Why We Drive: The Past, Present, and Future of Automobiles in America by Andy Singer

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Posted 2013-12-14

People PlacesBook Notes by John December

"The automobile's need for space literally destroys urban areas! " (p. 55).
The author's main point in this short book is simple and eloquent: we are being bullied into cars. Andy Singer has long been known for his cartoons that satirize automobile-centric culture. In this book, Singer describes some of the thinking behind his cartoons: political and economic policy has been set up so that people who do not have a car are punished mercilessly (often to the point of death) and that those who have and use cars are coddled, subsidized, and treated with a different set of laws than the rest of us. This is not the result of some mysterious conspiracy, but an out-in-the open collaboration of the oil, road-building, automobile, real-estate, and related industries who have steadily merged interests to make profits from car culture. Singer's accomplishment is to vividly and clearly make the case of the title "why we drive" using his cartoons and footnoted facts and sources.

Singer cites many different sources to support his points including Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took over America, and How We Can Take It Back by Jane Holtz Kay (1997) which is a more in-depth analysis of this topic. Singer also brings up some very insightful points I've not found expressed in detail elsewhere:

The result of Singer's efforts is a book that I think every high-school student should read and study, and that would make a great gift for your local politician, decision-maker, planner, member of the press, or transportation official.

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2024-06-04 · John December · Terms © johndecember.com