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The Boy

Stirling Moss: A Life in 60 Laps

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'Captures the bold, engaging spirit of one of Britain’s best-loved sporting heroes' Sunday Times
'A fascinating read and sure to be the definitive account of his life' Mark Knopfler

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the death of Stirling Moss on 12 April 2020 at the age of 90 made headlines, almost 60 years after he retired from Formula One. In The Boy, Richard Williams assesses what made him such an iconic figure.

Told in 60 brief chapters, Williams builds a fascinating and revealing portrait of a driver who was a hero to millions. As the long years of war began to recede, sport in Britain was getting moving again and there was a need for heroes. Denis Compton and Stanley Matthews were in their pomp, playing to packed houses. But Stirling Moss was a fresh face, just 17 years old when he first emerged in 1947. Too young to have served and been scarred by the war, he was soon revealed to possess not only an unearthly degree of skill but the qualities of courage and resolution noted in the generation that fought in the air and on land and sea. Their youth had been stolen; his was new and unspoiled.

The Boy explains how and why he came to occupy such a unique place in the esteem and the affections of the nation. Why him, rather than some of his contemporaries, such as Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, who shared a role in the rise of Britain as a power in international motor racing? Moss may never have been world champion, but he created a remarkable and enduring legacy, and Williams brilliantly shows just how he did it.

Richard Williams was the chief sportswriter of the Guardian from 1995 to 2012, having previously worked for The Times and the Independent. He was the original presenter of BBC2's The Old Grey Whistle Test and was the artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Festival from 2015-17. Among his previous books are The Death of Ayrton Senna (1995), Racers (1997), Enzo Ferrari: A Life (2002) and The Last Road Race (2004). A Race with Love and Death is his most recent publication (Simon & Schuster, 2020).

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (April 1, 2021)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471198465

‘Moss raced in 108 different cars, many lovingly described by Williams, who knows his torque from his traction. He writes skilfully for petrolheads but also those of us whose delight is in the quirky details... a book that is rather more than a biography. Call it an appreciation of what makes a sporting hero. This book would certainly be the starting point for any screenplay in affectionately setting out why Moss, the racer, was so revered.’

– Matt Dickinson, The Times

'A fascinating read and sure to be the definitive account of his life'

– Mark Knopfler

'Williams's fast-paced and affectionate biography...captures the bold, engaging spirit of one of Britain’s best-loved sporting heroes... [he] seems incapable of writing a dull sentence about these now legendary racing cars’

– Justin Marozzi, Sunday Times

'An affectionate and atmospheric look at what it was which elevated him to iconic status'

– GP Racing

'Williams's...work is incredibly good value for money. A fine introduction to both a bygone era and one of motorsport's greatest figures' 

– Kevin Turner, Autosport

The Boy is not a conventional biography…it offers 60 short chapters, each focusing on one incident, one person, one car or one aspect of Moss’s personality. This proves to be a fresh way of telling a story that’s been told many times before…We are in very safe hands with Richard Williams…[he] is, as ever, great at juggling the big picture and the tiny detail.’

– Colin Overland, Car

More books from this author: Richard Williams