This is the story of how the automobile changed the essence of life in America. Both a general history of the automobile and a broad-ranging analysis of its cultural effects, the text addresses such topics as cars' inception as a mechanical curiosity and later a plaything for the well-to-do; Henry Ford and the rise of the machine age; competition and the evolving consumer in the 1920s; the development of roads and the accompanying road culture; religion, gender, courtship and sex; effects of the Great Depression and World War II; the 1950s golden age of automobiles and the emergence of youth culture; and how American car culture has been represented in film, song, poetry and literature.
John A Heitmann —
John Heitmann is alumni chair in humanities and a professor of history at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.
Heitmann, John A. The automobile and American life. McFarland, 2009. 248p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780786440139 pbk. Outstanding Title! Reviewed in 2009sep CHOICE.
In this book's introduction, Heitmann (history, Univ. of Dayton) discusses writing a work to supplant James Flink's Automobile Age (5th ed., 1998) and questions if it is possible. This reviewer thinks he has succeeded in creating such a book. Heitmann addresses over 100 years of the automobile, including all that it influenced and vice versa. This monumental task is accomplished in 210 pages with roughly two-thirds devoted to the pre-1950 automobile and the America to which it belonged. Ten chapters are further subdivided to allow the reader to access specific content. The index is excellent and really fun to read on its own, with an interesting cast of characters such as Luke Doolin, Julius Erving, S. I. Hayakawa, and Ike Turner, to name a few. The prose is almost flawless, and the writing never feels beleaguered; it is almost like the author enjoyed every topic and every page. The book's only drawback is that there are too few photographs for such a visual topic. The Automobile and American Life would be this reviewer's choice for a resource for his course dealing with the automobile and American culture.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. All collections. -- C. J. Myers, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia