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Andrť CitroŽn Engineer, Explorer, Entrepreneur

Author

John Reynolds

Publisher

Haynes Publishing

 

Sparkford

 

Yeovil

 

Somerset

 

BA22 7JJ

 

England

 

Tel : +44 1963 442030

 

Fax : +44 1963 440001

 

www.haynes.co.uk

Published

2006  UK

ISBN

1 84425 320 1

Price

GBP30.00 UK

This book is a completely revamped, revised and enlarged version of Andrť CitroŽn- The Man and the Motor Cars published in 1996 by Sutton Publishing.  I must confess that I have never owned a copy of the earlier edition which means that I should have approached this as a completely new book.  However, curiosity got the better of me and noticing that the original edition was available from my local library, I duly went ahead and borrowed it.  However, circumstances conspired against me and I was not able to read it from cover to cover so I dipped into it; looked at the pictures and eventually returned it to the library.  Thus my original intention to approach this as a completely new work was almost fulfilled.  Inevitably I did make comparisons but these were mainly concerned with the respective appearances of the two books.  I thought the original edition looked old-fashioned (or to employ a kinder word, ‘conservative’) even by the standards of the day; not helped by its format with dense text interspersed with the occasional, well-known, monochrome photograph. 

The new book looks fresh, modern and very attractive indeed and constitutes a companion book for the author’s ‘Daring To Be Different’.  The Haynes ‘house style’ is truly excellent.  Wherever possible, colour images have been used and many of these are new to me.

John Reynolds has managed to draw on a multiplicity of sources; including surviving members of Andrť CitroŽn’s family; has been allowed access to the company’s archives and chronicles for the first time the story of the development of the Traction Avant with the result that the book has been expanded by some 25% compared with the original.  Much of the new material relates to the financial events that led to the Michelin takeover and to the rŰles played by members of Andrť CitroŽn’s family in the Rťsistance during the Nazi occupation of France.  The author has also extended the work to touch on the company’s subsequent history (although those who want an in-depth analysis of that era should buy a copy of ‘Daring To Be Different’ by the same author). John Reynolds, thanks to meticulous research, reveals the fact that the Michelin brothers, like Andrť CitroŽn himself, were of Jewish origin – a fact hitherto unknown to all other CitroŽn and Michelin historians.

Francophones will doubtless be pleased to learn that a French language edition will be published soon (although quite how John Reynolds’ erudite prose will read in the ‘Language Of Angels’ is anyone’s guess).

This book comes highly recommended.  It is well-written (indeed it would be surprising were this not the case; given John Reynolds’ impressive track record); interesting; informative; full of fresh insights and astute analysis; and attractively presented.  Together with ‘Daring To Be Different’, the author has provided what must be the definitive history of the company and the people who made it what it is up until the PSA era.

Finally, I must admit that I approached this book with something less than total enthusiasm.  The pre-Traction era is perhaps that part of the CitroŽn saga that interests me the least; hence my failure to buy a copy of the original edition.  My particular interest is in the Michelin era and I have hitherto tended to view the pre-Traction models as being worthy but dull.  I suspected that this book too might be worthy but dull, notwithstanding that I always enjoy John Reynolds’ writing.  Like most CitroŽn enthusiasts, I was aware of the broad outlines of the story of Andrť CitroŽn’s life and of the early history of the company.  I was amazed at the amount of detail contained in the book and freely admit that my preconceptions were wrong.  Even if you own a copy of the first edition, I strongly recommend that you buy this one. 

© 2006 Julian Marsh/© 2006 CitroŽnŽt


The cover of the original edition