The Magazine

Big Wheels

The American and his/her car.

May 28, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 35 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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What is it about tailfins that has always so disturbed people of correct opinion? Engines of Change raises many such questions. Any book on a topic so overwhelming as the car in America has to be more of a goad to, than a proof of, argument. And here Ingrassia has succeeded. He provides some answers and invites more. Was the automobile master or man to American industrialization? Did ubiquitous self-powered contraptions affect our thinking? How does the waxing tech-mind differ from the waning mech-mind? Is the car becoming a mere appliance, an office cubicle on wheels, and a motorized cupholder? Is the Google driverless car any more appealing than the eaterless meal? And why do intellectuals hate cars?

Not that I’m dirtying Paul Ingrassia with that epithet. He may have made the mistake of listening to intellectuals, but he likes cars and doesn’t much like Ralph Nader or the Prius. Anyway, I know why intellectuals hate cars. I’ve ridden in a car while an intellectual was driving.

P. J. O’Rourke is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.