“My Story” (Lewis Hamilton, 2007)

Review

??My Story?? (Lewis Hamilton, 2007)Two million pounds. That’s how much HarperCollins are believed to have paid for the rights to the Lewis Hamilton autobiography.

It should give them enormous clout when it comes to shifting copies and put “My Story” well ahead of the seven other Hamilton books going on sale before Christmas.

But is it actually any good?

Let’s start with the obvious point – many people who read F1 Fanatic had probably heard of Hamilton before he made his Formula 1 debut.

If HarperCollins really did pay that much for his story, and need to sell over 105,000 copies before they start making any money on it, then they need to sell the book to casual fans.

They enlisted Timothy Collings to do the ghostwriting – a man with several fine F1 titles to his name including “Team Schumacher”, “Eddie Jordan: The Biography” and “The Piranha Club”. But it’s clear Collings’ brief was to write a book with mass-market appeal, and not just for F1Fanatic-readers.

It’s less clear exactly how much time Collings spent interviewing Hamilton because much of the material has a very familiar ring. This is the third book on Hamilton I’ve read (the others being “A Dream Comes True” and “The Story So Far”) and this adds little new detail.

An interesting revelation which has already garnered some press attention is that the junior Hamilton was briefly expelled from school, apparently mistakenly, and his parents waged a campaign to have him reinstated which, eventually he was.

I thought the author might have made more of this because it suggested an obvious comparison with the investigation into McLaren over the Ferrari spy scandal this year – a crime which Hamilton apparently paid no part in and yet one his team suffered for.

This example illustrates a wider problem with the book – it doesn’t hang together at all, there are no themes, no ideas and there’s no passion. It’s just a sober, box-ticking re-telling of everything that’s happened to him from which the reader gleans virtually no deeper understanding of Hamilton.

This is an enormous let-down. Of all the interviews, opinion pieces and studies that created the saturation coverage of Lewis Hamilton, this book was the sole piece that might actually have told us something about him.

From outside the cockpit he looks dedicated, ruthless, fast, uncompromising. Where have these traits come from? Himself? McLaren? His idolisation of Ayrton Senna? His father?

The latter is a strange character within these pages – permanently on-hand in the opening chapters to buy Hamilton his next remote controlled car and, later, kart. But although Hamilton says of his podium finish at Melbourne, “There’s one thing I can do that makes my dad smile and this is it,” (on the face of it a deeply poignant line) it’s impossible to judge how far Hamilton’s phenomenal drive comes from within and how far Anthony has pushed him.

Hamilton does at least grasp the Fernando Alonso nettle and state what he claims he tried to do to thaw the frosty relations between the pair. Along with noting how repeatedly Ron Dennis urged him to make Alonso feel welcome, he gives some insight into the conversations between the pair – and how fruitless they were.

There is the inescapable air of the cynical cash-in about this book, as there inevitably will be about all the books about Hamilton that appear the shelves of book stores before. That the introduction warns “it is an account of my career to date rather than an autobiography of my life,” is the first warning, and the official F1-logo aping graphics, wide margins and large text ram the message home.

It’s not a complete waste of time. But it is a gigantic missed opportunity. And I can’t help but wonder that some of the other unofficial books on him yet to come might not actually give a greater insight into the phenom named Lewis Hamilton.

F1Fanatic rating

HarperCollins
Lewis Hamilton with Timothy Collings
139780007270057
2007
??18.99

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27 comments on “My Story” (Lewis Hamilton, 2007)

  1. The Hamilton Story. Is there one, for it to be sufficient for about a dozen odd books to be launched? Not trying to discredit Hamilton. He worked hard to get where he did. I think Ron helped him a lot(financial support for over a decade), and there are more than a few of the guys on the grid who made it without any assistance. I guess, that still does not take away much from him. He is a fast driver.

    However, i think, Mosley was right to say, that much has been made over Hamilton(mania). The boy compares himself and thinks of himself no less than a Senna, Schumacher or Prost. Think he needs to get his head straight. Win a championship or two and then, why ever not. Books, for that matter, whatever he wishes to do. But the kid need to get his head out in sunshine and smell the roses. He is a racer and the day he is not winning, it’s all over. For all those who think that this is not objective, just think! How do you lose, perhaps the biggest ever lead, going to the last 2 remaining races in the year?

    He needs to stop talking, about how he has become a superstar? How, he is going to win next year the championship? How, he has learned so much this year? I think it’s about time, he gets his head down, and just race. About time!

  2. Isn’t it a bit too early for 20 something guy to write an autobiography ? He must have been somewhere half way through his 1st season in F1 when the work on the book have started… I would not even consider buying a book like that…

    • liedra said on 9th March 2011, 17:38

      Dude, Justin Bieber has an autobiography! It’s the thing all the cool kids (literally) do these days :)

  3. I want to read a book written by Hamilton, but not now. When he is mutltiple world champion, like Rossi, then I will consider it, when he is where Coultard or Brundle are now, experienced old hands. That is when I will buy a book on him.

  4. carlos said on 11th November 2007, 13:11

    Who is going to buy this book? What does he have to tell?
    I am an Alonso supporter but I am not going to buy the autobiography of somebody with many things still to do, and he is 2 times world champion.

    What Hamilton has done to deserve a book, and 2 million pounds? Does he have won something?
    If, at least, he would tell about his life as a young driver, with all his troubles, but he can not do that, cause he has not suffered that problems. His problems are of superstar, the Paris Hilton of F1.

    Somebody should advise him better.

  5. Robert McKay said on 11th November 2007, 14:17

    “Two million pounds. That’s how much HarperCollins are believed to have paid for the rights to the Lewis Hamilton autobiography. It should give them enormous clout when it comes to shifting copies and put “My Story” well ahead of the seven other Hamilton books going on sale before Christmas.”

    Look, the reason for a twenty year old writing a biography is right there. Why should he sit back and let seven other books (a) tell his story (wrongly, potentially) and (b) make money off his back? I’m sure he doesn’t need the cash, but that’s no reason to sit back and let other people make money from your name by telling your story.

  6. I do like hamilton – but a biography at 20 – no way will I buy it – wonder which paper is going to do the serialisation?
    inevitable nowadays – but the thing is that the great public’s interest in all things seems to be short time – hence boy band bio’s etc – party politicians with sound bites – keep it short and simple – used to be that was the european view on the american public – but it’s here as well – just get jackie stewarts biog instead for xmas and enjoy a mans story

  7. To be honest, I’m not interested in what Hamilton could have to tell us in his book. Probably he thought to win the Championship giving his fans a good reason to buy the book. But even if he won the Championship, it would not have be so interesting to read his feelings after just a year in Formula 1.

  8. I don’t think this money-chasing is going to do the publishers much good. I’ve already encountered one unofficial Hamilton book in the shops (not reviewed here, so probably worse than the one that got 0 out of 5 a short time ago!). I can’t remember the subtitle or the authors (other than there were two on the cover, neither of whom I recognised). The book was £4 and the poor bookshop still couldn’t get rid of them!

  9. It was a gamble and HarperCollins didn’t win it. If Lewis Hamilton had won they would have made back the 2mil easy, but he didn’t win the championship and so they will have a hard time shifting it.

  10. Eric M. said on 12th November 2007, 8:59

    The idea of a guy 6 years younger than me writing an autobiography makes me feel kind of old.

  11. i no what i want for xmas!

    i think the point of the book is to show how he got into formula 1.

  12. I can understand the desire to get a book out while his popularity is high and therefore it’s most likely he would sell a load of books at the moment – but morally it’s just wrong.

    If he has any kind of self belief in his abilities then he should have put this aside and concentrated on becoming a multiple world champion and then release a book – one with a story that’s worth reading.

    On the other hand it must be hard to take that all these other books are out which are cashing in on your name and your life, so I can understand why he would want a share of that.

  13. He is proving a greedy boy! Where will he stop?

  14. the guy has already been champion in every thing leading up to f1 so why shouldn’t he bring out a book? if you were in his shoes what would you do?

    hamilton will be world champion one day and i have no doubt in my mind and if im honest i’d be very very proud of myself if i was a formula 1 driver and had done so well in my rookie season i’d want people to no my background and see how i got there.

    maybe it is about money but who cares? if i had the chance i’d do it to!

  15. “That the introduction warns ‘it is an account of my career to date rather than an autobiography of my life'”

    Wonder how many Autobiographies he’ll be writing in the years to come :D

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