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A Most Unique Machine: 05/28/16
A Most Unique Machine by George S. May is a history of the American automobile, the automobile industry, and by proxy, of Detroit, the heart and soul of the industry in the 20th century.
With any new industry, there's a cult of personality. Often the people behind the invention get as much or more play time in the history books than the things they helped create. In the case of the automobile those personalities include Ransom Olds, Henry Ford, and David Dunbar Buick, among others.
No new shift in technology is a single handed, linear event. May attempts to track all the different threads of development through some distinct time periods collected into chapters. For the early years when motors were being attached to carriages or bicycles were being converted into early motorcycles or three wheeled cars, this approach works fine. In later chapters as dozens of new players jump into the fray and an industry grows to maturity, there's just not enough space to cover everything beyond a quick summary.