First among which is this all-new, 440-page biography of the record-smashing German, enticingly titled, “The Whole Story”. Or, to paraphrase, “He’s quit now so we rushed this together in time for the Xmas market.”
Perhaps I’m being a being a tad cynical…
It’s tough to spin out a decent-length review when you’ve thought of one word that sums up a book and can’t think how to expand on it.
“The Whole Story” is also the title of a similarly unedifying Ayrton Senna biography by Christopher Hilton. And, much like that other book, we get a very uncritical and shallow re-telling of Schumacher’s life, with a few remarks on Ferrari’s 21-year wait for a champion threaded in.
It is stiffly chronological and rattles through the pre-F1 years of Schumacher’s life faster than a Bridgestone-shod F2004.
Your average F1 fan might watch most of the races on TV – maybe he’ll even make it to one of the races. The sport doesn’t get great national media coverage and the endless PR demands of drivers makes them deeply reticent in the glare of the media. That has been true of Schumacher above all drivers.
If you want to learn more about your favourite racer a biography might seem the ideal place to turn. But when all it does is numbly re-tell race after race, churning out the same old PR quotes you remember reading when the race happened, it adds nothing.
The dozen chapters of “The Whole Story” passed me by in a semi-daze. Schumacher has been poorly served by biographers. I found Sabine Kehm’s “Schumacher” boring but this is so predictable and by-the-numbers it’s unreadable. (I see Kehm has a new ‘official’ biography of Schumacher out but at present it’s only in German.)
Perhaps the problem is that, just two months after his retirement, it’s still too soon. A decent biography needs a stack of first-hand interviews and, arguably, time to put a person and their achievements into historical context with what came next.
If you’re after a book on Schumacher for Xmas, don’t buy this. Timothy Collins’ “Team Schumacher” is a good read – I recommend that instead.
Published by Haynes