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Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans Hardcover – June 9, 2009
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-Does a great job telling the overall story surrounding Ford's winning years at LeMans, particularly 1965 and the big win in '66. The writer is advertised on the jacket as being associated with Playboy, and that's the sort of writing you should expect.
-Lost of human interest stories. The book focuses mainly on the people involved, and their businesses, rather than getting overly deep into mechanical aspects. You'll learn a lot about the people involved, from Ford executives, to drivers, to Mr. Ferrari himself.
-Lots of very well-sourced quotes and factoids from a massive list of interviews. The book contains a bibliography and index which sum to a larger size than most chapters in the book. The level of research is really quite astonishing, and that's lovely to see for such an important historical work.
-Lack of mechanical detail. Considering the Ford GT40mk.II will be considered by any gearhead to be the "real" hero of this story, you'd expect quite a bit more detail into its interior workings and development. While you do get a good general overview of the parts involved- particularly the massive engine- this isn't near the technical manual I would have liked it to be. A good example is that the book goes into the Ford "J-Car" program, which implemented a variety of experimental mechanical designs- none of which are even mentioned when discussing the car. I'll avoid spoilers, but anyone familiar with the story will know there are critical reasons why the new parts on the J-Car must be mentioned in any discussion of its history.
-Feels a bit "broad" for a car book. Related to the point about the mechanical detail, the overall tone of the book seems to focus mostly on the people and the broad forces involved. Again, this is perfectly in line for a writer of Playboy, or perhaps think Salon. There's sufficient detail to get your car passion going, but you're probably going to want to get on Wikipedia for some of the finer details to really quench your thirst.
Any true fan is going to wish this book came with a Popular Mechanics style cutaway blueprint of the Mk.II, and the fact that it doesn't have that level of mechanical detail is my only gripe. The human interest stories are top-notch. You'll climb inside the heads of Ferrari, Ford II, Iacocca, Shelby, and a host of drivers- and there's a long list of sources for further reading. Definitely pick this one up.
=== The Good Stuff ===
* Baime does a great job of capturing much of the glamorous (and not so glamorous) sides of automotive racing at this level. Racing at this level is played for very high stakes; hundreds of millions of dollars and the very lives of the drivers are on the line, and the competition is as cut-throat as you would expect.
* The personalities are a big part of the story, and these are treated quite well in the book. Henry Ford II saw Ferrari as giving him the ultimate disrespect, and Ford, being an automotive mogul who controlled billions in technology fought back the best way he could...by challenging Ferrari's technical dominance in their premier events. Truly a clash of titans, fought in the design centers, build shops, pits and of course on the track.
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===
* If you are a die-hard racing fan, you might find the choice of material a bit disappointing. Many of the technical aspects of racing are mostly glossed over, and you won't find detailed analysis of either racing technology or race strategies.
=== Summary ===
A very enjoyable book on one of the ultimate business rivalries ever. Two men with large egos, both of whom were willing to bring tremendous resources to bear on a challenge. I would have preferred more technical details on the racing, but the story and the conflict made for an enjoyable reading experience.