Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ingrassia does for cars what Halberstam did for the Fifties. Well maybe not quite that good, but really a great book that explains the effects of the various cars on the American way of life. Ingrassia selects 15 cars that have influenced American society, from the Ford Model T to the Toyota Prius.
One thing to note about the book, it is not predominately about the car itself. It is more of a look at the history of the epoch, the people and the trends that created the car, the people that bought the car, and how the spirit of the car affected American society. So gear heads beware, you are not going to get a chart that shows you the engine displacement and horse power selections available for each year of Corvettes. You will learn the role that Duntov played in the car and why the car appealed to Americans after the Depression and the Second World War. The book should appeal to a wide audience, and not just car enthusiasts.
Also one can argue with his choice of what vehicles to include. The author explains its best:
The hardest part about writing this book wasn’t deciding what cars to include. It was deciding what cars to leave out. My selections will disappoint some people, especially fans of iconic automobiles not included.
But this book isn’t intended to be about great cars, fast cars, or famous cars, although it contains some of each. Instead it’s about the automobiles that have influenced how we live and think as Americans. The cars in this book either changed American society or uniquely captured the spirit of their time. By those criteria most cars, even those regarded as automotive icons, fall short.
Ingrassia, Paul (2012-05-01). Engines of Change (Kindle Locations 5485-5489). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
So if you are a fan of say a 57 Chevy, you are going to be disappointed because a 57 Chevy, while certainly an iconic car, in no way affected American society the way the Corvair did.
The book is informative and fun to read. Ingrassia did a great job researching this book and has a good sense of humor. Excellent book, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Amazon.com, Engines of Change, Paul Ingrassia
Edit 8-21-12: Here is my 1970 Duster which is my favorite car of memory. It was not mentioned in the book.
|1970 Plymouth Duster at El Mirage Dry Lake, California|