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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as it gets, 4 Dec 2011
By 
John Joss (Los Altos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era (Hardcover)
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. Grace Kelly drove a Mercedes 190SL in High Society, not a 300SL Gullwing (entry/exit are gymnastic, unfilmable with dignity for a woman, especially if wearing a skirt). The Carrera Panamericana traversed Mexico's Sierra Madre, not the Sierra Nevada, which is in California. These and other mistakes could so easily have been fact-checked, but weren't.

This book should interest readers who would like to gain insights into the era when F1 cars could be, and were, raced on normal roads and were not slot cars festooned with advertising and aerodynamic aids, able to run only on billiard-table-smooth tracks, as they are today. The drivers were original, brave and full of careless joy and indelible character, then. They lived and were prepared to die for racing. Cannell gets it.
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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
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
By 
H. G. Weatherley (Devon, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era (Hardcover)
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
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This review is from: The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era (Hardcover)
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. - Pierre Levegh (Le Mans) Mike Hawthorne (on the M6)Phil Hill, Stirling Moss & Manuel Fangio all survived past racing.

I rate the book 4 stars - I did enjoy reading it. it covered old territory well, it is nothing you cannot read elsewhere, but then again there are few places you can read all about this era under one cover.
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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
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This review is from: The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era (Hardcover)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put This Book Down, 9 Mar 2014
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If you are a formula one fan and want to learn about the dangers of the 1950s F1 races, then this is a must. It follows the exploits of Phil Hill, the American F1 racer and Wolfgang Von Tripps of Germany. These two racers come up through the ranks alongside many other great racers from Spain, Italy, Britain etc.

It gets up close to Phil Hill, Wolfgang Von Tripps and gives great insight to many others. Some who die making the ultimate sacrifice to a dangerous sport. A story of speed gladiators that pit their wits against death because they are addicted to the adrenalin rush of high speed racing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The limit: a great look at Motor racing in the 50's and 60's, 12 Jan 2014
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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 in. For the younger reader it describes the roots of Grand Prix racing, especially the fascinating role played by the great Enzo Ferrari.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and gore!!!, 11 Dec 2013
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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!!
The details were brilliant without being boring at all. Talk about a dangerous era,bosies and stuff all over the place.

It also reinforced what Ive always thought of Enzo Ferrari, and idiot!!

I recommend you read this and you`ll see just how pampered the current `F1` drivers are??
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, well researched and written, 27 Nov 2013
By 
P. Hoyland - See all my reviews
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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
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good effort, 7 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era (Hardcover)
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.

My only negative comment about it is that - most of the time I was reading - I got the feeling that the author wasn't a great authority on the subject. He's clearly done a lot of research but never really seems at ease discussing technical aspects of the sport. He does, however, tell the human story very well.

It is a good effort and worth buying, but I think a definitive book has still to be written on this period.
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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 by Michael Cannell (Hardcover - 1 Nov 2011)
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