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Lewis Mumford

Book Review: 'Big Roads' by Earl Swift

Book Review: 'Big Roads' by Earl Swift

Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

Earl Swift

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 375 pp., $27.00

Veteran journalist Earl Swift's well-focused and lively history of American highways takes us from the Good Roads Movement of the 1890s to the interstate system as it exists today, facing maintenance issues and budgetary problems but nonetheless a remarkable achievement, "nearly forty-seven thousand miles long and at least four lanes wide."

The system's basic parameters were set by the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which presented a distinctively American vision of a national system defined...