- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780230618138
- ISBN-13: 978-0230618138
- ASIN: 0230618138
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,110 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
Praise for Carjacked:
"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
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Automobile culture is a complex thing
Where this rendition of car ills falls terribly short is in its surface-only coverage of major causes of our current car-related predicament, and its apparent apology for and/or acceptance of them. As 1 example, the authors deliberately focus on nipping and tucking our car dependence instead of taking dead aim at the whole suburban sprawl fiasco that is a true root cause of car ills and threatens now to bury us (economically). James Kunstler's writings much better address that behemoth head-on.
As another example, the authors mention how the auto and oil industries are major political forces that have behaved against the public interest again and again, but treat this only on the surface. The book does not delve into the sheer, surreal levels and layers of greed, corruption, arrogance and power abuse that chronicle those industries and comprise another true root cause of our car ills. When I took my new MBA into the U.S. car industry in 1979, I became the target of so many ethnic slurs that I finally left, but not before witnessing management's deeply held haughty contempt for labor and the buying public, as well as their contests to see which among them could hire the secretary with the largest breasts. Anything human or decent does not stand a chance to survive in such organizational cultures, and what they spew onto the unsuspecting public cannot be in our collective best interest.
Finally, the authors pander to the public's reluctance to change their own deeply held autophilia, instead of giving us badly needed warnings about the unsustainability of our car dependence. So all told, the scholarship behind this work is average, nothing more. It's an enjoyable read on a hot summer afternoon, but will not likely emerge as a definitive work over the years.
It took a long time but I've finally become a mass transit commuter, my daily drive only as far as the train station. I read CARJACKED over several train trips and if nothing else encourage readers to pick it up just for the book's ninth chapter, titled "Full Metal Jacket: The Body Count," which confirms everything about driving that made me wish cars were not a necessity for most Americans:
-Thank God for all the lives Ralph Nader saved promoting seat belts and air bags, but nonetheless CARJACKED reports 112 Americans still die every day in auto accidents. In the name of the so-called war on terror, people allow the government to shred the Bill of Rights and spend billions but don't seem to notice their own 4 wheel death-mobiles are the leading cause of lost lives for people under the age of 34.
-Since 1899, car accidents have caused 3.4 million American deaths, more than all U.S. wars combined. "Give peace a chance," we say, but we must say, "Give mass transportation a chance," even louder.
-Pedestrians in America are three times likelier to be killed by cars than pedestrians in Germany and six times likelier than in the Netherlands, as the latter two nations have better automobile regulations and more mass transportation.
There's a lot more. Read CARJACKED.
I'll see you on the train.
Particularly challenging for me were two chapters - one outlining how difficult it is for the working poor with very little money to have a car, and the challenges that come with being carless in a world built for automobiles, and the other chapter outlining the damage that cars do to lives and property in "accidents." Cars may be safer now than 30 years ago, but since we drive them more, and are more careless while doing so, driving a car remains the most risky thing most of us do any day.
In all, a very well reasoned and well put forward argument about moving from the auto-centered (and auto-required) culture into something a little more beneficial to all of society. I highly recommend this book.