I'm going to find a Books a Million in Indy, tomorrow!
I'm going to find a Books a Million in Indy, tomorrow!
"We are all speeding toward our deaths at 60 minutes an hour." Sid Collins on Race Day, 1964
I had the profound pleasure of meeting Art and his wife this evening. They were a joy to meet and speak with. I can't wait to read the book !
"I think of Indianapolis every day of the year, every
hour of the day, and when I sleep, too. Everything I
ever wanted in my life, I found inside the walls of
the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
- Eddie Sachs.
We drive 800 miles every year to see them go 500 miles. And we're glad to do it.
Devoured the ebook in one sitting ... FYI, on Kindle at least, photos are at the end and they are sufficient in ebook format ... kudos to the author for his research and his work. The structure of the book, starting it in '63, does work wonderfully. It does absolutely capture the flavor of the times. And above all, and this is the primary payoff IMO for the author's efforts, is that we finally see the person, the human being with a family and hopes and dreams and incredible talents, that was Dave MacDonald.
Amazon has has shipped, estimated to arrive Monday.
I'll see YOU at the races!
I've read the book now. It is easily one of the best books on auto racing that I've taken in. My late father makes an uncredited cameo in the section about IMS radio reporting on the crash. Out of breath announcer identifying Hansgen as involved. One of the few but human times my Dad didn't get it right on the air. He later more than made up for it, I think, with an excellent interview of Johnny Rutherford before the restart.
One of the many strengths of the books is Mr. Garner's observations about what he thinks caused the accident. Given the data presented it makes the most logical sense, at least to this reader. I respect the fact that the author makes a reasoned summary of the factors he thinks likely contributed to the tragedy.
The book makes clear two things about the two drivers: Sachs' charisma and hard earned success as a driver. MacDonald's quiet, top notch character and his natural talent.
I bought my copy today at Barnes & Nobles. I have a long flight tomorrow and I'll be reading it on the plane.
I read too fast. It took just 2 1/2 hours for me to get through the book, but I must say it was captivating and well done.
It must have been difficult for Sherry MacDonald to relate her experiences, even though it was many years ago. I can't imagine the bereavement she must have felt flying home from Indy on Agajanian's chartered flight with a bunch of strangers.
I have scarcely gotten to the third chapter and must be reading a different book than the rest of you since I have already found several glaring errors that even the most basic research would have prevented. So far, I am quite underwhelmed. Plus, there is no doubt that it was written by a sportswriter. That is not a compliment.
And so we beat on, boats against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past ... F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ever have the feeling that the rest of the world is a tuxedo and you're a pair of brown shoes? ... George Gobel
"The series may be hesitant to say it, but the day is here for everybody that loves IndyCar racing to link arms and help each other out. Anybody who doesn’t want to do that needs to find something else to do with their time.”
-- Eddie Gossage, President, Texas Motor Speedway, ICONIC Advisory Committee & TrackForum member
Tibi Fumus Obsidio Septum Doro
I stand by liking the book. It's the rare book in any sport ... baseball books in particular are prone to that, I know because that's my favorite sport, sorry auto racing is No. 2, and I've got quite an extensive library of baseball books ... that is 100 percent factually accurate. Because non-fiction authors in general who are writing for a popular audience are setting out to tell a story, not document history, because documentations of history generally do not sell other than to a devoted mad monk squadron of people who are interested in such things. I do not criticize or denigrate or ridicule that mad monk squadron in any shape, form or fashion. God love them for their efforts at establishing an accurate historical record, and in a perfect world non-fiction authors would have a 1.000 batting average on the facts, and no urban legends would ever get into circulation. It's a pipe dream IMO to have that expectation.
"Charging a man with murder here was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500."- Capt. Willard, Apocolypse Now
"Ain't nuthin' like a piece of p***y, 'cept maybe the Indy 500."- Bunny, Platoon
"To alcohol! The cause of- and solution to- all of life's problems."- Homer J. Simpson
The only big issue I found was misspelling Ed Elesian's name as Ellison. I didn't pay too much attention to other historical stuff from before the '64 race because, quite frankly, I wasn't alive back then.
Don, I would welcome an opportunity to go over your concerns with you. We can talk on the phone or meet in person. If there is a second printing, I'd like to make any factual changes. I see several others mentioned already that I'll be checking.
BTW, I was a sports writer out of college, but that was 40 years ago. Don't think I can blame that anymore.
I need to revisit my post about the book to avoid being labeled inconsistent or hypocritical.
A few months ago, in a discussion of racing history and how stories that aren’t factual get spread, I brought up a book that was released last year on a World Series championship team of the 1950s. In the reviews on Amazon, several eagle-eyed folks caught various factual errors, as far as names, whether people were left-handed or right-handed batters, some situations, things like that. Not on every page … Peter Golenbock didn’t write it … but sprinkled through the book.
Someone responded to those reviewers who described himself as an editor of non-fiction books. He didn’t say he edited this book, but he “doth protested too much” so much that one wonders if he had some particular skin in that game.
His spiel was that the factual errors were irrelevant, that when you’re writing about something historical for a popular, general audience, the story’s first and foremost , and if you don’t have a story, nobody but the hard-core sports fans are going to pick up or download a book, and there’s not enough of them to get the kind of numbers you need in publishing today. He said the only people who obsess about such things are a mad-monk squadron of true believers and stat geeks and attendees of SABR conventions, who ought to turn to McFarland’s catalog for their reading material. (For the uninitiated, it’s a publishing house in North Carolina that has found a niche publishing a lot of sports books, lots of biographies of obscure players and retrospectives of obscure teams, many of them written by amateur “historians.”)
That does come across a lot like my post supporting this book.
However, the difference is that I don’t think factual errors are irrelevant to the point where an author/editor shouldn’t concern himself with them, and I don’t ridicule the efforts of historians (the reason I put that in quotes above is because of the qualifying word “amateur”) to come up with a true, factual historical record of the sport. I especially appreciate it in auto racing, which is a niche sport that never has and IMO never will have the following or be treated in the grand scheme of things with the importance/significance of the major league stick and ball sports, so anybody who puts that much time and work into documenting its history truly is doing a labor of love.
I don’t know the author of this book from Adam, other than his posts here and elsewhere, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who wasn’t trying to get it all right, and doesn’t seem like he’d be unwilling to fix what he didn’t get right in succeeding editions of the book, should it become one of the rare sports books that gets a second printing.
I do think he told the story well, probably better (certainly in a more compelling fashion) and with more accuracy than anyone to date has told it, and I agree with the Amazon editor/reviewer that if you’re presenting a general-release book to a popular audience, rather than a scholarly work to an academic audience, if you don’t have a story, you don’t have anything and you’re not going to sell any books. And we can all talk about “labors of love,” and in my case as a journalist I can get on all sorts of constitutional high horses about what I do. But it all boils down to the bottom line. The first and foremost reason I do what I do is the cash that’s direct-deposited into my bank account every two weeks. The reason authors, even of scholarly academic works, do what they do is because they want to sell books. The reason publishing houses publish books isn’t out of benevolence or to further the public interest, it’s to make money.
One example and I will get off my soapbox. Willie Mays’ authorized biography came out four years ago. It was very anxiously awaited. It’s now in the remainder bins. Not because the story of IMO the greatest baseball player who ever lived isn’t that interesting to a modern-day audience, but because the author in his quest to nail down every single detail … and I’m unaware that anyone has found anything factually wrong in it … left out the most important thing: Willie Mays. It is 640 pages of the most boring, turgid prose ever set down on paper or an e-reader screen. And IMO it was a complete failure.
I don’t think this book is, not in any shape, form or fashion.
"Versions of a story that are more tidy, compact, and camera-ready should generally be viewed as historically suspect." - Jackson Landers
I still have a problem seeing why the difference between "colorful story" and "accuracy" can't be split. The former doesn't have to be tall tales or truths stretched past the breaking point and the latter doesn't have to be a cold recitation of statistics or boring prose.
There's a place between Scalzo and scholar. Or a combination of the best of both, while avoiding the worst of both.
Call me a dreamer...or Ishmael.
Well, despite a rough start and a few bobbles up front, give Art the credit he is certainly due and which is very well-deserved for doing an excellent job with the book.
Having covered so much of the same ground several years ago as I was looking at the 1964 season, it is always nice when someone else independently agrees with your conclusions.
The really good news for readers is that with Art you are spared all the footnotes, annotated bibliography, and the academic language.
Other than a few things that should be easy to tidy up for future editions, at last, what I would consider an excellent book not only this particular subject, but the topic of automobile racing itself, and the Indianapolis race in particular.
Mine arrived yesterday, enjoying it now.
"You just don't know what Indy Means", Al Unser Jr.
"That's why to me it does feel more precious when an American wins it...", Michael Andretti
Writing a book is a huge undertaking. I've written two. And several chapters to books. Unless you have a editing team from Knopf or fact checkers as good as the New Yorker's there are going to be errors. Historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin have the advantage of huge teams of highly skilled and highly paid professionals supporting the project. And their first additions are riddled with typos and factual errors - about presidencies and wars.
When you write a book you are taking a risk by putting a very public product out there with your name. Yikes. Unless you have the nerves of a Jimmy Bryan, it is quite daunting.
The "errors" in this book are within the margin of acceptable error of this kind of book. Again, unless you are writing for Knopf with a huge advance and a huge team.....(by the way most authors get so very little compensation from books, even those published by decent publishers unless you are a name - really, so very little.)
So, I too stand by my assessment of this being an excellent book about a difficult subject. Among other things, I agree very much with Mr. Garner's assessment of what happened coming out of turn 4 that caused the accident.