cover image Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal

Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal

Jack Ewing. Norton, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-25450-1

New York Times reporter Ewing has written a fascinating exposé of Volkswagen’s rise to becoming the world’s largest auto maker, a goal the company reached in 2015 just months before scandal broke over its emissions fraud. Ewing creates a compelling narrative out of corporate history, tracing Volkswagen’s growth from 1937 to the present to show the evolution of a strikingly top-down, hierarchical culture. Most interesting to many readers will be Volkswagen’s genesis as the “people’s car,” a Nazi propaganda tactic and particular pet project of Hitler’s that was intended to showcase Germany’s coming prosperity. Fast-forward to the 21st century, when new environmental concerns put a damper on this rapid growth. The challenge for regulators lay in both measuring dangerous emissions and working out how to apply those measurements to a wide variety of cars and the conditions under which they are driven. Ewing’s compelling prose makes his book read like entertainment more than education, and the story of Volkswagen’s fall—how the company cheated emissions-testing devices, was exposed by West Virginia University researchers, and, finally, was publicly cited by the EPA—is a study in corporate hubris. Interest in this now-faded scandal may be confined to a niche audience, but readers who pick up the book will be glad they did. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff Literary Agency. (May)