In this history of roads and what they have meant to the people who have driven them, one of Britain's favourite cultural historians reveals how a relatively simple road system turned into a maze-like pattern of roundabouts, flyovers, and spaghetti junctions. Using a unique blend of travel writing, anthropology, history and social observation, he explores how Britain's roads have their roots in unexpected places, from Napoleon's role in the numbering system to the surprising origin of sat-nav. Full of quirky nuggets of history, such as the day trips organised to see the construction of the M1 and the 2.5m Mills and Boons used to build the M6 Toll Road. On Roads also celebrates innovators whose work we take for granted, such as the designers of the road sign system. On subjects ranging from speed limits to driving on the left, and the 'non-places' where we stop to the unwritten laws of traffic jams, these hidden stories have never been told together, until now.
Every page contains something enthralling or bizarre or funny or perceptive ... Moran has the poet's ability to finds the remarkable in the commonplace ... a beautiful little book: an argument, if ever there was one, for staying home this summer, finding the nearest traffic jam and enjoying it. -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday, ***** *
A beauftifully-written, quiet masterpiece ... Moran's genius is to show us what was right in front of us all along' -- Bee Wilson * Sunday Times *
Terrific ... he takes numerous diversions into subjects that really shouldn't be interesting, but which he makes fascinating. -- Robert Macfarlane * Guardian *
In this book Joe Moran maps the fascinating history of British roads... -- Charlotte Vowden * Daily Express *
A stylish and witty analysis of Britain's maze-like road system. They are cultural artefacts as much as a means of transport; they are too a kind of parallel universe. -- Philip Womack * Sunday Telegraph *
Anyone who likes Bill Bryson will love Joe Moran -- I think he may even be eclipsing him...it's a terrific book. -- Joel Morris * BBC 6 Music *
Quiet, considered and oddly gripping. -- Chris Moss * Time Out *