“ Author: Richard Hammond / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 07 June 2008 / Autobiography: yes / Genre: Arts & Entertainment / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: On the Edge / ISBN 13: 9780753824047 / ISBN 10: 0753824047 / Alternative EAN: 9780297853275 „
I must admit I've never been one to read autobiographies but being an avid Top Gear fan I had to give this one a go and I think he may have changed my opinion! This book is honest and heartfelt and gives a good insight into the accident itself. It was interesting to read about how he saw the accident, not just what you read in the media and after reading this is seems as though the media made a fair few assumptions given that it emphasises how much he wasnt allowed to talk to them. I really enjoyed reading this book and found that once I have picked it up I couldn't put it back down! All I wanted to do was read more about him and get more of an understanding of what really happened and how it effected peoples lives. It has a good layout in that there are parts of the book which are written in Richard's point of view and part in Mindy's giving the insight from both sides. This does however mean that some parts of the story are duplicated but it just adds more depth to what you'ce already read. It also means that if you are so engrossed in the story that you havent noticed that the writing has changed (to show difference between Richard and Mindy's point of view) then you can easily confused. The book is fairly large considering it is mostly about the accident but you also get a look into how he got the job at Top Gear which I found enthralling. However, the writing itself is well structured and easy to read. There is no technical terminology about cars which keep cropping up as that is not what the book is about, its a deep insight into his life and one of the most personal parts of his life at that. If you have ever watched top gear you can easily tell that the words really are Hammond's as a lot of it has his phrasing and twang, it just sounds like him. As far as price goes I personally think that autobiographies are incredibly expensive anyway but this one is defiantly worth spending some moeny for!
I am not normally one to read autobiographies but I had bought this for my husband as he is a big fan of Top Gear and Richard Hammond. But he had never bothered to read it and when I went on Maternity leave I decided I would give it a read as I too like Richard Hammond.
I think most people will remember the crash that Richard Hammond was involved in. It was a horrendous accident that could have easily had fatal consequences.
This book covers the crash that he had in the jet car, and the events that took place running upto the accident and the months of recovery afterwards. It also gives some background into his childhood and you get insight into why he wanted to work on Top Gear.
Richard's wife Mindy tells some of the story as Richard was in a coma for around a fortnight and for a long time afterwards his memory was seriously affected. With Richard's wife writing some of the book you get a rare insight into how she and other memebers of the family heard the news, their thoughts and feelings. You get to see how Richard's accident affected other people and not just Richard, which I thought was refreshing as in most autobiographies you just get the writers point of view and no one elses.
I found the book so compelling I had finished it within two days of picking it up, I just couldn't put it down. I thought it was a very heartfelt book that must have been very difficult to write, for both him and his wife.
I purchased 'On The Edge' by Richard Hammond in paperback form the very day it was released as I had been eagerly awaiting it and I just cannot believe that I have not thought about reviewing this book until now.
The version that I have is a 309 page paperback that is available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 which is a very reasonable price. I have actually read through my copy several times now and it's a book that I am sure I will thoroughly enjoy reading again in the future as it's firmly a part of my 'keep' pile now.
Plot: This book is an autobiography by Richard Hammond who is a TV presenter on BBC2 show 'Top Gear' and covers the period in his life from birth up until dealing with his recovery from a jet-powered dragster crash at speeds of around 300mph that he managed to survive.
My Opinion: This book is fairly well constructed and talks you through the very interesting life of Richard Hammond. It is lovely to learn more about him, his life & his family and you really can feel the love for them shining throughout this book. Everything is well explained and while some of his memories are very personal and maybe not everyones cup of tea it is wonderful to hear him talking so vividly about his life and things that he almost lost forever after his terrible accident. I loved reading the part about his accident in particular because of knowing that he had made it through the other side and it was very interesting to read his take on the serious brain injury that he suffered and how his wonderful wife helped him to deal with everything. The book was very interesting and I was gripped throughout and finished this in just a few days. The book was short enough to only take a couple of days yet long enough to contain all the interesting things about his life that you could ever want to know. I really did feel that I learned a lot more about Richard Hammond whilst reading this book and it was informative, funny, witty and interesting all at the same time.
Overall I was very impressed with the quality of this book and I loved the addition of some pictures. There were just a few pages of pictures so not enough that they were trying to fill the book up with something, anything, just to make it appear bigger. The main part of this book that really shone through for me was the love that Richard has for his family and how at the end of the book he still had a fair way to go to become his 'old self' which I don't think he will ever really return to based on what I have seen on TV of him over the last few years.
I will be reading this book again in the future no doubt and everytime I have read it I've picked up something different from it and have thoroughly enjoyed the changing turns of this book and how his life has had so many interesting parts to it that I would never have imagined before when I just saw him as a Top Gear presenter.
The paperback version of this book is available from Amazon.co.uk for £5.99 which is a very reasonable price, however, you may be able to pick this up cheaper elsewhere now as it's been a very popular book.
First things first, I never every buy books! Not quite sure why, but me and reading don't seem to go well together. When this book first came out, I debating buying it, as I was never too sure if it would actually get read, and it's safe to say, from the first page, I was completley hooked. Its a brutally honest account of how he got to present the largest, well known, and loved car shows on television, the accident, and then his road to recovery. What's also nice about the book is that it's jointly written by both Richard Hammond and his wife, Mindy. Mindy writes about what life was like, and how the family coped, through the times when Richard was in a coma, and obviously didn't have much to write about! Even if you don't like Top Gear, or hate cars with a passion, I would still recommend this book to absolutely everyone.
This book is one of those rare books that takes you through every emotion possible - and that isn't an exaggeration.
Unlike most biographies or autobiographies, Richard touches on his childhood but does not spend too much time reminiscing. The memories he uses are to explain what events led him to where he is now. His interest in performing stunts in his backyard really was a child's version of his part in Top Gear. In fact he includes how his Top Gear interview and job came about.
The largest and most important part of the book centres on his famous accident and subsequent recovery. This is where the emotional rollercoaster really begins. His wife, Mindy, fills in the blanks (for example when he is unconscious), which means you get a better idea of just how bad the situation was. However the book is not all doom and gloom. Episodes like with the Lego lightens the mood and made me want to laugh out loud. A nice touch is when he thanks those that helped him through that very difficult period in his life. "On The Edge" has a flowing style that makes it easy to read, and isn't too long that the reader loses interest. Well worth a look at.
This book is the first autobiography by the lovable Richard Hammond, which he wrote along with his wife Mindy after his near death crash while working with TopGear. The book was written as an autobiography, but Mindy takes over the writing midway through talking about the time Richard was in hospital after his crash, as he simply couldn't remember these facts.
For anyone who isn't up on the knowlegde of Hammond, he's one of three presenters on BBC2's TopGear (Sundays 8pm!!) in 2007, whilst filming for the show, he crashed a high speed Dragster after a nail in the wheel ripped the tyre apart throwing him into the air and rolling him at over 200mph.
He is VERY lucky to be alive today and they say that if he had been any taller than his small 5ft7 frame, he would most probably have died. In actual fact, he was left in a coma for two weeks, and luckily recovered with no lasting injuries, returning to the show just a few months after the crash.
The book tells us about Hammonds early life, getting into broadcating, his early work with Radio Lancashire selling sheep....yes sheep!!!!
And getting a "proper job", meeting his future wife, becoming part of the best TV show in history (thats a fact!!! LOL) and everything else you would want to know about him.
The book is suprisingly good, I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was actually.
He makes us laugh and cry with his words, and any Richard Hammond fan should read this book, even if you think you already know all there is to know about him....
As a huge fan of Top Gear and especially Richard Hamond I was very upset as I'm sure many of you were to hear about the horendus car crash he was involved in.
On The Edge is Richard's account of the incidents leading up to and after the accident.
It begins when Richard is a small boy and details his love for cars even at such a young age. The story follows with Richard progressing through his career and eventually becoming a presenter on Top Gear. He talks about being excited about participating in the Top Gear stunt that would eventually lead to the crash.
At the point of the accident the book switches over to his wife Mindy. Mindy gives a very honest description of the events after the crash and Richard's recovery. Mindy tells up of the anxious time the family went through whilst Richard was still in a coma hanging onto life.
Luckily Richard emerged at the other side and made a very good recovery. There are still some scars left to this day which are also talked about in the book.
The final chapter is about his return home from the hospital and eventually his return to Top Gear.
This book will have you gasping in shock at just how much this family went through. It is a truely remarkable book about an amazing man and it was very inspiring to read.
Being a huge fan of Top Gear and the fact that Richard Hammond almost died filmimg for the show this was an autobiography that i hads to read to see how Richard really felt and how he took steps to recovery, especially as without him Top Gear would not have been the same.
On the Edge was a great autobiography it followed the life of Richard Hammond also nicknamed the Hamster, who is one of the nations favourite tv presenters and his star quality has grown significantly over the years so his autobiography was a great success.
The book goes through Richard's childhood and his addiction for speed, where he then grew up into radio and then progressed to television and then moved to Top Gear and the accident that he had in September 2006 where he suffered a serious brain injury after a high-speed car crash he was filminng the show.
The nation was gripped and the details of his accident and his recovery were in the public eye for months. It also covers his recovery, The final chapter encounters his return to the screens of the nation on top gear.
This book covers covers how the whole family deals with Richards accident and it is great to see all the support they had from the public and that Richard through such a life threatening accident actually two years on appears like it never really happened it is great to see there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is one of the better autobiographies that i have read over the years, i read David Beckhams and i was not overally impressed but Richards was full of content and was a book that i had trouble putting down, it was a great holiday read and anyone who is a top gear fan would love this book.
Most people will know who Richard Hammond is. For those of you who don't he is the presenter of Top Gear who on the 20th September 2006 was involved in a high speed car crash whilst filming for the Top Gear programme. This resulted in a head injury and admission to hospital and a remarkable recovery.
This experience lead him with some help from his wife Mindy to write a book based on his experiences and life before and after the crash.
The book starts back with Richard as a young boy who already was an adrenalin junkie performing stunts on his bike to entertain the other children. His daredevil antics and love of any kind of vehicle carried on throughout his life. We learn of his various jobs and cars leading up to getting his prized job of Top Gear presenter.
There is a great deal of time and detail spent describing the lead up to the accident and showing all the safety procedures that they went through. After the accident happens then Mindy (Hammond's wife) comes into the story. When she is writing the font is slightly different so you know it is her telling the story and not Richard. I like the fact that they both tell the story so you see it from both sides. Also obviously there are big parts of the story that Richard does not know as he was either unconscious or not able to remember.
I found it to be a really interesting story and a real insight into head injuries. However having worked in a hospital where there is rehabilitation for people post head injury it also becomes clear that Richard was very lucky and there are many people who have much bigger problems and problems which go on for longer and in many cases do not ever fully recover. If I remember rightly I think he was only actually in hospital for a number of weeks where as many people are there for months and months. I think some people may read this book and get the wrong impression that head injuries are easy to recover from but I think that this book might also give some hope and some comfort to people who have or are going through the same thing. I am sure that many of the experiences, emotions, frustrations and fears will be recognised by those who have been there themselves or watched their loved ones go through it.
The book highlights the frustrations felt from both Richard and his family. Having the same conversation over and over again with someone without getting impatient or annoyed is a very difficult thing to do. You really feel for Mindy going through this difficult time and all the while trying to be strong for the couple's two children Izzy and Willow. However there are also lots of funny moments like when they sneak Richard out of the hospital to avoid the press and then escaping in a camper van, hardly Hammond's first choice of getaway vehicle!
It is an interesting read whether you are a fan of Top Gear, Richard Hammond or just want to find out what it's like when someone has a head injury and the difficulties they face. In many ways it is a story of hope for people who have had a head injury that recovery can occur. It written very honestly and it's very easy to read. I also liked the addition of various photos throughout the book with Richard as a young boy, growing up with some dodgy hairdos, pictures of him with Mindy and the children and also photos of the car in which he crashed.
My book was a hardback book which I was luckily enough to get as a swap on Readitswapit saving me the £10.11 it currently sells at. However you can buy the paperback version on Amazon currently for only £2.99 it is well worth the money.
I have been a huge fan of Top Gear for as long as I can remember and like many other fans I was so shocked and taken back on the 20th September almost 2 years ago when the news filtered through that Richard Hammond (hamster) had crashed a jet car and was seriously ill in hospital.
As most of you will know Richard made a miraculous recovery after the accident in that could so easily of been the end for the lovable 'hamster'. This book documents that tough journey, not just from Richards point of you but from that of his loving wife Mindy.
The book delves deep into the time Richard spent in hospital revealing all he wanted to do was play with Lego and escape.
Unknown to a lot of the public the recovery period was really hard on Richard, his wife and his daughters. This book does a great job of explaining the problems he faced and allowing the reader to really understand the effects of such a trauma whilst also allowing you to be welcomed into the Hammonds lives as they tried to cope. Mindy Hammond has done a great job of filling in any blanks that are left by Richard memory in his recall of the awful time
There are some great pictures that include Richard when he was young and a reincarnation of the accident, snippets from the health and safety investigation report, along with a few copies of notes Mindy had to leave Richard so he would remember where he was and not get distressed while he was in hospital.
~+~ MY OPINION ~+~
I really loved this book and there was one point where it really hit home to me. That part was where his daughter Izzy who at such a young age manages to keep smiling in front of her ill father until she leaves. The moment the lift doors in the hospital closes she breaks down. This really did bring a tear to my eye and shows just how strong the whole family had to be to enable Richard to recover. There is also a bit about a letter Richard received from a boy who had had a similar brain trauma on a motorbike but he is writing to tell Richard not to be scared, he is not writing to a motors host bragging, this is a really touching addition.
This book is a great read for absolutely anyone aside of the fact he is a television personality this book would be interesting if it was anybodies experience , the fact that many people followed his journey through newspaper articles and television snippets just makes the reader feel more involved and allows you to relate a lot easier.
My overal opinion of this book was clear due to the fact I honestly couldn't put it down and finished the book within days of starting it to me that's a sign of a fantastic book.
If you haven't already give this book a go you won't be disappointed!!!!
I've never read a biography, not until this one. I've always devoured novels, but never biographies/autobiographies.
So what made me read this one?
I've always been a huge fan of Hammond. I loved him in Top Gear, the banter with the other presenters, the way he good naturedly let Jeremy torment him with all manner of short jokes. He was cute, friendly and lovable. I was so excited when he started branching out and presenting other shows, such as Braniac: Science Abuse.
Then one day my partner Phil says Hammond has crashed his jet car. I don't know the man, never even met him, but my stomach churned. Bombarding Phil with questions, is he hurt?, how bad is it? is he ok?. No-one knew, it turns out not even his family the extent of his injuries, so it was a waiting game for everyone.
I remember wondering if Hammond would come through this, if we would ever see him on tv again, would he be the same person?
The first television appearance was on Jonathan Ross, and I tuned in eagerly, to see if the Hamster we all loved was still there. It seemed yes he was, apart from a new love for celery, and an uncanny ability to recall everyone's phone number! What relief. During this time we had been watching the media storm against the BBC and more specifically Top Gear, claims it was dangerous, it had gone too far, it should be taken off the air.
Thankfully that didn't happen.
I wanted to read this book, as a fan, and also because I had found Hammonds interview on Ross fascinating.
Being stingy however, I waited until I could pick it up at two books for £7 in the supermarket! (In all fairness, it's only now Mia's reaching one that I get chance to read anyway!).
To be honest, I didn't expect a talented writer when I thought of Hammond, which in hindsight, was silly, he is a journalist after all. I was shocked by the unique and direct writing style he used. Somehow, there was utter honesty, without vanity coming through the pages.
The book starts with Richard taking us through his early childhood, he was a daredevil show off as a child. He dealt with teasing about his short weedy stature bu teasing himself first. He got peoples attention by performing home made stunts and tricks, with an amazing (to me) lack of fear for his own safety. He talks about how proud he was when he cut his hand so he see bone (boys!). He tells us how he was happy to lie in the cold mud for hours tinkering with his bike, and later cars with a cheap and insufficient tool kit.
The book also tells us about his family, who Hammond abviously not just loves, but respects greatly.
Then he tells us how he made it through the early years of his career, buying dodgy old cars from his measly radio station paypackets. How he spent all his free time just making sure they could manage the trip back and fore to work.
How he met Mindy in one of his rare office jobs, how he was besotted by her, and how his mate had to ask her out for him like he was fourteen. How after a handful of dates he had fallen in love with her and knew this was it.
Then he talks through auditioning for Top Gear, and on to the crash.
The background is only a few chapters, but somehow he fills it with snippets of information that seem trivial in some cases, but which provide you with a deep insight into his persona. I felt I had such an understanding of how his mind worked, and what led him to take on such death defying acts.
The day of the crash, Hammond talks in great clarity about the events leading up to the incident.
After the crash, Mindy takes over for a few chapters, explaining how frightened she was, but how she had to hold herself together, for Richard, for their girls (two young daughters), and so she could deal with Richards career, the press attention, and keep in touch with their families.
I cannot even imagine how difficult the few weeks after the crash were for Mindy. She was so heroic in the way she cared only about Richard and her girls, never leaving herself a moment to break down.
Richard and Mindy then share the writing from a few weeks after the crash to the end of the book, each giving a perspective on Richard's recovery. This wasn't confusing, as you may think, the sections were clearly separate, with different fonts for each, so you could switch back and forth quite easily.
I was hooked on this book, and finished it in a few hours. It must have been extremely difficult for both Richard and Mindy to write, and they have both done themselves justice with this one. The honesty, the raw emotion, the complete openess flows out of this book, connecting the reader in such a powerful way.
I started to read this book, thinking of Hammond as a lovable, funny, brave bloke off a car show.
Now I think of him as an amazing, complicated, intelligent man, with a devoted wife who loves him so much.
I can't recommend this book enough. I think it would be worth a read even you're not a fan. It's an amazing story in it's own right, and told brilliantly by both parties.
Widely available, though I'd recommend supermarkets where you should be able to get it for between £3.50 and £4.00.
Review may appear on other sites.
I have always been a fan of Top Gear - not because in any way I have a love or fascination with cars and engines - but because I enjoy the humour and banter between the three presenters. They all seem like good 'blokey' blokes who enjoy a laugh. I, like most of the country, was incredibly shocked to hear of Richard Hammond's horrific accident while driving a jet car, which occurred on 20th September 2006. When I saw that he had written a book about what happened and his road to recovery, I knew I was going to have to read it.
The first thing to say is that although you might find the book in the autobiography section of any good book shop, that is not really what it is. There are a couple of chapters which talk about his childhood and how he got the job on Top Gear but much of his thirty six years or so is skimmed over because that is not the intention of the book.
No, this book tells the remarkable story of what happened in the airfield that day and Richard's remarkable road to recovery. I think that when most people saw the crash shown on TV they could hardly think he would survive let alone recover so well. That is what makes this book such a moving and involving read.
One of the things you really gain a sense of from the book is how close knit Richard Hammond's family is. His wife Mindy played such a key role in nursing her husband, his two daughters were incredibly brave when 'Daddy was poorly' and his parents, brothers and their families formed a very tight support unit and his appreciation of all this comes through in the book. Also you appreciate the closeness of the Top Gear team and you can see that the cameraderie displayed on the programme is absolutely genuine and not just for the cameras.
Probably about a quarter of the book is written about the events of the day of the accident itself. Richard remembers everything up to the crash incredibly clearly and so the events are very detailed. Although I was fascinated by his recall, some of it was a bit more technical for me, and I did find myself having to concentrate quite a bit through this.
I actually found myself thinking that although this was a fascinating book I really rather wished that his wife had written a book as well because I was really interested to know what it all felt like for her. I couldn't believe it then when, immediately after the chapters dealing with the crash, Mindy, his wife, took over the writing. From then on she is the one who writes about everything that happened in the hospital in those early days, which obviously makes sense, as Richard has little recall of those days. It was at that point that I really became absorbed in the book and read about 100 pages all in one go!
As a wife and a mother, I really empathised with everything she had to go through from the initial phone calls, the fear that he might die, the glimmers of hope gained from every small step, but most of all facing the realisation that her husband may no longer be the same man she married. She talks very honestly about how sometimes Richard hardly knew her, his mood swings, and his short term memory loss which meant that sometimes he would initiate the same conversation many many times with no recollection that he had already asked the same thing. She also talks about having to be strong and practical and also incredibly strong for the sake of their daughters. I found reading her chapters so very moving and there were many times that I could feel my tears welling up as I was reading.
To the outside world it appeared that Richard Hammond did make an amazingly speedy recovery but this book demonstrates that it was not an easy road at all. There were many setbacks in gaining his memory and his confidence. He became very withdrawn and nervous of strangers which is such a contrast to the man you see on the TV. There were also some very touching moments when he rediscovers his boyhood love for building things out of Lego. This almost became an obsession for him but also aided his brain in its recovery.
There is also a great deal of humility in the way this book is written. He often says that he couldn't understand all the fuss over 'that little bloke who drives cars on the telly!'. It does show how much they appreciated all the acts of kindness and messages of goodwill shown to them by the general public as well as their family, friends and the Top Gear team.
It's not a perfectly written book by any means but it is a remarkable story. It's wonderful love story between him and his wife, and it's also a testimony to all the teams of surgeons, nurses, doctors, air ambulance staff who helped him on the road to recovery and these are all acknowledged at the back of the book. It is written for their daughters Izzy and Willow and also:
'anyone wh has suffered a brain injury in any form, with best wishes and hope for the future'
Richard Hammond knows that he is one of the lucky ones which is why I think the above dedication is very poignant.
I definitely do recommend reading this book whether you are a fan of Richard hammond or not. It provides a very real insight into a very brave but ordinary family whose lives were all very suddenly turned upside now. And the scary thing is, it could be anyone's story!
I read this book after buying it for my husband for Christmas. I am a voracious reader, but even by my standards have finished this pretty fast (less than 2 days, and yes, I also have a full time job!) I am not normally a fan of biographies, I tend to find that most of the time the truth is not more entertaining than fiction! However, this book was different, it tells a difficult story honestly and with courage.
On The Edge is the biography of Ricahrd Hammond, TV presenter and journalist. who (until September 2006) is most famous for presenting Top Gear. Whilst filming for Top Gear, Richard had a crash in a jet powered car, whilst travelling at almost 300mph. The effects were devestating, and he was airlifted to hospital with serious brain injuries. This book deals with his life, before and after the accident.
The book does not dwell on Hammond's early life. His childhood is mentioned in the second chapter and there is the obligatory embarrasing photos, but other than that it covers his career in broadcasting. For me, this was a definate bonus. I have found the "early years" sections in most of the biographies I have read pretty tedious! Realistically, most people bought this book to read about the jet car crash and top gear, not Richard Hammond's childhood!
From chapter 3 onwards the action moves to Richard's career in broadcasting. He started out in local radio before landing the top gear job. The atmosphere on set at Top Gear is described, as is his joy at getting the job. There is some mention of his wife, Mindy, and daughters, who really come into their own later on. There is an in depth description of Richard's memories of the day of the crash. As he says, there is no way of knowing exactly how accurate they are, but the health and safety reports tally well with his recollection.
It is from the point of the crash onward that the story really becomes compelling for me. Mindy takes ove the telling of the story from chapter 7, and it is shared between them for the rest of the book. The story of Richard's coma, inital amnesia and miraculous recovery are told sensitively and compasionately by someone who obviously loves him very much. It must have been an agonising experience for his whole family, and I'm sure that reliving the most difficult times to write the book must have been very hard. The difficult times are dealth with frankly, both by Richard and Mindy. The frustrations they must have both felt at times must have been overwhelming, but they were dealth with as calmly as possible, despite the terror they both felt at times.
In some ways, I would have liked the book to go further, describing the recovery process for longer. However, as Richard says he thinks he has been changed by the experience and does not know how long he will be revovering for. The afterword describes how he felt at the time of publishing and that every week he charts his recovery further.
In summary, I really enjoyed this book, even though I am not an enormous fan of Richard Hammond or biographies! The story is deftly told and you feel a real emoathy for the charcters throughout. I would definately recomend it to anyone, even if their only interest in the topic is that they a moment on 20th September 2006, to hope that "The Hamster" survived his horrendous accident.
Also posted on ciao as sk0680
I remember hearing the news in September 2006 that Richard Hammond had been involved in a serious accident. I was surprised at how much I followed his recovery as prior to that he had not been on my radar at all. I knew who he was from the odd Top Gear I had watched, but now it seems that he is one of the most recognisable faces in the country. I am now an avid Top Gear fan, and cannot comprehend why the show and it's humour had not grabbed me so forcefully before.
Most people know the story. Richard was filming for Top Gear when he was involved in a crash whilst travelling over 200 miles per hour in a jet powered car. The story and pictures were all over the press and how he even got out of the car alive was amazing, but not as much as the recovery that he went on to make. We, the watching public read about the crash, and his progress in and out of hospital, but this book, written with his devoted wife Mindy details exactly what happened through this dramatic and emotional time.
The book is not strictly a book of his life, as his childhood is only briefly covered, but it gives you a taster of the man as a boy, and how in so many ways he has not grown up. He has been a petrol head since his boyhood and it drives his life to this day. It progresses onto how the couple met, and how much of a devoted couple they are. Reading this equips you to get into their heads somewhat and feel the desperation they both must have felt post accident. What I also found especially touching was the unwavering support and devotion shown by his colleagues, especially Jeremy Clarkson, who basically dropped everything to be by his friend's side, and I strongly believe would have stood by and allowed Top Gear to have been cancelled if that is what The Hammond's had desired. That is true friendship and camaraderie for you.
The book actually starts with a journey across the Arctic on his return to Top Gear. He found the journey nigh on impossible at times, and rather than seeing this as something he naturally found difficult, he started to second guess himself and wonder if his lack of ability was down to the brain injury he suffered. This is something I am sure he will do for the rest of his life, and whilst many expected him to disappear from public view, this is a man who lives life to the full and more importantly with no regrets. He is back on our screens, and as daring as ever, but now there is a vulnerability about him which makes him even more likeable. He explains why as a devoted family man he takes the risks that he does, and it is hard to disagree with him.
The book is written very well, and the emotion pours from the pages. At times, I was laughing out loud, and then within a few pages there would be tears in my eye, and other times when I held my breath even though I knew what was coming next. That to me is the sign of a good writer. I know that making him a celebrity does not make his recovery more or less special than the Average Joe, and The Hammonds are mindful of this, especially in the parts that are written by Mindy. Her empathy for Richard's fellow patients is heartfelt and an important element of the book. Neither of them try to gloss over the reality of a brain injury, even if some of Richard's behaviour does not endear him to people.
I received the book for Christmas, and it has now been read by me, my husband, my mum, and now my best friend has it because we each have recommended it so highly to the next person we have given it to. I wonder if this will lead to a writing career for Mindy Hammond, as she is very accomplished and brings the reader into her world with ease. There has been a lot of negativity around them telling their story for money, but make no mistake, this is therapy for the couple, and I am sure has benefitted many readers who have faced a similar recovery.
The hardback is available on Amazon for £9.49 at the moment.
Like many loyal fans, I was delighted by the return of "Top Gear" to BBC 2, especially after events in the autumn of 2006 gave us a belief that the show might be taken off the air. This was the result of a very serious accident suffered by one of the show's presenters, Richard Hammond and led to an international outpouring of grief and support for him and his family.
The beauty of Hammond's TV work, no matter what programme it's on, is that he makes it all look so much fun and so easy. He gives off the air of being one of your mates who just happens to be on TV, especially on "Brainiac" and "Top Gear", where his cheeky sense of humour and his natural enthusiasm are given full rein. Whenever you watch him, it feels like he's about to walk out of the studio, into the pub and say "you'll never guess what I just did/drove/exploded" and have you in fits of laughter for the rest of the evening telling you all about it.
We get a brief look at how the cheeky young boy became the cheeky young man and how he has been obsessed with motoring since he could drive a toy car. He sketches in a few details of his time in local radio and on "Top Gear" presenter, before recounting the day of his accident. His wife Mindy takes over the story while Richard is easing in and out of consciousness in Leeds General Hospital and you get both sides of the story once Richard has been transferred to Bristol and is more coherent.
The parts of the book are quite distinct, with Mindy's parts being quite simply written but full of emotion and Richard's having more humour, but in the immediate aftermath of his coma, written in short, snappy sentences. It's superbly written, as you get to feel Mindy's distress and the love she has for her husband and the short sentences convey Richard's mental distress and confusion as well as any words he could have used.
The book takes you through the whole range of emotions. Before the accident, recollections of Richard's about his horse riding style being "like a monkey riding a piano" remind you of the cheeky bloke he is and you can't help but laugh. Later on, Mindy's thought whilst looking at Richard is a coma "My world was in front of me, in that bed with tubes and monitors all over him" conveys her love so simply and so beautifully that I was nearly moved to tears; a feeling that would be repeated more than once as I read her part. But even in the darkest moments, Richard's humour shines through. I can't think of anyone else who would observe that "Post-traumatic amnesia helped alleviate the boredom".
I was a fan of Richard Hammond before, but having read this I am full of admiration for both Richard and Mindy. They have opened up their lives and their emotions to tell the story of the most personally harrowing experience that either of them is likely to go through. Every moment of weakness, every time they caused themselves embarrassment, every emotional and physical trauma is on the page for us to read. The whole recovery process was an act of bravery from them both and this is possibly the final, yet bravest step of all and one which may help those recovering from similar incidents or with family or friends in Richard's position.
I'll admit I was a little disappointed at the start that there wasn't more on Richard's life prior to the accident, as his early years were very much sketched over. This makes the book more an experience of an incident than a true biography, although as that was a defining moment in his life, this is understandable. Richard is determined not to let this accident stop him, so there will hopefully be time for a full autobiography in a few years. I may not have got what I expected from this book, but what is here is a wonderfully emotional account of an accident, a fight for health and a deep and abiding love that should be sold with a free box of tissues.
A cover price of £18.99 is really quite expensive, but this time around it's worth every penny and the copies going on Amazon for £7.59 and on Play for £6.99 are an absolute steal, as are copies on eBay from as little as 99 pence. This is a book more for the fan of the man rather than the fan of "Top Gear", although if all the show's fans like the man as much as I do, it's more or less the same thing. He may be short in stature, but the man has a huge heart.
This is a slightly amended version of a review previously published under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Gripping account by Richard Hammond of life before and after his terrifying high-speed car crash.