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Love him or loathe him, Clarkson's a bestseller

HE IS a loudmouthed, male chauvinist with an arrant disdain for the environment and a penchant for big, carbon-belching cars: and he is role model of choice for boys.

Jeremy Clarkson's book on battleships and other big boys' toys, I Know You Got Soul, is the top choice for librarians trying to get teenage boys to read.

Alan Johnson, Education Secretary, is a fan of the often provocative motoring journalist and included Mr Clarkson's writing on a list of books distributed free to secondary schools.

The scheme, launched last month, allows school libraries to select 20 free books from a list of 170. This week, the Department for Education and Skills revealed that I Know You Got Soul has proved the most popular book on the list, pipping The Boy's Book by Guy McDonald for the title.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said that the Education Secretary was a fan of Mr Clarkson and believed the book would kickstart boys' appetite for reading.

The motoring journalist's loving descriptions of impressive machines, from Zeppelin airships to battleships and space shuttles, combined with speculation on who would win a fight between Superman, James Bond and the Terminator, proved a winner.

The book is even more popular than Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and A Short History of Everything by Bill Bryson.

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