Taking Charge: The Electric Automobile in America / Edition 1

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Overview

The tumultuous history of inventors and corporations who have tried to bring the electric car to the market.

Amazingly, in 1900 28 percent of all cars were electric. By 1920 the electric car had all but vanished and gas-powered cars dominated the market. In Taking Charge, Schiffer deftly explores how cultural factors, not technological ones, explain the rise of gas-guzzling cars. Schiffer brings the history of the electric car into the present, arguing that despite the Detroit Big Three’s reluctance to make electric cars, their time has finally arrived.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A cracking good read.”—Technology and Culture

“The car of the future turns out to be the car of the past, according to Schiffer in this peppy look at the electric car’s Edwardian infancy.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Much more than a historical overview, Schiffer puts his anthropology training to good effect in the text, livening his recitation with fascinating details about contemporary personalities and cultural settings. His volume provides the best insight to date of how and why electric vehicles faltered [in the past], and why that result was due more to culture than technology.”—Environment

“Part car-nut's history, part social history, this is a fine resource for popular culture and American Studies collections.”—Booklist
Booknews
Describes the early history of electric automobiles, 1895-1920, and how they vanished, not because of technological deficiencies but in a battle about money and gender. Women preferred the quieter, safer electric cars, but men wanted the roaring, speedy gas engines made by Henry Ford. Schiffer (anthropology and traditional technology, U. of Arizona) also reviews the current technology and prospects for a revival. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588340764
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Brian Schiffer is professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the author of seven books, including The Portable Radio in American Life (1991).
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 A Spectacular Flop 1
2 And Then There Was Light (And Power) 5
3 On Trolleys and Bicycles 21
4 A Technological Convergence 35
5 The Electric Automobile Goes to Market 49
6 Getting a Charge 63
7 The Wizard Comes to the Rescue 77
8 A Dark Age Descends 91
9 The Road to Revival 109
10 The Classic Age 125
11 Denouement 153
12 Prognosis for the Electric Car 175
Quotation Credits 191
Selected Bibliography 199
Index 219
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