Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Apparently, Hitler would have loved the Fast and the Furious movies.
Quick synopsis: The story of how a French race car driver and American heiress embarrassed the German racing team on the eve of World War II.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Car racing in the 1920s and 30s was ridiculously dangerous. The cars were already amazingly powerful, but no one cared at all about safety. People were killed during races regularly including spectators.
Fun Fact for History Nerds: We are used to really fast cars nowadays, but cars were going very fast for a very long time. The world record during the time frame of this book was 301 mph by Malcolm Campbell. This was under specific conditions. Faster discusses a different record which goes awry.
My Take: I do not care about cars at all. If it has four wheels and gets me to my destination, then I am perfectly fine. That being said, I still loved this book.
Bascomb takes a look into auto racing on the eve of World War II. He focuses on a few different people and their reactions to what is going on around them, but the main character is Rene Dreyfus. He a French and Jewish driver who ends up in some very interesting situations. Also, on the eve of World War II, being a Jewish driver makes for some hairy situations, as well. His contract is Rudolph Caracciola, a German racer who becomes the darling of the Third Reich. Add into this mix, Lucy Schell, an American heiress who is the epitome of a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer.
The personalities of each person plus the global climate of the time make for a great book which will appeal to just about everyone. If you want bold characters, then you got it. Want to look at the world through the microcosm of racing, then you got it. Want to just read about racing and how it works, then you got it.
Verdict: Great book for everyone even if you don’t like racing, which I don’t.
If You Liked This Try:
- Neal Bascomb, The Escape Artists
- Neal Bascomb, Hunting Eichmann
- Neal Bascomb, The Winter Fortress
- Michael Zuckoff, Lost in Shangri-La