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on 26 October 2009
I was recommended to read this book via a friend who is both a Bentley and a Bond fan and the story tells the honest and straight history to the reader from page 1.

The content of the book covers Ian Fleming, Villiers, James Bond and the various motors, engineering feats and minor erros that cropped up along the way and provides an in-depth, thoughtful and well referenced read via the auther Paul Kenny.

Anyone who is a fan of classic motors, Bentleys, James Bond, Ian Flemings writings, or in general, just a car nut is more than recommended to read this book as I do not think there is a single other book on this subject so factually precise.

Enjoy...

The Man Who Supercharged Bond: The Extraordinary Story of Charles Amherst Villiers
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While still a student he took an ordinary car and transformed it into a true winner, then he moved on to improving a Bugatti out of all recognition, such that he won the admiration of Ettore Bugatti himself, and this was just a start.

His talent lay in seeing how to do things properly, he had that instinct for what is right in a design. Projects may not have always worked out as expected, but then no one is perfect, and finances and time were always a problem. Lesser men would have given up, more reasonable men would have compromised, less focused men might well have spent more time acquiring better business skills. But Charles Amherst Villiers was unique.

Paul Kenny has done sterling work in thoroughly researching a complex man with a very wide-ranging life and breadth of skills and interests, and it must have been difficult to decide on what to leave out of the book. The choice of photos is interesting, and again I wonder what delights must have been cut. The comprehensive index and lists of references at the end are useful for further reading. His web-page lists some errata, and another reviewer has noticed some as well, but these should not detract from an interesting read.

Villiers was clearly a man after my own heart. As an engineer who `improved' several cars myself I wish I had been given his opportunities. But I lack his single-minded determination and his outstanding energy. Reading the book awoke fond memories of my grandfather relating his own hill-climbing exploits with a 30/98 Vauxhall with his own design of cylinder head and pistons and custom dural body; those were amazing times.

Only four stars because I feel the book is perhaps too dry, and more like a listing, and it is as much about the people around Villiers as the great man himself. But then biographies are very difficult, especially so if the author has not been able to spend time with the subject himself.
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on 31 March 2010
A very focussed biography with some brief finds. But, this is not an exceptional book; yes, it does cover the subject thoroughly but the title is misleading. While it is true that Bond has a symbiotic relationship with his Bentleys, and the subject is huge - but: Bond is rarely mentioned, and not at all in many areas of the book.

It might be more accurately labelled: The Man Who Supercharged Fleming. Fleming is mentioned far more but even then the detail is brief (one chapter and a few asides). Useful to dip into for a history of the Blower Bentley but other books do it with more energy.

The more unusual revelation of Villiers's involvement with other oddball projects (the US space programme) have fair more 'air-time' and perhaps hint at why Villiers' life was extraordinary.

Extraordinary? The book does not give the impression that he was extraordinary. Highly gifted and exceptionally intelligent, yes, but not unusual in the motoring world of his day.

In all, a useful book but not extraordinary. You'd need a few more books to get the complete Bentley story; especially the Bentley Boys culture and this has been done with a lot more life elsewhere.
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on 24 November 2009
This is an extraordinay book, with amazing depth of research and balance. It travels through CAV's life in amazing detail and includes so many other related facts about the world during his lifetime. It's a straightforward read using sound plain English, perfect for anyone interested in the history of motorsport. That's sorted my Christmas shopping!
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on 31 March 2010
He is certainly an interesting subject but I found this book very disappointing. The book is rather lacking in meatiness and it's a pity the author is so weak on engineering knowledge. The style tends to the breathless and verbose.
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on 12 December 2011
I had heard of Amhearst Villiers in relation to his supercharging exploits but had no idea what he did after his work with Mays & co then Bentleys.
Well he seems to have been a bit of a butterfly, professionally, stopping to take part in projects until he grew tired of them or felt under appreciated. But what projects they were - massive transcontinental aircraft, rocketry, gyroscapes, space travel, portrait painting, a friendship with Ian Fleming and back to motor sport in later life.
Clearly he came from a monied background and enjoyed the good things in life so maybe he could go where his whim took him.
Not all his work was a success in the true sense. His auxilliary engined blower for a Rolls Royce was no doubt a good example of lateral thought but at a vast cost and with serious weight issues. Jolly interesting!
The author is clearly impressed with Villiers but has produced an honest account and not just a panegyric.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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on 7 January 2013
I really loved this book. Well done to Paul Kenny.
The title says it all. I came away appreciating the work of a man who for me had always been somethig of an enigma.
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on 24 January 2010
Biog. of excellent engineer Amherst Villiers, good addition to any vintage motoring library, some minor errors, could have done with more knowlegable proofreader.
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on 2 January 2010
An enthralling description of a brilliant life, very well told and hard to put down.
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on 21 November 2014
prompt delivery of product, product as described. No complaints.
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