Automobility and the City in Twentieth-century Britain and Japan
Automobility and the City in Twentieth-century Britain and Japan
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  • Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan is the first book to consider how mass motorization reshaped cities in Japan and Britain during the twentieth century. Taking two leading 'motor cities', Nagoya and Birmingham, as their principal subjects, Simon Gunn and Susan C. Townsend show how cars and traffic planning changed the spatial form and individual experience of the modern city. They take a comparative approach, revealing both the similarities and differences between Japan and Britain in adapting to the 'motor age'.

    The book has three main themes: the place of automobility in post-war urban reconstruction; the emerging conflict between the promise of mobility and personal freedom offered by the car and its consequences for the urban environment in terms of congestion, pollution and dereliction (the ME/E dilemma); and the extent to which the Anglo-Japanese comparison can throw light on fundamental differences in cultural understanding of the environment, urbanism and the self. The result is the first comparative history of mass automobility and its environmental consequences between East and West.

  • Simon Gunn is Professor of Urban History at the University of Leicester, UK and co-editor of the journal Urban History. He has published major articles on automobility in post-1945 Britain in Twentieth Century British History (2011), Social History (2013) and Historical Journal (2017) and wrote the foreword to the reprint of the classic 1963 report, Colin Buchanan, Traffic in Towns 2015). An authority on the history of planning in modern industrial cities, Gunn is also co-editor of the Advances in Urban History series.

    Susan C. Townsend is Associate Professor of Japanese History at the University of Nottingham, UK. She has published widely on the history of modern Japan, including an article on car ownership in the era of high growth, 1955-1973 in Business History (2013), a chapter on the industrial metropolis in Japan and Britain in the 1910s (2014) and the monograph Miki Kiyoshi 1897-1945: Japan's Itinerant Philosopher (2009). Townsend is the Principal Investigator on the Leverhulme project, Motor Cities, on which Gunn is the Co-Investigator.

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