Book Review: Engines of Change by Ingrassia

Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen CarsEngines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars by Paul Ingrassia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m sure the subtitle has you curious, so here are some clues about the fifteen vehicles explored in this great book. Yes, there are only thirteen items listed below, but that’s because a few chapters overlap and include more than one exact make or model of vehicle.

  • The Big Bang
  • Bolsheviks, Nazis, and High-Performance Racers
  • Fins
  • Hitler to Hippies
  • Explosions
  • Iacocca
  • DeLorean, but not that DeLorean
  • Globalisation and the search for Quality
  • Iacocca II
  • Yuppies
  • Iacocca III
  • Red(neck) Dawn
  • Full Gosling

Now to the review. The only downside to this book is that it ends. I would readily read Pulitzer-winner Pual Ingrassia’s take on any era of American pop culture or automobile. Even at 350+ pages, this hefty volume is still a quick read because it’s so entertaining. Not as quick as a GTO or Bimmer, perhaps. But still quick. Ingrassia deftly weaves history, pop culture, odd bits of trivia, and twinkle-in-the-eye humour into what could’ve been a dry subject.

To be clear, I’m not a petrolhead. I do daydream about taking a motorcycle adventure a la Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Up, but I drive an old Toyota Camry. I’m not exactly racing for papers on the weekends. So, even if you aren’t a car person so much as a trivia or history person, I think there’s something here for you. However, it’s probably more fun if you do have at least some interest in car culture (or you are close with someone in that world). In fact, if you are stumped on what to get your dad this Christmas, you could do worse than this book! Just be prepared to gather around a phone screen as your loved one regales you with pictures and stories of their favorite hooptie.


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