...[a] thought-provoking, full-throttle inquiry ... This is not only a petrolhead’s complaint against rule-making officialdom; it is also a vivid and heartfelt manifesto against the drift of our world, against the loss of individual agency and the human pleasure of acquired skill and calculated risk ... No doubt, as Crawford understands, there are environmental arguments against our attachment to the combustion engine. His book, however, remains a powerful (and enjoyable) corrective against that wisdom that suggests the unchecked march of all-seeing tech monopolies – ravenous for data, trading attention for distraction – is essential to human progress. In the past two decades, we have already given over much of our ability to navigate the world to black-box algorithms; as that journey accelerates into a smart machine future, we would be advised to look out where we are going.
... a thoughtful, entertaining and substantive work about the joys of driving—and about the attempts by various scolds torelegate that joy, and similar expressions of independence, to the junkyard of history ... The chapter titles in Why We Drive reveal an instinctive skepticism and pleasant pugnaciousness ... [Crawford] can be evangelical at times ... Mr. Crawford is at his best rattling the smug beliefs of 'bicycle moralists, electric scooter gliders-about, and carbon teetotalers,' not to mention safety nags, whose mission in life is to pour their enlightened sugar into renegade gas tanks.
... the author brings an easy and wide-ranging erudition to his subject ... Despite his mostly sober prose, Crawford’s 'critical, humanistic inquiry' is ultimately a passionate appeal to the importance of the autonomous individual in the face of the dehumanizing pressure of automation. Driverless cars meet a worthy opponent in Crawford ... this book will have you pining for the freedom the open road has always represented. Crawford can get carried away, as in a too-detailed account (with diagrams) of rebuilding a Volkswagen engine, but his delight in his subject makes for an enjoyable reading experience even for the non-enthusiast. The text is yet more evidence for Crawford’s argument, now extending over three books, that paying attention to and placing ourselves in the material world brings a certain satisfaction that we neglect at our peril. Employing memoir, journalism, cultural criticism, and political philosophy—and never shying away from the contentious—the author makes being human seem worthwhile ... Even if Crawford is fighting a losing battle, he fights it valiantly, even heroically.