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The Roads That Built America: The Incredible Story of the U.S. Interstate System Paperback – March 1, 2006


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Paperback, March 1, 2006
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402734689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402734687
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 8.4 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #806,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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The biggest strength is that the book is easy to read and concise.
Todd Carlsen
If you remember car travel before the interstates and the Eisenhower years, you'll like this one.
C J
If you want a lot of information in a hurry, you'll enjoy this book.
Joseph R. Butchko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amy Sorter on April 19, 2011
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I bought this book based on the reviews and on the author's credentials. When I read the first pages, however, I came close to not going any further because all I could see on these first pages was fluff and boosterism about the Interstate system. I didn't need to pay money for that.

Delving a little deeper into the book, I did find some things of interest: The history of the National Road, for example, was fascinating, as was the growth and development of the U.S. highway system. It was also interesting to note President Eisenhower's inspiration for the U.S. Interstate System from Germany's Autobahn.

Having said that, I found a lot wrong with this book. First, I was looking for more of a "political" background in the U.S. that led to pushing through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which launched the Interstate system as a defense and transportation system. I wanted to know more how the culture of the time influenced the move toward a national highway system that was more efficient than the one already in existence.

For example, how fears of nuclear strikes spurred the planning of a system that would be necessary both to evacuate and to get the military to various positions. McNichol spends a couple of paragraphs on it, but it was fears of war that really helped spur the Interstate system, and I saw the lack of mention as a huge gap in this book. I also wanted to know why Missouri was "ground zero" for the first Interstate highway. That was never explained to my satisfaction, either.

Second, I wanted more information on why the Interstate highways were planned where they were. McNichol goes into a lot of detail about the fact that they were placed so as not to compete against already existent U.S. highways (but doesn't explain why this is the case).
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Thomas P. Mcauliffe on January 20, 2006
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A high quality printing, on quality paper,with lots of interesting pictures,and a fairly complete general history of the interstates from their conception and idea on into the near future of these roads,more or less a coffeetable book in some ways but a very affordable price.Quite a bit of information within it's 200 some pages.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joseph R. Butchko on June 27, 2007
I found this book to be a comprehensive accounting of the developement of our highway system beginning with our very first national road and going thru to Boston's big dig. The book doesn't get bogged down with details, and has lots of good pictures. If you want a lot of information in a hurry, you'll enjoy this book.

I've read several books on this subject, and this one is like the others in one regard: I'd enjoy reading more about the actual construction details- the unforseen problems, the mishaps and mistakes, the million other events that occur between groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting. Nonetheless, a good book, I enjoyed it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Dunkelman on April 19, 2007
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Clearly this topic will not be of interest to everybody but for those with an interest in history and the often surprising reasons behind the highway system in the U.S., this book is a joy. You will astound your friends with trivia! How many of them know that Maryland contains the most-expensive (per toll mile) interstate in the Country? (How many of your friends might care, is another story).

Altough it seems to be written in high-school textbook prose, the chapters are well organzined, the photos are wonderful and the format lends itself to the coffee table. It can be read in almost any order, a chapter at at time or even a sidebar at a time.

I now have an appreciation for the engineering marvel that Americans take for granted every day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Litton on July 6, 2010
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A well written and engaging book. Even if you're familiar with the history of the U.S. Interstate system, you're sure to find interesting tidbits and factoids that will keep you turning the pages. It's a pretty easy read with a lot of great photos. A bunch of sidebar stories helped to break things up a bit and keep it interesting for non-highway geeks.

McNichol is a bit fixated on Boston's Big Dig. While the Big Dig was arguably the most aggressive engineering feat in U.S. insfrastructure history, I think it got a little more attention in this book than it deserved. After all, McNichol did already publish a 235 page tome devoted solely to the Big Dig in 2000.

Also, this book has not been updated since it's original release in 2006. Since that time a lot has happened. I-10 in New Orleans completely failed during hurricane Katrina leaving many refugees stranded on flooded surface streets. The I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007 changed the way bridges are inspected yet again and had a far reaching impact on how U.S. highway funds are allocated for transportation safety.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways project may be complete in principle, but it will never actually be finished. As long as our Interstate Highways live, this book will always have relevance and should have periodic updates and revisions.
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By M. Hilton on August 2, 2013
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My husband wasn't sure about the book when I first gave it to him, but as it turned out he really liked the book,
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I purchased this book as a gift for my husband after he recently viewed a program on the History Channel relative to the US infrastructure failing and how come!
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