“Ayrton Senna: The Whole Story” (Christopher Hilton, 2004)

Ayrton Senna - The Whole StoryYet another biography of Ayrton Senna. I’m not sure what niche Christopher Hilton has in mind with this, his sixth book on the Brazilian thrice-champion. But you can’t deny that Senna sells.
The Whole Story compiles four of Hilton’s ealier biographies, the first two of which pre-dated Senna’s death in 1994. They are The Hard Edge of Genius, The Second Coming, The Legend Grows and His Full Racing Car Record.

It’s hard to avoid using the phrase ‘cynical cash-in’ but how much more can one more Senna biography add to the substanial weight of material already written about him?

You may have the impression that this four-books-in-one compendium is a literary cut-and-shut to turn a tidy profit. On the first charge, I can honestly say the re-editing of the four titles has been handled superbly well, in that there were no obvious seams between one work ending and the next beginning.

On the second charge, well, it’s simple: Senna sells. The author has a substantial corpus of F1 books under his belt, but I doubt any of his other subjects can guarantee to bring in the cash buck-for-book quite so easily. His recent work on the 1955 Le Mans tragedy springs to mind – definitely worth picking up.

Hilton has written tons about which is a double-edged sword. Some passages had a familiar ring and the more regularly this ground is trodden the fewer new anecdotes appear every time.

I suspect the point of sticking four biographies together in this fashion is to make The Whole Story (464 pages) sit convincingly on bookshelves alongside Tom Rubython’s The Life of Senna (602) – especially as both were released to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of Imola ’94.

If you’ve read any of Hilton’s work before, especially his Senna biographies, you know what to expect: authoritative text backed by substantial research, presented in Hilton’s love-it-hate-it literary style.

If you’ve got many of his earlier biographies of Senna it’s really not worth your time. For newcomers it justifies the title “The Whole Story” quite well.

Published by Haynes

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