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Traffic
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About the Author

Tom Vanderbilt writes on design, technology, science and culture for many publications, including Wired, Slate, The London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone. He is the author of two previous books- Survival City- Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America and The Sneaker Book.

Reviews

Road rage can be beneficial? Traffic reporters can predict the weather from traffic patterns? Journalist Vanderbilt has evidently written a unique book--and it's fun, too, according to the publicist. With a juicy first printing and a nine-city tour. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In this lively and informative volume, Vanderbilt (Survival City) investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers' most familiar and frustrating questions: why does the other lane always seem faster? why do added lanes seem to intensify congestion? whatever happened to signaling for turns? He interviews traffic reporters, engineers, psychologists studying human-machine interactions and radical Dutch urban planners who design intersections with no pavement markings, traffic signs or signals. Backed by an impressive array of psychological, sociological, historical, anecdotal and economic research, the author's presentation is always engaging and often sobering: his findings reveal how little attention drivers pay to the road and how frequently they misjudge crucial information. Sections on commuting distances and the amount of driving done by women versus men (guess who runs more household errands?) feel fresh and timely. Referring to traffic as "an environment that has become so familiar we no longer see it" and a "secret window onto the soul of a place," Vanderbilt heightens awareness of an institution and its attendant behaviors that are all too often taken for granted. (Aug.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Traffic gets about as close to the heart of modern existence as any book could get . . . Engagingly written, meticulously researched, endlessly interesting and informative, [it] is one of those rare books that comes out of the depths of nowhere."
-Jonathan Yardley, "The Washington Post Book World
"
"A surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels . . . Jammed with delicious you've-got-to-be-kidding moments . . . My solution to the nation's vehicular woes would be to make this good book required reading for anyone applying for a driver's license."
-Mary Roach, "The New York Times Book Review
"
"Smart and comprehensive . . . A shrewd tour of the much-experienced but little-understood world of driving . . . A balanced and instructive discussion on how to improve our policies toward the inexorable car . . . Vanderbilt's book is likely to remain relevant well into the new century."
-Edward L. Glaeser, "The New Republic
"
"A delightful tour through the mysteries and manners of driving."-Tony Dokoupil, "Newsweek
"
"A breezy . . . well-researched . . . examination of the strange interaction of humanity and multiton metal boxes that can roar along at . . . 60 m.p.h. or sit for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic."
-Patrick T. Reardon, "Chicago Tribune
"
"Traffic will definitely change the way you think about driving, which also means changing the way you think about being human."
-Michael Agger, "Slate"
"[A] joyride in the often surprising landscape of traffic science and psychology."
-Abigail Tucker, "Smithsonian Magazine"
"Tom Vanderbilt is one of our best and most interesting writers, with anextraordinary knack for looking at everyday life and explaining, in wonderful and entertaining detail, how it really works. That's never been more true than with Traffic, where he takes a subject that we all deal with (and worry about), and lets us see it through new eyes. In the process, he helps us understand better not just the highway, but the world. It doesn't matter whether you drive or take the bus--you're going to want to read this book."
--James Surowiecki, author of "The Wisdom of Crowds
"
"A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. It is fun to read. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read this book."
--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author "The Black Swan"
"Fascinating, illuminating, and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behavior can illuminate one of the modern world's most basic and most mysterious endeavors. You'll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own."
--Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
"
"Everyone who drives--and many people who don't--should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end."
--Tyler Cowen, author of "Discover Your Inner Economist"
"Fascinating, surprising . . . Vanderbilt's book will be a revelation not just to us drivers but also, one might guess, to our policy makers."
-Alan Moores, "The Seattle Times
"
"A well-written, important book that should hold theinterest of anyone who drives a car."
-Dennis Lythgoe, "Deseret News
"
"An engaging, sociable tour of all things driving-related."
-Joel Rice, "The Tennessean
"
"Manages to be downright fun."
-Dennis Simanaitis, "Road and Track
"
"Traffic changes the way you think about driving. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention."
-Dan Danbom, "Rocky Mountain News
"
"Intriguing . . . Somehow manages to plunge far more deeply than one would imagine a meditation on travel possibly could. Perhaps without intending to, Vanderbilt has narrowed in on the central question of our time . . . His book asks us to consider how we can persuade human beings to behave more cooperatively than selfishly."
-Elaine Margolin, "The Denver Post
"
"Vanderbilt investigates . . . complexities with zeal. Surprising details abound."
-"The New Yorker
"
"Fresh and timely . . . Vanderbilt investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers' most familiar and frustrating questions."
--"Publishers Weekly
"
"Fluently written and oddly entertaining, full of points to ponder while stuck at the on-ramp meter or an endless red light."
--"Kirkus
""This may be the most insightful and comprehensive study ever done of driving behavior and how it reveals truths about the types of people we are."
--"Booklist"
"Tom Vanderbilt uncovers a raft of counterintuitive facts about what happens when we get behind the wheel, and why."
--"BusinessWeek"
"Fascinating . . . Could not come at a better time."
--"Library Journal
""Brisk . . . Smart . . . Delivers a wealth of automotive insights both curious andcounterintuitive."
-"Details
"
"A literate, sobering look at our roadways that explains why the other lane "is" moving faster and why you should never drive at 1 p.m. on Saturday."
--"GQ"
"An engaging, informative, psychologically savvy account of the conscious and unconscious assumptions of individual drivers-and the variations in 'car culture' around the world . . . Full of fascinating facts and provocative propositions."
-Glenn Altschuler, "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"
"An engrossing tour through the neuroscience of highway illusions, the psychology of late merging, and other existential driving dilemmas."
-Michael Mason, "Discover "
"
""Funny . . . Enlightening . . . Want to spend 286 pages having a good time and learning a whole lot about something you do every day for an hour or two? Buy this book."
-Ben Wear, "Austin American-Statesman"
"I'm very glad I read this book . . . It tells you a lot about traffic. But of course it does more than this. It's really a book about human nature."
-William Leith, "Evening Standard" (UK)
"A richly extended metaphor for the challenge of organising competing human needs and imperfect human judgment into harmonious coexistence."
-Rafael Behr, "The Guardian" (UK)
"Automobile traffic is one of the most studied phenomena in advanced societies . . . Mr. Vanderbilt has mastered all of it. Arresting facts appear on every page."
-Christopher Caldwell, "Financial Times" (UK)
"
"

"From the Hardcover edition."


"A surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels.... Jammed with delicious you've-got-to-be kidding moments.... Required reading for anyone applying for a driver's license."
--"The New York Times Book Review"
"Fascinating, surprising . . . Vanderbilt's book will be a revelation not just to us drivers but also, one might guess, to our policy makers."
"-"Alan Moores, "The Seattle Times"
"Traffic gets about as close to the heart of modern existence as any book could get . . . Engagingly written, meticulously researched, endlessly interesting and informative, [it] is one of those rare books that comes out of the depths of nowhere."
"-Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World"
"An engaging, informative, psychologically savvy account of the conscious and unconscious assumptions of individual drivers.... Full of fascinating facts and provocative propositions."
"--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette"
"""An engrossing tour through the neuroscience of highway illusions, the psychology of late merging, and other existential driving dilemmas."
"--Discover"
""Manages to be downright fun.""
"--Road and Track"
"Smart and comprehensive . . . A shrewd tour of the much-experienced but little-understood world of driving . . . A balanced and instructive discussion on how to improve our policies toward the inexorable car . . . Vanderbilt's book is likely to remain relevant well into the new century."
"-"Edward L. Glaeser, T"he New Republic"
"A delightful tour through the mysteries and manners of driving.""-Tony Dokoupil, Newsweek"
"A breezy . . . well-researched . . . examination of the strange interaction ofhumanity and multiton metal boxes that can roar along at . . . 60 m.p.h. or sit for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic."
"-"Patrick T. Reardon, "Chicago Tribune"
"Traffic will definitely change the way you think about driving, which also means changing the way you think about being human."
-Michael Agger," Slate"
"[A] joyride in the often surprising landscape of traffic science and psychology."
"-"Abigail Tucker, "Smithsonian Magazine"
"""Tom Vanderbilt is one of our best and most interesting writers, with an extraordinary knack for looking at everyday life and explaining, in wonderful and entertaining detail, how it really works. That's never been more true than with Traffic, where he takes a subject that we all deal with (and worry about), and lets us see it through new eyes. In the process, he helps us understand better not just the highway, but the world. It doesn't matter whether you drive or take the bus--you're going to want to read this book."" "
"--James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds"
"A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. It is fun to read. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read this book."
"--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author The Black Swan"
"Fascinating, illuminating, and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behavior can illuminate one of the modern world's most basic and most mysterious endeavors. You'll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own."
"--Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness"
"Everyone who drives--and manypeople who don't--should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end."
"--Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist"
"A well-written, important book that should hold the interest of anyone who drives a car."
"-Dennis Lythgoe, Deseret News"
"An engaging, sociable tour of all things driving-related."
"-Joel Rice, The Tennessean"
"Traffic changes the way you think about driving. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention."
-Dan Danbom, Rocky Mountain News"Intriguing . . . Somehow manages to plunge far more deeply than one would imagine a meditation on travel possibly could. Perhaps without intending to, Vanderbilt has narrowed in on the central question of our time . . . His book asks us to consider how we can persuade human beings to behave more cooperatively than selfishly."
-Elaine Margolin," The Denver Post"
""Vanderbilt investigates . . . complexities with zeal. Surprising details abound.""
"-The New Yorker"
""Fresh and timely . . . Vanderbilt investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers' most familiar and frustrating questions.""
"--Publishers Weekly"
""Fluently written and oddly entertaining, full of points to ponder while stuck at the on-ramp meter or an endless red light.""
"--Kirkus"
""This may be the most insightful and comprehensive study ever done of driving behavior and how it reveals truths about the types of people we are.""
"--Booklist"
""Tom Vanderbilt uncovers a raft of counterintuitive factsabout what happens when we get behind the wheel, and why.""
"--BusinessWeek"
""Fascinating . . . Could not come at a better time.""
"--Library Journal"
""Brisk . . . Smart . . . Delivers a wealth of automotive insights both curious and counterintuitive.""
"-Details"
""A literate, sobering look at our roadways that explains why the other lane is moving faster and why you should never drive at 1 p.m. on Saturday.""
"--GQ"

""An engrossing tour through the neuroscience of highway illusions, the psychology of late merging, and other existential driving dilemmas.""
"-Michael Mason, Discover"
""Funny . . . Enlightening . . . Want to spend 286 pages having a good time and learning a whole lot about something you do every day for an hour or two? Buy this book.""
"-Ben Wear, Austin American-Statesman"
""I'm very glad I read this book . . . It tells you a lot about traffic. But of course it does more than this. It's really a book about human nature.""
"-William Leith, Evening Standard (UK)"
""A richly extended metaphor for the challenge of organising competing human needs and imperfect human judgment into harmonious coexistence.""
"-Rafael Behr, The Guardian (UK)"
""Automobile traffic is one of the most studied phenomena in advanced societies . . . Mr. Vanderbilt has mastered all of it. Arresting facts appear on every page.""
"-Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times (UK)"

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