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From the bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses, an eye-opening road trip through 5,500 years of humans on the go, revealing how transportation inevitably shapes civilization.
Hailed for their "colorful, smooth, and wonderfully engaging" writing (Smithsonian), Tom Standage's fleet-footed and surprising global histories have delighted readers and cemented his reputation as one of our leading interpreters of technologies past and present. Now, he returns with a provocative account of a sometimes-overlooked form of technology—personal transportation—and explores how it has shaped societies and cultures over millennia.
Beginning around 3,500 BCE with the wheel--a device that didn’t catch on until a couple thousand years after its invention--Standage zips through the eras of horsepower, trains, and bicycles, revealing how each successive mode of transit embedded itself in the world we live in, from the geography of our cities to our experience of time to our notions of gender. Then, delving into the history of the automobile’s development, Standage explores the social resistance to cars and the upheaval that their widespread adoption required. Cars changed how the world was administered, laid out, and policed, how it looked, sounded, and smelled--and not always in the ways we might have preferred.
Today--after the explosive growth of ride-sharing and years of breathless predictions about autonomous vehicles--the social transformations spurred by coronavirus and overshadowed by climate change create a unique opportunity to critically reexamine our relationship to the car. With A Brief History of Motion, Standage overturns myths and invites us to look at our past with fresh eyes so we can create the future we want to see.
“Eminently readable . . . Standage writes with a masterly clarity.” —New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)
“Rewarding: the product of deep research, great intelligence and burnished prose . . . An unusually astute futurist, Mr. Standage offers observations about where we are now and where we might be heading that should be taken seriously . . . It is rare that I encounter a nonfiction author whose prose is so elegant that it is worth reading for itself. Mr. Standage is a writer of this class.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A witty, expansive, evolutionary look at transportation history . . . Standage nimbly touches all the bases in this sprightly historical race.” —Kirkus Reviews