The Power and the Glory

“The Power and the Glory: Senna, Prost and F1’s Golden Era” reviewed

Book review

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Since Haynes took a step back from motor sport prose publication, there has been a tendency for new Formula 1 books to re-tread rather than break new ground. So it is with ‘The Power and the Glory’ which covers in-detail the Hardly neglected Senna/Prost rivalry (you may have come across this).

What is beyond doubt is that this was a glorious era for the sport; a technicolour spectacle for the first time easily available to millions of viewers at home, backed up to great cars and some sensational rivalries. The late 80’s/early 90’s got me, and millions of others hooked on the sport. Maybe I look back with Mansell-tinted spectacles, but my recollection of events is broader than the slightly reductive Prost/Senna rivalry.

In terms of publications, this is a particularly crowded area, with Sedgwick jostling for space alongside Malcolm Folley’s ‘Senna vs Prost’ plus a seemingly limitless supply of Senna biographies.

Sedgwick certainly writes with enthusiasm and is clearly passionate about his subject matter, with energy bursting off the page – although this is an obvious point; there are lots of books out there about iconic periods in the sport which the author seems to dislike.

Much of the prose is heavily influenced by Nigel Roebuck, and these are some of the weaker passages, as Robuckian portent is striven for but not quite attained. What the book cannot overcome is one of the principle challenges facing chroniclers of recent sports history – the abundance of source material on streaming sites and online magazine archives.

It is entirely possible to write a comprehensive history of the era without a massive reliance on first-hand contributions and interviews from the participants. For the author this presents a fine balancing act between covering events as reported and commentated at the time, whilst also adding in historical context.

For all his passion, the author is not an F1 insider, and therefore he perhaps misses some of the available insight. The book suffers from a dearth of first-hand interviews, which would help to layer in perspective to some of the more contentious events.

However, I still came across nuggets I didn’t know about – the Pembrey summit in early in 1989 being a good example, which indicates the available sources have been well-mined.

Fundamentally this is a comprehensive chronicle of the era, and if you’re new-ish to F1, then there are far worse places to turn for a primer that tells events as they unfolded. However, I still believe that the definitive book of the of F1 decade from 1984-94 is yet to be written

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F1 Fanatic rating

Rating two out of five

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The Power and the Glory: Senna, Prost an F1’s Golden Era

Author: David Sedgwick
Publisher: Pitch Publishing
Published: 2018
Pages: 320
Price: £19.99
ISBN: 9781785313653

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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Posted on Categories 2018 F1 season, F1 books, ReviewsTags , ,

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  • 5 comments on ““The Power and the Glory: Senna, Prost and F1’s Golden Era” reviewed”

    1. Am I right in thinking there is someone who’s commented on here who’s currently researching a book specifically on 1994? Or did I just dream that?

      1. @bernasaurus, yes, there is somebody who I believe posts on this site who is currently drafting a book about the 1994 season. He has created a website to give people notifications about his progress towards the final book – the address is http://www.1994f1.com/

        In some ways, this kind of book is the reason why he was motivated to write his own book about the 1994 season. Just as this book is a “by the numbers” narrative that sheds little new light, so he felt that so many of the books which covered that season tended to retread the same ground and never really tried to answer many of the questions that he had about what happened, to the point where he eventually decided to tackle the subject himself.

        1. Thanks! I look forward to it, that season had so many narratives running through it, done well, I imagine it could be a fascinating read.

    2. Schumacher crashing into Senna’s Pallbearer for points was a nasty end to 1994. Don’t fancy going there again.

    3. The most insightful books (on and off track) have always been the Heinz Pruller annual series. From updates, attained top speeds, really rare bits of info.

      But you have to be able to read German.

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