“Senna Versus Prost” by Malcolm Foley
Auto racing, Formula 1, biography, rivals
May 7, 2009
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)
Auto racing in all forms has had many fierce rivalries between drivers over the years, and one of the most bitter rivalries came in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s between Aryton Senna of Brazil and Alain Prost of France in Formula 1 racing. This rivalry is documented in a book by Malcolm Foley in which he captures the rivalry through research and personal stories and recollections by many of the personnel involved with the two drivers as well at Prost himself, the surviving driver of the two rivals as Senna was killed while on the course in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
The writing in this book is very good as the reader will learn much about the workings within the various driving teams in Formula 1. The casual fan may know that a driver is part of the McLaren or Lotus team, for example, but the negotiations, contracts, and interaction between the parties is illustrated in the segments about the two drivers either changing teams or stating that they wish to do so. There are also other great passages about what took place during races between the two rivals, what teammates remembered about the drivers and even some personal moments shared.
Some other reviewers of this book have been vocal in their opinions that this book was heavily biased toward Prost, mainly because the author was allegedly grateful to just be able to speak with the French driver. This review is not going to state any opinions on this matter as being a casual fan of the sport at best, I do not have the extensive knowledge of the history of the sport or the two drivers, so this review is simply one of the book itself. Because I was enjoying these stories and did know of the fierce rivalry, I wanted to simply read the book for pleasure and see if I could learn anything new about the drivers – without looking to see how balanced the stories would be.
The closest I would come to making any statement toward this would be that I believe the book would have been better if any of Senna’s surviving family members would have been willing to share their stories. Most of the stories that were shared to the author were not complimentary to Senna. Getting more stories that portrayed Senna in a positive light might have helped avoid some of this criticism, but the book overall is still one that I enjoyed reading and would recommend for anyone who wants to learn a little more about the sport or the drivers. Personally, I felt it was an outstanding book
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
Excellent. The story of both drivers moves along well, doesn’t drag when personal stories or recollections are written, and the reader will feel he or she is living the rivalry.
Do I recommend?
Yes, especially for new or casual F1 fans. I say this because while the book does give good insight into both drivers and the history of the sport at that time, long-time or hard-core fans of the sport may feel the book is tilted too much to show sympathy for Prost. While part of this would simply be because Senna is no longer with us in order to share his recollections, reviews and editorials at various book sites and blogs do have some negative reviews stating the author’s bias toward Prost.
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