The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit (Paperback)
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In The Limit, Michael Cannell tells the enthralling story of Phil Hill-a lowly California mechanic who would become the first American-born driver to win the Grand Prix-and, on the fiftieth anniversary of his triumph, brings to life a vanished world of glamour, valor, and daring.
With the pacing and vivid description of a novel, The Limit charts the journey that brought Hill from dusty California lots racing midget cars into the ranks of a singular breed of men, competing with daredevils for glory on Grand Prix tracks across Europe. Facing death at every turn, these men rounded circuits at well over 150 mph in an era before seat belts or roll bars-an era when drivers were "crushed, burned, and beheaded with unnerving regularity."
From the stink of grease-smothered pits to the long anxious nights in lonely European hotels, from the tense camaraderie of teammates to the trembling suspense of photo finishes, The Limit captures the 1961 season that would mark the high point of Hill's career. It brings readers up close to the remarkable men who surrounded Hill on the circuit-men like Hill's teammate and rival, the soigné and cool-headed German count Wolfgang Von Trips (nicknamed "Count Von Crash"), and Enzo Ferrari, the reclusive and monomaniacal padrone of the Ferrari racing empire.
Race by race, The Limit carries readers to its riveting and startling climax-the final contest that would decide it all, one of the deadliest in Grand Prix history.
About the Author
Michael Cannell has written about sports for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Outside, and was editor of the New York Times House & Home section for seven years. His previous book, the critically acclaimed I.M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism, was published in 1995 by Crown.
"Enthralling history of road-racing's golden era... It is clear from Mr. Cannell's well-researched chronicle that men like Hill and von Trips, however different their styles, wouldn't have raced without the specter of death tugging at their shoulder."—The Wall Street Journal
"Michael Cannell's narrative rides in the shadows of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken in the way it introduces a fascinating cast while reviving a time and place in which death danced with glory... In often jaw-dropping detail, Cannell explores both Hill's triumph (he remains the only Yank to win Formula One's coveted crown) as well as the grizzly world that was auto racing in an age before safety concerns."—USA Today
"With THE LIMIT, Michael Cannell has given us a sports epic for the ages, as well as a memory of one the great eras of the American century. It ranks with John Milius's script for Big Wednesday and James Salter's Downhill Racer. As my father would say, it's not about a race. It's about life."—Rich Cohen, author of Sweet and Low
"Before I wanted to become a writer I longed to become a Ferrari race car driver. THE LIMIT dropped me into the driver's seats of the fastest cars in the world during the Grand Prix explosion of the 50's and 60's. The story here is compelling and fast...the characters are massive men breathing speed and chewing adrenalin. This is a V12 blast of a book."—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
"Vivid biography of a fast-and-furious competitor on the Grand Prix racing circuit . . . a passionate, ambitious work . . . Cannell doesn't lean on the crutch of exposition to convey Hill's intrepid, sporty story, demonstrating great talent as a biographer. A crisply written, effectively compelling chronicle."—Kirkus Reviews
"Cannell's full-throttle epic leaves you breathless."—Publishers Weekly
A roaring zip about an American who took on the 1961 Grand Prix... as Cannell recounts in this winning book, Hill would prove to be a groundbreaking figure in the history of international racing-even as his accomplishments were met with a collective shrug of the shoulders in his native country.... Racing diehards, of course, will know the outcome. But the rest of us will come to this story blissfully unfamiliar with the thrills and sorrow contained in the book's last 70 pages.—The Daily Beast
Exhilarating... Its pages are filled with tales of nationalistic ardor, devil-may-care bravura, and gallows humor. And there are wrecks. Grisly, spectacular, pyrotechnic wrecks.... The Limit reads like a thriller. And his breathless depictions of disaster will have you white-knuckling your armchair.—The Boston Globe
A testosterone-fueled nonfiction book about auto racing in its bloody golden age, The Limit provides the drama and nostalgia of Seabiscuit and the body count of Gladiator. Its riveting, guy-centric story places readers behind the wheel as two vastly different drivers compete for Formula 1 glory.... In prose as fast and unadorned as an early Ferrari, Cannell rolls out an entertaining and exciting story on the way to the finish line.—Associated Press
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