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Publisher's Summary

A brilliant and defiant celebration of driving as a unique pathway of human freedom, by "one of the most influential thinkers of our time" (Sunday Times).

"A thoughtful, entertaining, and substantive work about the joys of driving." (Wall Street Journal)

"Why We Drive weaves philosophers, thinkers, and scientific research with shade-tree mechanics and racers to defend our right to independence, making the case that freedom of motion is essential to who we are as a species.... We hope you'll read it." (Road & Track)

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 behind the wheel ourselves. Tech giants are hurling us toward a shiny, happy "self-driving" future, selling utopia but equally keen to advertise to a captive audience strapped into another expensive device. Are we destined, then, to become passengers, not drivers? Why We Drive reveals that much more may be at stake than we might think.

Ten years ago, in the New York Times best-selling Shop Class as Soulcraft, philosopher-mechanic Matthew B. Crawford - a University of Chicago PhD who owned his own motorcycle shop - made a revolutionary case for manual labor, one that ran headlong against the pretentions of white-collar office work. Now, using driving as a window through which to view the broader changes wrought by technology on all aspects of contemporary life, Crawford investigates the driver's seat as one of the few remaining domains of skill, exploration, play - and freedom. Blending philosophy and hands-on storytelling, Crawford grounds the narrative in his own experience in the garage and behind the wheel, recounting his decade-long restoration of a vintage Volkswagen as well as his journeys to thriving automotive subcultures across the country. Crawford leads us on an irreverent but deeply considered inquiry into the power of faceless bureaucracies, the importance of questioning mindless rules, and the battle for democratic self-determination against the surveillance capitalists. 

A meditation on the competence of ordinary people, Why We Drive explores the genius of our everyday practices on the road, the rewards of "folk engineering", and the existential value of occasionally being scared shitless.

Witty and ingenious throughout, Why We Drive is a rebellious and daring celebration of the irrepressible human spirit. 

©2020 Matthew B. Crawford (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about Why We Drive

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  • Overall
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Another masterpiece by Crawford.

This book touches on many of the themes that Crawford explored in his two previous excellent books, Shop Class as Soulcraft and The World Beyond Your Head. He studies the growth of human agency through the development of skill with ones own hands and with machines as extensions of consciousness. In this book he focuses on the collective threat that we face of having these opportunities to develop as more complex beings taken from us by the ever advancing techno-capitalist class in Silicon Valley and by their enablers and sycophants in DC.

What appears on the surface to be a banal exploration of that classic American hobbyist/fetish - the automobile - turns out to be a deep exploration of what it means to be a human being in this time and place. I highly recommend reading this book and the other two I mentioned before. You will come out the other end of these three books with a far richer technical and humanistic understanding of the human species and where it is headed in the near future.

3 people found this helpful

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Book about being a free man

Even though the author writes about driving experience, the real story is about how our current world limits our freedoms and turns us into source of data and clueless creatures. Worth reading and listening over and over again.

1 person found this helpful

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Get ready to think

I was thinking this was just about the romance of the road. Crawford covers that but brings in big data and a host of other thought-provoking factors to inspire us to exert our human independence through, among other things, driving.

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Mistitled

The book should be titled "Why I Drive" or perhaps "Motorcycle Riders are Superior". Strictly personal views.

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Really liked it.

This book wasn’t so much about why we drive as it is about why driving our own cars is important, the current and inevitable threats to driving, and what we are going to lose when that happens. I give the book 4 stars because the story is somewhat disjointed and goes off on tangents that don’t flow from the previous chapter. Well worth the read though.

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Absolute masterpiece!

I am a racecar driver, tinkerer, Libertarian, pragmatist, with Asperger's. Nothing has ever tied these elements of who I am together, until this book was written. Every sentence was seemingly taken from my own mind. What a pleasure.

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Great philosophical book!

A nice look at freedom and liberty on the open road. And a great look at what we might lose in the future if we give up the sovereignty of the individual for the convenience of the digital age.

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Smart cars should never happen

Great research, compelling narrative, damning indictment of the tech gods that would strip you of your humanity in their perverse quest to enslave us all