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Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road
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Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  25 reviews
From the author of the landmark Shop Class as Soulcraft, a brilliant, first-of-its-kind celebration of driving that views the open road as a unique pathway of human freedom, one now critically threatened by automation. 

Once we were drivers, the open road alive with autonomy, adventure, danger, trust, and speed.

Today we are as likely to be in the back seat of an Uber as beh
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 9th 2020 by William Morrow
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May 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had 2 problems with this book. One is the mismatch between the title and the description and the contents of the book. One was with the author himself.

If the premise of this book is to describe what the title says, Why We Drive, it has failed. Or to create a cohesive philosophy, it has also failed. Instead it seems as if it is a chance for the author to complain about some things that bother him .

The increased technological advances that make driving more automatic, less hands on. At first, I
It’s not really about driving than it is about being human seen through the lens of driving. For this reason, the book is for folks who want to think about community, social structures, personhood, virtues, technology, technocrats, etc. You may get bored or turned off by the length of time he spends on his cars and the depth he goes. I know I started. But then I thought, “Wait, my response is the epitome of the sort of circumstance he shares we’ve found ourselves in after giving over our control ...more
Charles J
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Philosopher Matthew Crawford’s third book is ostensibly a book about driving, but as with all Crawford’s works, that is merely the jumping-off point. Crawford expands our minds by exploring a range of related ideas, usually through concretizing abstractions, tying them to work done by real people in the real world. Why We Drive uses this structure, as did his first two books, Shop Class as Soulcraft and The World Beyond Your Head. Such writing is not for everyone; the payoff can take some time t ...more
Dennis Maione
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A really brilliant book about driving and what it means.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. More a collection of essays than a comprehensive deep book on a single theme. Some excellent writing by a very thoughtful car guy. I strongly disagree with the author on a few points, be he changed my mind on other points. A perfect give-and-take, with me as reader gaining lots of perspective and education on topics including autonomous vehicles, playing/fighting in vehicles, the structure of and perverse incentives of traffic laws, advances (and regressions) in car technology, London ...more
Gregg Kellogg
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, book-club
Crawford is a real non-conformist, and this book is a pean to gear-heads and hot-rodded Volkswagens. I appreciate this, as in my younger days, I had several vintage Jeeps, a couple of which were also hot-rods. He revels in the open-road (or dirt) and chafes against societies expectations and the rule of "the Man".

There is discussion of coming automation, bringing both good and bad, but a strong wariness of large corporations, with their penchant for mining our data and regaling is with ads at ev
Iancu S.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ever wonder why, to prove we're not robots, we have to select the cars and traffic signs that are training Google's self-driving alorithms - thus narrowing the distance between us and the robots?
'Why We Drive' is an attempt to sound the alarm against the seemingly relentless march of 'connectivity' and 'smart' devices supplanting dumb (or at least 'biased') humans.

With my admiration for Crawford's work matched only by a deep loathing of 'Top Gear' and macho motor narcissism, I approached this b
Lori White
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I have always felt most at peace with myself during long, solitary, cross-country road trips, a fact that puzzles more than few of my friends and always made my mother a little uptight. So, when I read the description for Why We Drive by Matthew B. Crawford, I felt I'd found a kindred spirit. After reading the book, I'm not sure I did.

Maybe it was about my expectations, or maybe my hopes. I wanted a book that celebrated driving - the freedom, the headspace, the emotional release of getting behi
Michael Schuermann
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another phenomenal and very readable treatise from Matthew Crawford. He here explores the idea of sovereignty through a varied look at driving, drivers, cars, and where it’s all headed. Two short passages suffice for whetting your appetite to pick this up and read it:

“We seem to be entering a new dispensation. Qualities once prized, such as spiritedness and a capacity for independent judgment, are starting to appear dysfunctional. If they are to operate optimally, our machines require deference.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author ruminates on all things driving related in this engaging book – he covers so much ground related to and surrounding cars and driving (everything from the Autobahn to Soap Box derby) that it does risk diluting the various topics, but overall I appreciated the discussion whether it was speculating on how autonomous driving will affect us to the joy of car repair. It’s less Click’n’Clack and more philosophical (citing Marcuse and other 20th century intellectuals) – it largely worked for ...more
Joran Kapteijns
I should have liked this book. Not only is it's philosophy of driving close to mine, the conservative streak (in the sense of wishing to conserve things from the past) appeals to me too. But unfortunately, the author started to compare a sense of freedom with 'republican' life. And with the current crop of republican politicians working hard to curtail freedoms for personal gain, that is not a very welcome images.
This connection to politics comes at a strange point, too. For a book that has some
Jul 26, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
Primitivism. Unsurprising coming from a minor governmental bureaucrat. And like Crawford's life, the book is also very plain and repetitive.
As other reviews say, the book doesn't quite match the title. There isn't a coherent philosophy put forth here. There's things the author doesn't like. I'm no fan of driverless cars myself, but does that mean they shouldn't be developed? Mostly the book is Crawford complaining about what he doesn't like about U.S. driving. One thing I do not agree on is allowing lane splitting by motorcycles. In countries where it's been common for years, it's fine. Trying to implement it here would result in ma ...more
Robby Bishop
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, audiobook
A bit uneven but if you liked Shop Class and The World Beyond Your Head, then you'll definitely like this: it's the same type of thinking as those two books but applied to a more specific topic.

In a time when "freedom" so often becomes a rallying cry for the stupidest reasons, I appreciate this book (and Crawford's thinking in general) for offering a nuanced discussion of what freedom actually means in the modern world and why it's important to think about as we approach an unknown future.
Jo ferrell
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
jim read this book to me and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing it! It's not solely about driving a vehicle!
suggest you read it and find out for yourself!
Robert Vincent
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to be on the road. So, when I discovered “Why We Drive” from reading another book referencing author Crawford’s book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. I was not disappointed. He covered all and more of what I love and hate, and everything in between about vehicles, the road, and even the philosophy of the whole experience. The subtitle: “Toward a PHILOSOPHY of the Open Road” held true in my reader’s eye.

I fully agree with the author that our soc
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
My experience of reading Crawford's two previous books was that of someone finally putting into words questions I'd had latent in my mind for probably a decade, and drawing striking connections between them, so it was only with that sense of intellectual fellowship and appreciation for his insights that I consented to, let alone was interested in, reading a defense of cars and car culture (I grew up, funnily enough, in the same rural Virginia where many of his anecdotes take place, and adopted a ...more
Mike Lutz
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's one sentence from the book:

Between the quiet smoothness, the passivity, and the sense of being cared for by some surrounding entity you can’t quite identify, driving a modern car is a bit like returning to the womb.

The essence of Crawford's book is that autonomous cars, rather than freeing us, will be another step on the path to deskilling us, making us subservient to what should be tools. He earns against the ways in which such tools can be used by "totalitarian capitalism" to reduce ris
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not too long ago, I was driving, on some errand, with my brother in law in the passenger seat of my 2010 Subaru Forester. He asked me why I drove a car with a manual transmission. Answer: “Because I enjoy it.”

Why We Drive is a book for those of us who deliberately seek out cars with a manual transmission (an increasingly difficult task these days) simply because we enjoy driving them. It is for those who are skeptical of the profusion of “safety features” that may have the perverse effect of al
Mark Seeley
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous book on several levels. It's a call to trust not in machines or technology. They present unintended consequences against our humanity. Crawford's brief concluding remarks are worth the price of the book.

I borrowed my copy from the library, but I will buy it (or ask for it as an X-Mas gift) for a second go-around. You can't mark up library books.
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed the book a great deal. I really like Matthew Crawford's stuff. He's a crucial thinker/writer for our age.
Graham Bradley
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
DUUUUUDE "smart tech" needs to be run off the road with ruthless cruelty.

That aside, what a great writeup.
Lesbianfunworld Online
Disappointing. It's like the author himself said, when asked where he was going. "Nowhere, fast."
Justin Matthews
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cultural commentary meets political philosophy meets memoir meets Car and Driver. It's fun to read a book about a thing you do nearly every day but likely take for granted; Crawford pops the hood and allows us to take a closer look inside. Well-written, funny, and insightful: a great addition to the Crawford corpus.
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Matthew B. Crawford is currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He also runs a (very) small business in Richmond, Virginia.

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