NOTE THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE AUDIO BOOK READ BY RICHARD HAMMOND.
As this is a review on the audio book I will focus more on that aspect.
I bought this not expecting much in the way of entertainment but admit I was pleasantly surprised.
It is rather good I am glad to say.
It certainly brightened up several car journeys as I listened to Richard narrating his book.
Now that Top Gear has been torpedoed by the BBC this will be one way to get out Top Gear Fix- well that and 'Dave'.
Richard Hammond is just himself in the book and the narration which is really refreshing. His background was in radio and he has a really good voice.
The book goes along at a fair pace and Hammond's reminiscences are really refreshing and new.
Now that may seem strange because the focus of the book is his adventures on Top Gear which, thanks to the TV channel 'Dave' have been repeated many times.
So the audience is familiar with the story as in the example of the race to the Pole.
But there you would be wrong.
Richard tells us he lost- well came second to Jeremy and James but his story of how he got there and all the things that happened really make the book refreshing and really interersting.
The book simply adds a new edge and dimension to a well watched show and really enhances both.
I can watch the episodes again, still enjoy them but the book has given me a new understanding.
'As You Do: Adventures With Evel, Oliver, and The Vice-President Of Botswana' is a long title but justified.
It focuses on three major stories which are:-
The Top Gear North Pole challenge
Driving across Botswana for Top Gear
Running 17 miles through floods in Gloucestershire to be at his daughter's birthday and finally
Interviewing Evel Knievel. BUT thereby hangs a tale.
On my spoken version there is no interview with Knievel which rather detracts from the title somewhat.
All are marvellous entertainment and I an so surprised that Richard's books are so good.
If you like Richard Hammond at all then this is the audio book to get.
I really will be seeking out others that he has narrated.
A well deserved 5 stars.
Those looking for an in depth insight into the behind the scenes goings on of Top Gear, or a personal diary from Richard similar to the style of his `on the edge' publication then this book isn't for you. But if what you want is a light read that is easy to dip in and out of when you get a moment, this book is ideal. Light hearted in approach and jovial in tone, it covers the stories of his significant filmed events over the past year and his feelings and thoughts around those challenges. Personally I think Richard went back into the throws of Top Gear too soon and this book does at times show this, particularly with his reactions to certain situations (other peoples I-pod songs and his obsession with his clothing and the colour of his harley rental before meeting Evel for example).
Some say... that Hammond should take heed, slow down and curl up with a cup of coco after his accident. But others like me say good on you Richard for finding the strength to carry on and doing what you love. Without the Top Gear show and people like Richard our world be utterly dominated by back to back soap operas, expensive phone line dancing\singing\'talent' contests and tacky quiz shows. Top Gear and the presenters on it give us some sanity and relief from this mainstream dross, and long may they continue..
on 16 July 2009
Hamster comes across very well on TV and I was expecting a similar level of humour here. Sadly, it's lacking. A disproportionate amount of the book is taken up with the Arctic adventure, going into rather obsessive detail, so much so that it became very dull indeed. The other stories are interesting, but I think that more anecdotes could have been put in on different aspects of the programme. He does not write nearly as well as the other two, but his background is broadcasting rather than written journalism. I agree with one of the other reviewers that the language is way too strong as his fan base will include children. Clarkson did comment once that Hammond is prone to swearing (a lot), but it should have been edited out of the book. It isn't big and it isn't clever Richard, so please keep it out of your books. As a TG fan I'd be interested in future books, but I think I'll be getting them from the library rather than buying them. I guess that as TG is now a 'brand' we can expect more 'product', let's just hope it isn't dashed out whilst they're all still on the crest of the current massive wave...
on 12 January 2013
For Christmas Hannah gave me a copy of As You Do: Adventures With Evel, Oliver, and The Vice-President Of Botswana by Richard Hammond.
The book focuses on four major stories:
The Top Gear North Pole challenge
Driving across Botswana for Top Gear
Running 17 miles through floods in Gloucestershire to be at his daughter's birthday
Interviewing Evel Knievel
I always find Richard Hammond to be highly personable and enjoy Top Gear so was interested to read some of his reflections following "that crash". I hoped to gain further insight into how Top Gear works: how do they come up with the challenges, how do they really rip apart their cars and build them into some sort of new monstrosity
The book gives some good background to the North Pole challenge, and to his interviewing of Evel Knievel, but not much more. I found the story of how he ran seventeen miles across the floods in Gloucestershire amusing but not something I'd re-read again.
It is an entertaining book, but not one I'd rush out to buy.
on 13 February 2015
Whilst he had already gained some attention by hosting Sky One's "Brainiac: Science Abuse" and BBC 2's "Top Gear", what really brought Richard Hammond to the public's attention was a serious crash whilst driving a jet propelled car whilst filming the latter back in 2006. The outpouring of public support, both emotional and financial surprised even him and the book he and his wife Mindy wrote about the accident and his recovery was the best selling non-fiction book of 2007.
Since then, millions have followed his every action. Thanks in part to his affable nature next to the grumpy old men of Jeremy Clarkson and James May, "Top Gear" is BBC 2's most popular show and I find myself wanting him to win every challenge. But not everything that happens makes it onto the screen and his reported 17-mile run home through the floods in Gloucestershire in the summer of 2007 to ensure he was at his daughter's birthday was widely reported as not only a sign of his recovery from the crash but his devotion as a father. Now, in "As You Do", we get to look behind the scenes of some of the stranger "Top Gear" challenges, but also of Hammond's life.
There are five major stories in the book, three dealing with "Top Gear" challenges, one with the 2007 floods and one with another show he recorded. The "Top Gear" challenges are ones any fan may be familiar with; recent ones involving the Polar expedition, the drive across Botswana and trying to build an amphibious vehicle to cross the Channel to France. The others are about the aforementioned story with the floods and meeting one of his idols, Evel Knievel, to film a documentary about his life. If any of these things are new to you, particularly the "Top Gear" ones, this may not be the book for you, as Hammond does assume you're familiar with the show and these challenges in particular.
For any reader, Richard's writing style is very laid back and chatty. Even when he's filming in sub-zero temperatures, he's an incredibly positive person and he looks to wring every single piece of enjoyment he can out of life. When something doesn't go quite so well for him, he sees it as entertainment for the rest of us and has no thought of hiding his own embarrassment by admitting what he may have done wrong. I can't think of many people, even ones who aren't nationally recognised TV presenters, who would admit to being weed on by one husky before being dragged through several piles of dog mess by another. Hammond, on the other hand, knows that the kind of people who enjoy "Top Gear" will laugh at a story like this and so he passes it on, unhesitatingly and willingly making himself a source of our amusement.
This makes the whole experience of reading Hammond's books like being in the pub with a mate telling you about something he's just been up to. The whole thing reads as if you've just seen him and said "Hello, mate, not seen you in ages. What have you been up to?" His last book felt the same way, even with the more serious subject matter. Here, where's he off filming and generally having a lot of fun, it's an even more enjoyable read and the tone of his writing fits in beautifully with some of the strange things he's getting up to. I laughed out loud several times whilst reading "As You Do" and it's never at Hammond, always with him.
The major problem with this book is that most of the strange and amusing things he gets up to are generally whilst he's filming some of the challenges for "Top Gear". As a big fan of the show, this didn't present too much of a problem for me, but I can see how it could for other readers. If you're not a big fan of the show, then this book is going to leave you a little confused. Hammond does manage to explain briefly the point of his being in Botswana or the Arctic, but without being a fan of the show and seeing the friendly rivalry they've built up over the years, it's difficult for him to explain the relationship they have and why the show and the people are so important to him.
For fans of the man, rather than the show, there are a couple of parts where not being a regular "Top Gear" viewer doesn't matter. Unfortunately, these come quite late in the book and whilst they give a little more of an insight into the man that Hammond is, there's little in comparison to his "Top Gear" musings and even I, as a fan of the show, would have liked more of this kind of thing. I enjoyed the earlier sections, but having watched "Top Gear" avidly for several years, a lot of what he was talking about was familiar, merely presented from a different angle. It wasn't quite new information, it was just old information presented with a slightly different slant and in the case of the Polar Expedition, which took up three chapters, perhaps a little too much about one thing where a wider range of stories may have been more interesting. There were also points I thought he could have elaborated on, as he mentions spending too much money bringing Oliver home from Botswana, but never told the story of how that came to pass, which I thought would have been interesting to know about.
My being a fan of the man and of his main show helped my enjoyment of the book. Despite the lack of anything especially new, his chatty style made this an incredibly readable and fun experience. However, for anyone who doesn't share the interests that I have, I can see that this would be a patchy and less rewarding experience. This may be worthwhile for the fan, but really only for the dedicated "Top Gear" fan.
This review may also appear, in whole or in part, 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
on 14 October 2008
Read the piece below in the Evening Standard last night and it totally sums up what's great about Hammond and what's so annoying about Clarkson...
On Hammond: ...'there is a world of difference. Hammond may be doing some macho things....but his prose reveals him as a thoughtful, decent, generous-hearted man. He is capable of humility and his jokes are funny. As You Do is an unpretentious, well-built vehicle with pleasantly surprising extras and more speed and manoeuvrability than you would have thought.'
On Clarkson: ...'if Hammond's mind is open, Clarkson's is very firmly closed. The main thing to know is ...he doesn't know about anything except cars...the man knows very, very little, but is sustained by such self-belief that he expects us to applaud him. He wouldn't even be a car: he'd be the kind of noisy moped ridden by a 16-year-old berk outside your window at 2 am. Now imagine that that berk is being paid a small fortune every week to do so by the Sunday Times, and then gets even more money from the public at later date. Aren't there laws against this kind of thing?'
This book is fantastic ride - he does more in a year than I'll ever do in a lifetime! A perfect Christmas gift!
I thought this was excellent fun. Richard Hammond writes well, and has an engagingly chatty style which works beautifully with the kind of material he is delivering here. He has chosen in this book to focus on a few adventures, firstly his Arctic dog sled race against Jeremy and James as seen on Top Gear, his trip across Botswana in an Opel Kadett, as also seen on Top Gear, his experiences of the flooding in Gloucestershire and his attempts to get home to his daughter's birthday party, and to rescue a flooded friend, and his meeting with Evel Kinevil.
I thought the stories were well balance. Having seen the Top Gear episodes he alludes to, I thought I might find them boring, but I really didn't at all. There were enough personal gems and behind the scenes snippets in there to inject the tales with new life. The flood stories were funny and original, and never having seen the documentary with Evel, not being a huge fan of the man, it made for interesting reading.
If you like Richard Hammond on telly, you will like him just as much in book form. Highly recommended.