The New York Times
Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Carsby Paul Ingrassia
From the assembly lines of Henry Ford to the open roads of Route 66, America’s history is a vehicular/b>
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From Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Ingrassia comes a narrative of America like no other: a cultural history that explores how cars have both propelled and reflected the national experience—from the Model T to the Prius.
From the assembly lines of Henry Ford to the open roads of Route 66, America’s history is a vehicular history–an idea brought brilliantly to life in this major work by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Paul Ingrassia.
Engines of Change is a wondrous epic in fifteen automobiles, including the Corvette, the Beetle, and the Chevy Corvair, as well as the personalities and tales behind them: Robert McNamara’s unlikely role in Lee Iacocca’s Mustang, Henry Ford’s Model T, as well as Honda’s Accord, the BMW 3 Series, and the Jeep, among others. Through these cars and these characters, Ingrassia shows how the car has expressed the particularly American tension between the lure of freedom and the obligations of utility. Narrative history of the highest caliber, Engines of Change is an entirely edifying new way to look at the American story.
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WHEN HENRY MET SALLIE: CAR WARS AND CULTURE CLASHES AT THE DAWN OF AMERICA’S AUTOMOTIVE AGE
Someone should write an erudite essay on the moral, physical, and esthetic effect of the Model T Ford on the American nation. Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris, about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars.
—John Steinbeck, Cannery Row1
Just north of downtown Detroit on a small street called Piquette sits an inner-city storefront church called the Abundant Faith Cathedral. By the looks of the surrounding weed-choked lots and empty factories, abundant faith is exactly what’s needed, not to mention plenty of hope. The neighborhood is a postindustrial ghetto, although right across the street from the church is a functioning business called the General Linen & Uniform Service. It occupies the first floor of an old building where, as unlikely as it seems, modern America began.
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Meet the Author
Paul Ingrassia, formerly the Detroit bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal and later the president of Dow Jones Newswire, is the deputy editor-in-chief of Reuters. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 (with Joseph B. White) for reporting on management crises at General Motors, he is the author of Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster.
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In this book the author actually covers a lot more then just 15 cars. He gives us a brief concise history of American Motoring with an emphasas on cars that caused or underscored social trends, from the Model T to the Prius. His snappy prose keeps the material moving along, and he gives just enough detail to satisfy most readers, except for maybe the more serious gearheads. Some readers might argue as to which 15 cars should make this list. The Chrysler Airflow,'57 Chevy, and Ford Taurus are barely mentioned, and the hot rod and custom trends of the 40's & 50's are virtually ignored. There is a heavy emphasis on the buying habits of yuppies - when was the last time you heard anyone mention the 1927 LaSalle - but the author does make a good case for his picks. Read this book yourself and see if you agree!