Reading Speed

THE LIFE OF SENNA

Posted in Biography by readingspeed on June 16, 2009

Tom Rubython

BusinessF1 Books ISBN 978-0954685706

There is a none too subtle implication in the title of this book. Calling it The Life of Senna gives us the tacit proposal that there is something more to Senna than just his life; that he is a metaphysical construct with a relevance beyond his worldly existence. This notion is well founded by the facts of Senna’s dramatic life and death – he achieved greatness in a relatively short time and then died in order to redeem a future generation of F1 drivers from racing culture that placed little emphasis on safety. Even the cover of the book depicts Senna in a reflective and lugubrious cast in the manner of a saint in a Florentine portrait of the proto-renaissance.

Senna is both a bane and a blessing for a biographer in that he offers everything: ecstasy, tragedy, intrigue, politics, a diminutive French nemesis in Prost and an epic legal battle over the circumstances of his death as a coda. On the matter of documenting the arc of Senna’s career and the motivation that propelled him the author does a fine job. However, perhaps overwhelmed, by the sheer magnitude of Senna the author is tempted by the indulgence of many distracting and unnecessary longueurs. There are several prurient and superfluous passages about Senna’s life that have the suspicious whiff of speculative fiction about them.

Ultimately this book is flawed by its subscription to the beatification of Senna. It has a whole chapter exclusively devoted to Senna’s pseudo-religious utterings. These pronouncements are not coherent and certainly did not inform Senna’s, inconsistent at best, personal moral conduct. Senna’s career and life has ample drama and interest; it does not need to be embroidered by trite demi-religious insights that have as much relevance or insight as the crazed mumblings of a bus stop dwelling derelict.

RS Rating: 5/10

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