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Death Drive

There Are No Accidents

Cars have a tal­is­man­ic qual­i­ty. No oth­er man­u­fac­tured object has the same dis­turb­ing allure. More emo­tions are involved in cars than any oth­er prod­uct: van­i­ty, cupid­i­ty, greed, social com­pet­i­tive­ness, cul­tur­al mod­el­ling. But when all this per­verse promise ends in cat­a­stro­phe, these same tal­is­man­ic qual­i­ties acquire an extra dimen­sion. The car crash is a defin­ing phe­nom­e­non of pop­u­lar cul­ture. Death Dri­ve is both an appre­cia­tive essay about the his­toric place of the auto­mo­bile in the mod­ern imag­i­na­tion and an explo­ration of the cir­cum­stances of mul­ti­ple celebri­ty denoue­ments, from Isado­ra Dun­can to Hel­mut New­ton. En route the nar­ra­tive traces one very big arc – the role of the car in extend­ing or cre­at­ing the per­son­al­i­ty of a celebri­ty – and con­cludes by con­fronting the immi­nent death of the car itself. 

Stephen Bay­ley is an author, crit­ic, colum­nist, con­sul­tant, broad­cast­er, cura­tor and found­ing direc­tor of the influ­en­tial Design Muse­um. Over the past thir­ty years his writ­ing has changed the way the world thinks about design. 

Tom Wolfe on Stephen Bay­ley: I don’t know any­body with more inter­est­ing obser­va­tions about style, taste and con­tem­po­rary design’. 

Read­ing this book, one quick­ly gets accus­tomed to superb writ­ing. Words cas­cade forth in per­fect pitch and har­mo­ny on page after glo­ri­ous page.’
— Ger­ard DeG­root, The Times

Death Dri­ve is a must for petrol-heads. The range of cul­tur­al cross-ref­er­ence and auto­mo­tive detail is pos­i­tive­ly epi­cure­an.’
— Jay Mer­rick, The Inde­pen­dent

Akin to Ken­neth Anger’s Hol­ly­wood Baby­lon, Death Dri­ve is an auto­erot­ic Baby­lon that nev­er ends well.’
— Ray Edgar, The Age, 3 June 2016

Albert Camus once remarked that there’s noth­ing more absurd than to die in a car acci­dent”. That was before his car hit a tree at 80mph. Death Dri­ve – a com­pendi­um of sto­ries about famous peo­ple killed stu­pid­ly in cars – oozes absur­di­ty. Stephen Bay­ley recounts delight­ful­ly grotesque tales about celebri­ties done in by trees, by lamp­posts, or by nonen­ti­ties in ancient Chevys. A design mas­ter­piece, this book com­bines exquis­ite prose with styl­ish pre­sen­ta­tion – the cars are described more lov­ing­ly than the peo­ple who per­ished in them. Like a Bugat­ti, Death Dri­ve recalls a time when books and cars were beau­ti­ful.’
The Times, Books of the Year, 26 Novem­ber 2016

Jean-Michel Dentand

21 × 16cm
8¼ × 6¼ in
72 colour and b&w illustrations.

£19.95 | $24.95

ISBN 978-1-911422-22-8