An authoritative but dull chronicle of a colorful industry that leaches out most of the interesting parts of one of the...

THE LIFE OF THE AUTOMOBILE

THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE MOTOR CAR

A prominent British historian maps out the tricky, messy, world-changing history of the gas-powered automobile.

In this straightforward history of cars, Parissien (Interiors: The Home Since 1700, 2008, etc.) begins by offering a concise origin story of the birth of the modern car and then launches into the oft-told tales of the slick behemoths who brought the product to the mainstream. “The men who were responsible for the creation and development of the global car industry were, for the most part, enthusiastic experts or fast-talking salesmen—or, like Henry Ford, a bit of both,” writes the author. “Many of the first auto pioneers were larger-than-life characters.” In addition to Ford, Parissien looks at the men who are mostly known as brand names today, including the rakish Louis Chevrolet, the brilliant engineers Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, and the French pioneer Armand Peugeot. Focusing on the characters involved in this great drama would have led to more inspired storytelling, but the historian in the author is far too ingrained. He pulls the focus way back to give an undemanding accounting of the industry’s peaks and valleys and the resulting effects on the social structures of America, Europe and Asia. There are a few entertaining moments—Parissien clearly understands the symbolism of the car as sex symbol—and there are nods to the cults of Volkswagen’s Beetle and the Mini Cooper, as well as well-known iconography like Steve McQueen’s Shelby Mustang in Bullitt, James Bond’s Aston Martin, and the DeLorean DMC-12 and its prominence in the Back to the Future movies. However, the step-by-step narrative, pulled almost entirely from secondary sources, is a grind.

An authoritative but dull chronicle of a colorful industry that leaches out most of the interesting parts of one of the world’s great pastimes.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04063-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more