"A peppy, perspicacious history of the Volkswagen--with brio and dash, Patton charts the long strange trip of the little bug that became a grand cultural totem. "- . "Herbie. " "Punchbuggy. " "Beetle. " The world's most recognizable automobile goes by many noms de plume. But did you know that the "Love Bug" was originally conceived as Hitler's "car of the people," or that it was the Manson "family"'s car of choice? Tapping into Americans' continuing obsession with the VW Bug, Phil Patton has written a kaleidoscopic history of the car from the 1950s to the 2000s. He describes the genius marketing strategy used in America to rid the car of its Fascist associations (VW hired a Jewish marketing team), and explains why designers are obsessed with its shape (the Bug, like the Pantheon, fits the Greek "golden ellipse" ideal of dimension). Patton posits that the Bug was the first car to cause Americans to "wrap themselves in a brand as an extension of their ideology," and turn up their noses at the huge, showy cars produced in Detroit. Amazingly, it worked, and, based on the Beetle's continuing status as an American cultural icon, it still does.
Phil Patton is the author of Dreamland: Travels inside the Secret World of Roswell and Area 51, among other books. He writes regularly for the New York Times, has taught at the Columbia School of Journalism, and served as commentator for CBS News, The History Channel, and several public television series.