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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Jubbly
I bought this book to find out how one person became 'controller' of F1 . My knowledge of Bernie E was only that he was a second hand car salesman , bought a F1 team , became chief of FOCA .
I found this book an enjoyable read and found it hard to put down .
It tells the story of how Bernie got into F1 , how he bought Brabham , how he started the F1 constructors...
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by Pub Landlord

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, but flawed.
No Angel is a riveting read and goes a long way toward unravelling the complex network of companies and trusts that, over the years, have established control of the immensely profitable business of Formula One.
It does not, however, reveal anything that was not already known or suspected although it certainly underlines the power that Ecclestone continues to wield,...
Published on 13 Mar 2011 by Gongoozler


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, but flawed., 13 Mar 2011
No Angel is a riveting read and goes a long way toward unravelling the complex network of companies and trusts that, over the years, have established control of the immensely profitable business of Formula One.
It does not, however, reveal anything that was not already known or suspected although it certainly underlines the power that Ecclestone continues to wield, as well as his obsessively secretive and manipulative nature and the fact that that he seems able to operate highly successfully in international financial circles using exactly the same crude techniques that he learnt as a second-hand car dealer in Warren Street in the 1950s.
I wish that the publisher had employed an editor with some basic knowledge of motor racing parlance. The book will, presumably, be read mainly by those with an interest in F1 and many of the expressions used, whilst not actually wrong, are not ones that would be used by those with even a passing knowledge of the sport. There are also several glaring factual errors which any competent editor or proof-reader should have picked up.
Worth reading if you have an interest in Formula One but probably a little boring for those who don't.
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80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy and inaccurate, wasting a great opportunity, 10 Mar 2011
I was really looking forward to this book, but sadly its sloppy approach to fact checking left me disappointed and feeling I couldn't trust what I was reading.

In the notes section, author Tom Bower says he had Ecclestone's cooperation and spend a lot of time with the F1 boss.

He says that led to many of those close to Ecclestone also granting interviews.

In the weeks before it was published Ecclestone withdrew is support, saying that Bower had broken the terms of their arrangement by writing about his stormy relationship with ex-wife Slavica.

This spat essentially made the book unauthorised which made me want to read it even more.

Bower does a competent enough job of telling the story of Ecclestone's early life as used car dealer who goes on to build up one of the most lucrative sports in the world.

It's when we get into the 80s/90s/00s that the really juicy tales start to emerge.

Sadly this book is seriously let down by its numerous mistakes.

There are plenty of typos.

Time after time prominent figures in Formula One have their names mis-spelt. (Theussen instead of Thiessen, Permayne instead of Permane. The list goes on...)

But the worst problem is the lack of factual accuracy. There are dozens of real howlers that would jump off the page to most serious F1 followers.

For instance, several times he talks about the Toyota F1 team having never reached the podium. Untrue. He gets the date of Senna's infamous deliberate collision with Prost at Suzuka wrong by two years. He writes about the first Grand Prix in Melbourne being in 1995 (it was a year later).

There really are too many mistakes to list( though half way through I was tempted to start and send them to this book's publisher!)

Perhaps even worse is Bower inability to describe the technical aspects of Formula One.

His attempts to articulate concepts like ground effect, active suspension and blown diffusers aren't just inept, they're plain inaccurate.

Surely the author should have engaged the help of a specialist motorsport writer to at the very least read the manuscript before it went to print. Bower could ahve easily saved himself plenty of embarrassment.

The number of inaccuracies also reflects extremely poorly on the publisher.

There are some really interesting stories from Ecclestone in this book.

But Tom Bower's apparent lack of even the most basic fact checking ability makes me question much in this book.

A real wasted opportunity.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No surprises: sloppy, poorly written and unrevealing, 23 Mar 2011
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Look, Ecclestone doesn't make it easy for biographers. He's spent years encouraging various legends about his past to circulate, effectively setting traps for later writers. He tried to buy Terry Lovell's 2004 biography 'Bernie's Game', and certainly got his fingers into its contents. He put Susan Watkins biography 'Bernie' on hold for five years or so before finally allowing it to be released just in time to steal 'No Angel's thunder. Even so, surely Bower could have done a better job than this?

Yes, this rapidly knocked together book is a broadly accurate picture of Ecclestone's life. And that's not really surprising, because despite what the book's cover would have you believe, pretty much everything here has been covered before in the three previous biographies, two team histories of Brabham, various other books on Formula One and many magazine and newspaper articles. Bower's strongest influence is Terry Lovell's 2008 King of Sport (extensively cited in the notes section), and his book follows pretty much the same story from Ecclestone's birth in 1930 through to the present day. Bower had access to slightly different selection of interviewees, but this has added little to earlier accounts.

The biggest problem for me was Bower has no feel whatsoever for motor racing, and plainly didn't go to the trouble of employing a researcher or proofreader who did. If you know the sport, you'll read some sections of the book with a furrowed brow as you try and translate Bower's idiosyncratic terminology. Then there are the widely-reported errors. The book is littered with motorsport howlers: Reutemann as world champion, Brabham winning three championships with his own team, etc etc. All books have mistakes, but this is on a different scale altogether: I'm averaging an obviously inaccurate statement every few pages.

Ignore all descriptions of racing or technology in the book. They're wrong. All of them. As an illustrative example only, Bower seems to think the 1978 Brabham fan car was some kind of hovercraft. And the (untrue) story that Lauda had no idea how that car worked but was just told to "Push the accelerator down when you see the others in trouble" is priceless. Kinda like Wacky Races. The two pages (94 & 95) describing the fan car may be the most error-strewn in the book. I counted nine flatly incorrect statements, plus another four that are just misleading or only technically inaccurate.

In a way, this shouldn't be a problem. The book is mainly trying to tell the story of how Ecclestone rose to his current position and wealth, not give a history of Formula One, but the number and scale of some of the errors will make the book very hard to read for anyone familiar with Formula One. For those not especially interested in F1 itself, the inaccuracies are still a problem because Bower uses the framework of racing events to build his narrative and when dates are out by years, or individuals are accused of actions that they cannot possibly have taken, it undermines his case.

On top of this, the writing is poor. It rambles and has more than its fair share of grammatical errors. Bower seems completely blind to the subject of a sentence, for example. There are brief passages that are all but incomprehensible because of this. I suppose you could best describe the writing style as Jeffrey Archer: it more or less gets the job done, but you might want to wash your eyeballs afterwards.

Frankly, the book is hack-work. If you want to learn about Bernie, buy Watkins' and/or Lovell's biographies. In broad terms, they tell the same story, but despite having their own faults, both are better researched and written than this one. 'Bernie' is probably a better account of Ecclestone the man, but carries an obvious (and declared) bias as Watkins is a friend; 'King of Sport' is generally anti- rather than pro- Ecclestone and gives a lot of apparently well-researched material on his financial dealings, but can get a bit bogged down in the details.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So secret, I made it up !!!,, 17 Mar 2011
By 
Spudgun (Sherrills Ford, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This book is a shocker !! I suspect Mr Bower doesn't have the faintest idea what actually happens in F1. This book has so many factual errors it becomes quite amusing to keep score. Events happen before things were even made, people who weren't even at certain races influenced the outcome, drivers that we didn't realise were world champions (Carlos Reutemann), overall a complete waste of paper. Probably the worst aspect of this book, is that there is a fascinating story to be told, but his isn't it. Save your money, if you have something better to do that just throw it away, buy the "Bernie" book, it's more factual, not the whole story sadly, but at least what is says is generally correct.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Jubbly, 23 Feb 2011
I bought this book to find out how one person became 'controller' of F1 . My knowledge of Bernie E was only that he was a second hand car salesman , bought a F1 team , became chief of FOCA .
I found this book an enjoyable read and found it hard to put down .
It tells the story of how Bernie got into F1 , how he bought Brabham , how he started the F1 constructors association (FOCA) , how he negociated TV rights , how he controlled all media in F1 .
After reading the book you will have your own idea wether Bernie was/is good for F1.
My own opinion on him now was that back in the 70/80's F1 definatley needed to get more professional and credit to him that he made it happen and of course financially benifical to him ( which is a recurring theme throughout the book ). But as time goes on and his power increased this book gives the impression that he wants the best deal for himself and how to get back at people who crossed him .
The F1 team bosses always seem to be at loggerheads with Bernie ( normally about money ) but you have to say that their 'eye was off the ball' when he was doing original deals . Yes he made more money for the teams but also made much more for himself.

A good read if you have an interest in F1.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More or less what you would expect., 8 Jan 2014
By 
Westham (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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If you are a formula one fanatic you'll find this book fascinating. For the rest of us it's a good professional job by a writer who has done his homework. To my surprise, I read it in a mere two or three sittings. I'm tempted to claim that it 'told me more about Mr Ecclestone than I wanted to know', but in fact it didn't. On the other hand, I don't actually want to know any more about him, so I guess the writer judged it about right,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gets a bit complicated - just like its subject!, 24 Jun 2013
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I found this book a bit of an eye-opener. I never knew just how dishonest F1 and its main players where/are! It does get a bit difficult to read, with all the abbreviations and business shenanigins that are more tangled than a bowl of spaghetti, but if you can thread your way through you realise just what an amazing brain Bernie must have! I think he probably suffers from some weird form of OCD. Although I would never trust him, I can't help but admire him. I always thought of him as a bit of a joker but he's no fool!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 11 May 2011
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Bernie Ecclestone would surely be a very tough subject for any biographer, such is his apparent way of doing business. He plays his cards very close and seems prone to statements which, while appearing correct in fact, are less than the whole story in context or substance. Bower possibly relied excessively on explanations from Bernie regarding certain technicalities, events and the timing of events in the past and, as noted by other reviewers, this has resulted in not a few errors appearing from time to time. Having been a very close follower of motorsport for many years, while seeing these errors is slightly irritating at worst, I don't feel that any or all of them had the effect of detracting from the complex core subject at all i.e. Bernie, his 'ownership' of F1 and how he built his apparent one-man empire in a sea of greedy, highly political and disloyal sharks.

The book built a picture of Ecclestone's character in a consistent context and provided a far more in-depth understanding than I had before reading it of who he is, how he operates, how he built his power and influence in F1, and how he has been able to sustain it in the face of ever-changing threats over the years. Bower very cleverly drew on lots of input from friends, allies and adversaries of Ecclestone and this made the journey through the book much more 'alive' than I expected it to be. It was at all times captivating, sometimes very amusing (not least in reading about the behaviours of some very image-conscious and self-important players in F1,) at times nauseating, cringeworthy and even sad and - by the end - I felt that I had read a story of admirable substance.

Were it not for the factual errors, I would easily have given it 5 stars. It definitely deserves a solid 4.9 at least - the most substantial of the two Ecclestone biographies I have read ... by far. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bernie, 28 April 2011
This book starts with real interest but then becomes a catalogue of deals woven together in with apparent order. Unless you're a motor sport fan you may soon tire.
Having been interested in motorsport throughout this period I found snippets that completed some of the mysteries however Bernie hasn't gone up in my estimations after all HIS antics!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow! - Just don't read the first chapter!, 21 April 2011
I've been a Formula 1 fan since 1976, so this was a must-read book. I've also read previous Tom Bower books and highly rate him.

Thankfully the first chapter was short. It would have been even better if it was none-existant! It was boring, had glaring inaccuracies and did not contain any facts. It did not set the tone for the rest of the book.

Bower's skill's are as an investigative author who can create a stimulating and detailed read. He does not dissappoint, but it took me beyond halfway through the book before I forgave that dreadful first chapter.

Yes, there are inaccuracies around the F1 world, but I'm actually not too worried about them. If Bower was an F1 fan it would not be an unbiased production. In the world of F1 politics, that's undisputed. And boy, does he dig up the facts? I was always an Ecclestone admirer; now I feel I've been conned. Mysteries of the past (including the Lotus 88) have been unearthed with politics and cheating, incredibly, appearing to be an even greater influence on the sport than previously appeared.

Not comfortable reading, but very important nontheless.
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No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone
No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone by Tom Bower (Paperback - 1 Mar 2012)
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