Car wars: How the car won our hearts and conquered our cities

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Allen & Unwin, Feb 1, 2004 - Transportation - 328 pages
This is the story of how the car changed a society.

Graeme Davison, Australia s leading urban historian, explores the Melbourne he knows so well to show us how the car entered our consciousness - as an object of desire, a symbol of status, a creator of freedoms, a shaper of sexual mores. His is a fascinating journey through landscapes changed and cities redesigned by the car, of mayhem on the road and influence in the world of politics, of communities challenged and the environment threatened, and of an ongoing love affair with a machine.

Car Wars is a history of people, politics, landscapes, conflict, engineering, social movements and the environment. It is a story that is erudite, illuminating and elegantly told.

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Page xii - To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.
Page x - Down the assembly line they roll and pass Complete at last, a miracle of design; Their chromium fenders, the unbreakable glass, The fashionable curve, the air-flow line. Grease to the elbows Mum and Dad enthuse, Pocket their spanners and survey the bride; Murmur: "A sweet job! All she needs is juicel Built for a life-time — sleek as a fish.
Page 187 - ... for a home of our own". Your advanced socialist may rage against private property even while he acquires it; but one of the best instincts in us is that which induces us to have one little piece of earth with a house and a garden which is ours: to which we can withdraw, in which we can be among our friends, into which no stranger may come against our will....
Page 77 - In the new landscape there will be only cars and drivers of cars and signs saying FREE SWAP CARDS HERE and exhaust-fumes drifting over the countryside and sounds of acceleration instead of birdsong In the new landscape there will be no more streets begging for hopscotch squares, only...
Page 109 - strangling" the city — as a matter of fact he drives in and out a lot faster than he thinks. But he is changing the fundamental character of the metropolitan area — and, many planners fear, for the worse. Perhaps the central question is whether the city will continue to serve as a unifying core for its surrounding metropolitan region or whether it will be utterly fragmented. The key to this problem is transportation.
Page 55 - ... Boys), not to endorse it. There is also very little by way of physical character description in the book — apart from the beauty of cars, that is. This is Ron's take on his wife Rose: 'She always looked good in those days. Never in curlers, hair and eyes shining, cool, sexy, spot on.' As for cars: 'They talk about love at first sight with sheilas, but with sheilas I don't think it ever lasts like that. A sheila can knock you for six the first time you see her, hair, eyes, chassis, the lot,...
Page 288 - Lois BRYSON and FAITH THOMPSON, An Australian Newtown: Life and leadership in a new housing suburb ( Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1972), pp. 378: $2.25 ['Newtown' is a Victorian Housing Commission suburb on the urban fringe of Melbourne.
Page x - The automobile is much more than a mere means of transportation; rather, it is wholly imbued with feelings and desires that raise it to the level of a cultural symbol. Behind the gradual infiltration of the automobile into the world of our dreams lie many stories: ones of disdain for the unmendable horse, of female coquetry, of the driver's megalomania, of the sense of having a miracle parked in the drive, and of the generalized desire for social...
Page 265 - Greig, The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: Housing Provision in Australia, 1945-1960 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1995), pp.
Page x - A sweet job! All she needs is juice! Built for a life-time — sleek as a fish. Inside "He will find every comfort: the full set Of gadgets; knobs that answer to the touch For light or music; a place for his cigarette; Room for his knees; a honey of a clutch.

About the author (2004)

Graeme Davison is among our most innovative historians. His most recent books have been, The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, The Unforgiving Minute, a history of time and The Use and Abuse of Australian History. In Car Wars he demonstrates yet again his originality as Australia's leading urban historian.

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