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Unsafe at Any Speed Paperback – March, 1991

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Knightsbridge Pub Co Mass; 25th Anniversary edition (March 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561290505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561290505
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,846,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Milton Bertin Jones on May 28, 2002
As a Traffic Safety Specialist, this book is a MUST, this old book needs to be mandatory reading for any person interested in Road Safety, Ralph documented the resistance of car companies to the introduction of safety features, like safety belts, that looks timely today, for example with the lobby that produce a delay in the mandatory fitting of air bags. Also you will learn how the primitive road safety components, still used in USA, called the three E's (Engineering, Enforcement, Education ) was born as a device to direct the efforts to the community away from the real problems of safety of the vehicles, some of the that was sell with tires that don't resist the weight of the fully loaded vehicle !.
Finally you can understand the lacking level of road safety in US versus European countries that have in service safety policies that will reduce the absolute number of killed by 30% over 5 years.
This book is the necessary building stone to the effort to make car manufacturers accountable for the safety level of his products.
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If my mom and dad had read this book when it was originally published my mom may not have allowed my dad to buy a car. Mr. Nader, in his book, revealed a side of the auto industry that was truly terrifying. Complete with statistical tables it is still worth a read all these decades later.
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The Corvair was the Pinto of the '60s. Ralph Nadir was the first to say, "Enough is enough!" and took the Big Three to the mat, in this case just Chevrolet. If you liked Roger and Me you must have to read this book--it will change the way you look at modern day power structure. To think one man who came to define "consumer advocate" could topple a mighty giant of American Indusrty! This car was dangerous because the company tried to cut costs on the rear suspension, but all they saved was $4 per car!!! Incredable to believe human life could mean so little to some, but that is why you must to read this book.
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The first section tells about the events since this book was published in 1965. Cars were built without any safety standards or to keep repair costs low (p.42). Replacement parts were big business (p.lxxiv). [They still are; note the placement of rear lights at the edge.] There was an increased rate of death and injuries from accidents (p.xlv). Auto manufacturers conspired to prevent pollution controls (p.lxix). The "sporty Corvair" had problems that were due to its design and cost cutting (Chapter 1). Quality control did not catch the known problems. Car magazines (and others) depend on advertising to survive (p.17), they can't freely criticize automobiles. People were kept ignorant about the products they bought. [Has that changed?] The Corvair required unusual tire pressures (p.23). Low tire pressure can lead to a blow-out. The Corvair oversteered, a dangerous condition (p.29). Was this caused by top management (p.39)? Tolerating needless defects "is a symbol of a much deeper malaise" (p.41). The dangers of an "ordinary swing axle" were known except to buyers.

Chapter 2 tells of many defects found in new automobiles. The danger and solution to the second collision is in Chapter 3. The military lost more men by automobile accidents than in combat in Korea (p.87). [A statistic that ignores rates.] This chapter explains the changes in car designs since the 1960s. That second place of Ford is usual (p.118). The link between automobile exhaust and smog was documented in 1950 (Chapter 4). Auto companies objected to lowering emissions but gave no reasons (p.165). [To keep prices down?] Who benefits from pollution (p.169)? Nader states the number of deaths by automobiles went up by 25% since 1961 but doesn't link that to any increase in drivers and automobiles (p.170).
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This is a book that should be on every high school curriculum, along with Huck Finn, Anne of Green Gables, the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hamlet, and The Wealth of Nations.

Is it a masterpiece of literature or fine writing ? No.

And yet, it is, without question one of the more important, and ultimately influential, books written in the United States in the 20th century.

It should probably be read in conjunction with "My Years at General Motors" by Alfred P. Sloan. Both are great works by great men, from very different perspectives.
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This book does a brilliant job of questioning corporate power, and the interests that put the consumer's at risk for the sake of the bottom line.

The amount of hatred directed at him from the right-wingers as well as conformist 'liberals' is only a measure of the fear of truth that Ralph has managed to inspire in these parasites.
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One sided account ,plenty of emotive language,lacks data
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So, GM et al were actually out there trying to murder their customers. Does this make sense to you? Texas A&M University tested the Corvair against several contemporary models and determined that it handled "favorably" in comparison. These tests were performed by engineers. Ralph Nadar was what we now call a "slip and fall lawyer" who contributed to ruining an industry for personal fame and fortune.
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