It’s well-written, sliding casually between research findings, the historical literature, journalistic observations from across the globe and personal experience. But for better or worse ... the book is a perfect example of a genre I’ve taken to calling the 'liberal problems and policies tour.' In these books, you are first presented with evidence that the problem exists ... Finally, you’re introduced to policies that, if implemented, would make things better ... I can imagine Knowles convincing some readers that yes, something must be done. But how? We could cross our fingers and hope that American legislators will soon... start acting more like Parisian ones, at least on transit issues. But for more useful, realistic answers, readers will have to look elsewhere.
Knowles is, of course, not the first to make the argument that we’d be better off if we drove less ... But Carmageddon is one of the first to show how America’s ingrained car culture is spreading globally to disastrous effect. Knowles also delves deep into issues that were long ignored in the broader car conversation ... His suggestion that shifting incentives toward alternatives to the car could happen if cities 'just tried' seems a bit out of step with political reality.
A serious diatribe against cars as agents of social oppression, international inequality, and ecological disaster ... His book reads like a series of Economist pieces: briskly written, well researched, and with a knack for landing the significant statistic right after the crisply summarized argument. Though he has a few horse-and-buggy narrative mannerisms—he insists on ending a chapter with a paragraph foreshadowing the contents of the next—he is passionate about his subject.
Unfortunately, Knowles’s case is somewhat undermined by his lack of focus on alternatives to driving in rural communities, and by a handful of broad and overly antagonistic statements ... Though it’s sharply argued and solidly supported, this sermon is best suited for the choir.