This book had been nestling on my shelves, but had been awaiting my full attention. I am glad that I gave it a read. Biographies are always more satisfying, and linger longer in the memory, if the reader comes away with a significantly greater appreciation for the subject than beforehand. This was the case for me with this book about the life of the New Zealand racing driver Bruce McLaren.
The book is based on the recollections of the author, a long-time friend and associate of Bruce, but equally importantly it draws heavily on the driver's own words and writings. There is no in-depth analysis of his character, although indications of his innermost feelings and concerns emerge in the various quotes and reminiscences.
There is some valuable material about his childhood, and struggles against adversity, and those first steps to immersion in the spheres of engineering and racing. Insight is also gained concerning the burgeoning of his ambitions, once he arrived in Europe.
To me, the middle sections of the book were the most illuminating and enthralling, evoking as they did the atmosphere and flavour of racing in the late Fifties and Sixties. McLaren's laconic and dry humour is a delight. The schedule which the drivers and teams of those days coped with is, looking back, extraordinary, and one gains a sense of the improvisation which was vital, in organisation and logistics. The haphazard, frenetic and breathless state of things seemed also part of the fun and the stimulation.
Overall, McLaren Memories greatly augmented my knowledge and understanding of the man's achievements and abilities. It is not a massively penetrating examination or appraisal of its subject's psyche and motivations, but it is an entertaining and endearing portrait of a popular and successful figure, who had a short but eventful life.