Monday 20 July 2009

“Go Like Hell” – A Book Review

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was kind enough to send me this book to review on my blog; here it is.

As I closed the cover of A. J. Baime’s book “Go Like Hell”, all I could think of was “hell-of-a-book”!

The book’s subtitle is “Ford, Ferrari, and their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans”, and that sums up very well the subject of his book.

Baime, an executive editor at Playboy magazine, has obviously done some extensive research to put the story together, with interviews with the some of major participants, and their associates, to get the inside perspective. I very much enjoyed finding out more of the players in this vast story, in particular Ken Miles, Phil Hill and John Surtees.

This is not at all a clinical analysis of what happened, but gets right in on the feeling of the 1950’s through to the late 1960’s, and the huge clashes of culture going on then.

These numerous culture clashes float up through the background of racing, spiraling into that landmark 1966 Le Mans: hot-rodders vs engineers, time vs development, American vs Italian, horsepower vs cylinders, corporate vs casual, global vs national, staid vs flashy, speed vs safety, individual vs team …

It’s all there, working together, bringing us through this exciting period of history.

The book is very easy to read thanks to the fine layout and design of graphic designer Brian Moore, who obviously researched his subject to bring in some subtile design touches.

Though I found only one very minor error in the book, there are two points with which I really take issue.

The title “Go Like Hell” is not a quote from the book (I couldn’t find it); it’s weak and totally misses to point of the story. “Speed and Glory” from the subtitle is a much stronger and accurate title to this book, and much more attractive.

The cover, which unfortunately was not designed by Mr. Moore, is horrendous. There are two possibly interesting front cover photos obliterated by a typographic monstrosity that looks like a “TIDE” logo. As I always tell my clients, it cost just as much to do it wrong as to do it right … unfortunately, they are not even close to doing the cover right here, and they are more than 8.36 miles off …

Most of us know this story, and we also know how it ends.
But A. J. Baime gives us the behind-the-scenes and the hard to find insights that make it enthralling.

You can pick it up here at Amazon ... you won't regret it!

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