On the Edge by Richard Hammond

Published November 8, 2016

On the Edge by Richard Hammond

Book info

  • Title On the Edge
  • Author Richard Hammond
  • Year 2007
  • Genre Memoir

Richard Hammond is one of our most in-demand and best-loved television presenters. In September 2006, he suffered a serious brain injury following a high-speed car crash. ON THE EDGE is his compelling account of life before and after the accident and an honest description of his recovery, full of drama and incident. An adrenalin junkie long before his association with Top Gear, Richard tells the story of his life, from the small boy showing off with ridiculous stunts on his bicycle to the adolescent with a near-obsessive attraction to speed and the smell of petrol. After a series of jobs in local radio, he graduated to television and eventually to Top Gear. His insights into the personalities, the camaraderie and the stunts for which Top Gear has become famous, make compulsive reading. It was whilst filming for Top Gear that Richard was involved in a high speed crash, driving a jet-powered dragster.


I’ve put off reading this for a while because it felt like a personal story that wasn’t really any of my business. But then I saw that Hammond was remembering the ten year anniversary of his crash and thanking everyone that helped him, and I realised it probably is a story that is worth reading, if only to realise how thankful we should all be for the amazing medical profession.

It’s a good memoir, written by both Richard and his wife Mindy. There are a few brief chapters explaining Richard’s daredevil character and how he ended up sitting on that runway in a drag racer, but the majority of the chapters are about his immediate and more prolonged recovery.

If I have any complaints, it is only that I would have preferred more about the after effects, the emotional journey, the difficult time had relating and remembering the real world. Instead, much of it was focused on the first couple of weeks, where it was about immediate damage control and mostly in the hands of the medical profession. Telling the story of how brain injuries like this affect your life for such a long time afterwards would be perhaps more useful - but equally is a very personal set of circumstances to ask someone to share.

So, instead, bravo to Richard and Mindy for sharing their story, and hopefully it can raise awareness and bring comfort for anyone in a similar position.

Revisited 2022

I’ve been watching the second series of Richard Hammond’s workshop recently and that sometimes features Mindy and I suddenly remembered that she had been involved in this book - sharing her side of what was a terrible moment in both their lives. Having more insight into their family life (Mindy is constantly telling Richard off on that show, and we get to see his two daughters occasionally too), I thought I would give this another read as it might mean a bit more than it did the first time round.

I opted to listen to the audiobook, well read by both the authors, and it did mean more. Poor, poor Mindy. Even though she’s always known his job on Top Gear could sometimes be dangerous, you just don’t think something like this is going to happen!

I still think the ending is a bit rushed, but equally it’s not like Richard hasn’t been around and sharing his story in different ways, so this is still a really good memoir of a very difficult situation.

Rating: 4 / 5

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