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Taken for a Ride: Detroit's Big Three and the Politics of Pollution Paperback – May 24, 2000

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From Publishers Weekly

In a riveting tale of colossal negligence and corporate skullduggery, Doyle (Altered Harvest) contends that Detroit auto makers duped the American people for half a century with claims that they lacked the technology to produce low-cost, low-pollution vehicles. Doyle, a former analyst with the Environmental Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., makes a strong case that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have fought emission inspection programs, blocked or diluted requirements for pollution control systems and fudged testing data. Despite the big three's apparently strenuous efforts to hold back the development of electric vehicles, key elements of their technology are now advancing, he reports. But the struggle to reduce emissions has been a contest to squeeze better performance out of patchwork technologies, even as the global fleet of automobiles is slated to double in 20 years--making environmental problems worse. The goal, as Doyle sees it, is "'zero emissions technology...' Clean cars period, not just cleaner cars." From this standpoint, he avers, the Clinton White House's Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, a cooperative venture begun in 1993, has been a diversionary sham, deepening Detroit's commitment to the internal-combustion engine and placing truly clean cars perhaps "several decades" away. Doyle's robust, often shocking narrative is enlivened with reproductions of ads, corporate and government documents, and propaganda campaigns. Although his exhaustive detail may daunt the general reader, his well-argued study is a valuable source for environmentalists, policymakers, consumers and partisans on all sides of the debate. Agents, Ronald Goldfarb and Robbie Hare at Goldfarb & Silverberg Literary Agency.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows; 1st edition (May 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568581475
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568581477
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,945,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After a couple of months, I'm about 2/3 through with this book. I think a lot of readers may find it a bit lengthy, so it occurred to me to go ahead and put forth some thoughts on it, of which I have a few. I run an alternative energy web page where I examine issues pertaining to Detroit's fight against progressive vehicles, and Doyle's book is definitely food-for-thought along those lines.
Thus far, Doyle does a thorough well-footnoted job (maybe mainstream serious academics will be able to treat the book seriously, as well as casual readers) of taking the reader through the history of the clean-air wars as they pertained to cars. In light of research such as Doyle's, it is becoming increasingly difficult for opponents of clean-air-laws to claim that this sort of environmentalism is merely a pretext by left-wing tree-hugging extremists to attack business and cost jobs. In reality, Detroit's multi-million-dollar resistance to even the most common-sense improvements in their own vehicles is very difficult and frustrating to read about. One of the things I get from this is that something in the system seems to be broken, over the last five decades. The Detroit Automakers cannot be trusted, it would seem, to make any kind of good-faith effort to concern themselves with the environmental impact of operating their products. They can be trusted, however, to spend dozens of millions, if not more, in fighting every attempt by all concerned governments, to get them to build vehicles with better mileage and cleaner operation
Fifty years or so since smog started becoming enough of a problem to occassion these battles between Detroit and Washington, we are still left with a very heated battle. These days, it is still Detroit vs.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bill Moore on July 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
As the Editor-in-Chief of EVWorld.Com, I had the opportunity to do an audio interview with Jack Doyle last week (June 15, 2000). We will be webcasting that interview in three parts on the EVWorld.Com web site starting the week of June 24, 2000. In the interview, Jack shares his experiences in writing Taken For A Ride. Having read the book in preparation for the interview, I found it a devastating indictment of the US auto industry who used its political and financial muscle to stall auto emissions technology and regulations for decades.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very thorough and indisputable account of the damage the auto industry has done to our health and environment by colluding and fighting environmental regulations through the years and withholding cleaner technology. Based on actual congressional records, trial transcripts, local government transcripts and other documentation. It describes how the companies lied, colluded and in some cases were found guilty, but yet have been able to continue to pollute. It doesn't read like a novel and can get wordy, but it is eye opening. This should be reading 101 for those congress people who are only listening to the car industries side of the story.
At the very end, the book also ponders the idea of litigation. Unlike tobacco, people don't have a choice in the air they breathe. I could see that some states might want to re-coup cost for asthma treatment and other illnesses created by the car industries smog.
As a couple side notes: I have personally seen the Chairman of the Air resources board for California with this book in hand. Right now the Car companies are continuing to fight Zev(Zero Emission Vehicle) mandates in several states. The shame is their arguments today read like chapters from this book in which the quotes are from the 1960's. Remember when they told us that putting in air bags would kill the car industry? That was 1982.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
If people ever wondered why so many people dont buy American anymore, let this book be a testament. Routinely the Big Three are dragged kicking and screaming into the most minute and painless regulations. The book can become somewhat pedantic, and sometimes the author jumps time periods suddently. But overall it stands as one of the most scathing indictments of some of the most consitently immoral institutions that routinely place profits above public health. Maybe if car companies took the more than one hundred million dollars a year on lobbyists that they spend into developing better engines we'd be better off. Moreover the book expertly shows how the corporate world and that of Washington are intertwined; sometimes butting heads and sometimes working alongside each other to kill progressive initiatives. The book can be so extremely detailed at points that it becomes painful, and the numerous abbreviations do not help. Luckily the author supplies a glossary and a timeline. OVerall, a worthy read for those who would like to see what "Americas" car companies have done and are up to today. (If you can call them that).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Every objection I can raise about this book is a problem with the subject, not the text. Doyle covers a long, repetitive and monotonously depressing subject accurately and in ample detail -- the fact that it's so hard to get through is mostly because the history it covers was just that way -- long, repetitive and depressing, as the American automakers sandbag every attempt to get them to clean up their product lines for fifty years.
Doyle writes clearly, and does ample research -- every tenuous claim is backed by multiple source citations, every statistic can be identified for its source. While the page count is very high, a significant chunk of the book is bibliographical material, supporting data, references, etc.
The only thing I wanted more of in the book was technical detail; Doyle only does minimal explanation of how and why the technologies discussed in the book work.
The book is not without bias -- nor does it claim to be; most of the praise quotations on the back are from environmental groups, for example. Doyle clearly believes the Big Three to be disingenous and obstructive, but he never degenerates into baser accusations of avarice or malice. He attempts to cover events inside the Big Three whenever they're relevant, which I especially appreciated.
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