The following is an excerpt from P. J. O’ROURKE | May 28, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 35 | WeeklyStandard.com |
Paul Ingrassia, former Detroit bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, is probably the best broadsheet reporter ever to cover the car business. He and Joseph B. White won a Pulitzer Prize for their articles about how General Motors got busted to corporal by its fool management and union. Ingrassia wrote the book on “The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster,” that being the subtitle of his Crash Course (2010). Now he’s broached yet a larger subject, the car’s whole effect on our entire nation.
Picking 15 vehicles as tent poles for this sprawling canvas was a good idea, and Ingrassia chose well. Ford’s Model T and GM’s first assay of the “affordable luxury” market, the 1927 LaSalle, exemplify the realist and symbolist schools of car selling. Contrasts between the VW bug and Microbus and the 1959 Cadillac show that the 1950s had more than one Cold War. The Ford Mustang and the Pontiac GTO illustrate the two-sided, flitty-gritty nature of baby boomers. And the Chrysler minivan was the grim fate that awaited them all. The Honda Civic tells the tale of how the Japanese abandoned the ill-conceived tactics of Pearl Harbor and conquered America. The BMW 3 Series is a rolling David Brooks column about educated elites, and the Prius illustrates the self-punishing nature of people who appear in David Brooks columns. The Jeep and the Ford F-150 pickup truck illuminate political and sociological pretensions, with blue state nature boys who never go outdoors pretending to be……
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