Sunday, November 27, 2011

Steve McQueen, A Passion For Speed, book review

In brief, here it is by the numbers
5 chapters
96 pieces of paper between the covers, 192 sides
27 of those sides are blank, have nothing but a caption to the opposite page photo, or are just title pages
25 and about 1/2 sides of paper are text. Total. Good reading, and highly informative yes... but not a lot for 192 sides of paper

The form and layout are nice, good presentation, with high quality photos

Photos: 49 color images, 4 of those were movie posters, 2 were of auctions and not of Steve, 2 magazine covers, and one full page advertisement for Porsche

Biggest disappointment is that the chapter on physical fitness, though a really good informational read, takes up 32 sides of paper and none of those are about the "Passion For Speed" as it relates to vehicles. They are about his workouts, training, exercise. Relates to his ability to endure the driving conditions on motorcycle, race cars, yes I can see that... because he stayed in good shape and the chapter proves it... but I wanted to be receiving pages of Steve and his "Speed" related vehicles in text or photos. Not his home gym and pool photos... to which there are 1.65 sides of paper of text. Yes, of 32 sides in the chapter on his fitness titled "The Body as Tuned Machine" poor grammar there, it has 29.35 sides of paper with black and white photos of Steve working out or swimming. Not good. 22 full sheets of black and white photos of Steve in this chapter, working out with weights 5 photos, 3 with punching bag, 5 misc, 10 swimming or at the pool/hot tub... this is ridiculous, and not what I want in a "Passion for Speed" all from a Time/Life photo shoot. Waste of space in this book.

26 photos of Steve with motorcycles, 4 of those were on the set of the Great Escape.
 4 photos with his Lola T70 at races (I've posted these before, here they are again for reference)
3 photos from the Sports Illustrated car review article in 1966 I posted here
2 photos of the Porsche 908 while racing from the 1970 12 hours of Sebring
5 photos from the set of Bullitt (and I haven't seen 4 of them before)
9 photos from the movie Thomas Crown Affair
13 photos from the movie LeMans
4 photos of Steve with the Jaguar SS

26 photos in the chapter about his garage (big disappointment)  that show his vehicles, none show his aircraft, but this may be due to that information perhaps being thoroughly covered by the book Steve McQueen's Garage. No photos of his garage, none of the garages he had, none of the vehicles in storage barns or hangers, and no photos of the vehicles he had collected... as a group or collection. So, to have a chapter on his "Garage" is in appropriately termed, as no images of any outside, open doored, or inside of his garages are in the chapter, nor in the book elsewhere. Damn disappointing.

5 of those 26 seem to be there to display his first wife and Steve, with vehicles, but one is a magazine cover that I've mentioned before, and another... get this, in the chapter about Steve's Garage, titled "McQueen's Garage" is a photo of Steve and wife Neile happily embraced on a couch for the 1963 Life photo shoot.

Another 5 of those 26 are auction promotion shots... 3 were motorcycles, one was the 57 Chev truck, and the other was the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso

Things I learned that I did not know:
The "Ringadingdoo" Kawasaki 100cc G31M, that he had an Excalibur he and his wife owned, that he'd been in the Marines - and the Merchant Marines where he had been a mechanic which prepped him for the Sand Pebbles role as an MM (machinsts mate in Navy lingo) ,  that he'd been a part time mechanic in a motorcycle shop that serviced James Dean's machine, how much work he'd had Tony Nancy do to his cars, and a good list of the cars, airplanes, and bikes that Steve had owned

This book doesn't get his name right. Author or edittor or both, ought to be ashamed.

 I think it may be an error copied from Wikipedia. This book says his first name is Terrence and that his middle name is Steven. His 1977 vehicle registration and this mugshot I've posted before shows that the police labeled him Steve T McQueen. And DMV and cops usually get that sort of bureaucratic detail about first names first, middle names inthe middle, and last name last... correctly. So, would he be named by his parents with his fathers first name (Terrance) as a first or middle name? Usually that middle name is the one from the parent.
Also says his middle name is Terrence

Another error was calling a Ford a "Tutor" not a Tudor. Seems like a typo perhaps, but its the same error found in other accounts of the James Dean wreck 
Things not in the book that belong, the story about tricking the cops into giving him and his wife an escort to the hospital in the Jaguar SS
I don't recall any mention of his time spent talking to, or interacting with Carroll Shelby (who loaned him a Cobra for a couple months to entice a sale), or driving the Cobra (excluding the Sports Illustrated car review article) no mention of Max Balchowsky on the Bullitt Mustang and Charger work, or of Steve's hanging out at Max's "Hollywood Motors" that I read somewhere was connected to his friendship with James Coburn who turned Steve onto Ferrari's and introduced him to Max because Coburn had his sports cars kept up by Max.

No mention of the 1969 Baja race where Steve was co-driving a Hurst Baja Boot. James Garner was also in that race was a friend... and neighbor who Steve would piss off by tossing empty beer cans onto his drive way... and co star (along with James Coburn) in the movie Great Escape

and when you know that Steve owned 210 motorcycles, 55 cars, 5 airplanes... you expect more would have been mentioned and shown.

Overall impression of this book...
 not worth the money (40 dollars list from the publisher ) but online for about 25 bucks new, less if used. The less you pay the better the trade of your money for the amount of information and entertainment you'll recieve. There have been about 2 dozen books made about Steve McQueen, and a ton of information available online (I've posted lots myself) and this book doesn't compete well enough to justify your time and it's full price cost
Not well editted
 22 sides of paper have nothing, or just a caption for the opposite side, too much about French poets, and Japanese philosophers
Not well researched / not well filled.
 I've posted many photos of Steve from many sources, and some info and stories and this book wasn't filled with the many easily learned things about Steve McQueen and his enthusiasm for racing in buggies, cars, and motorcycles.. too much is missing and so easily found online (like )
This book failed to impress me with the chapter "McQueen's Garage"and wasted 22 sides of paper on photos from a Life or Time magazine gallery of Steve's workout.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Save your money and don't buy this for $40. With his iconic and explosive rise to fame during a time when movies were what people did Fri-Sat night, this book seems disappointing. He was, after all, in the same era as Paul Newman and yet so little documented about his addiction and affection for "speed".