Stick Shifts and Safety Belts

How car culture swallowed America

Illustration of a vintage blue car against a yellow background
Detail of a vintage Cadillac ad (John Frost Newspapers/Alamy Stock Photo)

Americans love their cars. But why? When did cars become so wrapped up in the idea of American identity that we can’t pull ourselves away from them, knowing full well that they’re expensive, emissions-spewing death machines? Why are we so wedded to the idea of cars that we’re now developing all-electric and driverless cars instead of investing in mass transportation? To answer some of these questions, we’re joined this episode by Dan Albert, who writes about the past, present, and future of cars, from Henry Ford’s dirt-cheap and democratic Model T to the predicted death of the automobile in the 1970s—and again, today.

Go beyond the episode:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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