Anthony Pritchard is one of the more prolific historians of motor racing writing today--a status NOT initially promising an outstanding book owing to over-productivity. Nonetheless, Silver Arrows in Camera 1952-1956 is a singular and enduring achievement by an experienced and talented author.
The book is a companion to Pritchard's earlier Silver Arrows in Camera in the 1930s, itself a splendid piece of work. This volume is every bit as stunning as the first one was, if not more so. The title follows the same formula: some color but largely black and white images documenting Mercedes' entire racing campaign event-by-event in the years 1952-1956. Tables offering event results are included, but this is neither the ultimate textual reference nor a technical history. It is in fact what the Germans call a Bildband, a pictorial history with highly intelligent, well-researched captions. Most images are from Daimler-Benz archives and almost all, or all, have never been seen before. The hundreds of moments in time captured here are reproduced in large format with only a very few marred by printing across two pages. The artistic quality of the images is uniformly superb--jaw-dropping even--and some demand a little study to fully appreciate the fine genius of composition. This reviewer doesn't know how the astonishing quality, diversity, and scope of the original photography was achieved; the reader isn't told much about sources and methods. One suspects that in its no-expense-spared way, Mercedes had an army of talented camera men at every event it entered. . . . Sadly, the photo credits only say "Daimler" and don't identify the individual photographers. Regardless, this book must be placed in the top 20 greatest motor racing books of all time, a real artistic tour-de-force and a no-never-mind must if one has any interest at all in Mercedes or in GP and sportcar racing in the 1950s. It is the perfect companion for Chris Nixon's Rivals and for Michael Riedner's Mercedes-Benz W196 (Haynes, 1986).
My criticisms amount to nit-picking. The two photographs on the dustjacket are not identified (though we can figure them out). Slightly more painful is the lack of any significant commentary on the Daimler photo archives, the photographers, and just how so many magnificent images were generated.
For the reviewer, this book is a no-brainer: buy it before it goes away!