An exceptional work of scholarship about “our relationships to cars and through cars and the stories we tell about those...

ARE WE THERE YET?

THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE PAST, PRESENT, AND DRIVERLESS

With driverless cars on the way, a journalist asks, is America ready to accept them?

One way to begin formulating an answer is to examine the car culture that has defined America since the 1920s, when Henry Ford turned his “missionary zeal for low, low prices” into the country’s first line of affordable automobiles. In his debut book, Albert, who writes about cars for n+1, provides a witty history of the automobile and a look at the future. He takes readers on a fascinating journey covering a lot of ground: the earliest battery-powered electric vehicles of the 1890s; Ford’s first big triumph with the 1909 Model T; Alfred P. Sloan Jr., “the most important CEO in GM’s history,” who introduced car loans in the 1920s to encourage repeat buying; the birth of America’s interstate highway system in the 1950s, “by any measure the largest government project in American history”; and the push for smaller and more environmentally friendly vehicles in the 1960s and ’70s, thanks in part to Ralph Nader. All of this leads to an incisive analysis of the current culture, in which young people would rather call an Uber than own a car, and the question of whether driverless cars really will achieve their promise of fewer accident-related deaths. A late chapter on the author’s auto-repair prowess feels airlifted in from another project, but the narrative is still an entertaining exploration of American vehicle culture and American culture in general. Along the way, Albert can’t resist political jabs, most of them directed at the right, as when he writes, “America First types may be disappointed to learn that it was France that had the first car culture.” He also notes a few facts that may surprise—that supposedly safe SUVs, among the most profitable vehicles on the market, “tip over at twice the rate of cars.”

An exceptional work of scholarship about “our relationships to cars and through cars and the stories we tell about those relationships.”

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-29274-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more