The Big Roads by Earl Swift is a book about the history and people behind the creation of the U.S. interstate superhighway system. The book covers the politics and key people involved in the construction of the world’s largest public works project. It is an informative read that focuses on the visionaries, engineers, and trailblazers who made the American superhighways possible.
The book is divided into four parts: Out of the Mud, Connecting the Dots, The Crooked Straight, The Rough Places Plain, and The Human Obstacle. The author provides an engaging narrative that humanizes the people behind the construction of the highways. He draws out their polyvalent selves and hints at their contradictions.
Useful takeaways from the book include an understanding of the history and development of the American superhighways, the key people involved in the project, and the political and social impacts of the highways.
The book also highlights the challenges faced during the construction of the highways and the technical issues involved. Overall, The Big Roads is an accessible and well-researched book that provides an interesting insight into one of the greatest public works projects in history.
What I Liked
I loved everything about this book. I really loved that its one of those rare nonfiction books that really shows, immediately, why your world is…the way it is. I live in Atlanta. And our Interstate highways define the city. We give directions around them. We define neighborhoods by them. But they are surprisingly recent. This book explains exactly how they are the way they are.
I also loved how he gets into exactly how the United States pulled off the humanity’s Largest Single Public Works Project Ever. It’s mind-boggling with lots of lessons (both good and bad) for building big stuff fast.
What I Did Not Like
Nothing! A++ book – highly recommend.