Top critical review
I'm a car guy and it was meh...
on August 14, 2013
I enjoyed the book enough. Paul Ingrassia wrote an interesting enough book and said from the beginning that it was his opinion of what the 15 most important cars have been to the United States. The only problem was that it turned more into a book about the 15 most important makes to the United States than it was about the models. I understand that models often influence the make as a whole (remember the Ford tagline from a few years ago that a single car "could be the pace car for an entire company"?) but I think the way Ingrassia went about weaving this together went a little too far.
The chapter on the BMW 2002 as an example, started with the problems BMW faced in the aftermath of WWII, got to the introduction of the 2002, then followed into the heyday of the 3-series and the yuppies and yuppie psychology. Really? He had a longer discussion of some of the BMW snobbery than he did of the car itself. There is a chapter on the ford truck which brings in discussions of everybody else's trucks. The Honda Accord's chapter talked more too about the manufacturer's range and history than the model. While the subtitle of the book is "A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars," I think he could have made the subtitle more about the makes and been more accurate and maybe have then put the story together a little more coherently than what emerged. Finally, as another reviewer noted, there are few errors in the book but I can't recall them now that I am reviewing this about a month after reading; they were not overly glaring and will only be noticed by those who are car crazy themselves.
I did like the book well enough in the end--I am a car guy after all. It is well written for what it is and I will admit to learning a few things through my read.