hill's role in the Chaparral Can Am and endurance-racing programs (nor is Hill's final victory noted, driving a Chaparral at Brands Hatch). Curiously, Cannell seems ignorant of the fact that contemporary driver Jim Clark would go on to win two world championships and die tragically himself. Given that American Mario Andretti lost his teammate at Monza as he clinched his own world championship in 1978, you'd think he'd provide at least a quote, but no.
These are the sorts of omissions that one might expect from a tyro. Cannell's editors let him down. The gaffes will annoy enthusiasts, but not the casual reader, for whom this work is intended. What Cannell has done here, he has done well. I enjoyed the book, and learned a few things. It's an unsparing overview devoid of motorsports romance -- recommended.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Given that the author admits freely that he is not a "car guy" (and being a New Yorker doesn't even have a car) this is a credible piece of work detailing much of the racing life of two figures that played an important part of the F1 scene in a dangerous era. Having followed F1 and sports car racing in the US and Europe over the past 40+ years I know a great deal about the history of the sport and was able to witness firsthand the last few years of these most dangerous times in the early 70s while stationed in Europe. I thought I knew a great deal about these two, particularly Phil Hill, however, I learned a great deal more. The book is well researched and I certainly recommend to anyone interested in the history of F1.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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This is a very engaging and finely wrought story about how Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips became the leading drivers for Ferrari F1 while vying for the 1961 world championship, and how this ends in both tragedy and nobility.
Hill and von Trips were polar opposites held in orbit by the wobbly gravity of Enzo Ferrari, whose drama, flair, and cynical cruelties were operatic.
Cannell blends vivid portraits of the principals and of Ferrari, families, and rivals. The supporting characters are developed enough to bring the story to life. It explains how Hill and von Trips were drawn to intense competition and found the courage to face certain pain or death for mistakes at the limit. This book respects its characters, without lapsing into historic pedantry or tedious, sneering post-modern deconstructionism.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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Frankly its about time that the american public got a good retelling of one of their few times of success on the Grand Prix stage. Formula One is a huge sport (probably only second to Soccer)through most of the rest of the world, but you'd be hard pressed to get a U.S. citizen off the street to name the two champs from their own country.
I enjoyed the book, although it doesn't shed any new light on Phil Hill and the bibliography had only one entry that I didn't own. I was hoping for deeper research there. The average reader, however, will find all of this new ground as Phil was a fascinating character. It seems that he was thought of as such even at the time!
Regarding Von Trips, however, I believe that this is the best book on him in the English language. I collect these things and can't think of a better job and I can't help but feel that the author felt that Von Trips had earned the title.
The book should have been larger, with a more indepth reportage. A greater understanding of Hill and Von Trip's opponents in the 1961 season was called for. Particularly the huge challenge they faced from the genius of Stirling Moss. Also a greater look at the 1950s American racing scene and fellow Californians Ginther and Gurney was appropriate.
More needed to be said about the huge car advantage Ferrari had in that season and how it all came about. Neither driver would have been champion other than in that season as the driving and technical advantage swung to the British for the rest of the decade after it. I also feel that the lives of some of the victims of Von Trips tragic accident should have been covered as well. They are, after all, willing or not, a part of the story.
Viewed by motor racing historians, 1961 was an anomaly. When the Brits failed to embrace the new Formula for the season, a Ferrari champion was guaranteed.
All in all however, a much enjoyed effort and sports territory that has been neglected. Well worth the price.