Im Auto durch zwei Welten - Clärenore Stinnes

Im Auto durch zwei Welten (It roughly translates as Two Worlds by Car, tho I am not sure if this was ever translated.) is Clärenore Stinnes’ account of her drive around the globe in 1929. She was the first women to circumnavigate the world in a car, which was a feat the she actually plays down in her book. She’s much more focused on the actual technical difficulties she and her co-pilot and technicians encountered on the way. And when I say technical difficulties, I mean she focuses on bits of the car falling off while they are almost tumbling down cliffs in the Andes or nearly drowning in mud in Siberia.

Her focus is truly on the car.

She doesn’t add a lot of commentary, which is probably because wasn’t a writer. She was a driver and car enthusiast. And while I imagine that her book was thrilling its readers when it was first published in 1929 because it was fresh and exciting, it didn’t quite manage to have the same effect when I read this. I belie that for me the lack of commentary (or context or added description she could have provided) makes the book a little two dimensional.

And so we have the oddest thing here: this is the first time that I actually prefer a work of historical fiction to the actual non-fiction account.

A few years ago I read Michael Winter’s book Pferdestaerken (Horse Power), which introduced me to Stinnes’ story and I still hold Winter’s book as one of the best works of historical fiction I have come across. So, while I am not disappointed by Stinnes’ own account, there are gaps in her story that I had to fill with information I remembered from Winter’s well researched and well presented almost-biography.