Thursday, June 26, 2008

what I'm reading: asphalt nation

If you read Asphalt Nation at roughly the same time you're listening to The Omnivore's Dilemma, you may start to think that American is doomed. Asphalt Nation looks at all the ways the car is ruining America, the historical precedents for favoring the car over other modes of transportation, and some suggested solutions.

The other thing that happens when reading any book while listening to The Omnivore's Dilemma is that you start to compare the two. And Jane Holtz Kay is no Michael Pollan. While the information is good (and sometimes scary) the delivery is a little bit dry. Plus, the book is a little dated at this point. (It was published in 1998.)

Honestly, I agree with everything Kay says. I think we need to take steps as a society to become less car centered. I also agree that its going to be a long, slow battle that we can never completely win but should keep fighting anyway. But at this point, the solutions aren't anything new (walk more, bike more, expand mass transit, etc.) and the overall story could be told in a much more interesting way.

Verdict: Most of the information and statistics can be gleaned from bike and walking advocacy websites. Hold off until Michael Pollan decides to dabble in the car-free lifestyle. (A Natural History of Four Modes of Transportation, anyone?)

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