Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Life of Senna - Tom Rubython

I know that Rubython's motor racing-related works have met with a mixed reception from enthusiasts, and I share some of the misgivings commonly expressed.  His biography of Ayrton Senna, entitled The Life Of Senna, originally published to roughly coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Brazilian's death, contains abundant detail, but also some flaws and "padding".

For me there is not sufficient nuance in the analysis of a very complex and intricate subject. Too much in the way of "black and white" thinking, and some careless and ill-advised choices of words to describe the merits of teams and drivers.

Another aspect of the book which stands out for me is the amount of repetition.  In addition, there are inconsistencies, contradictions even, in appraisals of events or people.  An occasional absence of cohesion and continuity which does not inspire confidence.

The above reservations notwithstanding, this book contains some interesting material concerning Senna's methods and motivations, and what made him unusual, although much of this is down to quotations from, and interviews with, associates and friends of the subject. One does get the sense of how Senna elevated his sport to another level in some respects.

I would say that the passages concerning the chronology of the Imola 1994 weekend itself are reasonably well done.and illuminating.

This book is good in places, not so good in others, and I suspect that the definitive English-language biography of Senna has yet to be written.

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