This is a fascinating topic and there are sections which I really enjoyed in this book. The Volkswagen story was a great expansion on the vague outline I already knew. We have all heard stories of the hard struggle Henry Ford suffered to get his cheap, reliable Model T on America's roads, but I learned new details here.
But there is way too much that reads like the newspaper articles Ingrassia wrote throughout his career. Names and dates, education, work history, job titles - way too much to remember and certainly too much to care about. The "man on the street" quotes especially grated on me - I do not care why 200 average Joes bought their first Beetle or what they think of BMV drivers.
The main focus of the book is on the cars of the 1950s to 1970s. I wish Ingrassia had spent time on the shortsighted management decisions of the late 70s and 80s and the blinders the Big 3 wore when it came to Japanese cars. I remember an apocryphal quote from one Detroit-based executive "I am not worried about Japanese imports - no one I know drives a Japanese car." Well, I grew up in California and just about everyone I knew drive a foreign car. From this book, you would think the only Hondas on the road are the Accords built in Ohio. The one exception is the final chapter which discusses the game-changing Prius.
So while I did learn some new aspects of the business, the scattered focus of this book left me frustrated. This could have been a much better book. I have a nagging feeling that I read this book before - in the front page center column stories of the Wall Street Journal where Ingrassia spent his career. There is a big difference between a great feature article and a great book.
Top 5 of the informational nonfiction books
I learned so much about something I thought I already knew a lot about.
Learning about John Delorean and how he created the Muscle car.
I do recommend this book. Well written and great narration. You lean about what it took to bring a bunch of great cars to market and the people and times behind the car. Just read it, you will enjoy it.
I have not read the print version.
Ed Cole and his fight to save his reputation over the Corvair.
Yes, when the author pointed out that the two most important cars in American history were the Model T and the Corvair.I owned 3 Corvairs so it was especially moving to hear the car's reputation vindicated on many levels.
The book put me in touch with my roots of the 1950/60s.
I really enjoyed this book because I learned a lot about many cars, the people behind their creation and what impact they had on society. I don't consider myself a huge car enthusiast (although, I do own a restored sports car from the 60's), but there wasn't a single car in this book that I didn't enjoy reading about. It is amazing how cars can define a culture, make or break an economy, and even have an effect on our political system. The only bad thing about this audio-book, is that there are no pictures. I was constantly looking these cars up on-line to see what they looked like. I'm sure this would be a great coffee table book because I'm guessing it has some great pictures.
This is an excellent book. I completely enjoyed it. The author chose cars to tell the history of the last 100 years in America. His book, his perspective, the choices of cars and the story were fantastic. This is a great perspective for anybody who wants to review American culture over the last century.
Paul Ingrassia seemed to be worried that his choices would be argued and in conflict, but I can't think of automobiles that have more of an impact on American culture. more than this Paul delves into the lives of the creators and the stories around them. He pulls all of it together into a tidy little bundle for each one. The book could have easily been twice as long and still not completely explored each of his selections. I would have read the book even if it was twice as long.
This is the best book I have read since "Racing in the Rain." I am completely happy with this book. I love Paul's choices of cars and was fascinated with his telling of the story.
I personally am a big fan of 20th century American history so I enjoyed this book. However, if you are a "car" guy or gal, you may be disappointed with some relatively long dissertations on subjects not related to automobiles.
A different, more enthusiastic moderator.
I found the author's research into aspects of the auto business very entertaining, not to mention the idiosyncratic twists and turns in fortune of various designs.
the interesting vignettes about the cars and their history
this is similar to crash course
there are parts that have to make you laugh out loud
Paul Ingrassia wrote two books. This one and crash course. Crash course has a lot of the same material (even to the point of verbatim repetition). This book covers some of what Crash course covers but more superficially. If you are only going to read one of the two books Paul Ingrassia wrote, read crash course. It covers the history better and the same stories are in that book as well. I really think the author had enough material for a book and a half but wrote two.
One other note. The narrator in this book and crash course reads slowly. I found I was able to play the book at 2x (iphone option but might be on your player as well) and understand it perfectly.
If you're a car fan or a history fan--and especially a fan of car history--this is your book. Well written, nicely researched without ever being tedious, Ingrassa does a great job of connecting memorable automobiles and how they affected mankind and so many cultures. Sean Runnette is a great narrator, too, so it's a pleasure to listen to.
the weaving together of history, cars and their impact on cultures