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On Roads: A Hidden History

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In this history of roads and what they have meant to the people who have driven them, one of Britain's favourite cultural historians reveals how a relatively simple road system turned into a maze-like pattern of roundabouts, flyovers, clover-leafs and spaghetti junctions.

Using a unique blend of travel writing, anthropology, history and social observation, he explores how Britain's roads have their roots in unexpected places. He visits the Roman role in the way our roads are numbered, the ancient sat-nav systems of China of 2600BC and the unknown demonstrations against by-passes in the 1920s, and ends up at the roots of today's arguments about road pricing and road rage.

Full of quirky nuggets of history, On Roads also celebrates the often overlooked people whose work we take for granted, such as Percy Shaw, the inventor of the catseye, Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert, the designers of the road sign system, and Charles Forte, the entrepreneur behind the service station.

These stories of our past shed light on hidden changes in our society, the relation between people and nature and the invisibility of the mundane.And - on subjects ranging from speed limits to driving on the left, and the "non-places" where we stop to the unwritten laws of traffic jams - they have never been told together, until now.

312 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2009

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About the author

Joe Moran

13 books42 followers

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