The Cruel Sport, by Robert Daley

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The Independent Culture

First published in 1963, The Cruel Sport has been re-issued.

First published in 1963, The Cruel Sport has been re-issued. It contains all the charm and quality of the original, but an epilogue and some portraits of drivers such as Jackie Stewart have been added. The layout is very much in the style of the early Sunday newspaper colour supplements, with large bold images (also by Daley) laid out in a very "magazine" style, starkly evocative of a different, but hardly golden, age. How could it be, when so many died so young?

It is also a wonderful read, because Robert Daley's words are so brutally frank about why people race cars and why people watch them. A veteran journalist, notably with The New York Times, he has the good hack's kill of grabbing reader and not letting him go. In his words: "As I watched all these young men die, it became harder and harder to see their sport as sport. What they did had nothing to do with laughter or love or pleasure or even pain. Its excitement, it seemed to me, was based on the tendency of human beings to make mistakes, and on the extreme fragility of human life."

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