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Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment Paperback – October 27, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"McCarthy explores consumers' attachments to automobiles—their sense of status in relation to the larger society—that have had important repercussions for the environment."—Sally H. Clarke, University of Texas at Austin
(Sally H. Clarke)

“This engaging and well-researched book takes on the product life cycle of the automobile in the twentieth century. A very interesting project.”—Martin Melosi, University of Houston
(Martin Melosi)

“McCarthy looks at the environment broadly and constructs an interesting mixture of social, economic, political, and environmental history of the car not found elsewhere.”—J. Brooks Flippen, Southeastern Oklahoma State University
(J. Brooks Flippen)

Auto Mania is a high speed, insightful and fascinating cruise through important and fascinating eras in the auto industry. From the early years of the horseless carriage, through the explosion of affordable transportation spawned by Henry Ford to the modern era of regulation of emissions and fuel economy. Tom McCarthy’s description of the early days of government regulation through the eyes of key players is unique and dramatically contributes to our understanding of a transformational period of importance to all of us.”—David E. Cole, Center for Automotive Research
(David E. Cole)

". . . superb snapshots of paths taken and missed in the history of auto manufacturing . . . with a[n] . . . emphasis on [its] environmental impact. . . . Scholars and students of business and economic history, as well as the history of technology, will find insights . . . "—Brian Black, Enterprise & Society
(Brian Black Enterprise & Society)

“. . . a history of twentieth-century American automobile culture for a new generation. . . . traces the complex relationship among cars, consumerism, politics, and the environment in a way sure to be useful. . . . A must read . . .”—Kevin L. Borg, Technology and Culture
(Kevin L. Borg Technology and Culture 2009-01-15) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tom McCarthy is associate professor, History Department, United States Naval Academy.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300158483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300158489
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,519,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costa on April 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The first chapter is pretty interesting. For a brief window in history automobiles were expensive toys for the very wealthy.
A public backlash grew against these rich speed racers. vigilantes and children would throw rocks and rotten vegetables at these speed racers. country squires would occasionally take shots at them with rifles. Princeton President Woodrow Wilson wrote of this as acceptable violence.

This was a brief window in the emergence of the automobile. Today any hillbilly, suburbanite, or urban hoodrat can race around residential streets. Even if they cannot afford a hotrod, they can afford gigantic carspeakers that shake windows within a 200 foot radius. about 40 thousand americans die a year from people driving too fast or too drunk. but now we're cool with it, because it is all our freedom.

Chapter 2 gets more interesting.

By 1906 there were serious doubts about the ability to supply gasoline for the burgeoning automobile industry. Automobiles were still the toy of the rich. Dirt roads connected county to county.

the contest for alternatives to gasoline came down to Kerosene and Alcohol.

Kerosene had been the main money maker for oil for the last fifty years or so. It was used to light lamps. electricity began to put the kerosene out of business. Until internal combustion engines, gasoline was mostly thrown away, seen as waste from the kerosene refining process.

The oil wells of pennsylvania and Ohio were beginning to yield much less. oil was beginning to be found in Texas and California, but it yielded about half the gasoline as Ohio oil.

It was decided alcohol would replace gasoline. but there were problems. the initial problem were the high taxes on alcohol.
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By Twis on December 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a book for those interested in the intersection between history, environmental science, marketing psychology, and economics. In others words: if you like research and you like knowing how everything comes together, you will like this book. It's also a good read if you like cars.
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