- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Colin Chapman: The Wayward Genius Hardcover – 1 Sep 2002
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"[Lawrence] is uniquely positioned to tell it like it was... get a copy as quick as you can." -- Eoin Young, pitpass.com, October 2002
"[Lawrence] is uniquely positioned to tell it like it was... get a copy as quick as you can." -- Eoin Young, October 2002
"a damn good read." -- Motor Sport, December 2002
"a fascinating biography of this complex and controversial man... This is an easily readable and enjoyable account... Recommended." -- Vintage Sports Car Club Bulletin, Winter 2002
About the Author
Mike Lawrence is a well-known motoring writer with a special interest in motor racing history, in particular the cars and drivers of a generation ago. He has always had a special interest in Lotus cars and their mercurial creator Colin Chapman. As well as contributing to all the leading motoring magazines, Mike Lawrence has written over 20 books including Grand Prix Cars 1945-65, A-Z Sports Cars 1945-65, The Essential Jaguar XK, The Essential Austin-Healey, The Mille Miglia, The Reynard Story and The History of Goodwood. He is also a published poet, playwright and broadcaster. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Chapman was a remarkable man, and he certainly has had his share of that sort of nonsense written about him. This book goes way beyond that. It cuts through the BS and half truths that have become part of the Chapman/Lotus myth. So in that sense its well worth the money, and certainly it is the best motorsports book of this year.
But to be honest it misses the mark as a definitive biography. Lawrence treats the text like a fleshed out essay. He straightens out the facts, and is damn proud of his ability to do so. But as a biographer he tells us next to nothing about his wife, children and close friends. Even claims of substance abuse and chronic infidelity are skimmed over. Where is the human being?
As a magazine article/essay this is magnificent. As a biography it is about half done. Buy it anyway though, its as good as you'll get a man who may be the single most significant figure in 20th century motorsport.
The last straw was the frankly sloppy repeated references to the US "Inland Revenue Service" - it is the "Inland Revenue" (as was) in the UK and the "Internal Revenue Service" in the US - if the author can't be bother to get little things right, how can we believe the rest to be "definitive"
The fact that people in the works who knew him well, including Tony Rudd, were in tears in the morning when the news of his death was broken also deserves mention.
I did not meet him often but even from my own, very limited, direct experience, Colin Chapman's many flaws are, I believe, properly described in this book - BUT, a few words, a question, a smile - and you would walk on water for him! Brilliant? Most certainly. Inspiring? Definitely. Uncompromising? Undoubtedly. A bit of a bastard? Undeniably. Fun? Oh, yes, yes and yes again.
The early years up to the mid 1960s occupy roughly the first half of the book. Lawrence's account could probably be considered to be definitive: it is meticulously researched and carefully presented as he ruthlessly, and almost sadistically, explodes the myths that arose around Chapman, and sets his legend into its true context. Many of Chapman's early associates contributed willingly and in great detail to create a solid chronology and to set the record straight.
Later years become increasingly less satisfactory: Chapman recedes as Lawrence trots out a more conventional history of Lotus with seemingly very little original input from the major players and with very few insights. Chapter 22 is entitled "Losing The Plot", but by then the author has certainly lost his! The watershed is around the period that Lotus moved to Norfolk and even Lawrence admits his story becomes less interesting from that point until winding it up with the infamous Delorean affair.
On several occasions Lawrence is disparaging of Norfolk (we are not all Turnip growers!), and is inaccurate in his geography (Snetterton is not in north-east Norfolk). Indeed, his questionable accuracy in other known areas (eg John Surtees was not the last motorcycle racer to move to cars) reduces the reader's confidence in his writing, which, together with his opinionated and confrontational style (eg he doesn't believe Jim Clark had a 'natural talent'), are factors that add to a sense of unease.
Overall, this is a good book within it's limited scope, but you will need to look elsewhere to find an intimate portrait of the man's complex character. Despite his obvious failings, so gleefully revealed by Lawrence, Chapman was clearly an inspiration and motivator to those around him and perhaps that was his true genius.
'Colin Chapman - The Wayward Genius' is an essential addition to the corpus of material on the early years of Lotus, but is otherwise fairly disposable. Presentation is simple but acceptable with a few monochrome photos, though a number of printing errors are a frequent irritation.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews