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4.8 out of 5 stars
Creating my own Nemesis
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2013
What a guy and what a book.
Until recently I had never heard of John
But after many years going to The Towers I felt I needed to know more about the rides and who and how they are developed.
This book offers a fascinating insight to a man who has not only helped develop some of the best rides in the UK but also a man who has dedicated his whole life to entertaining the public in someway shape or form.
Thank you John and have a very happy retirement.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2013
I got my copy earlier this morning, i'am only up to 'Chapter 5' and already the book has gone into great detail about the early life of John Wardley and how he was inspired to become part of the entertainments industry and the ladder he had to climb in order to get there. I can can tell already that this Autobiography is going to be AMAZING, just from the few pages i've read already. I don't want to put it down. I've always been a fan of Johns work from a very early age! i owned a 'VHS' called 'White Knuckle' which featured John riding Nemesis on it's first test run ( a clip i'am sure many of you will have seen ), and since that day i've never looked back, Roller Coasters have been a huge part of my life ever since and still are to this day. What John has done to the Theme Park industry is mind blowing, his work is legendary and he is very popular among enthusiasts. I was lucky enough to meet John back in 2010 when his latest creation opened at Alton Towers, TH13EEN. He's such a great guy, and to own his autobiography is a pleasure, it's great to have an insight on his life and read up on everything he's done both past and present, it's so inspiring. I'll be sad to see him go into retirement later this year.

Highly recommended for any John Wardley fan or Theme Park / Roller Coaster enthusiasts.
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on 26 July 2013
First of all I'd just like to see that no matter how much I praise this book in this review it is very likely that it won't be doing it justice. This is hands down the best autobiography I have read if not the best book in any category. Many may disagree with the last part of that statement but I have to say no other book has had as much relevance to my personal life as this book.
I have been part of amateur dramatics for many years so to read this book and find out about John Wardley's aspirations to become a stage manager immediately got me hooked to the book. His personal experiences as he gained valuable work experience from a young age and in his later years were amazing. From testing dangerous scenery on the James Bond films to getting cinema reels ready for the next day, John Wardley seems to have done everything in the show business and beyond.
As an 18 year old who loves rollercoasters this was of course the main reason I bought this book. I was expecting a run of the mill account of all things rollercoasters, from their conception to the final product and everything in between. From a personal perspective the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers was my favourite ride until the recent arrival of their new ride The Smiler. Both of these were (at least partly) the brainchildren of John Wardley. He also had a hand in Oblivion, Air and Thirteen. These are all great rides and to know one person was involved in them makes my respect for this man soar.
With regards to the writing style it is very well written by a clearly very intelligent man. It has lots of moments of humour and contains enough of his personal life (such as visiting his Grandparents for the summer) to make you feel really attached to him throughout his long and fulfilled career.
I don't want to spoil too many other surprises but suffice to say, I struggle to think of any other person who will have had such a fulfilled life as John Wardley and contributed so much to so many companies and people's lives. Read for the rollercoasters, stay for the life story. Truly remarkable.
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on 28 April 2013
This book reminds me of a pre-exam season school assembly. The speaker told of the "Good Luck" cards she received before her exams, then she talked the pupils through her revision schedule, the many extra hours she had put in throughout the academic year and ended with "...and the harder I worked, the 'luckier' I was in my exams".

As a Coaster Club member, I have had the pleasure of listening to John Wardley talking about his work, the plans for the rides he develops and his sheer enthusiasm for all things entertaining. I used to think "What a lucky guy working in this fantastic industry". This book hammers home the reality - he got to the top through single-minded determination from an early age and a willingness to start at the very bottom of a job and put in some seriously hard graft.

It was the early years parts of the book in which I enjoyed the most, with theatrical blood on his Mother's side of the family giving him a very early introduction to the world of the illusionist and a family printing business heading his way on his Father's side. The way John navigated his way through his teenage years to ensure he ended up taking the college courses that would help him on his way to his preferred career should be a recommended read when it comes to career guidance at school.

The behind-the-scenes material as he started working at Barry Island was fascinating, having now realised that I had ridden some of John's early creations, such as the Scream Machine. Then, when it comes to Alton Towers, it might be that there were fewer real revelations as I was a major coaster enthusiast by this time, there is remarkably less content regarding the behind-the-scenes aspects. Also, this book is really a review of John's career and how it developed. It's not so much of an autobiography as there is very little about his private life. I'm sure that there are plenty of tales he could tell, but he actually says in the text that he won't - fair enough. He first mentions meeting his future wife while at college, he says "More on her later", but this is limited to a single mention of her in one of the last few chapters. There are some other omissions - I would have liked to hear about his work on other shows - was he not behind the illusions for "The Phantom of the Opera"? I would have been very interested to hear about that - especially as he used similar illusions in one of the shows at Alton Towers.

It is a short read - I read it in one session, mainly because I couldn't put it down! The rather odd thing about the book is that it is set in a sans-serif font, which is a little uncomfortable on the eyes. Still - it is a great read and every coaster enthusiast or anyone with an interest in going behind the scenes at the theatre or a James Bond movie should take a look at this book.
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on 3 August 2013
I have been a fan of John Wardley ever since i first rode Nemesis at Alton Towers on August 8th 1996, it was such a special experience that I remember the date. Of course I was only a child at the time and by then Nemesis had already been open and operating for two years. However, it took me those two years to break my fear and when I did I never looked back. Now I am fascinated by them and have rode the mechanical monster countless times since.. I have also seen the documentary 'Themes, Dreams and Scream Machines', for anyone who hasn't seen this yet I suggest that you watch it because it features video footage of some of the moments described in this book. I became very appreciative of Mr Wardleys talent for making something very unique and I owe my appreciation of thrill rides to him. This book is a very interesting read indeed and goes into some detail about his past working at the Circus and the Theatre many years before he came to work for Tussards. I have to admit that I bought this book really for reading up on his work at Alton Towers from the perspective of the man himself. However, i found out that only a small part at the end is actually about Alton Towers but non-the-less i found this book to be an excellent read and a very descriptive insight into ingenuity of this very clever man. Thank you for writing this book John because I certainly had fun reading it.
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on 14 July 2013
As a self confessed rollercoaster fanatic I admit to already knowing that John Wardley designed some of the best rides around. I have ridden many of his creations so was very pleased to receive a copy of this book as a father's day present.

The book is a fascinating insight to John Wardley's career. I would not describe it as an autobiography as there is scant information about his personal life (a very passing reference to his wife for example) but it is a detailed explanation about how John made the most of his fascination in understanding how to entertain. From a magic show to entertain school friends to finding a way into backstage theatre, into film special effects, to building animated figures and revitalising tired amusement parks and producing the "theme" in what differentiates a Theme Park from an Amusement Park.

He is surprisingly modest, acknowledging that many creations were the result of team work or collaboration and giving the bulk of the credit for "his" latest success (The Smiler) to Candy Holland and her team.

This book is an excellent review of his career and an encouragement to anyone who wants to pursue a career in entertainment.
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on 10 August 2013
I'm enjoying reading this book so much I'm actually limiting myself to a few pages at a time because I don't want it to end. A great insight into the man with the most amazing career and life of all time. A life that goes far beyond a few rollercoasters, a must read for anyone interested in the world of entertainment, film, magic, circus, rollercoasters, design, electronics, special effects, theatre and so much more! My only complaint is that the book is far too short, I could happily read many more stories and events from John's wild and impressive career as I'm sure there are thousands! If there were a series of these books I would buy them all! A really well written book that reads like a friendly catch-up with an old friend. I would not recommend reading it in public if you embarrass easily, bursting into fits of uncontrollable laughter is a definite with this book... trust me on that one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2014
I would give anything to have half the life this man has had. If you're a coasterfreak you'll love it. If you aren't you'll still love it. He writes in such a genuine and humble way. It feels like you're being told a story from your Granddad. John Wardley is a living legend.
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on 23 June 2013
This book is a brilliant autobiography, providing an insight into John Wardley's life long career, ranging from the theatre, special effects and, of course, theme parks. However, I'm not impressed that the paper back version ends rather abruptly, without any mention of Thirteen or The Smiler. It turns out that the, recently released and cheaper, Kindle version of this book does include a considerable portion about both Thirteen and The Smiler within the last chapter. The image on the front cover is also very low resolution, which is perhaps an result from the self-publishing process?

It's a great read, but I'd recommend buying it on Kindle if possible.
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on 23 August 2013
Well, I for one hope that John Wardley writes more books about his fascinating life! I read this book in two sittings - just could not put it down.

John charts his life from his early experiences in theatre, through his introduction to the entertainment industry, and moves into his work into theme park design. His style is informal and chatty.

There are some great 'behind the scenes' moments which are truly enthralling.

Highly recommended.

Thanks for a great read, John!
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