Car Country: An Environmental History

Paperback | July 9, 2014

byChristopher W. WellsForeword byWilliam Cronon

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For most people in the United States, going almost anywhere begins with reaching for the car keys. This is true, Christopher Wells argues, because the United States is Car Country-a nation dominated by landscapes that are difficult, inconvenient, and often unsafe to navigate by those who are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.

The prevalence of car-dependent landscapes seems perfectly natural to us today, but it is, in fact, a relatively new historical development. In Car Country, Wells rejects the idea that the nation's automotive status quo can be explained as a simple byproduct of an ardent love affair with the automobile. Instead, he takes readers on a tour of the evolving American landscape, charting the ways that transportation policies and land-use practices have combined to reshape nearly every element of the built environment around the easy movement of automobiles. Wells untangles the complicated relationships between automobiles and the environment, allowing readers to see the everyday world in a completely new way. The result is a history that is essential for understanding American transportation and land-use issues today.

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For most people in the United States, going almost anywhere begins with reaching for the car keys. This is true, Christopher Wells argues, because the United States is Car Country-a nation dominated by landscapes that are difficult, inconvenient, and often unsafe to navigate by those who are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.The pr...

Christopher W. Wells is associate professor of environmental history at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 9 × 6.05 × 1.1 inPublished:July 9, 2014Publisher:University of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295994290

ISBN - 13:9780295994291

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For most people in the United States, going almost anywhere begins with reaching for the car keys. This is true, Christopher Wells argues, because the United States is Car Country-a nation dominated by landscapes that are difficult, inconvenient, and often unsafe to navigate by those who are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.The prevalence of car-dependent landscapes seems perfectly natural to us today, but it is, in fact, a relatively new historical development. In Car Country, Wells rejects the idea that the nation's automotive status quo can be explained as a simple byproduct of an ardent love affair with the automobile. Instead, he takes readers on a tour of the evolving American landscape, charting the ways that transportation policies and land-use practices have combined to reshape nearly every element of the built environment around the easy movement of automobiles. Wells untangles the complicated relationships between automobiles and the environment, allowing readers to see the everyday world in a completely new way. The result is a history that is essential for understanding American transportation and land-use issues today.Car Country offers a valuable historical perspective that is directly related to many pressing contemporary issues. - Owen D. Gutfreund, author of Twentieth Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape