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The Limit

Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era

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10 September 1961: at the boomerang-shaped racetrack at Monza, in northern Italy, half a dozen teams are preparing for the Italian Grand Prix. It is the biggest race anyone can remember. Phil Hill - the first American to break into the top ranks of European racing - and his Ferrari teammate, Count Wolfgang von Trips - a German nobleman with a movie-star manner - face each another in a race that will decide the winner of the Formula One drivers' championship. By the day's end, one man will clinch that prize. The other will perish face down on the track.

In The Limit, Michael Cannell tells the thrilling story of two parallel lives that come together in tragedy on a hot late-summer afternoon. He charts their careers from childhood and adolescence lived in the shadow of world war; through their gruelling experiences in such deadly road races as the Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans; to their coming of age in the hothouse atmosphere of Enzo Ferrari's Formula One team of the late 1950s. The quiet and self-contained Hill was a pathological worrier who vomited before a race and enjoyed Bartok and Shostakovich - rather than Campari and debauchery - thereafter; the dashing von Trips lived life as fast as he drove his 'sharknose' Ferrari, and yearned to inspire a nation fractured and traumatized by war. Both men strove to attain the perfect balance of speed and control that drivers called 'the limit': to drive under that limit was to run the risk of failure; to go beyond it was to dice with death.

The Limit is a vivid and atmospheric recreation of a lost world of seductive glamour and ever-present danger. Michael Cannell tells a moving and unforgettable tale of high speed and burning rivalry - and of young lives lived in the shadow of oblivion.

From Publishers Weekly

26 September 2011 – Forget those NASCAR wimps; the European and Latin American sports scar and Formula One circuit of the 1950s is where real men raced—and died—according to this high-octane racing saga. Cannell (I. M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism) follows two drivers for the Ferrari team: the steady American master-technician Phil Hill and a charismatic German bat-out-of-hell with the sublime name of Count Wolfgang von Trips. Driving day and night at insane speeds through cramped streets and blind curves without seat-belts or roll-bars, the two fight a war of attrition as dozens of competitors and teammates are mangled, cut in half, and burned alive in crashes. (Just watching the races was so lethal—“the hood spun loose and sliced through the crowd like a giant scythe, decapitating a row of spectators”—that the Vatican denounced them.) The author revs the narrative with greasy atmospherics and colorful figures like the Bond villainish motor mogul Enzo Ferrari—“What a pity. What about the car?” was his eulogy for a dead driver. There are also tales of womanizing, great stoicism, and a few pit stops for Nietzschean bombast: “It is danger and the insistent proximity to death that most ennobles the soul.” Cannell’s full-throttle epic leaves you breathless. Photos.
The Limit
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: 01 November 2011
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 300 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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