Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best (Hardcover)
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Winner of the Motor Press Guild Best Book of the Year Award & Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism
For fans of The Boys in the Boat and In the Garden of Beasts, a pulse-pounding tale of triumph by an improbable team of upstarts over Hitler’s fearsome Silver Arrows during the golden age of auto racing.
They were the unlikeliest of heroes. Rene Dreyfus, a former top driver on the international racecar circuit, had been banned from the best European teams—and fastest cars—by the mid-1930s because of his Jewish heritage. Charles Weiffenbach, head of the down-on-its-luck automaker Delahaye, was desperately trying to save his company as the world teetered toward the brink. And Lucy Schell, the adventurous daughter of an American multi-millionaire, yearned to reclaim the glory of her rally-driving days.
As Nazi Germany launched its campaign of racial terror and pushed the world toward war, these three misfits banded together to challenge Hitler’s dominance at the apex of motorsport: the Grand Prix. Their quest for redemption culminated in a remarkable race that is still talked about in racing circles to this day—but which, soon after it ended, Hitler attempted to completely erase from history.
Bringing to life this glamorous era and the sport that defined it, Faster chronicles one of the most inspiring, death-defying upsets of all time: a symbolic blow against the Nazis during history’s darkest hour.
About the Author
NEAL BASCOMB is the national award–winning and New York Times best-selling author of The Winter Fortress, Hunting Eichmann, The Perfect Mile,Higher, The Nazi Hunters, and Red Mutiny, among others. A former international journalist, he is a widely recognized speaker on the subject of war and has appeared in a number of documentaries. He lives in Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://nealbascomb.com or find him on Twitter at @nealbascomb.
Winner of the Motor Press Guild Best Book of the Year Award Winner of the Motor Press Guild Dean Batchelor Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism “The story of the speed revolution is long and complicated, but many of its parts are amenable to heroic narration . . . money is spent and lives are lost . . . champions rise and barriers fall . . . Grandeur and grandiosity abound. It makes for the kind of history movie producers love. Neal Bascomb’s new book, Faster . . . is this kind of history . . . Like many of the cars that race through it, Faster . . . keeps a brisk pace . . . Fresh, and told in vivid detail . . . [Bascomb] describes the twists and turns of the 1930s Grand Prix races as if he’d driven the courses himself.” —New York Times Book Review “[A] well-researched account of the 1938 Grand Prix in Pau, France . . . Excellent . . . [Bascomb] moves with the aplomb of an F1 driver who starts in the middle of the pack and works his way up, car by car, to take the lead . . . Exciting, fast-moving prose.” —Wall Street Journal “Bascomb’s account of the improbable victory of René Dreyfus over Nazi Germany’s elite racing team has speed, depth, and poetry. Race cars . . . Nazis . . . Monaco . . . a brash heiress and taciturn underdog…an epic showdown in the Pyrénées. It’s hard not to fall in love with Faster, Neal Bascomb’s brisk new portrait of European auto racing on the eve of World War II . . . The season’s most exhilarating and substantive beach read . . . It’s precision-engineered for Hollywood . . . There is alchemy at work in a piece of writing that approximates the rhythms of racing. At pivotal moments, the sentences fire in escalating, compact bursts—each stalking the next like the cars crowding each other on the winding city-streets of an old-style Grand Prix . . . Bascomb’s two great strengths as a nonfiction writer are his ability to create immersive scenes and his adherence to Hemingway’s ‘show, don’t tell’ principle . . . Readers will certainly come away with an appreciation for Bascomb’s deft portraits of these dynamic personalities, and for his miraculous excavation of an entirely new story from the over-tilled soils of World War II nonfiction.” —National Review “The 1938 Pau Grand Prix has all the trappings of a blockbuster Hollywood film: cars, chaos, colorful characters, a competition between good and evil—in this case France and Nazi Germany. But until Neal Bascomb . . . decided to make the race the focus of his latest book, the tale remained little-known. Now, the story . . . has come roaring to life in truly cinematic fashion.” —Smithsonian “The cars had tyres with little grip, feeble brakes and no crash protection whatever. Hot oil would continuously spray over drivers, who raced in linen caps . . . excursions would often result in mutilation or immolation. Faster is the story of René Dreyfus, who flourished in this atrocious atmosphere . . . Bascomb writes with a confidence and elegance based on impressive research and experience in the field of adventures . . . There is not much glory in our world. But you will find it in Faster.” —The Spectator "Bascomb has re-created Europe's motorsport subculture of the 1930s, a mix of glamour, bitter rivalries and mortal danger, against the darkening clouds of fascism. A fine stylist, the author has sketched an ensemble of intriguing characters . . . he has mastered the language of propulsion and velocity . . . [Faster is] worth —