A historian and car critic for n+1 combines scholarship and personal narrative to explore how car culture has suffused American society and identity and how both are shifting in the dawning age of driverless and robot-controlled automobiles.
It is a smart, well-written look at the subject [of cars], full of insights based on research into contemporary and historical sources, generously peppered with Albert’s personal experiences, reminiscences and opinions ... Albert can be irreverent ... Are We There Yet? takes a linear, chronological path through American automotive history, and concludes with Albert’s bittersweet concession that we may indeed be on our way to a new relationship with transportation ... I recommend Are We There Yet? to anyone who wants to take the journey through our shared automotive history with a smart, opinionated guide.
The depth of [Albert's] research and the breadth of the sources he pulls from is what you would expect from a PhD in history, yet he avoids the pedantry of so much academic history in favor of an approachable, high-level perspective. Weaving together data points and anecdotes from over a century of material while covering aspects of the automobile as diverse as engine cooling and urban renewal takes extraordinary craft, and Are We There Yet? pulls it off in style. But...what really sets Albert's book apart: at a time when the complexities of cars and their future regularly fall victim to the moral and ideological absolutism (along with seemingly every other damn topic), Are We There Yet? brings an authentically conflicted perspective to the issue. Though Albert unflinchingly documents the high costs in death, pollution and racist 'urban renewal' programs that cars have incurred, he is also an unapologetic 'car guy' (in the gender-neutral sense). Deconstructing automotive mythology one minute and waxing nostalgic about his relationship with an aging Saab, he strikes a balance that is both rare and necessary in automotive writing ... no matter what the future holds, you'll be better prepared to understand, engage with and even shape it after you read Are We There Yet? than you were before.
Albert...has constructed an idiosyncratic historical narrative of American car culture and its technological underpinnings. His prose is witty and smart, self-effacing and erudite ... An extremely engaging work of narrative nonfiction for those who enjoy popular historical and technology reads.