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  • Barry
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 15 January 2008
Ah yes, British motorsport in the 70's was by most accounts a great time and place to be, we had heroic Formula One and Motorbike Grand Prix champions James Hunt and Barry Sheene in the same year, The Isle Of Man TT races were in their heyday, Silverstone was still a full on flat out venue before tighter chicanes and the Brooklands complex slowed the racing down and the British public couldn't get enough of it. Close your eyes and you can almost smell the Castrol R on a warm summers day. However behind the rose tinted glamour are stories of all too frequent and avoidable close brushes with death, below par venues, badly engineered machinery and organisational chaos, and this book certainly gives an honest insight into that world.

I must confess before I read this book I wasn't fully aware just how close friends Steve (Stavros) Parrish and Barry Sheene were, and some of their non season time partying 'activities' are the stuff of legends, some of which you will read about here. Your mother may not approve!

Overall I found the book enjoyable to read but apart from a some insights into Barry's (and his friends) antics within the confines of their close knit 'squadron' (both on and off the track) there wasn't a large amount of new material especially in respect of his famous horrific crashes at Daytona and Silverstone. What also surprised me was Barry portrayed by the contributors as an obsessional, insecure spoilt brat, traits which can be traced back to his childhood and the lenient upbringing by his parents, who bent over backwards to give Barry what he wanted. There is no question that Barry was used to having his own way in life, and this book does not hold back in this regard. (Remember this is the book, not my personal opinion) Also this portrayal of Barry poses the question that if this is the view that his wife and closest friend(s) have of him, then what did other people think? (I think his wife Stephanie deserves an award for putting up with so much). This may not be what some fans want to read, so if you want to stick with the image of a smiling cheeky Barry being the loveable heroic 40 a day rouge then this book may not be for you.

It is easy to fall into the trap of giving the maximum 5 stars to something, simply by association with something or someone who is popular or well regarded, but this book whilst interesting and at times revealing, is in the humble opinion of this reviewer not particularly well written. The narrative is clumsy and I regularly found myself having to re-trace back a couple of paragraphs to establish just who's story or opinion of Barry I was reading, as this was not always clear.

Whilst it was interesting to read the tales and stories told (amongst others) by Steve Parrish, Barry's wife Stephanie, Nick Harris, the doctor who repaired his legs, and occasional comment by Kenny Roberts Snr, the tragic fact is that apart from his auto biography originally penned in the late 70's, we the fans will never have a full and complete autobiography written by Barry himself, and no amount of tribute books or stories told by his family, friends and peers from over the years will ever replace that. I personally think we have gone as a far as we need to with Barry Sheene 'tribute' publications, and although it could be considered less `revealing', the Stuart Barker biography is a better read.
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VINE VOICEon 26 April 2008
As a teenager in the seventies, Barry Sheene was one of my heroes. Charismatic and brave in a glamorous sport, he was the epitome of cool. His tragic early death made him deserving of a biography befitting his stature, but this just isn't good enough. Written by an experienced journalist, I would expect something much better than this. Instead of presenting a simple, chronological presentation of Barry's life, the story flits from event to event with little sense of structure. Although the author has accessed some very good sources (including Kenny Roberts and Barry's sister), their anecdotes and commentary are placed within the narrative with little editorial effort.

It's not all bad. Barry's character is there in the stories and he is not diminished for me in exposing the very human nature of his character (both good and bad). Some very fine sporting biographies have been written and Barry deserved one more than most. It's a shame this isn't one of them.
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on 16 February 2014
Not quite a 'warts an' all' treatment, but still revealing in what is said. I always thought of the racers as a nerveless bunch, who lived hard, but managed to enjoy themselves at the track. To find that even the top guys had to have 'a few' to sleep the night before a G.P was revealation to me.
Otherwise, the obvious concentration on Barry Sheen is expected as are some of his character faults.
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on 25 September 2007
An amazing look into the life of Barry, I've actually read it twice, as soon as I finshed the last page I started again!
Some excellent detail on events and the behind the scences activities of Sheene and Parrish. A stunning insight into the way race circuits were run back then.
Simply a great book.
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on 1 November 2010
A light weight but fun book.
Not a definitive biography. More a story of the friendship between Sheene & Parrish, should probably be called `Barry & Me'. Lots of interesting stories and anecdotes. However not much detail on the many epic races and comebacks from injuries, that Britain's greatest motorcycle racer incurred.
Enjoy the book, but don't expect a definitive biography.
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on 5 November 2007
This book should have been entitled" Barry and Me." Steve Parrish.
It's disjointed and lacks the journalistic quality I would have expected from someone of Nick Harris'undoubted ability. It contains a lot of first-hand anecdotes and narrative but half the time you don't know who's relating them.
Too much about Steve Parrish and not enough about Barry Sheene who is portrayed as an insecure spoiled brat.
I had the pleasure of meeting Barry,albeit briefly,on two occaisions and both times was struck by his warmth and easy manner with the total strangers who besieged him everywhere he went.
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on 23 October 2007
What a stunning book, I couldn't put it down once I started it. A particularly heartwarming and honest account of british motorcycling most famous son, the real Barry Sheene revealed in intimate detail by those who knew him best. I genuinely did laugh out loud in places and all but welled up in others, READ IT! God bless Barry, my first true hero...
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on 7 February 2009
I am a motorcyclist of a certain age who remembers the highs of watching someone the British sport watching public seem not to like, a winner.
The only books I ever read are of this type, my other half buys them for me to sit around the pool on holiday with ipod plugged in to keep me quiet and stop me been a little bored holiday baby.
This one works.
I have tried many similar books, including Nial's, Vale's and Foggy's. This is the most enjoyable I have read, even beating the excellent first two above.
I met Steve briefly once at a do and found him pleasant and this comes over in the book. Ok one of the other reviews says it is not particularly well written, I can't say I noticed it as I was enjoying the content to much.
Let's face it you can critisise these people for being spoilt, to focused or many other trait's that would make make you unpopular in your 9-5 job, but to succeed at the top in anything these people cannot conform to normal acceptable behaviour. This book for me really gives insight to what makes and drives the best to the top.
Let's face it lads, we all wanted to be like Barry (and Steve) chasing beautiful women, or even being chased, drinking, partying and giving the ball a real kick. Don't be critical of someone who has the chance and takes it, we would.
His racing entertained me and the book had the same effect.

A word of warning
Laughing loud at the funny bits annoys others around the pool, the better half throws flip flops to quieten you (doesn't work) and bits start a lump in the throat, make a bathroom break the excuse to shed a tear.
Men don't have emotions? this finds them.

It's great.
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on 23 January 2008
Had this for Christmas and was looking forward to reading it. Sad to say I was disappointed. Poorly written - narrative is repetitive and has a tendency to jump about all over the place. So a bit of a chore to read. Shame. Sheene deserves a really good biography - anyone know of one?
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on 6 June 2012
If there is one person who is authorized to write this story, it is Steve Parrish. After all, he was part of it during most of Barry's racing carreer. Reading it, you will turn from laughing out load into crying and back into lol. Includes very interesting stories from Stephanie and others. Reads in 3 days, have passed it since to 5 friends, who all finished it as fast.
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