- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230618138
- ISBN-13: 978-0230618138
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,170,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives 0th Edition
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Americans’ infatuation with their cars is critiqued in this readable treatment. Replete with the ironic and irrational aspects of owning and driving cars, it partakes of car psychology to deliver its message about the statistical costs of four-wheeled freedom. Emphasizing the attachment of values such as personal independence to car ownership, not to mention self-image and status, Lutz and Fernandez cheerily saunter through automobile advertising and movies to show how mass media exploit people’s desire to buy cars. The authors offer many personal anecdotes about consumers’ experiences of the showdown in the automobile showroom as a narrative illustration of how people’s emotions battle it out with their finances in purchase decisions. Turning to life on the road, Lutz and Fernandez, relying on studies and interviews with about 100 drivers, look askance at public expenditure on automobile infrastructure, fractions of lives spent in cars––and lost in them by the tens of thousands annually. An agenda for personal and political action concludes the authors’ knowledgeable survey of car culture. --Gilbert Taylor
“The authors capture the fantasy and reality of our love of cars.They hold up a mirror to we, 'the people,' to let us look at our individual and collective glamour and bloat. They ask, subtly and with a good amount of wit, if we know what we are doing to ourselves? You must read it to learn the answers, which might surprise you.” ―John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy and author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies
“Carjacked should be required reading for anyone with a driver's license. It lays out the ways that bigger, faster and more plentiful cars on the road have altered America in dramatic way, influencing foreign policy, infrastructure investment, national health and personal wealth. If we wish to drive into a better future, rather than collide with it head on, it's time to address our addiction to the automobile - and this book is the perfect starting place.” ―Leigh Stringer, president of Advance Strategies and author of The Green Workplace
“Exceptionally well-researched and passionately, yet logically, argued, Carjacked will make you rethink your relationship not only with your car, but with the entire economic and physical infrastructure that has built up around it. While acknowledging our love of cars, it offers practical advice on how to ensure that the relationship is affordable, beneficial and sustainable, both for individuals and for society.” ―Cleo Paskal, Associate Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs and author of Global Warring
“Strongly recommended for all willing to consider that we need to ‘step away from the car.” ―Library Journal
“Knowledgeable survey of car culture.” ―Booklist
“Americans' infatuation with their cars is critiqued in this readable treatment. Replete with the ironic and irrational aspects of owning and driving cars, it partakes of car psychology to deliver its message about the statistical costs of four-wheeled freedom. Emphasizing the attachment of values such as personal independence to car ownership, not to mention self-image and status, Lutz and Fernandez cheerily saunter through automobile advertising and movies to show how mass media exploit people's desire to buy cars.” ―Booklist
“Authors Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez effectively and accessibly lay out the social, financial, historical, and of course, environmental impact of America's love affair with the internal combustion engine.” ―Planet Green
“Carjacked aims to answer certain questions that lie deep in our brains - the unnoticed, unremarked-upon equivalents of spare tires in trunks: Why do cars play such a central role in our lives" Are they really as essential as they seem? Is there a sager, saner way to live with the car and have the mobility we need?” ―Connecticut Post
“This need for a more balanced transportation environment also underscores Catherine Lutz's and Anne Lutz Fernandez's powerful and sobering Carjacked, which examines the many unanticipated consequences of car culture. No mere 'anti-car' manifesto, Carjacked is an anthropological study of what the authors refer to as the "car system," of which the automakers are merely one element...They have assembled a fascinating and disturbing portrait of something we accept as normal -- indeed essential -- but which has, in many ways, betrayed much of its original promise.” ―The Winnipeg Free Press
“Thought-provoking inquiry into the role of cars in our lives, most especially the suburban lifestyle that cars created. Their main conclusion is for Americans to examine how they use their cars as opposed to how they think they use them. In other words, to strip away the romantic fancies fed by memories, folklore and advertisers, and face the reality of the best way to get from A to B. Such a reality check up, they argue, could result in a more rational approach to driving with people using cars less and walking or bicycling or taking buses or trains more.” ―The Providence Journal
“Rigorously researched and briskly written” ―The Post and Courier
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Additionally, it is woefully inadequate to analyze the enormous social problems Carjacked tackles in a context of whether or not the automobile caused them. Likely, Lutz and Fernandez do not claim to establish concrete causation, but they come dangerously close to lying America's debt crisis, racial profiling, unethical insurance practices, economic inequity, and even misinformed voters at the feet (or perhaps tires) of the automobile (pgs. 78, 84-86, 92, 112-114, 149-151). These are problems that in many cases predated the automobile, and in all cases were borne of a complex interaction of elements such as economic recession and unemployment that simply cannot all have been caused by driving too many cars too many miles. After all, the tendency to go too far into debt has been demonstrated by Americans on everything from houses to appliances to entertainment centers. Logic would then suggest the car as simply one more manifestation of a wider cultural phenomenon than a root cause.
Worst of all though is the book's nearly complete denial of human agency. It depicts Americans as so brainwashed by malicious corporate interests (as if car companies are the only ones who engage in emotionally targeted advertising) and emotional attachment to cars that they are incapable of making rational decisions. The book furthermore undercuts rather than engages debate by writing off skeptics as members of the brainwashed masses rendered "trapped and impotent" by the car (pgs. 39, 42, 44-49). Lutz and Fernandez also commit multiple lapses in logic, for example admonishing--sometimes in the same breath--people to "downsize" by trading in their truck or large sedan for a smaller vehicle but also not to trade in their older vehicle because that causes more manufacturing (pgs. 64, 211-212). Lastly, the book demonstrates inadequate technical knowledge of the automotive industry to support some of its claims. It castigates larger vehicles as being no safer for occupants while being more dangerous to other motorists, yet a quick perusal of the NHTSA ratings system reveals that cars are, indeed, rated in classes of similar weight and size. Thus, a 4-star compact is not equal to a 4-star large sedan. The authors also lambast American cars for poor economy due to a horsepower and size "race" between manufacturers with no mention that a main predicator of weight increase and power strain has been increasing crash and emissions standards--which are inarguably a good thing (pgs. xii, 3-7, 24). These kinds of oversights would be forgivable in the op-ed page in the local newspaper, but in a book--something readers will look to as an authority--greater responsibility for complete facts must be taken.
Ultimately, Lutz and Fernandez are not seeking to test their hypotheses, but are seeking merely to bolster them. Carjacked then is overall a thought-provoking book but read skeptically and critically; don't make it your go-to source.
The sisters start their book with many of the great perks of the car. However, the bulk of the book describes the shortfalls of the car, and the effect it has on our lives. The sisters discuss the immense amount of time that we spend in traffic, the colossal oil prices, and what auto loans have done to this economy.
While the car proves to be an exciting part of everyone's life, there is a down side to this love affair. The purpose to the second part of the book is to illustrate the addiction that Americans have with the car. Over the past one hundred years, Americans have gotten used to the freedom the car provides, which is the hardest thing to give up. The idea of not being able to get in the car and drive is a constricting thought to some. Americans have come accustomed to the idea of freedom "since the Model T, Americans have used or at least aspired to use the car to get away and explore less [populated] places." It is so hard for Americans to break the habit of driving with the weight of $3 a gallon gas, low credit, increasing MSRP, and insurance premiums and taxes. While we view the car as an escape from the stresses of everyday life, "our dreams of cars and our real lives with cars are constructed with the help of a series of powerful myths and values that warrant a closer look."
That being said, this book makes me sad because I do not want the car we know to die out, because it makes me happy every time I climb behind the wheel. In the 40's and 50's the car was a simple item that carried a family from place to place. The idea of dad climbing behind the enormous wheel of an old Cadillac and driving down a country lane just for the purpose of a drive is nostalgic. As one reader suggests "I think that you can almost analogize [the car] to the Wild West. I sort of think of it as the modern equivalent of the wagon going to the West again to get away, to explore new things, to have, you know, ultimate mobility." You don't see this any more. In today's society everyone is concerned about their careers, the credit crunch, the price of petrol, and all other expenses of the car. These financial burdens further take away from the overall happiness of the car. Now the image of the car is in ruins. People hate the idea of driving to work in bumper to bumper traffic while inhaling the toxic exhaust fumes; it's tragic. Carjacked, in a way, ruins the image of the car.
That being said, Carjacked is a slap in the face to gear heads like me. Americans need to realize that there is not an infinite supply of oil on this earth, and that we will eventually run out. Secondly, Americans need to realize that they should not buy more car than they can afford. Buying a $45,000 Cadillac doesn't make sense for everybody. When people take on loans, and they cannot afford the payments, it puts more stress on their finances and further ruins the image of the car, because it is then viewed as an immense liability upon their shoulders. Six years ago a person with a 575 credit score could get a loan for just about anything, and when the past due payments came, they were in a horrible situation. This overspending is what drove this economy into the tank, and froze all lending. The car takes much of the credit, while not as much as mortgages, for the credit crisis of 2008. According to the Providence Journal, it is as if the purpose of the second half of the book is "to strip away the romantic fancies fed by memories, folklore and advertisers, and face the reality of the best way to get from A to B. Such a reality check up, they argue, could result in a more rational approach to driving with people using cars less and walking or bicycling or taking buses or trains more.". This further ruins the reputation of the car, taking even more of its beauty. In short, the image of the car is in tatters, and to me that is heart breaking.
I find it hard to recommend the work of Catherine Lutz and her sister Anne Lutz Fernandez because they issue a harsh awakening, which I find very hard to accept as a car lover. The style of writing almost makes Americans feel bad for every mile of driving that we do. The car will never be what it once was. The supply of oil will continue to dwindle, loans will be harder to find, pollution will continue on an exponential level and no one will understand the point of the Sunday drive.
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Automobile culture is a complex thing