This genial tribute to the American highway system reads like a collection of magazine featuresnot only about how and why the federal government funded the enormous network but also about such peripheral subjects as automobile factories and manufacturing methods; road signs, and why they've become smaller over the years; fast-food franchises (with an entire chapter devoted to Colonel Sanders); roadside architecture and the plethora of porticoes, pediments, mansard roofs and buildings shaped like ice-cream containers; and shopping centers and malls. Patton (Razzle Dazzle: The Curious Marriage of Television and Football also explores matters ranging from James Agee, Walker Evans, Lolita and Bonnie and Clyde to campgrounds, the mythification of Route 66, and why a building in the shape of a duck, near Riverhead, N.Y., was once the most widely discussed roadside structure in America. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
This book is a survey of the influence of the automobile on the ``American way of life.'' It is not an exaggeration to say that the automobile has altered not only the physical but the social and psychological landscapes as well. Focusing on the road rather than the automobile, Patton shows that highways, culminating in the interstate highway system, have led to the growth of the Sunbelt, the decline of the center cities, expansion of suburbia, and much, much more. With chapters on such diverse topics as the autobahn , food franchising, billboards, and the road and the novelist (Steinbeck, Kerouac, et al.), Patton has written a useful, often fascinating book that ought to be on the shelves of most libraries. Stephen J. Goldfarb, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.