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June 14th 2013

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Sons of Thunder ~ Neil Bradford

This motorcycling anthology of 'writing from the fast lane' was selected and introduced by Neil Bradford, and it caught the attention of at least one RC reader...

'When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motorbike and hurl it at top speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour.'

That was written nearly 90 years ago by no less a person than Lawrence of Arabia who, when he was talking about 'top speed', didn't mean tooling along at 60mph in a national speed limit; oh no, he was talking about riding his Brough Superior at over 90mph on the roads of the mid-1920s. In 1926 he averaged 55mph on a trip from Durham to Cranwell. Just think about that.

'Sons of Thunder' is an anthology of some of the best writing about motorcycling by some of the best writers and some of the most interesting characters from the last 90 years or so. We all know that 'Mr and Mrs Joe Public' think that all bikers are a bunch of hooligans and speed-freaks, and while this book doesn't exactly disprove this point (see above), it does show that we count some pretty interesting and unexpected speed-freaks and hooligans among our number.

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As well as Lawrence there are pieces by unlikely bikers such as Roald Dahl and one time Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes; then there's Professor Alberto Granado who was Che Guevara's companion on that epic ride the pair made on their 500 Norton in 1952; there's hell raiser Hunter S Thompson plus various university dons, philosophers, travel writers, journalists and adventurers, including Lois Pryce and the famously cantankerous mountaineer, Don Whillans, who in 1960 rode his 500cc Triumph home to Lancashire all the way from the Himalayas.

Not all of the contributors are angels by any means (see Hunter S. Thompson) but all of their contributions are interesting and make this a fascinating book, and a book which those of a non-biking persuasion simply wouldn't understand. There is even what has proved to be a wonderfully apposite piece, in the light of recent Spanish Grand Prix happenings, by Valentino Rossi about why you must risk all to overtake on the last bend of a Grand Prix.

Read this entertaining book and the next time that Mr and Mrs Public look down their superior noses at you in your motorcycle hooligan outfit, know that the ghosts of such luminaries as Lawrence, Dahl, Whillans, Hughes, Guevara et al are up above flipping the dreary little buggers the celestial bird.

This is a good book. Get it.

RC reviewer: Nick Farley

Sons of Thunder, compiled by Neil Bradford is published by Mainstream Publishing in paperback and ebook.
ISBN 978-1-780-57524, RRP 11.99. Buy a copy from Amazon now.

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