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The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle (Hardback)
  • The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle (Hardback)
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The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle (Hardback)

(author)
£23.95
Hardback 384 Pages / Published: 19/04/2013
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At the Berlin Auto Show in 1938, Adolf Hitler presented the prototype for a small, oddly shaped, inexpensive family car that all good Aryans could enjoy. Decades later, that automobile--the Volkswagen Beetle--was one of the most beloved in the world. Bernhard Rieger examines culture and technology, politics and economics, and industrial design and advertising genius to reveal how a car commissioned by Hitler and designed by Ferdinand Porsche became an exceptional global commodity on a par with Coca-Cola. Beyond its quality and low cost, the Beetle's success hinged on its uncanny ability to capture the imaginations of people across nations and cultures. In West Germany, it came to stand for the postwar "economic miracle" and helped propel Europe into the age of mass motorization. In the United States, it was embraced in the suburbs, and then prized by the hippie counterculture as an antidote to suburban conformity. As its popularity waned in the First World, the Beetle crawled across Mexico and Latin America, where it symbolized a sturdy toughness necessary to thrive amid economic instability. Drawing from a wealth of sources in multiple languages, The People's Car presents an international cast of characters--executives and engineers, journalists and advertisers, assembly line workers and car collectors, and everyday drivers--who made the Beetle into a global icon. The Beetle's improbable story as a failed prestige project of the Third Reich which became a world-renowned brand illuminates the multiple origins, creative adaptations, and persisting inequalities that characterized twentieth-century globalization.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674050914
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 210 x 140 x 41 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
The People's Car: A Global History of the Volkswagen Beetle is a thorough and compelling new chronicle of the distinctive Bug.--Jessica Grose"Fast Company online" (04/03/2013)
Rieger extracts from the history of the Volkswagen not just the story of a product--iconic though it was--but also its significance for Germany's national image since the 1930s. Deeply researched, this history makes a cracking good read.--Jane Caplan, coeditor of Concentration Camps in Germany: The New Histories
With great richness and imagination, Rieger joins economics and social desire, advertising and politics, technology and culture, to track a distinctive German history through a truly transnational arena.--Geoff Eley, author of Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany, 1930-1945
A fascinating book! Rieger takes readers on the Volkswagen Beetle's global journey, showing the many meanings of this iconic product in different times and places. His history illuminates the worldwide allure of commodity culture, the spread of socioeconomic inequalities, and the protean meanings of purchased goods.--Emily S. Rosenberg, editor of A World Connecting: 1870-1945
The People's Car by Bernhard Rieger chronicles the life of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, from its 1930s origin as a propaganda tool for Germany's Third Reich through to the modern day, a run of popularity spanning a remarkable nine decades. Rieger's research details the car maker's obsessive pursuit for high-quality, low-maintenance and utterly dependable motoring, which were the treasured hallmarks of the Beetle through the middle part of the 20th century... While the meteoric postwar rise of the Beetle presents a chance to marvel at the model's simple appeal and outstanding longevity, the years before its manufacture began present the most fascinating reading... The People's Car is an exhaustive...and fascinating glimpse at a car that stood the test of time and of changing consumer tastes.-- (07/06/2013)
Bernhard Rieger's The People's Car conveys how inextricably 20th-century politics, culture and economics are linked... The story of 'the people's car' is, of course, interesting in its own right--its commission, design, post-war production and worldwide success. But what is most intriguing is how a consumer commodity became an icon that, over decades, represented something different for a variety of countries and generations. Rieger shows this to informative and illuminating effect.-- (04/18/2013)

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