The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

The Devil Wagon in God's Country: The Automobile and Social Change in Rural America, 1893-1929

Excerpt

"There can be little doubt," observed historian Clyde B. Davis in 1950, "that the automobile and its concomitant, the hard- surfaced road, brought about the most drastic change in our manner of life in the last half century." In the thirty years since these words were written, few have thought to question this or similar conclusions. If anything, our understanding of how the automobile affects our environment, our lifestyle, and even our long-term prospects for survival, has deepened. The motor car seems to be under attack from all sides. Buyers criticize the rising cost of new cars, consumer advocates demand safer automobiles and less environmental pollution, industrial reformers desire to end the monopoly of the "big four" producers by splitting them up, and conservationists suggest that a replacement for the internal combustion engine needs to be found. Most of this criticism is based on post-World War II developments, such as a record output of cars, a sharp increase in population, the creation of an interstate highway system, and, most recently, a shortage of fossil fuels.

As a result, despite extensive investigations of the automo-

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