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A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next

A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next

by Tom Standage
A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next

A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next

by Tom Standage


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From the bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses, an eye-opening road trip through 5,500 years of humans on the go, revealing how transportation inevitably shapes civilization.

Tom Standage's fleet-footed and surprising global histories have delighted readers and cemented his reputation as one of our leading interpreters of technologies past and present. Now, he returns with a provocative account of a sometimes-overlooked form of technology-personal transportation-and explores how it has shaped societies and cultures over millennia.

Beginning around 3,500 BCE with the wheel—a device that didn't catch on until a couple thousand years after its invention—Standage zips through the eras of horsepower, trains, and bicycles, revealing how each successive mode of transit embedded itself in the world we live in, from the geography of our cities to our experience of time to our notions of gender. Then, delving into the history of the automobile's development, Standage explores the social resistance to cars and the upheaval that their widespread adoption required. Cars changed how the world was administered, laid out, and policed, how it looked, sounded, and smelled—and not always in the ways we might have preferred.

Today—after the explosive growth of ride-sharing and years of breathless predictions about autonomous vehicles—the social transformations spurred by coronavirus and overshadowed by climate change create a unique opportunity to critically reexamine our relationship to the car. With A Brief History of Motion, Standage overturns myths, considers roads not taken, and invites us to look at our past with fresh eyes so we can create the future we want to see.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635573619
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 08/17/2021
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 212,597
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tom Standage is deputy editor of the Economist and the author of six previous history books, including Writing on the Wall, the New York Times bestsellers A History of the World in 6 Glasses and An Edible History of Humanity, and The Victorian Internet, a history of the telegraph. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Wired, and other publications. Standage holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University. He lives in London. @TomStandage

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 Wheels in the Ancient World 1

2 Your Carriage Awaits 17

3 Under Ones Own Steam 31

4 The Rubber Hits the Road 51

5 You Are What You Drive 69

6 Who Owns the Streets? 88

7 The Road to Suburbia 108

8 Car Culture 129

9 The Fall and Rise of the Electric Car 146

10 All Hail the Ride 168

11 From Horseless to Driverless 184

12 The Road Ahead 203

Acknowledgments 219

Notes 221

Sources 227

Image Credits 235

Index 237

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