Barry, by Steve Parrish and Nick Harris

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The Independent Culture

In 1976 Britain ruled motorsport on four wheels and two, Formula One's James Hunt being joined as a world champion by Barry Sheene on his 500cc Suzuki. Sheene retained his title the next year before retiring to Australia in 1986 to live the good life. It was not to last – in 2003 he died from cancer, aged 52.

This biography, written with the co-operation of his widow, Stephanie, is startlingly candid at times, revealing how scared he was of dying, and how his cheeky chappy image disguised an often insecure, avaricious and downright cruel personality. But it does full justice to his brilliance on a bike, although the narrative thread is occasionally muddled, before his career tailed off due to injury, indifferent machinery and spats with manufacturers.

Former team-mate Steve Parrish and Nick Harris were part of the close-knit Sheene coterie known as The Squadron, whose birding, boozing and practical jokes are frankly chronicled. Their motto was "We'll never die wondering". Let's hope that was true for Sheene.

Published by Orion in hardback, £18.99