Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crash Course

I am not a car person. I hate driving, and I’m terrible at matching cars with their names. But I do live in Michigan, and I know many people whose families work for the auto industry, so I figured it’d be good for me to read Paul Ingrassia’s book Crash Course, even if I wasn’t enthralled by the subject matter.

But, as a whole, the book wasn’t boring. Ingrassia takes the reader through the history of the US auto industry (throwing in foreign auto companies throughout because they’re certainly relevant), and it turns out that life among the Big Three is pretty dramatic. CEOs get fired, Japanese companies get more of the market, and workers who stop working still get paid. And even though cars play a central role, it’s not really a book about the cars themselves.

It is the chronology that keeps Crash Course together – Ingrassia frequently jumps back and forth between companies, sometimes spending just a short paragraph with one before moving onto another. Mainly I liked the scattered style – it kept the book from getting boring. However, sometimes due to the jumps, I’d have a hard time keeping track of which company (or person) Ingrassia was talking about.

I learned a lot, though, from reading Crash Course. The book makes it abundantly clear how the auto industry has gotten to its current (dismal) state, and though the information it shares is often depressing and frustrating, I’m glad to have read it.

I give Crash Course a 3/5 (though it was practically a four). I went with a three because at times I did get a little bored and because I grew tired of the “company as a sinking boat” metaphor.

Watch Jon Stewart's Interview with Paul Ingrassia

Buy the Book

Come back on Tuesday, and I'll let you know what I thought of Date Night.

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