Posted 02 July 2003 - 13:47
Originally posted in the "Dick & George" thread, but to keep the book topics together, I have moved this post here. - WDH
I have just finished "Dick and George" by DCN, and I thought that I should share a few remarks on this magnificent book for those who are interested.
The first thing you will note about this Palawan volume (this is not a lightweight book) is the premier quality of the production. Very nicely bound, heavy stock, first-tier layout and design, marker ribbon, etc., this book has quality seeping from it. The reproduction of actual correspondence between Seaman and Monkhouse is enjoyable, and the photography is stunning. Rather than footnotes, key terms are highlighted in the text in color with references to notes at the rear organized by chapter. Yes this book is expensive, but is worth every penny given it's substance and content.
DCN has written a narrative that goes well beyond the correspondence between the main characters. The story reveals a world of privilege and class as it existed in pre-war England. Obviously based around the racing career of Seaman, you quickly begin to understand the nature of British racing at this time, which in the main, was enjoyed by wealthy enthusiasts with an abundance of money and leisure time. A very personal story set against the backdrop of the emerging Nazi Germany and impending world conflict.
Having read previous biographies on Seaman including Chula and Nixon (Shooting Star and to a lesser extent, Racing the Silver Arrows), and having enjoyed M-B Grand Prix Racing by Monkhouse, I was very familiar with the basic story. With "Dick & George" however, DCN reveals this plot in an entirely unique style and form. This new version adds layers of texture to previous works on Seaman resulting in a fully formed picture of the man, supporting characters, and the world in which he lived.
My biography benchmark has been "Mon Ami Mate" by Nixon, but my Grand Epreuve in the Biography catagory is now this stunning new work. This book has become the new reference work on Seaman, and I suspect will remain so for a very long time.
After reading this book, I now have somewhat different perceptions of the characters of the story than I previously understood from other books on this subject.
Seaman - Very talented, spoiled, indulged, and in many ways, selfish. Very aware of his station in life. Everything came too easily to him. Nevertheless, the premier British driver of his age.
Erica - A goddess with class, culture, breeding and a overly spoiled and indulged child. Used to getting her own way in everything. In these respects, a perfect match for Dick.
Lilian Beattie-Seaman - Still a stiff Victorian battle axe, but I feel a bit more sympathetic towards her than before. Certainly against the marriage of Dick and Erica more due to how she feared it would reflect upon herself rather than for any other reason.
George - A character study of the enthusiast, well connected, highly talented with a camera, and very entertaining. Through his correspondence, you can sense the genesis of the man he will become in his later years.
Huhnlein - In the context of this story, the drivers seem to think he is bit of a joke. The one person that, beyond the confines of "D&G" that I would like to know more about. In other books, notably Stevenson's "Driving Forces", Huhnlein seems to represent all of the darkest aspects of the Nazi movement. Here, as seen from within the perhaps limited perspective of this English driver in a German team, he seems less "feral".
In short, the book has provided a highly unique glimpse of a time long past, and to any enthusiast of the period, an invaluable insight behind the scenes and into the personalities that is unavailable elsewhere. This is a book that you will enjoy many times over. I know I will.