Comment 29662

By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2009 at 16:09:39

Sounds like a great book, and I'd love to read it. One of my better undergraduate papers dealt with the Nazi regime's fascination with the automobile (basically, I asserted that this obsession fit in rather well with the regime's avowed goal of obliterating time and space to further the "thousand-year reich"). Even I could not resist quoting Mr. Toad, for whom the automobile was "The real way to travel!. . . .Villages skipped, towns and cities jumped — always somebody else's horizon!" American sociologist Bessie Averne McClenahan wrote an fascinating 1929 article on the subject. "[T]he automobile," she writes, "has cut down spatial distance and tended to increase social nearness to such an extent that every person may live in wide-flung communalities of his own [making], in place of the old closely circumscribed neighborhoods."

Thanks for the review, David. I'll be sure to check the book out if I get a chance. I'm wondering, though, if his stance vis a vis the automobile can really be as neutral as you suggest, whether his writing style is polemical or not. Mind you, I'd be interested in reading the book in either case. It's truly awe-inspiring how ideological the decision was to transform urban and rural landscapes into criss-crossing, concrete expanses carrying high speed projectiles of iron and steel - determined, moreover, by individual preference. It's an amazing (and for me, disturbing) spectacle, whatever one's take on it.

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