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Enzo Ferrari's Secret War Paperback – July 1, 2011
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Well, David Manton's new book goes a long way to filling the gap in the history. This is truly nonfiction that reads like fiction, and one of the more entertaining books that I've read in years.
Of course, one has reason to doubt whether this is really nonfiction, but Manton went to the sources and interviewed just about everyone still alive who was part of that era, and he quotes those sources, in some cases verbatim. While the passage of time may have dulled some memories, I'm inclined to believe that most of what is written here is true.
It should be pointed out that only about 1/3 of the book actually deals with the wartime activities. A second third deals with Enzo Ferrari's unique relationship with a New Zealander named Pat Hoare, who as a soldier in Italy was credited with saving the life of Ferrari's engineer Colombo, without whom the postwar history of the company would have been very different. Ferrari's gratitude towards Hoare resulted in some extensive favors, even moreso than he ever granted any of his direct employees, including his World Champion drivers!
Among these were two ex-works Grand Prix cars - a type which Ferrari usually scrapped when their racing days were over - and what happened to them subsequently. One was actually converted to two-seat GT car and eventually back to its original configuration, and all of that is described here in great detail.
The last third of the book goes more generally into Ferrari's favorable relationship with New Zealand racers over the years, including how Chris Amon became one of Enzo's favorite drivers (after beating out another well-known Kiwi for the position - someone you wouldn't expect), and describing the successful Tasman Series campaigns of 1968-1970. There are many other anecdotes regarding New Zealand cars and personalities.
The book is a softcover, and the only color is Don Packwood's excellent color paintings on the front and rear covers. There are numerous black & white photos, many surely of the "never before published" variety, though the reproduction of these is not as good as it might have been. Never mind that, this is a fascinating book that belongs on every Ferrari fan's bookshelf!
I have a lot of other Ferrari books, but this one occupies a unique niche. None of the other books have covered the war period in much detail. Undoubtedly, this was caused by a longstanding reluctance on the part of those who were there to discuss a difficult period of time about which it was easier and safer to remain silent. These individuals are now in their 80's and have, evidently, decided the time is now right to start telling a few tales... This is what has made this book possible and this is what makes it unique.