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Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagon Beetle | [Andrea Hiott]

Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagon Beetle

Sometimes achieving big things requires the ability to think small. This simple concept was the driving force that propelled the Volkswagen Beetle to become an avatar of American-style freedom, a household brand, and a global icon. The VW Bug inspired the ad men of Madison Avenue, beguiled Woodstock Nation, and has recently been re-imagined for the hipster generation. And while today it is surely one of the most recognizable cars in the world, few of us know the compelling details of this car’s story.
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Publisher's Summary

Sometimes achieving big things requires the ability to think small. This simple concept was the driving force that propelled the Volkswagen Beetle to become an avatar of American-style freedom, a household brand, and a global icon. The VW Bug inspired the ad men of Madison Avenue, beguiled Woodstock Nation, and has recently been re-imagined for the hipster generation. And while today it is surely one of the most recognizable cars in the world, few of us know the compelling details of this car’s story. In Thinking Small, journalist and cultural historian Andrea Hiott retraces the improbable journey of this little car that changed the world.

Andrea Hiott’s wide-ranging narrative stretches from the factory floors of Weimar Germany to the executive suites of today’s automotive innovators, showing how a succession of artists and engineers shepherded the Beetle to market through periods of privation and war, reconstruction and recovery.

Henry Ford’s Model T may have revolutionized the American auto industry, but for years Europe remained a place where only the elite drove cars. That all changed with the advent of the Volkswagen, the product of a Nazi initiative to bring driving to the masses. But Hitler’s concept of “the people’s car” would soon take on new meaning. As Germany rebuilt from the rubble of World War II, a whole generation succumbed to the charms of the world’s most huggable automobile.

Indeed, the story of the Volkswagen is a story about people, and Hiott introduces us to the men who believed in it, built it, and sold it: Ferdinand Porsche, the visionary Austrian automobile designer whose futuristic dream of an affordable family vehicle was fatally compromised by his patron Adolf Hitler’s monomaniacal drive toward war; Heinrich Nordhoff, the forward-thinking German industrialist whose management innovations made mass production of the Beetle a reality; and Bill Bernbach, the Jewish American advertising executive whose team of Madison Avenue mavericks dreamed up the legendary ad campaign that transformed the quintessential German compact into an outsize worldwide phenomenon.

Thinking Small is the remarkable story of an automobile and an idea. Hatched in an age of darkness, the Beetle emerged into the light of a new era as a symbol of individuality and personal mobility - a triumph not of the will but of the imagination.

©2012 Andrea Hiott (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"...diligently researched...breezy....Such was the car's universal appeal that if it were invented today it would likely be called the iBug." (Wall Street Journal)

"[Hiott] presents the history of the whimsical German automobile, unveiling an intricate saga that spans nearly 90 years and includes some of the most monumental shifts in politics, economics, and creativity in the past century....A surprisingly substantial and far-reaching chronicle of 'a car that belongs to the world.'" (Publishers Weekly)

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  •  
    Tim United States 02-07-14
    Tim United States 02-07-14 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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    "Iconic Car"

    The Volkswagen Beetle is an iconic car around the world. No matter where you are, what language you speak, you always know a VW Bug when you see one on the road or in the junk. "Thinking Small"is an excellent read about Volkswagen. Very interesting history behind the wheel. I've read my fair share of Adolf Hitler and the war, but I would never discover his story and Volkswagen if I didn't decide to get this book. It was very enjoyable and informational to listen to.

    The book almost reminded me of Don Draper and his agency in Mad Men. I know its a weird comparison, but if you read the advertising marketing campaign for Volkswagen, I couldn't help flashing back to many episodes of Mad Men.

    The story of the Beetle has this power flower love affair. I like cars and consider myself a gear head even though I never popped a hood in my entire life. Andrea Hiott wrote this book like a documentary novel. The history of the Bug is good, but she also explained on hoe everything worked in the rear engine car.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-02-12
    Jane scottsdale, AZ, United States 10-02-12
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    "book is a history lesson"

    great book but it would be much better if audible included the photos which are in the hardcover edition--interesting to see the vw bug in 1938 and how little it has changed from the ones sold in the 1960's

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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