The Life of the Automobile: The Complete History of the Motor Car

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Macmillan, 2014 M05 13 - 448 pages

The Life of the Automobile is the first comprehensive world history of the car.

The automobile has arguably shaped the modern era more profoundly than any other human invention, and author Steven Parissien examines the impact, development, and significance of the automobile over its turbulent and colorful 130-year history. Readers learn the grand and turbulent history of the motor car, from its earliest appearance in the 1880s—as little more than a powered quadricycle—and the innovations of the early pioneer carmakers. The author examines the advances of the interwar era, the Golden Age of the 1950s, and the iconic years of the 1960s to the decades of doubt and uncertainty following the oil crisis of 1973, the global mergers of the 1990s, the bailouts of the early twenty-first century, and the emergence of the electric car.

This is not just a story of horsepower and performance but a tale of extraordinary people: of intuitive carmakers such as Karl Benz, Sir Henry Royce, Giovanni Agnelli (Fiat), André Citroën, and Louis Renault; of exceptionally gifted designers such as the eccentric, Ohio-born Chris Bangle (BMW); and of visionary industrialists such as Henry Ford, Ferdinand Porsche (the Volkswagen Beetle), and Gene Bordinat (the Ford Mustang), among numerous other game changers.

Above all, this comprehensive history demonstrates how the epic story of the car mirrors the history of the modern era, from the brave hopes and soaring ambitions of the early twentieth century to the cynicism and ecological concerns of a century later. Bringing to life the flamboyant entrepreneurs, shrewd businessmen, and gifted engineers that worked behind the scenes to bring us horsepower and performance, The Life of the Automobile is a globe-spanning account of the auto industry that is sure to rev the engines of entrepreneurs and gearheads alike.


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User Review  - larryt78748 - LibraryThing

Possibly the very worst book of automotive history ever written, with a glaring mistake on the very first page. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HowHop - LibraryThing

Even though I learned much about automobile history through Steven Parissien's book, it fell short of fulfilling what I had hoped for when I purchased it. At times I found it difficult to follow ... Read full review


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About the author (2014)

DR. STEVEN PARISSIEN is an internationally renowned author who has written extensively on cultural and architectural history. He is the director of the Compton Verney museum and gallery in Warwickshire and a visiting fellow at the universities of Oxford and Warwick. He lives in Oxford, England, and has one daughter.

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