Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Man Who Caught Crippen - Joe Saward

"The Amazing Life of Henry Kendall"
I have previously expressed my admiration for Joe Saward here; indeed to an extent his blog was the inspiration for me to start my own. I read his previous book ‘The Grand Prix Saboteurs’, and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected.

My thoughts (written in May last year), are here.

‘Grand Prix Saboteurs’ is not a book about motor racing; it is about people and what they got up to during the Second World War. And as Joe explained somewhere, ‘The Man Who Caught Crippen’ has absolutely nothing to do with motor-racing at all. And although this blog is supposed to be about racing, I decided to make an exception, merely because this book is a jolly good read.

In many ways it is a lot simpler than ‘Grand Prix Saboteurs’, as it focuses purely on the exploits of one man. But that man’s life spanned 91 years, through war and peace, and was a good deal more adventurous than most.

Typically, Joe’s research is meticulous, detailed and thorough. The political and economic times through which Kendall lived are explained, as is relevant background history, with an engaging and readable style. Joe has that knack of writing prose that flows, and keeps the interest of the reader with a stream of riveting, sequential ideas.
I am not a big fan of biography, nor do I have any particular interest in ships or things maritime (although my father, ex-Royal Navy, would have loved it if I would have) - nevertheless I found this a gripping story, told with vibrant colour and detail. There are typos (not as many as there were in ‘Grand Prix Saboteurs’) and the photographs are of a pretty poor quality - but I would rather have them there than not have them at all.

I am not going to spoil the story for you by saying any more - read the book and let me know your thoughts!

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