A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next (Hardcover)
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.
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, considers roads not taken, 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
“Tom Standage has a gift for explaining how our modern world came to be and might evolve. In A Brief History of Motion, his skills as a historian and his trademark insight and wit shine in a way that will make your mind whir every time you hop on a bike or get behind the wheel of a car. This book is full of surprises and an absolute delight.” —Ashlee Vance, New York Times-bestselling author of ELON MUSK
“Perceptive, pragmatic, but never pedestrian, this is an irrepressible survey of how we've travelled through the ages, and it zips along like the most pleasurable of journeys.” —Simon Garfield, New York Times-bestselling author of JUST MY TYPE and ON THE MAP
“On the past, present, and future of transportation, Tom Standage has crafted the book to read, full of anecdote and keen observation, and seamlessly written.” —Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, and New York Times-bestselling author of THE GREAT STAGNATION and AVERAGE IS OVER
“Tom Standage takes us on a quick spin, from no wheels for anybody to nobody at the wheel-much of it over back roads that were entirely new to me.” —George Dyson, author of TURING'S CATHEDRAL and ANALOGIA
“A witty, expansive, evolutionary look at transportation history . . . Standage nimbly touches all the bases in this sprightly historical race.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Standage . . . delivers a brisk and entertaining history of personal transportation . . . Full of easy-to-understand history lessons and technical explanations, this is a well-informed look at how innovation, when properly guided, can pave the way to a brighter future.” —Publishers Weekly
“There aren't many books this entertaining that also provide a cogent crash course in ancient, classical and modern history.” —Los Angeles Times on A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SIX GLASSES
“Standage's bright idea really is bright . . . His book is loaded with the kind of data that get talked about at the figurative water cooler… Incisive, illuminating and swift.” —New York Times, on A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SIX GLASSES
“A zippy narrative . . . [Standage] uses something mundane and everyday to tell vivid and accessible stories about the changing textures of human life.” —The New Yorker, on A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN SIX GLASSES
“An extraordinary and well-told story, a much neglected dimension of history.” —Financial Times on AN EDIBLE HISTORY OF HUMANITY
“Wonderfully detailed .... deftly zips through more than 5,000 years of getting from one place to another.” —Air Mail
“Standage believes a look back at the history of wheeled vehicles and their impacts is useful to guide us toward the future . . . This is a well-researched exploration of an urgent subject.” —Booklist