THINKING SMALL by Andrea Hiott


The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle
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The well-researched story of an iconic car.

Translated from German, Volkswagen means "people's car," an ironic moniker considering that the company was founded in 1937 by the Nazi trade union. Nonetheless, the company's signature product, the Beetle, became one of the most iconic autos in the United States. How? As Hiott writes, it was a felicitous combination of smart design, an affordable price point and savvy advertising and marketing. Even today, the company knows how to creatively raise brand awareness—the publication of this book was timed to coincide with the release of the newly designed Beetle. Hiott’s debut is an assured, enthusiastic account of a company that, oddly enough considering its rich, controversial history, has yet to receive such in-depth treatment. The author goes beyond the cars themselves, exploring why the Beetles of the 1960s and ’70s—certainly not the sexiest or most impressive automobiles—became hip. Since the majority of the action took place decades ago, there's very little in the way of conversation in the narrative, but Hiott's passionate authority makes for enjoyable reading. The sheer amount of detail may deter readers who have limited interest in the Beetle, but if you're a fan of fahrvergnügen, this is essential stuff.

A must-read for hardcore car buffs and a must-skim for casual drivers and general readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-345-52142-2
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2012


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