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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2007
A few years back I wrote a novel called Early One Morning, based on the true story of a group of Grand Prix drivers who joined Special Operations Executive during WW2. At the time people asked me why I didn't just write a non-fiction book. Joe Saward's book is the answer. This is the work I couldn't have written and I am glad I didn't try (I'll stick to novels). Saward (whom I have never met or spoken to) has combined his formidable knowledge of GP racing together with a vast quantity of meticulous research and managed, with enviable deftness, to produce a thrilling and heartbreaking story. Anyone interested in the fascinating legend of the racing driver spies Benoist and Williams and Wimille, and in SOE in general, should buy this book. I take my peaked cap off to him.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2007
I first heard of the "characters" of this book in the mid 70's when I first started getting interested and going to GP races including Monaca won by Williams, and the Le Mans 24 Heures, where grandstands were named after Benoist and Wimille. A few weeks ago I found Robert Ryan's novel on the subject and was gripped and intrigued. Then I read about Joe Saward's book in the Telegraph and thought I'd better order it. Absolutely fascinating - I learned a lot about the French Resistance that I'd not previously known - or cared about - before. I'm glad I read these books this way round as fiction is always an easier read and whets the appetite for the sometimes unpalatable truth. The only trouble is, one of my favourite TV programmes, Hallo Hallo, is no longer funny ...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2007
The Grand Prix Saboteurs is a detailed, intricate story about the secret world of motor racing.

Despite its length, I was surprised at how easily the story flowed and how Joe Saward managed to combine so many different elements into a coherent whole.

A 'classic' in every sense of the word.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2007
A great and fascinating story - it's just a shame that nobody bothered to proof-read it before going to print.
Errors such as duplicated, missing or incorrect words appear with frustrating frequency.
With such a detailed account of the complexities of war-time undercover operations, these errors are an unwanted and unnecessary diversion.

The good news is that a second edition has been released apparently correcting the printing errors and adding even more to the story.
Make sure you get the second edition.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Representing eighteen years of thorough research which could not be verified until 2003 when certain war time documents were declassified, this is a fascinating piece of work and a glimpse into another murky backdrop of WW2. Saward is actually a professional motor racing journalist and author, his prose really comes to life when the story allows him back into his area of considerable expertise but he does a fine job of unpicking the strands of people and events which weave into this amazing account of intrigue in the face of oppression. There is a fictional version of this story, 'Early One Morning' by Robert Ryan which is a superb read in itself, all the more so because it is largely faithful to the facts uncovered by Saward though there is no acknowledgement of joint research, Ryan recommends Saward's book in his bibliography at the end of his novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2008
I am not a huge fan of motor racing, but despite this I enjoyed the first chapters of the book which is mostly about the early lives and racing careers of the saboteurs. The author really brings the people to life and makes the reader care about them.
Once he starts writing about their SOE activities the book comes to life. He must have done an enormous amount of research, because, despite reading many, many books on the SOE, I found a lot of new information.
Excellently researched.
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on 16 September 2013
Here is Honour's Review as he is the Reader in the household:

I haven't written a book review for an Amazon-bought product yet, so here goes. An interest in early motor racing is a useful precursor to reading this book but the early chapters helpfully introduce the pre-World War 2 racing drivers and world of motor racing. In fact the main text does not actually centre on motor racing although the subject is always there in the background of some of the major characters in the book. Indeed, the main text is fascinating for racing fans and non-racing fans alike, giving an account of various SOE groups and operations of the Second World War in France. In connection with the actual printing of the book itself, I must compliment the publisher for using high contrast and quite large print for a paperback, although my inherent "perfectionism" did notice a few ommissions of short words like "to" and "the", mainly in the first half of the text.

There is one more proviso that I touch on in the title of this review and that is to not try and read this book quickly. The number of names in this book - aliases and real names, plus the number of different SOE groups etc., is a bit mind-boggling, but for all that, the concentration required is well worth the effort. I would say that this book gives a good idea of the extraordinary tensions within the resistance organisations being organised from Britain, and treachery is a constantly arising theme, which has a climax in the possible betrayal of Robert Benoist by the famous war heroine Violette Szabo. In addition, one is always aware of just how frightening France must have been under the German occupation during the Third Reich, and how lucky we are now to live within a relatively free Western Europe.

As I think the reader of this review will appreciate, I regard this book as being quite something; well worth my five star rating

.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2009
A rivetting read backed with exhaustive and revealing research into the incredible lives of the early Grand Prix drivers in France who became resistance heroes in WW2.
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on 3 July 2015
Having read quite a lot of information about early go racing and some of the drivers especially one driver in particular a certain William Grover Williams from a trip to Monaco and trying to find out who or what the bronze statue that was caged off. After getting home my research began and led me to discover who and why,the more I read my intrigue got the better of me so many hours spent then I came across this book and was addicted. This book gives some great insight into the backgrounds of the drivers and how fearless they must have being, their sense of loyalty to England and France during ww2. It is a shame that a lot more has not being done to recognise the heroes and legends,a lot of their actions go unnoticed except of small name checks and half or more of the honours and medals not even being given out after their deaths. I hope anyone else who reads this fantastic book feels the same way and one day they all may get the recognition the deserve.
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on 3 September 2010
This book tells the tale of some pre-WW2 racing drivers who were later recruited by the SOE organization and who operated in both Occupied France and Unoccupied France (Vichy Government zone). The book is well-written and should keep the interest. Having read a lot on the more general subject of SOE in France, I found some of the book less interesting than it would be to a reader coming to the subject fresh.

There are a few typos and other errors here and there, one of which struck me because I knew it was wrong from personal experience. Heydrich's place of assassination is a winding road leading down to the castle at Prague and is on the central western side of the city, not the eastern side as the author claims. I recall being driven down the same road in 1988 and had arrived that day from the then West German frontier by car, i.e. a west to east journey.

Overall, not a bad read.
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