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Showing 1-10 of 72 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 95 reviews
on June 1, 2017
What a great retrospective on the auto business channeling iconic vehicles in our history. Love Mr. Ingrassia's lighthearted and very readable writing style. Can't wait to read his other books related to the auto industry. I'm trying to slow down and savor every page.
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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.
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on November 1, 2016
I had read this book some time ago and recently purchased the audio book because I enjoyed it so much. It is not as good as his other book, Crash Course: The American Automobiles... but entertaining, nonetheless. Sometimes he reminisces too much about songs and TV shows from the era of the car he is discussing, but that is a minor complaint. If you are a car enthusiast, you will enjoy this book. If you hate cars or find them boring, you would not be reading this review in the first place:)
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on August 16, 2013
Engines of Change is an OK book. It has more details about 15 cars like the Mustang, Prius, and Cadillacs than you would ever want. For example, did the readers really need to know about the Prius being the featured car on Curb Your Enthusiasm or a funny South Park episode? I think the book was good, but you get bogged down in minutiae and you just feel sick. I agree with the other reviewer that said basically that he tries too hard to be cutesy with his titles and humor (example "From Hitler to Hippies"....and "Baby Boomers become Soccer Moms and a, um, Driving Force in American Politics." The strength of this book is that it is a unique concept: a history book that contains 15 vehicles that shaped American history. The problem is the minute details and just "over doing it" when it comes explaining the stories circling these cars. Just give me the stories without all the BS and I will be happy.
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on September 17, 2015
It's pretty clear that Paul Ingrassia may understand the auto industry, but doesn't really know cars. There are a few factual errors that were obvious, like his assertion that pickup trucks had suicide rear doors in the 1970s (they did not) or his erroneous description of the Corvair suspension, that call into question the veracity of the rest of the book. Still, if you love cars it's fun to see someone attempt to tell the story of America through seminal cars. I just would check the facts before spouting them off to your local car nerd.
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on March 9, 2013
The is a well written book that takes you through some of the highlights of automobiles in American culture. The drawback is that it tells those archetypal stories that any real car enthusiast already knows. If you don't know a lot about the history of cars in the US, but want to, this book is ideal. If you grew up reading car mags and wrenching on old cars, leave this one on the shelf.
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on June 10, 2016
Well-written, anecdotal and historic stories of cars that had great impact on American society. He keeps it interesting, about the people as much as the product.
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on July 22, 2013
Mr Ingrassia attempts to interweave car history into "American dream" history and by this over-reach, does a disservice to both. The book has a comic-book version of 20/21st century American history featuring tail fins, hippies, soccer Moms, yuppies, and red-staters. If only American history were so easy! My favorite simplification is the wave-topping summary of the 70's decade (p. 192): "The car's life spanned the decade of Watergate, defeat in Vietnam, two oil shocks, the Iranian hostage crisis, inflation, stagflation, and national "malaise."

The descriptions of automotive history are similarly inconsistent, with detailed explanations of John Z Delorean's wardrobe and personal life, contrasted with a one-paragraph passing mention of how Ed Cole singlehandedly brought unleaded gasoline and catalytic converters to the US market (it this is really true, it deserves more exposition than it received). Finally, Mr Ingrassia's writing style was chatty and breezy, with repeated attempts at "cleverness" and detours into random areas of pop culture in an attempt to provide period "ambiance."

Summary: this book was more like an extended magazine article in terms the depth of research, quality of writing, and clarity of theme. While automotive history is clearly interwoven with American history, this book doesn't do either subject justice.
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on September 21, 2016
Well chosen subjects lots of interesting vignettes spoiled by name dropping and irrelevant asides. His first book comeback was much better and better written
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on July 10, 2015
A very interesting history of cars in the U.S. but there wasn't much of a conclusion by the author, which seemed to leave the story unfinished (perhaps intentionally so). Overall though it was really informative and a quick read. Definitely recommended.
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