Car Country: An Environmental History
Christopher W. Wells, Foreword by William Cronon
“Relatively few academic geographers have focused their research and publishing directly on the automobile and its geographical implications for life in the United States. Yet nothing over the past century has had a greater effect on America’s geography than the public’s evolving dependence on the motor car, and, as well, the motor truck…. Christopher Wells’s opus will excite more geographers to focus on automobility as a fundamental factor underlying the American experience.”—John A. Jackle, The AAG Review of Books
For most people in the United States, going almost anywhere begins with reaching for the car keys. This is true, Christopher Wells argues, because the United States is Car Country—a nation dominated by landscapes that are difficult, inconvenient, and often unsafe to navigate by those who are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.
The prevalence of car-dependent landscapes seems perfectly natural to us today, but it is, in fact, a relatively new historical development. In Car Country, Wells rejects the idea that the nation’s automotive status quo can be explained as a simple byproduct of an ardent love affair with the automobile. Instead, he takes readers on a tour of the evolving American landscape, charting the ways that transportation policies and land-use practices have combined to reshape nearly every element of the built environment around the easy movement of automobiles. Wells untangles the complicated relationships between automobiles and the environment, allowing readers to see the everyday world in a completely new way. The result is a history that is essential for understanding American transportation and land-use issues today.
Christopher W. Wells is associate professor of environmental history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
University of Washington Press
July 2014 464pp 61 illus., 7 maps 9780295994291 PB £17.99 now only £14.39 when you quote CSL315ENVI when you order
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