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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