34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2002
.... it was worth my hard-earned cash. To most fans of motor sport, Murray is a legend, and this book simply confirms his place as one of the top nice-guys of all time! I can understand a previous reviewer's comments that a professional writer could have improved the book in some ways, but I'm not sure I agree. To me, that is part of the appeal of Murray, what you're reading is his thoughts, direct from brain to paper.
I found Murray's story of his (very full) life hugely interesting - He clearly has no complaints and does not mind saying so - A lucky man indeed. He covers various areas of his life in great detail - the only area that I did not really enjoy was the sections on his old days commentating on motor-cycling events. I admit that is purely because I am not a fan of that area, so the names and occasions (of which he cites many) mean nothing to me. If you are into two-wheels, you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed his stories of his years in four-wheeled racing.
Overall, a sincere story of an extremely interesting career (which is nowhere near over yet). I have to say if you are a fan of motorsport, or of Murray himself, then this is a must-buy, in my view. For non-motorsport fans though, be warned that whilst his own life stories (outside of sports) are excellent, there is a lot of depth about his life in the sport, so this may not be your cup of tea.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2003
With just a passing interest in F1, I bought this book mainly because I have an interest in broadcasting and I thought that Murray Walker had been in broadcasting for so long he would have pleanty of insights. What I didn't realise that he only became a full time broadcaster after he had retired from his 'first career' of advertising. This didn't hinder me as he has been doing commentaries for many years (50+). How he managed to fit in all this media work AND a full time job I will never know !!
This book is easy reading. You can tell that it hasn't been ghost written and I think it is all the better for it. Murray says what he feels and over the pages you feel as if you really get to know him.
The only critism of it is that you get the feeling he doesn't want to hurt anyones feelings. Is he really that nice ? He probably is but he only has harsh words to say about two people. And to say 'Harsh' is an overstatement !! He merely says he didn't like the way they thought or conducted their private lives.
Overall, I would reccommend this book for a quick, light read. It should suit both F1 fans and non-fans as for the first half of the book, F1 is barely mentioned but concentrates on his advertising work and part time commentating (Mainly motorcycles).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2002
I've always been a fan of Murray's commentary, the enthusiasm and obvious passion in his voice, coupled with those humourous slip-ups, often made dull races seem thrilling (we sure could ahve used him in 2002!). I actually have this book signed, having gone to one of his signings, and he seemed like the pleasant, likable man he is widely regarded as.
There is much that people don't know about Murray. The son of motorbike legend Graham Walker (bikes were very much his first love, he claims to have been annoyed when he went to the bike Grand Prix, and someone said "what are you doing here? You're a car man"), his real name is actually Graeme Muuray Walker. He worked in advertising for a full career, having fought in the Second World War (yet has never been biased against anyone, not even Michael Schumacher, a rare and impressive trait in his age-group) and until 1982 his broadcasting career was merely a hobby. Contrary to popular opinion,however, he did not coin the 'A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play' slogan.
His life and times have taken in a large amount of motorsport. He first found fame commentating on the gravel-based motocross and rallycross action, and he remenisces at length about those, with great anecdotes, especially the classic 'What Am I Saying?' blooper and the time he went to entirely the wrong town to commentate on an event. He has also taken in events in the Far East, and I pity him for some of the names he had to pronounce in those.
As for F1, his 23 years of regular commentary included many great moments, and he shares his opinions as to what Senna, Schuamcher, Prost, Mansell, Hunt etc were like on and off the track. His dislike of James Hunt, which stemmed from James' racing days and lasted until his lifestyle changes (which were too late to save him from a premature death), seems justified on the evidence given here- I guess they were too different. He is reverent about recent colleague Martin Brundle tho, who is almost like the son he never had.
However, the number of errors is hard to accept. He refers to Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham as the only race-winning drivers to win races as team owner- what about Bruce McLaren? At another point, in 1950 he was asked to commentate on a weight-lifting event and recalls asking his wife Elizabeth for help, yet elsewhere he claims to have met her when he was 33- that would be 1956. He seems confused about the technical rules of the Touring Car action he covered as well. But I'll let him off, as overall this is a fabulous archive of a great man's life and times.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2003
Murray Walker has led a fascinating life and I was hoping that his autobiography would cover more of it; as it is after a fairly conventional and chronological first third of the book about his early life, Army service, motorcycling exploits and career in advertising he starts to talk about his broadcasting career and his life in and around motor racing - but the approach tends to become rather thematic rather than chronological and at times the reader does find himself flicking around to work out whether we've just jumped back or forward in time - a bit like some of Murray's more excitable commentaries!
I was hoping Murray would perhaps be a bit more candid in his memoirs; reading carefully between the lines you can see where he's less than generous with praise for some people, some circuits, but the tone is resolutely upbeat for most of the book.
There are some very moving passages; his wartime encounter with his father, the description of the effect James Hunt's death had on him, and how Murray had to keep going through Senna's fatal accident - all of these bring home just how human he is.
The insights into broadcasting - how F1 gets from the circuits to the TV screen - are probably the best parts of the book after the non-racing material. Given how precarious and ramshackle some of the arrangements were no wonder his commentaries were often on the wild side!
It's all written with Murray's inevitable charm, enthusiasm and good humour - plenty of it, there are laughs throughout - and perhaps that's why I can't give it five stars; despite the piles of anecdotes, the little insights behind the scenes, I was hoping that one of F1's elder statesmen might share some more of what he's seen...
Ultimately Murray Walker is a great enthusiast and this is an enthusiast's book. It's never less than readable, and the style is just as recognisable and friendly as the voice that made hundreds of Sunday afternoons special. I think almost all of his fans will find something to enjoy here.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2004
"Murray Walker speaks ill of no man". That is obviously a Murray Walker rule of life, probably embroidered by a team of Stirling Moss's ex-wives and hanging in a frame in pole position over Murray's work station in Hampshire.
There are things Murray has seen, heard and got on file over the past 50 years in motor racing that would be of supreme interest to fans and indeed make a valuable contribution to the history of motor racing, particularly F1, from 1949 to 2001. Some of these things might make uncomfortable reading for the people involved. In fact some of these people might get seriously hacked off with dear old Murray. In this book, Murray ducks anything that comes anywhere close to upsetting anyone.
You don't have to be vindictive or bitchy to write an honest book about a world you have been right to the centre of in the course of 50 years but straight-ahead spilling of beans where there are beans to be spilled is what the reader has a right to expect.
Murray disappoints: he's pals with everybody and no-one in this book has any reason to cross him off their Xmas card list. But we know for absolutely certain that a collection of egos that would blot out the sun across a whole continent can't spend 10 months of the year competing against each other, even to the point where they kill themselves or the other guy, year in year out, without demonstrating some very unpleasant attitudes, appalling behavoir and deeply unattractive personalities. You'd never guess it from this book.
Of course, there's lots of stuff here that is interesting and amusing but it just lacks a critical edge and so makes me think "Murray, you're not firing on all cylinders."
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2002
i have been waiting for this book for a long time, and it hasnt disappointed. it covers all of his life, from his childhood watching his father race motorbikes, to his 50 years in the commentary booth. there are many great stories in this book, my favourites being the ones from his turbulent partnership with James Hunt
on 17 January 2015
If you watched any motor sport on British television between about 1960 and 2001, there's a good chance you'll have heard of Murray Walker. If you haven't heard OF him, you'll definitely have heard him. Like Sid Waddell with darts and Peter Alliss for golf, Murray Walker is one of those commentators who are instantly recognisable by their voices but who you may well not look twice at if you saw them in the street.
As someone who came to Formula 1 racing in the early 1980s, it was twenty years before I saw a race that didn't have Murray Walker's over excited vocal delivery over the top of it. For many of my generation and generations past, he WAS motor racing. However, despite having had him in my home on many a Sunday afternoon for all these years, I knew very little about Murray Walker as a person, save for what was in the newspapers on a Monday morning, which usually involved some kind of howler on his part.
As is traditional in autobiographies, Murray takes us through his life, introducing us to his parents, including the father whose love for motorcycling and gift for commentary he takes after. He tells us of his experiences in the Second World War, both his training and driving a tank and his first career in advertising, which he first combined with and then exchanged for commentating.
Regardless of what else he did with his life, motor sport was Murray's passion from a young age and once he'd realised he wasn't good enough to compete at the top level, he threw himself into commentating with enthusiasm. From his first race, as a late replacement as the Public Address announcer for a hill trial - something rarely seen these days - through his time working along side his father on the Isle of Man motorcycle TT races and ending with his final Formula 1 race, more than forty years later.
Whilst this is all very well for fans of motor sport, there's very little to appeal to those who read biographies in the hope of getting an insight into the life of the writer. Murray says very little about his home life and only seems to mention his wife in passing. His school days and his war recollections seem to be largely glossed over and although his advertising career gets more of a mention, it gets little attention compared to his commentary career, despite lasting for roughly the same amount of time.
Even the sections on motor sport seem a little hurried. The problem with summarising a fifty year career in book form is how much to leave out. Murray has seemingly negated this problem by mentioning pretty much everything, but this has resulted in little being mentioned in great detail. Whilst he covers most of the events and sports he worked on, he seems to skim over them and there's very little opinion given, merely a recounting of what happened. This will disappoint the gossip hunters, who might have hoped that Murray would burn a few bridges, but you can count the number of negative things Murray says about people on one hand.
Much of what Murray has said could have been gained from reading newspaper reports and magazines of the time. Even when Murray mentions things that happened behind the scenes in various places, I suspect that much of the information would be available elsewhere, should you know exactly where to look at it. Murray merely collects the information into a single, more accessible place, without ever seeming to say anything new. There's a lack of depth generally throughout the book which is a little disappointing.
Unsurprisingly for someone who has made a living from using words, it's a very well written autobiography, certainly better than most. In a similar way to his style of commentary, he keeps the memories coming one after the other. This is helped by many of his recollections being only brief ones, but he moves from one to the next so quickly and with enough style that the pacing of the book is not dissimilar to that in a decent thriller.
As someone who has a great love of motor racing in general and Formula 1 in particular, I did enjoy reading this. I'd have liked to have come out of it knowing a little more about Murray Walker than I do, but his memories of five decades in all forms of motor sport were numerous enough and varied enough to have me enjoying the ride. There are biographies that offer more insight into the character and more detailed account of their lives, but very few are as well written and as well paced as Murray's. It may not be a good source of information, but it is a good read.
For those who read biographies to find out more about the personality, or for the potential of gossip, this will disappoint. There is little of either here and anyone with no interest in motor sport will be bored very quickly and about three quarters of the book will mean absolutely nothing to you, and even the quarter that doesn't mention cars won't give you what you seek.
However, if wheels are a passion, this shouldn't be missed. I'd not hesitate to recommend "Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken" to any fan of any kind of motor sport, as it covers them all and from all over the world. If you're that much of a fan, you'll have heard of Murray Walker and whilst this won't provide any surprises, it's a fine memory of him, now that he's retired from the front line of commentary.
This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2002
I have to confess to being one of the few men in Britain who is bored by cars , and as a result no nothing about even the average car in the street. In addition I pay no more than a passing interest to F1 or any type of motor/bike racing.
I read this book as an avid sports fan and out of interest of the memories of Murray Walker. The book was exactly like Mr Walker full of enthusiasm , by no means perfect , and a bit of a treasure.
I was amazed to learn that Murray had a full time and sucessful advertising career from which he retired at the age of 60.
I was interested to learn about his father and motor cycling days.
One minor critisism he rates all of the motorbike TT champions and F1 drivers etc that he has seen but there is no mention of the late , great Joey Dunlop , TT winner on a record number of occasions. Even though the TT may have been downgraded over the decades surely Joey warented a mention.
Overall an interesting and easy read even if you are not a biker/motor fan
on 13 May 2003
Murray Walker has had a great life, serving in the army, having a regular career and well as his 'hobby' of TV and Radio commentary. This book details all the highs and lows of that life. Those who lament the lack of detailed histories of F1 and it's drivers miss the point: it's not an F1 book, it's a book about Murray Walker and his life. F1, it turns out, has only been a tiny portion of his life and the rest of it is both absorbing and plentiful. Sure, Murray has few bad words to say about anyone but that seems to be his nature. He loves people and people love him. This is one of the most beautifully written autobiographies I have ever read. Murray has a fantastically simple way with words which makes the book an absolute joy to read. Not only this but the many many insights into his life away from the microphone paint a very different picture to the man we're used to on the telly.
on 17 November 2002
One of my all-time heroes ... I remember his voice from when I was a little kid, commentating on Mansell's early days in F1 with his usual plethora of enthusiasm and gusto. And still, 20 years later, his excitement and fervour for a sport he loved never diminished.
Murray's autobiography is a very touching work, truly written I believe right from his heart. He is such fascinating bloke, and some of the stuff he has done and the anecdotes he recalls are both very funny and very moving.
I pre-ordered this title as I knew, as ever, Murray wouldn't let us down. True to form he hasn't.
Murray says he's very proud to be British - I think we should be equally proud that he is!