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High and Mighty: The Dangerous Rise of the SUV Paperback – 30 Dec 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs,U.S.; Pbk. Ed edition (30 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482033
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482039
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,506,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Keith Bradsher has been a staff writer for "The New York Times" since 1989, and was one of its Washington correspondents from 1991 to 1995 before becoming the newspaper's Detroit bureau chief. He is now the Hong Kong bureau chief for the "Times."

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First Sentence
At Henry Ford's mansion outside Detroit, the carved wood busts supporting the ceiling in the ballroom show the inventor of the Model T and three close friends, all famous: Harvey Firestone, founder of the tire company that bears his name; Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb and phonograph; and John Burroughs, the naturalist. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's starts off an interesting read and quite persuasive. However it degenerates into tedium and proves to be one of those things you love or hate.

The reason behind that is quite simply the extrapolation that occurs trying to justify a point whilst ignoring salient points and counter arguments. One example being pollution problem. The vehicles are broadly damned to eternity for being dirty. Not quite the full story as many share common parts with other vehicles which do not come in for such vitriol . A good example being the diesel engined Jeep Grand Cherokee which shared its mercedes diesel lump with a massive part of their successful overall car and van range. Proves you really shouldn't let a good fact get in the way of an opinion.

Same problem applies to ignoring NCAP ratings in favour of anecdotal frighteners in the book.

There are more examples and all serve to allow the more objective reader one evidenced conclusion which os that It's is a heavily biased publication. it seems to set out support the anti brigade rather than provoke discussion and consideration to allow the, to reach their own conclusions.

But then, aren't all extremists the same ?

Waste of money overall.
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By Car Wizard on 28 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Until I read this book, I had been one of the many drivers who had considered an SUV for family transport.

It really provided an insight into the mindset of the auto-industry, and made it an easier transition into an MPV.

A cracking read, from cover to cover.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 89 reviews
130 of 137 people found the following review helpful
SUV Owners Are Mad! 23 Sep 2002
By Mark Theobald - crashtest.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
SUV owners are mad! Mad at Keith Bradsher's controversial new book, High and Mighty SUV's: the World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way ...In addition to Bradsher's historical survey of how SUVs got to be so large and so profitable, he's managed to produce the most important look at motor vehicle safety since Ralph Nader's 1965 Landmark Unsafe At Any Speed. Many of us owe Mr. Nader our lives, even though Unsafe At Any Speed was attacked in much the same manner as Bradsher's Book is now. Today even Detroit's Big Three agree that Nader spoke the truth 37 years ago, keep that in mind when you read the negative reviews of Bradsher's book. The vast majority of Americans trust the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to keep unsafe cars and trucks off America's roadways. I don't, NHTSA's relationship with Detroit remains much the same as Arthur Andersen's is to Enron.
The sport utility vehicle is a uniquely American phenomenon originally created for the Army during WWII. Since then it has become the vehicle of choice for middle and upper class executives and soccer moms, few of whom (less than 5%) will ever use its off-road capabilities. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking about purchasing an SUV, especially since most current SUV owners mistakenly believe themselves to be safer than motorists driving regular cars. Bradsher points out that SUVs contribute to more than 3000 needless highway deaths annually - a toll greater than that of Sept 11th's World Trade Center disaster. The public needs to know that rollover death rates for sport-utes are double those of regular passenger cars and that SUVs kill non-passengers as well, causing an additional 2,000 deaths a year in vehicles they strike. Less well known is the tendency of SUVs such as the Ford Explorer to flip over after striking a guardrail or having a tire fail - problems that don't effect cars. Combined with the facts that sport-utilities pollute more, are harder to control, utilize under-sized brakes and consume more fuel than cars (all because of increased weight), SUV buyers need to think twice before purchasing these tanks on wheels. He concludes, "SUVs represent the biggest menace to public safety and the environment that the auto industry has produced since the bad old days of the 1960s."
Not surprisingly, Detroit doesn't want prospective SUV buyers to read this book. Fearful of biting the hand that feeds them (SUVs account for the majority of the Big Three's profits), automotive journalists have publicly dismissed the book as nothing more than one man's Jihad against SUVs. In case you're unaware, auto manufacturers give automotive journalists free use of a new car 24/7 in addition to frequent press junkets to Europe and elsewhere to test-drive or observe their latest models. No wonder they started attacking the book weeks before it came out.
As the publisher of crashtest.com, smartmotorist.com, smartcarguide.com, and carshownews.com I'm no stranger to the SUV controversy, as I've been campaigning against SUVs online for the past 7 years. Bradsher is a well respected, Pulitzer Prize nominated reporter, known primarily for his investigation of the Ford-Firestone rollover scandal. High and Mighty accurately portrays the facts as I know them and provides insight into the way Detroit and the Federal Government cooperate behind closed doors. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in cars, trucks or highway safety.
84 of 93 people found the following review helpful
"A reader from hartford ct" Misquoted the Author 1 Oct 2002
By T. Hartman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To the "reader from hartford ct" (but more likely an auto industry plant from Detroit) who's review is dated Sept 19, 2002: For someone who says he/she read the book, you're extremely dishonest when you misquote Bradsher as saying: "They tend to be people who are insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills. Above all, they are apt to be self-centered and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors or communities." He didn't say this!! He was quoting the AUTO INDUSTRY's market reports! It's the people who are selling you the SUVs who think you are insecure and vain, not Bradshaw.
My recommendation to people in the market for a vehicle: Be informed about saftey for you and others, fuel economy, air pollution, etc., and make sure you balance this with what you need/want in a vehicle. If you really will go off-roading, tow a boat, etc., then go ahead and get the SUV, but please don't use 2 parking spots or ones that are too narrow for your SUV, and don't tailgate.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Excellent; covers all the aspects of the situation 15 Sep 2005
By Brian Curtis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bradsher's only arguable flaw in this book is that he was SO exhaustive in his research and documentation. Reading the history of the auto execs who designed and developed early models of SUVs can be a bit dry, but you can't say he didn't do his homework.

The book addresses every angle of the SUV "experience" in our society:

*The legislation loopholes that tacitcly support and subsidize them;

*The marketing campaigns that *imply* safety without promising anything specific (and actionable);

*The design teams that focused on a more "aggressive" image with wasteful, unnecesssary features to sell to fearful, self-indulgent consumers;

*The engineering and crash tests that prove how unsafe they really are;

*And the pollution stats that prove how wasteful and environmentally damaging SUVs have been.

Any one of the chapters on these topics makes for fascinating reading, but I was especially interested in Ch. 6: Reptile Dreams. In this section on marketing, Bradsher discusses how marketing and advertising execs cynically estimated the insecurity and self-doubt of their target audience and made plans to exploit it. He describes how the image of taller, more "powerful" vehicles was used to generate record sales of a vehicle that's provably less safe... all the while getting the suckers--err, *consumers*--to claim that they were buying an SUV for its SAFETY factors. Which is a lie; they buy it largely for status.

The SUV makers and marketers know this, and they exploit it: why else design a vehicle that explicitly says "Buy this so you can look like you don't care about fashion and status"? The so-called legitimate reasons for owning an SUV are diligently picked apart, one by one. No, they're not safer (minivans are). The four-wheel drive isn't useful (that's for offroad driving, which--despite the ads--90% of SUV owners never do). The cargo capacity isn't that great--in fact, many SUV interiors are awkwardly designed and arranged to have LESS carrying capacity than comparable trucks, minivans, and even station wagons.

The bottom line is simple: SUVs are not safer in collisions, rollovers, or impacts. The data proving this is widely available... but SUV owners don't want to hear it. They crave the illusion of power and control; they want to feel intimidating; they want to indulge their selfishness and callous indifference for the sake of pretending they're Powerful Adventurers; and no mere facts are going to get in their way. The owners gleefully fork over huge shovelsful of cash in exchange for pure image--all form and no substance.

And as we should all know in this cynical consumerist society, image beats reality every time.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
In the tradition of Fast Food Nation 21 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
High and Mighty will do for the auto industry, what Fast Food Nation did for the fast food indsutry: Expose all of its harmful shortcomings. High and Mighty shows that SUVs are NOT merely a guilty pleasure, they are dangerous and costly.
If Mr. Bradsher's many critics would actually read High and Mighty, they would see that the classicficatoin of SUV owners as being vain, insecure drivers is NOT his opinion, it is taken directly from the market research conducted by the car manufacturers. Yes, the very people you are buying your SUV from have stereotyped you...
Intelligent readers, pro and anti SUV alike, I strongly urge you to buy High and Mighty, and to read it. Learn the truth!
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Worth the read, fair and honest 24 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Despite what other reviews have to say, Bradsher offers a level-headed and fact-based look into how SUVs have grown so popular and the effects they are having on our roads and environment. Other reviews can talk about environmental extremism, but the fact remains: SUVs get worse gas mileage than regular passenger cars. In an accident involving an SUV and a passenger car, the SUV almost always wins. These are facts and Bradsher presents them honestly.
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