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High and Mighty: SUVs--The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way Hardcover – September 17, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1586481230 ISBN-10: 1586481231 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481230
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,526,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have become the fastest-growing market segment in the automobile industry. They have an image of being safer and easier to handle in bad weather than traditional passenger cars. But in this new expos , New York Times reporter Bradsher delivers sobering facts about the conveyances: they protect occupants poorly, inflict horrific damage in crashes, guzzle gasoline, spew emissions, and are, in fact, difficult to control in bad weather or panic situations. He traces the checkered past of SUVs and how they came to be classified not as cars but as light trucks, which are subject to softer federal regulations regarding safety, gas mileage, and air pollution. The recent recall of tires and SUVs by Ford and Firestone after scores of roll-over deaths is apparently only the tip of the iceberg. Bradsher makes a powerful case that SUVs are inflicting great damage on their occupants, other motorists, pedestrians, and the earth. While the information has been available for some time in bits and pieces, this book is the first to put it all together with documented facts and figures. In the tradition of Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed, this should be read by drivers of SUVs and all those who must share the roads with them.
Eric C. Shoaf, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The behemoths among autos, SUVs are dangerous gas-guzzlers exempted from the safety and environmental rules that apply to other autos because they are classified as light trucks. Bradsher, an award-winning journalist who reported on the Ford-Firestone rollover controversy, details how SUVs came to enjoy such protection and such enormous popularity. From its precursor in the 1930s, favored by the funeral business, through the twist of fate that saw trade protection for frozen chickens morph into protection of SUV manufacturers, to the irony that the baby boom generation that championed environmental safety is also responsible for the huge popularity of the SUV, Bradsher offers compelling reading. The author interviewed the auto executives and engineers behind the SUV and documents the danger to occupants, other motorists, pedestrians, and the environment of a car model that continues to grow in size and heft. This fascinating history and troubling analysis of both the politics and the design of the SUV should appeal to readers on both sides of the debate. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Mark Theobald - crashtest.com on September 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
SUV owners are mad! Mad at Keith Bradsher's controversial new book, High and Mighty SUV's: the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way ...In addition to Bradsher's historical survey of how SUVs got to be so large and so profitable, he's managed to produce the most important look at motor vehicle safety since Ralph Nader's 1965 Landmark Unsafe At Any Speed. Many of us owe Mr. Nader our lives, even though Unsafe At Any Speed was attacked in much the same manner as Bradsher's Book is now. Today even Detroit's Big Three agree that Nader spoke the truth 37 years ago, keep that in mind when you read the negative reviews of Bradsher's book. The vast majority of Americans trust the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to keep unsafe cars and trucks off America's roadways. I don't, NHTSA's relationship with Detroit remains much the same as Arthur Andersen's is to Enron.
The sport utility vehicle is a uniquely American phenomenon originally created for the Army during WWII. Since then it has become the vehicle of choice for middle and upper class executives and soccer moms, few of whom (less than 5%) will ever use its off-road capabilities. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking about purchasing an SUV, especially since most current SUV owners mistakenly believe themselves to be safer than motorists driving regular cars. Bradsher points out that SUVs contribute to more than 3000 needless highway deaths annually - a toll greater than that of Sept 11th's World Trade Center disaster. The public needs to know that rollover death rates for sport-utes are double those of regular passenger cars and that SUVs kill non-passengers as well, causing an additional 2,000 deaths a year in vehicles they strike.
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84 of 93 people found the following review helpful By T. Hartman on September 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
To the "reader from hartford ct" (but more likely an auto industry plant from Detroit) who's review is dated Sept 19, 2002: For someone who says he/she read the book, you're extremely dishonest when you misquote Bradsher as saying: "They tend to be people who are insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors or communities." He didn't say this!! He was quoting the AUTO INDUSTRY's market reports! It's the people who are selling you the SUVs who think you are insecure and vain, not Bradshaw.
My recommendation to people in the market for a vehicle: Be informed about saftey for you and others, fuel economy, air pollution, etc., and make sure you balance this with what you need/want in a vehicle. If you really will go off-roading, tow a boat, etc., then go ahead and get the SUV, but please don't use 2 parking spots or ones that are too narrow for your SUV, and don't tailgate.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian Curtis on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bradsher's only arguable flaw in this book is that he was SO exhaustive in his research and documentation. Reading the history of the auto execs who designed and developed early models of SUVs can be a bit dry, but you can't say he didn't do his homework.

The book addresses every angle of the SUV "experience" in our society:

*The legislation loopholes that tacitcly support and subsidize them;

*The marketing campaigns that *imply* safety without promising anything specific (and actionable);

*The design teams that focused on a more "aggressive" image with wasteful, unnecesssary features to sell to fearful, self-indulgent consumers;

*The engineering and crash tests that prove how unsafe they really are;

*And the pollution stats that prove how wasteful and environmentally damaging SUVs have been.

Any one of the chapters on these topics makes for fascinating reading, but I was especially interested in Ch. 6: Reptile Dreams. In this section on marketing, Bradsher discusses how marketing and advertising execs cynically estimated the insecurity and self-doubt of their target audience and made plans to exploit it. He describes how the image of taller, more "powerful" vehicles was used to generate record sales of a vehicle that's provably less safe... all the while getting the suckers--err, *consumers*--to claim that they were buying an SUV for its SAFETY factors. Which is a lie; they buy it largely for status.

The SUV makers and marketers know this, and they exploit it: why else design a vehicle that explicitly says "Buy this so you can look like you don't care about fashion and status"? The so-called legitimate reasons for owning an SUV are diligently picked apart, one by one. No, they're not safer (minivans are).
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
High and Mighty will do for the auto industry, what Fast Food Nation did for the fast food indsutry: Expose all of its harmful shortcomings. High and Mighty shows that SUVs are NOT merely a guilty pleasure, they are dangerous and costly.
If Mr. Bradsher's many critics would actually read High and Mighty, they would see that the classicficatoin of SUV owners as being vain, insecure drivers is NOT his opinion, it is taken directly from the market research conducted by the car manufacturers. Yes, the very people you are buying your SUV from have stereotyped you...
Intelligent readers, pro and anti SUV alike, I strongly urge you to buy High and Mighty, and to read it. Learn the truth!
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