Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but ultimately flawed, 23 Aug 2004
This review is from: The Life of Senna: The Biography of Ayrton Senna (Hardcover)
Books on Aryton Senna have become something of a cottage industry, since his sad demise - all the more reason for them to do justice to someone, of whom Frank Williams said was "first and foremost an amazing human being and secondly, a great racing driver." So it's no mean task and this is quite an enjoyable read in places, but does not quite get there.
Firstly, there is little in the book that we did not already know about Senna and seems to collate a huge number of quotes already in the public domain from other books and press articles. Also, as other reviewers have commented, it is very repetitive and contradictory, with the same quotes surfacing on more than one occasion, which undermines enjoyment of the reading. To say the least, it seems as though the book has had little or no pre-publication proof reading.
Evidence of this is also to be found in the number of basic errors, which for a writer of Rubython's repute, must be embarrassing - for example, unless I was following a different formula, there were no Wiliams-Hondas in 1991 and Senna did not win at Monaco in 1983....a good eight months before he actually raced an F1 car, let alone started winning with one.
Secondly, for me at least, the most damning part of this book was the dismissive and contemptous attitude towards Alain Prost (in which the writer seems to dislike Prost more than Senna did). In this regard, I beleive the writer has completely missed the point. Firstly, no one would seriously beleive that Prost in terms of sheer skill (if not outright speed) was anything other than well-matched to Senna? One of the reasons they fell out was because they threatened each other's supremacy. To suggest that Senna's biggest rival was Nigel Mansell is ridiculous. By attempting to be-little Prost, the writer actually detracts from Senna - one of the things that made Senna so great was that he overcame the genius of Prost with sheer speed and will to win and raised the bar to an impossibly high level. Jo Ramirez's old quote even surfaced in the book when he said 'they only ever worried about each other,' meaning that the others never came close...but that's yet another contradiction.
One other aspect of the book, on which readers can only draw their own conclusions, was the candid and hellishly graphic description of the medical details of Senna's accident. I personally found it a little upsetting and others more sensitive than I, will be shocked. I wondered if we really needed all that detail, afterall, Sid Watkins, a key player in the unfolding horror, specifically said in his book, that he would not be going there. I had heard that Senna's family strongly objected to the book; if that's true, it's not difficult to see why.
Putting this to one side, it was not a bad holiday read on the whole, but I am ultimately disppointed, as it promised far more than it actually delivered. The only time we will get the definitive book on Senna is if someone such as Nigel Roebuck could download the collective memories of Ron Dennis, Alain Prost, Frank Williams, Jo Ramirez and Gerhard Berger. Now that would really be something.
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