Reviews of Taking the World by Storm have featured widely on Social Media from Facebook to Twitter. Most are brief, but this detailed review by Simon Clarkson appeared on Reddit towards the end of 2019 …
I read a lot of factual books about motorsport, and I read even more
I managed to wangle a copy of this for my birthday and thought this might be worth a quick review for the benefit of others.
The book charts the journey of the entirely fictional
Lister Storm Laser Strike team as they prepare for the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hour. The author, Malcolm Cracknell, is the founding editor of Dailysportscar. Over many years of enjoying and then writing about sportscar racing he has collected many unbelievable stories. So unbelievable that he decided to make a fictional story based on factual events that really (allegedly) happened.
The protagonist is “Smithy”, an engine builder / mechanic working for the small garagista team who are hoping to fight it out against the likes of Joest and McLaren. Other major charactes include the team owner, the other mechanics and Smithy’s girlfriend. It was nice that, while the drivers do feature (including a certain Allan
Simonsen Stevensen), it’s a book about being part of a race team – and not about what it’s like to drive the car.
The opening couple of chapters took me a little while to get into, if I’m honest, but it was definitely worth sticking with it. Initially some of the conversation is a little stilted (Cracknell is clearly more at home writing race reports than dialogue), but the story starts to flow really nicely once it hits its stride. The chapters are very short (typically just 4 or 5 pages) which is handy if you’re a “10 minutes here, 10 minutes there” kind of reader – though that doesn’t prevent you from reading the lot in one sitting.
Over the course of the story there are a number of key anecdotes that are clearly based on signifcant real events – some that are hilarious and some that are outrageous. There are links to the real life inspirations for the stories in the appendix which are a great addition. The epilogue also gives a bit more background as to the real characters behind the fictional ones (who it turns out were often hidden behind a very, very thin veil!)
I have some issues with the portrayal of Smithy’s girlfriend – very much the grid girl and eye candy of the story with little in the way of really moving the story on. I get that it’s set over 20 years ago and in “different times”, but the book certainly wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test. It doesn’t spoil the book by any means, but it’s something that I hope the author will look at a little more closely in future novels.
Overall I really enjoyed this – a great read and some fantastic (and almost fantastical) stories, well presented in an enjoyable narrative. If you read a lot of fiction you may initially find the writing a little rough, though the strength of the stories absolutely sees it through. I very much hope for a follow up and will happily buy a copy when it appears.
And as a bonus, the book features a great photo of the DSC crew, including a very young looking Graham Goodwin.
Not without flaws, but a great read for enthusiasts (so, that would be you lot then). Get a copy!
M W Clarkson
Read it a couple of weeks ago during a hospital stay. I read it in one go and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the real life anecdotes and how these are incorporated. I had no issues with the writing as a non native speaker, but i have to agree with you about Smithy’s wife, it all seemed a bit far fetched. But if you are interested in Le Mans and the behind the scenes stuff its well worth youre money!
Reddit User Jim Beam