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More a history of the auto industry than of the automobile itself

The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car - Steven Parissien

Writing a history of the automobile is a formidable challenge, one that requires some parameters to prevent an account of a technology with such a profound impact from becoming too unwieldy. In undertaking this task Steven Parissien chose to focus on the people who manufactured the cars. As a result, however, his book is less a history of the automobile than it is a history of the auto industry, with chapter after chapter is filled with corporate strategies, government interventions, and potted biographies of industry leaders. The cars themselves, as well as their social and cultural legacy, receive only brief mention, while the drivers themselves are little more than anonymous consumers. The most disappointing problem with the book, however, is its sheer sloppiness, as minor errors abound on nearly every page. This gives the text a rushed feeling, as Parissien generally comes across as informed and passionate about his subject. Yet his book only serves best as an easily readable introduction to the fascinating history of the automobile, one that is nowhere near as complete as its subtitle claims.