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The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era

The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era [Kindle Edition]

Michael Cannell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

10 September 1961: at the boomerang-shaped racetrack at Monza, in northern Italy, half a dozen teams are preparing for the Italian Grand Prix. It is the biggest race anyone can remember. Phil Hill - the first American to break into the top ranks of European racing - and his Ferrari teammate, Count Wolfgang von Trips - a German nobleman with a movie-star manner - face each another in a race that will decide the winner of the Formula One drivers' championship. By the day's end, one man will clinch that prize. The other will perish face down on the track. In The Limit, Michael Cannell tells the thrilling story of two parallel lives that come together in tragedy on a hot late-summer afternoon. He charts their careers from childhood and adolescence lived in the shadow of world war; through their gruelling experiences in such deadly road races as the Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans; to their coming of age in the hothouse atmosphere of Enzo Ferrari's Formula One team of the late 1950s. The quiet and self-contained Hill was a pathological worrier who vomited before a race and enjoyed Bartok and Shostakovich - rather than Campari and debauchery - thereafter; the dashing von Trips lived life as fast as he drove his 'sharknose' Ferrari, and yearned to inspire a nation fractured and traumatized by war. Both men strove to attain the perfect balance of speed and control that drivers called 'the limit': to drive under that limit was to run the risk of failure; to go beyond it was to dice with death. The Limit is a vivid and atmospheric recreation of a lost world of seductive glamour and ever-present danger. Michael Cannell tells a moving and unforgettable tale of high speed and burning rivalry - and of young lives lived in the shadow of oblivion.

About the Author

Michael Cannell has written about sports for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Outside, and was editor of the New York Times House & Home section for seven years. His previous book, the critically acclaimed I.M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism, was published in 1995 by Crown.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1569 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1848872224
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Nov 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,176 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as it gets 4 Dec 2011
Cannell captures the '50s/'60s era, its drivers, the cars and the ethos compellingly, creating a story that contrasts starkly with today's Formula 1 scene. This was a time when track and race-car safety provisions were negligible and risks astronomical. Drivers died often, in all kinds of events from F1 to sports-car endurances races such as the Le Mans 24-hour.

Leaning heavily on Alan Henry's excellent account of world-championship Grand Prix motor racing, the author studies in detail Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips, featured in the dramatic conclusion, the 1961 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Enzo Ferrari is prominent, and comes across as barely likeable. Rarely have the emotional and psychological aspects of F1 drivers (and, implicitly, their MotoGP peers) been revealed so candidly. The book is well written, albeit somewhat overcooked in parts, especially when discussing the drivers' libidinous behavior. Technical aspects are addressed more in layman's terms than in language familiar to enthusiasts, perhaps to broaden the book's appeal. Example: brake fade is a term most of us know, yet he `explains' it.

Factual errors diminish the book, surprising from a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Outside, where fact-checking counted. Formula 1 cars using pre-WWII rules (1.5 liters/supercharged, 4.5 liters/unsupercharged), competed for championships before the FIA formally adopted F1 in 1950, with Ferraris, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and Talbot-Lagos driven by the same F1 drivers--Ascari, Farina, Villoresi and Fangio. Jaguar's XK120 set world production-car speed records on Belgium's Jabbeke Highway (unnamed in the book) in May 1949, not 1950, at 132.6 mph, not 136.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly gripping read 27 Dec 2012
By Gerrish
Format:Kindle Edition
Probably the best and most moving account of motor racing, it's drama, passions, history, tragedies and courage I have ever read. Anyone with any interest in the sport cannot fail to be gripped by this book. Based primarily on the racing life of American Phil Hill in the post World War 2 years through to the early sixties and intimately interwoven with the life story and ultimate death of Wolfgang von Tripps, it also covers much of the sport's preceding history and includes a frank and revealing assessment of Enzo Ferrari and his role in that history. Must not be missed either by true wwwaficionados of the sport or those seeking a better understanding of the origins of modern Formula 1.

A book I would also recommend most strongly to anyone interested in the varying mentalities and driving forces that characterize what, as a competitor and sport's coach myself, I have always dubbed the 'true racer'. 'True racers' come in many varieties from many different backgrounds and with many different psyches - the common factor is a burning passion to win.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, extremely well written 13 Jan 2012
I bought this book for myself for Christmas. Well, why not? It is well researched, well written, well illustrated and competitively priced. Very sad in parts given the number of participants and spectators killed during this period. However, this is a MUST for all motor racing afficionados.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good overview of racing risks 14 Feb 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It needs no introduction to establish this was the era of high glamour and high risk. 'The Limit' serves to give a good overview of the lifestyle and death of the racers primarily in the 50's and 60's. This mainly centres around the central characters of Wolfgang Von Trips, Phil Hill & Mike Hawthorn with nods towards the earlier racers of Nuvolari, Fangio and the iconic Enzo Ferrari.
There are many fantastic books available that cover the details of this era more specifically. Books on Stirling Moss, Fangio, Jackie Stewart etc. all reveal more intimate details of the lives of the individual racers and the aspects of danger and death.
One aspect of the book that made me stop and look again at the title is that the vast majority of the book discusses the distance races of the Mille Miglia and Le Mans and is slightly misleading in this sense in that it is not primarily centred around formula one.
Other books are more detailed ("The Summer of 55" is fantastic regarding the death of Pierre Levegh and the catastrophic loss of life), though 'The Limit' has found a niche in giving a general overview of this era.
Maybe for me it was a little basic, a little superficial and trying to cover too large a subject too shallowly. However my biggest criticism of most biographical racing books is they become a repetitive anthology of every race which 'The Limit' certainly does not.
I do get the feeling it is not based particularly on anything other than collections of newspaper reports and previous works on the subject highlighted by the appendix listing reams of the sources of the info.
Maybe I am being picky but of the main characters mentioned, (the book's title regarding being formula 1's most dangerous time), most did not die in a formula one race.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it 12 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was bought for me as a present and I had no preconceived ideas about it. Being of a certain age and able to remember the cars and names I was totally hooked from the first page. I have no idea how accurate all the details were but I do not care, I was whisked back to an era where the name Ferrari and drivers like Hill and von Tripps, Moss and Fangio were whispered with reverence. The book was well written and gave a sense of the inner workings of the Ferrari company. I would happily recommend this book to anyone and will read it myself over and over again. Many thanks to my wife for the terrific present.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic A Must for Motor Racing Fans
My Daughter gave me this for my birthday and it is a fascinating book providing not only the History of F1 but also provides details of what was happening in the World over the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by ColinG
3.0 out of 5 stars Motorsport in the 50's and 60's.......quite cold and clinical,but all...
The book recounts a very dramatic period in the history of Formula One and Sportscar racing,but the author although getting all the facts and figures in the right order fails to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put This Book Down
If you are a formula one fan and want to learn about the dangers of the 1950s F1 races, then this is a must. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The limit: a great look at Motor racing in the 50's and 60's
An excellent read for all motor racing fans young and old. For the mature reader like me it brings back the reality of the racing our boyhood heroes like Moss, etc were involved... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Thomas H. Atkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and gore!!!
When I started to read this book,I thought it may be one of the `arty farty` F1 books that come out now and again?

How wrong I was!! Read more
Published 7 months ago by nosbig
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, well researched and written
Excellent book, well researched and written, plus it is available on kindle, always a bonus, highly recommended read about a time when motor racing was more than just a sport
Published 8 months ago by P. Hoyland
4.0 out of 5 stars Good effort
First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and got through it in a couple of days. Cannell is a very good writer and the text flows nicely. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Blue Brazil
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone from motor racing enthusiast to casual observer
Interesting, well thought out format to this book. Woven around the major players for the 1961 F1 title, this book describes the different forms of motorsport and the significant... Read more
Published 13 months ago by John Reddish
4.0 out of 5 stars When F1 was new
Well written and nostalgic reminder of the days when F1 was all about drivers and courage and not all about technology and tyre wear!
Published 14 months ago by Big Tone
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Formula One
Takes you to a classic era and made the contrast between the main characters very well. At times I felt that it borrowed to heavily from quotes and extracts to present a flowing... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Blue66
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