- Hardcover: 248 pages
- Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (September 7, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1421401908
- ISBN-13: 978-1421401904
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,959,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Dr. Lerner’s account of the long relationship between the automobile and the beverage―on both a corporate and a consumer level―is dogged, comprehensive and occasionally quite surprising."(Abigail Zuger, M.D. New York Times)
"In the libertarian society of the US, Americans acknowledge their rights, which include driving automobiles and consuming alcoholic beverages. Innocuous independently, combined they have plagued the country for over 100 years."(Choice)
"Well written and passionately argued, the text explores how Americans' historic "love of alcohol, love of driving, and more abstractly, love of freedom and individual liberties" spawned a complex, centurylong, and at times self-defeating battle with drunk drivers."(David Blanke Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences)
"Lerner has done a beautiful job of tracing the degree to which celebrity patients have reflected and shaped the modern American understanding of doctors, patients, and illness."(New England Journal of Medicine)
"Lerner has created a powerful prism through his thoughtful exploration of celebrity illness, highlighting societal and cultural forces that widely affect public and private health care decisions."(Journal of the American Medical Association)
"We can learn quite a bit about our society, culture, and values from the way celebrities' illnesses are publicly portrayed... Lerner is at his best when he uses his considerable narrative skills to place these stories into their broader historical, cultural, and ethical contexts."(American Journal of Bioethics)
"In Lerner's capable hands, these dozen stories in their retelling are both colorfully dramatic narratives, ripped from the headlines (as the saying now goes) and also probing samples of historically specific contingencies and shifting attitudes."(Bulletin of the History of Medicine)
Top customer reviews
This book is intersting, well-written, insightful & informative. Anyone interested in the problem will like this book. I thought the author also presented views from people he didn't agree with, for some balance.
For the first few chapters of this book, Dr. Lerner shares horror stories of the early days of drunk driving, with outrageously lenient sentences for devastating crashes and a pervasive public attitude that drinking and driving wasn't a big deal. As someone born in 1980, I have never lived in a world without TV commercials and special episodes and school assemblies about the dangers of drunk driving, and I was shocked by the way the problem was first viewed. Dr. Lerner follows those stories with thorough chapters on the impact of MADD and related groups, along with the ways that policy objectives and legislation have shifted over the years. The book also has plenty of examples from the European Union to show other paths that have been taken in efforts to keep the roads safe. I learned a great deal from this book, so Dr. Lerner achieved his objective.
My main problems with the book come from its tone. Dr. Lerner approaches the problem as a public health concern, which he does justify with analogies and statistics, and he makes a good case that the most significant legislative advancements have come from those who share his perspective. I do not share that perspective, though, as I am a public defender. Like many (if not most) public defenders at the district court level in Massachusetts, I handle drunk driving cases on a regular basis - on any given day, the majority of my caseload may be drunk driving cases. As someone who drives in Massachusetts, I definitely have an interest in arriving at my destinations safely, and I agree that drunk driving is unsafe at a legally intolerable level. I lost two friends a few years ago, in a car accident where the driver had been drinking. Nevertheless, as a public defender, I also have a huge interest in making sure that people's rights are protected throughout the process of investigation and prosecution of a crime. I have a hard time reading a book in which Dr. Lerner makes (understandably) unapologetic remarks about sleazy defense lawyers getting their guilty clients off because, for example, there is reasonable doubt as to how accurate a breath test device is, or Dr. Lerner's open praise for mandatory sentences and license suspensions. (In my first draft of this review, I went off on a long tangent about how public health attitudes toward drunk driving are incompatible with the criminal justice system, but I realized that I do not want to invite an anonymous internet debate that distracts from my recommendations with respect to the book - please don't comment with your thoughts on drunk driving)
My point is that although the book does present multiple angles and perspectives as they relate to the impact of drunk driving in the States, Dr. Lerner is very clear that approaches that prioritize the rights of people accused of crimes are never more valuable than approaches that risk infringement of rights in the interest of saving lives. I suspect that very few people will take issue with that value judgment (defense attorneys, some industry lobbyists, probably many people who have been accused of drunk driving...), but I want to make sure that this ideological minority is given fair warning before choosing this book. To his credit, though, Dr. Lerner saves most of his bile for the outrages of the pre-MADD era, and by the time actual MADD representatives enter the story, the book sounds less like one of their pamphlets and more like a simple historical analysis.
I do recommend this book for historians and other scholars, as Dr. Lerner presents thorough research in a clear fashion. I simply reserve a little warning about the public health perspective.
For that specific reason, I was fascinated with this book, written by a physician-scientist. It contextualizes drunk driving and drinking driving as a problem of epidemiology and a give-and-take between an American libertarian attitude in which drinking and driving are rights and the view drinking and driving represents a public health hazard. I've got to admit, I still don't understand the libertarian strain. Personally, I'd rather "lose" every single one of my family members because they choose to avoid me for taking away their keys than lose one of them to a car crash. If that leaves me exposed to being called an advocate of a nanny state, a Prohibitionist, on my high horse or just plain no fun, so be it.
The fact remains: Americans are deeply divided on how impaired drivers should be punished and can't agree on what amount of alcohol, if any, is "safe" for driving. This has been a constant tug-of-war since the rise of the automobile in the very early 20th century. This is why Dr. Barron H. Lerner begins his study in 1900. However, the American populace spent much of that century in the same kind of semi-willful, corporate-complicit ignorance about drinking and driving that allowed the tobacco companies to deny smoking's health effects for so long. Drinking and driving did not become a major political issue until the Reagan era, even though it was claiming an estimated 17,000 American lives yearly through the 1990s. (The number is still disputed, but currently believed to be 11,000-13,000.)
I sincerely hope some documentary filmmaker teams up with Dr. Lerner to present this information to a wider audience. Are you there, Michael Moore? It's me, outraged.
In the meantime, seriously, plan ahead if you're going to drink. Drink at home, or plan to spend the night at a friend's house. Call a taxi; program a cab company's number into your phone. Go to a bar within walking distance of your back door. Be responsible for your own actions - really, it's got to be easier than looking a family in the eye and telling them why you chose to drink, get behind the wheel and kill their loved ones. That's not a good time. That's not glamorous. We live in the real world, not in a beer commercial.