strategy and business

TRAINS, AUTOMOBILES, AND THE PLAIN IMPACT OF TRANSPORTATION

William Knoedelseder, Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit (HarperBusiness, 2018)

A TOP SHELF PICK

Lawrence D. Burns, Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car —and How It Will Reshape Our World (with Christopher Shulgan; Ecco, 2018)

Jack Kelly, The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America (St. Martin’s Press, 2018)

In the U.S., the fortunes of transportation industries and the economy have always been inextricably linked. By the late 1920s, cars were “America’s most valuable product and its number one export,” writes William Knoedelseder in Fins, the best of this year’s crop of business narratives. “The roar of the Twenties was really the sound of America becoming a car economy.” In 1927, when consumers started buying more used cars than new ones, Henry Ford shut down his manufacturing plants for six months, and the economy tipped into a recession. Over the next several years, as the Great Depression set in after the 1929 market crash, job losses caused car sales to plummet further, thus leading to more job losses.

In another of this year’s best business books, author Lawrence D. Burns looks to the future of automobile transport, and concludes it is undergoing a shift more dramatic than anything we’ve seen since 1885, when the internal combustion engine was invented. If Burns is right, the change will transform the entire economy — including, not at.

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