Well, the full title is “The story of the car that conquered the world,” but that’s a bit long-winded to be honest. As it turns out, that’s the least of this book’s problems. The main one is that it was written by Ben Fogle. I’ll concede, I didn’t hold out high hopes for this book, but it still managed to disappoint on a level I didn’t think was previously possible.
I will concede that this is a book review based on two chapters. After a tedious Prologue that told me nothing, and the first chapter, I concede that I threw the book to one side. The problem here is that this is a book about cars, written by someone who knows pretty much nothing about cars. It is often said that to be a true car enthusiast, you must own an Alfa Romeo. Mr Fogle can’t even spell the name correctly. Nor can he apparently spell axles (misspelt on the very first page). Then there’s a photo of Fogle with his Series 1 Land Rover – a “wheels behind the grille” model apparently. Oh, good grief. This is a book written about cars by someone who lacks the knowledge, then proof-read by someone who seemingly has even less knowledge. I’m not sure what publisher William Collins was thinking. Well, I guess I do. Such was the fever about the end of Land Rover production, that cashing in on this does seem a sensible move. I don’t dispute that. I only dispute the end result.
Seriously, it’s like asking The Pope to write a user guide on condoms, or asking Donald Trump to write about the history of feminism. The result can only be disappointment. There must be thousands of people who would be better placed to write a book on Land Rover.
The final nail in the coffin comes in italics, right at the start of the Prologue on discussing Land Rovers. “I will sometimes refer to them all using Defender as a collective noun. Please don’t hate me.” Sorry Ben, but you leave me very little choice. I can’t even forgive Jaguar Land Rover for referring to all Series Land Rovers as Defenders. It is unforgivable.
I’ll leave the final word to the Daily Mail. If they can describe as book as “Funny, entertaining and really rather inspiring, too” then you know it’s going to be terrible.