Unbiased, fair, non-judgemental, factual - these are a few ways to begin describing this word-microscope that has been trained on the most controversial figure in car-racing today.
One can almost imagine James Allen as a surgeon who is holding the beating heart of his patient - Michael Schumacher and Ferrari (for the two are inseparable) in the palm of his hand.
Allen has been a writer and broadcaster of car-racing for ten years - and his experience shows in every chapter. His narrative style is such that the words seem to flow over the reader - it's smooth, direct, simple and journalistic.
The book may as well be subtitled "Deconstructing Schumi" - a nickname by which he is often referred to by his fans and the press - for within these pages there lies traced the journey Schumacher has made, right from his humble beginnings as a mechanic at Bergmeister's garage in Kerpen to where he has arrived today, a man who promises an incredible race everytime he revs up his engine on a Grand Prix track.
We discover that Schumacher is the most discussed man in racing today - but more importantly, we discover why this is so. Through the eighteen chapters, Schumi's robotic public image deflates and the edges to his personality soften.
Because Schumi is the soul focus of this book, we also learn about his whole support structure - Ferrari - its managers, sponsors, key team members, its history and founder, and its countless fans, the last being a group of people who are easy to relate to as they are as passionate and religious about the team and the sport as Indians are about cricket.
This work will appeal to all sorts of people, be they car-racing fans or not. If they are not, then Schumacher's larger-than-life personality and the politics and intrigues of the sport will engross them from cover to cover; and if they are, then here's their chance to get their hands on the most authentic versions of several interesting disputes involving their beloved Schumi, such as the racing incident with Villeneuve at Jerez or the slight nudge he gave David Coulthard at Spa.
An additional bonus - the book comes with atleast eight pages of coloured photographs from Schumi's life on and off the track!This article was first published on 24 May 2000.