Book Reviews

Having passed ‘National Book Day’ earlier this year (in case you had not noticed), Iain Robertson provides his views on a handful of the latest titles that he has read and gives his recommendations accordingly. 

Ferrari GTO – The autobiography of 4153GT



ISBN: 978 1 907085 27 7


By Keith Bluemel

Porter Press International


Number seven of the jacketed hardback series of large format books published by the first-rate Porter Press, this tome details just one of the astonishing 1963 Ferrari GTOs (chassis number: 4153) in all of its glorious history. While every edition of this series has been of no less than the highest possible quality, supported by informed editorial and high-class period photography, the Ferrari (not because it is a Ferrari) GTO remains one of my most desired sports cars. No. 4153 is not the ‘winningest’ of all the V12 GTOs but it contested more varied events than any of the much-prized models that are worth multi-millions today, tackling rallies, races, endurance events and other specialities in an international career that witnessed several dents and even several retirements but was always recovered and re-entered in competitions throughout its history. The author, an acknowledged Ferrari aficionado, has uncovered every imaginable detail about this car’s existence, including victory on the amazing ten days of the infamous Tour de France event in 1964, when Lucien Bianchi and Georges Berger took in a blend of racing and rallying, the likes of which would have Health & Safety executives in apoplexy today. All of the car’s drivers, co-drivers and owners have been detailed comprehensively and full-colour photographs of the car, as it is today, conclude a charming story that will provide immense satisfaction to many car enthusiasts. These books are costly but for sheer coffee-table bravado, they cannot be beaten. I rate this one as exceptional.

Behind the Scenes in the Vintage Years – Torrens (Arthur Bourne)


ISBN: 978 1 78589 852 5


By Arthur and Richard Bourne



Lovers of classic motorbikes might be aware of a renowned newspaper columnist of the 1920s to 1950s. His pen-name for readers of ‘The Motor Cycle’ was ‘Torrens’ but he was actually Arthur Bourne. This wonderful biography has been edited and supplemented by his eldest son, Richard, himself a journalist of some note (The Guardian and London Evening Standard newspapers), who remains on the ‘Torrens Awards Committee’ for the Royal Automobile Club. It is worth recalling that, in the 1920s, there were significantly more bike riders on our roads than car drivers. Two-wheeled sporting activities were held in very high regard and there were countless events held both in the UK and abroad, many of which were contested by Torrens and reported on subsequently. His contribution to equipping our airborne forces with lightweight motorcycles during WW2 ought to be more commonly recognised than it is. This is a fascinating paperback, even though it is a bit pricey. Its 308 pages are packed with black & white images and enjoyable text and I strongly recommend it to any one possessing more than a passing interest in historic motorcycles.

Quiet Barcelona


ISBN: 978 0 7112 3812 1


By Siobhan Wall

Frances Lincoln (Books)


One of my favourite world cities is in Spain. Barcelona is a fascinating destination, packed with cultural attractions, steeped in history, yet remaining modern, colourful and vibrant; suitable for visitors of all ages and mindsets. I have lost count of the number of times I have been there but the attraction remains as strong as ever. While I am familiar with some of the points of interest that Siobhan Wall has incorporated in her delightful review of Barca’s quieter spots, I was unaware of the vast majority of the 120 places she reveals. As a result, on my next visit, I shall take this handy-sized guide with me, as a means to centre in on a side of the city of which I know very little. It will certainly add another facet to my future visits to this fine location. From cafes and bodegas, to churches and museums, this is a most useful book.

Marco Polo – Vancouver & The Canadian Rockies



ISBN: 978 3 8297 5544 3


By Marco Polo


For many years, I have both used and recommended the marvellous Marco Polo guide books. When the company altered production from bound to spiral format, these practical and concise travel companions assumed a whole new level of relevance. The 2017 additions to the range include Australia, Boston (USA), Dublin, The French Riviera, New Zealand, Portugal, the wonderful island of Sardinia, Scotland and Vancouver & The Canadian Rockies. The current format incorporates a detailed magazine that informs readers of their destination; a Finding Your Feet section that includes practical tips; a range of ‘Must Sees’; then, the regional breakdown, all accompanied by crisp colour photographs, dining and accommodation recommendations and a usefully detailed pull-out map of the area. It is hard to believe that a pocket guide can be so detailed over just 212 pages but I have never felt disappointed using Marco Polo guides on my travels and I know that you will not either.

Walking In The Dolomites


ISBN: 978 1 85284 844 6


By Gillian Price

Cicerone Press


Another of the travel guides that I have no issue in recommending is the fantastic Trekking series from Cicerone. If you are into hiking and experiencing the ‘great outdoors’, then you can place your trust implicitly in the hands of this first-class publisher. It uses the services of only the most skilled and informative writers, all of whom can boast about more knowledge of the various treks and routes and how to break them down into manageable sections than any other specialists. There is a satisfying hands-on approach taken by Cicerone that provides it with a defined market advantage. The latest guide deals with the spectacular Dolomites mountain region of northern Italy and is packed with useful tips, beautiful colour photographs and the customary recommendations for short to medium hikes, all of which can be combined for the more adventurous travellers.


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