Perhaps it’s just a consequence of Mr Mosley’s political disposition that his life has been lived out to the backdrop of a plethora of these accursed things. From the FIA, FISA, CIA, RAC, AA, BRDC to the ACM, Max’s life has been defined by his various administrative roles.
In many ways this is not a true biography, it’s more a memoir of selected episodes chosen by the author to elaborate upon. Indeed, early in the book Mr Mosely tells the reader there will be no discussion of his own family life in these pages although he does briefly sketch out his youth.
Readers wishing for an insight into the fascinating inter-war world of British fascism (Oswald Mosley) and British aristocracy (The Mitfords) will be almost invariably disappointed. Mosley does however recall a few episodes from his somewhat nomadic childhood.
And there is a very interesting account of his first steps in motor racing where the young racer has the privilege to follow in Jochen Rindt’s exhaust fumes. Together with a very readable account of the genesis of the March F1 team, these formative steps into Motor racing are arguably the most successful part of this book.
As Mr Mosley’s career takes him towards the Presidency of the FIA and then FISA the book edges towards the F1 specialist. For example, the FISA-FOCA war of the early 1980s and the ensuing Concorde agreement while undoubtedly being of interest to the F1 aficionado, may be of limited interest to the casual reader.
The same is probably true of much that follows. Certainly the political intrigues concerning Messrs Balestre and Ecclestone may be compelling reading for some but heavy going for others. And there’s always those ruddy acronyms strewn all over the place.
Had this book focused more on the unseen side of F1 then it would have almost certainly been a much more successful all round book, but this is Max’s story and this is the way he has chosen to tell it. I just wish his focus had been on other subjects.
As it is this book reads as an undeniably competent account of F1 issues and technicalities, but I wanted to understand the man and his milieu from a humanistic rather than technical viewpoint.
It’s much the same as we arrive at the News of the World saga. The details are meticulously set out as one might expect from a man who once upon a time had been called to the bar, but for me as with most of this book, it was the things Mr Mosley chose not to discuss which interested me more.
How did his wife feel when the story broke? After all, for all the tabloid skull-duggery involved Mr Mosley was committing adultery. In concentrating entirely on the legal angle the author once more ignores the human angle, purposely so no doubt.
A more candid account – one in which Max admitted some of his own shortcomings – might well have produced a more rounded and hence more powerful read. Too often the narrative falls into self-justification.
But it’s Max’s story - a story written by a lawyer cum administrator cum politician. It’s just that I would have personally preferred a story written by a bon viveur and adventurer with a cigar in one hand and a glass of the finest claret in the other.