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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Playboy and the Rat - The story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£7.18+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 27 May 2018
A very interesting and well written account of the careers of both Laura and Hunt. Recommended for anyone with an interest.
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on 16 October 2013
Interesting subject matter, but the book is quite short (under 200 pages of actual text) and feels a little rushed as a consequence.

The punctuation is quite poor in places. It is quite distracting to be reading a book whilst mentally adding commas and semi colons as you go in order for it to make sense. There is also (to my mind) an over use of exclamation marks. Exclamation marks are for dialogue (not for narrative) but this author appears to have been somewhat addicted to using them. For example; 'He went into more debt!' and, 'The cars were fine it was just the drivers!'. There are numerous other examples and I winced every time I saw one.

The narrative also jumps around a bit by mentioning matters that happen later on, followed by a sentence reading; 'more on that to come' or 'we'll come back to that later'. I'd rather the story were told chronologically, without the colloquialisms.

I also feel that the author's opinion comes across too strongly at points throughout the book, such as superfluous and irrelevant asides on the 'natural beauty' of the Lotus 79, or comments on 'poor Suzy' (Hunt's wife). I would have preferred a more impartial narrator who stuck to the facts (and didn't take sides). I bought the book to find out more about Hunt and Lauda and their perspective on the events which took place. I don't think either of them were quoted enough.

In short, I think it is clear (from the coinciding release dates) that this book was written quickly in order to make money from the release of the film, 'Rush'. Unfortunately it shows.

I only bought this as Lauda's autobiography (To Hell and Back) appears to be out of print, as the only copies you can pick up on Amazon start at £85. Hopefully the publisher will see sense and re-issue it now that the film is out.
7 people found this helpful
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on 12 February 2015
Most F1 fans are likely to enjoy this book and it does contain a lot of facts about both drivers that provides for an entertaining and informative book even if it seems like two biographies in one rather than a book about the the relationship between Hunt and Lauda. It does however seem like the book is a hurried publication to capitalise on the film Rush and because of that, there are two fundamental flaws in the book.

First, the whole book seems to need a good edit, a job that seems entirely overlooked. Accordingly, not only do you get sentences like 'Taormina Ping actually married Peter Rieck shortly after she split with James' leaving you wondering what the difference is between 'married' and 'actually married', but two sentences later 'the three actually became good friends'. A further sentence on 'Jane Birbeck actually had a relationship with athlete Daley Thompson' and half a page later 'she actually proposed to him within a month of their meeting'. Enough.

The word 'literally' is similarly treated (his comeback is literally the story of a legend/at Kennedy airport, there were literally hundreds of reporters). And there are of course cliches throughout (a match made in heaven/everything seemed rosy in the garden).

Second, while Calley has done a good job bringing together the information around the lives of the two drivers into the book, there is almost no primary evidence with no direct access to the views of key players in the book such as Lauda himself, Ecclestone or Ron Dennis. Accordingly, Calley ends up writing for example that Hunt's ex Jane Birbeck 'apparently lives a quiet life'. In other words, the author doesn't know if she leads a quit life or not but apparently she does. There's a lot of that: it is alleged that/it was reported that/ there were rumours that/it has been suggested that...

Calley then has access to the facts, biographies and reports from the day, but he's not an insider so don't expect any exclusives or privileged information.

Had the author and publisher spent a little more time on the project, it could have been a great book and a definitive text. Overall though, it's a good book with sizeable flaws but can nevertheless be enjoyed for what it is.
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on 21 September 2016
F1 when it was more interesting and less snowed under with health and safety and manager /owner/sponsorship politics !

These two are such characters and their story of respect ,love and hate for one another in such a great read .
James Hunt like Barry Sheene took their sport to a all new level of enjoyment ,sex ,drugs and rock and roll and shagging everything that moved and spending their cash like legends that they were !

I little bit more exciting than Mr "No Personality ,dull as dish water " Lewis Hamilton .

Greta read !
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on 29 December 2014
Great book,great price.Arrived right on time.Brilliant.
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on 20 November 2015
Great quality! An outstanding book. Would recommend this for any F1 fans or even anyone interested in reading about one of the most incredible sporting friendships.

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on 29 December 2013
It is a fair and god read. Very objective - insightful - readable. For fans, it is worth buying and is good value
One person found this helpful
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