Taking Charge

The Electric Automobile in America

By Michael Schiffer
(Smithsonian Books, Paperback, 9781588340764, 240pp.)

Publication Date: June 22, 2010

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Description

The tumultuous history of inventors and corporations who have tried to bring the electric car to the market.

Amazingly, in 1900 28 percent of all cars were electric. By 1920 the electric car had all but vanished and gas-powered cars dominated the market. In Taking Charge, Schiffer deftly explores how cultural factors, not technological ones, explain the rise of gas-guzzling cars. Schiffer brings the history of the electric car into the present, arguing that despite the Detroit Big Three’s reluctance to make electric cars, their time has finally arrived.




About the Author

Michael Brian Schiffer is professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the author of seven books, including The Portable Radio in American Life (1991).




Praise For Taking Charge

“A cracking good read.”—Technology and Culture

“The car of the future turns out to be the car of the past, according to Schiffer in this peppy look at the electric car’s Edwardian infancy.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Much more than a historical overview, Schiffer puts his anthropology training to good effect in the text, livening his recitation with fascinating details about contemporary personalities and cultural settings. His volume provides the best insight to date of how and why electric vehicles faltered [in the past], and why that result was due more to culture than technology.”—Environment

“Part car-nut's history, part social history, this is a fine resource for popular culture and American Studies collections.”—Booklist

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