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Download The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History, by Jason Vuic Click for printable size audiobook cover
5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jason Vuic Narrator: Erik Synnestvedt Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Six months after its American introduction in 1985, the Yugo was a punch line; within a year, it was a staple of late-night comedy. By 2000, NPR’s Car Talk declared it “the worst car of the millennium.” And for most Americans that’s where the story begins and ends.

Hardly.

The short, unhappy life of the car, the men who built it, the men who imported it, and the decade that embraced and discarded it is rollicking and astounding, and it is one of the greatest untold business-cum-morality tales of the 1980s. Mix one rabid entrepreneur, several thousand “good” communists, a willing US State Department, the shortsighted Detroit auto industry, and improvident bankers, shake vigorously, and you’ve got The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History. Brilliantly re-creating the amazing confluence of events that produced the Yugo, Yugoslav expert Jason Vuic uproariously tells the story of the car that became an international joke: the American CEO who happens upon a Yugo right when his company needs to find a new import or go under, a State Department eager to aid Yugoslavia’s nonaligned communist government, Zastava Automobiles, which overhauls its factory to produce an American-ready Yugo in six months, and a hole left by Detroit in the cheap subcompact market that creates a race to the bottom that leaves the Yugo … at the bottom.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] rollicking chronicle of the rise and fall of the homely little hatchback that couldn’t…[Jason Vuic] weaves a tale about crazy socialist factories, just-as-crazy Western financial practices, geopolitics in the days of the Cold War, and an American public yearning for affordable cars—all combined with the ‘cutting edge Serbo-Croatian technology,’ as the Yugo was referred to in the spoof movie version of ‘Dragnet’…Mr. Vuic is as hard on the Western capitalism that fleetingly embraced the car as he is on the socialist system that produced it.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Jason Vuic provides a thoroughly researched and illuminating account of what turned into a spectacular disaster.”

    Economist

  • “Vuic’s book is thoroughly researched, with hundreds of annotations. Its true genius, however, is its fine focus not on the Yugo itself, but on Bricklin the man—an outsized opportunist, a thick-skinned mega-capitalist whose modus operandi was to overpromise and underdeliver, a Mr. Magoo oblivious to the wreckage all around him, a charming marketing manipulator who realizes he has crossed the line only when the subpoenas start flying. In short, a fascinating story well told.”

    Car and Driver

  •  “As historian Jason Vuic chronicles in his captivating, unexpected new book, for a fleeting moment amid the clichéd go-go excesses of the 1980s, the $3,995 Yugo—loosely based on a Fiat and produced by a one-time arms manufacturer called Zastava—captured the wallets, if not exactly the hearts, of Americans and introduced some oddball charm and entrepreneurial zest into the staid confines of the US auto market. Vuic’s history is a fascinating read, and an instructive one for the present moment.”

    Slate

  • “Jason Vuic, a professor of modern European history, could have easily written a straightforward takedown of the most maligned automobile since the Ford Pinto. Instead, he uses the Yugo as a vehicle for an insightful and witty look at car culture, a half-century of Balkan history, and the last decade of the Cold War.”

    Mother Jones

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Chris | 4/8/2011

    " This tale shows how a market economy with some government oversight and aggressive private consumer agencies just can't be beat. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jon | 3/31/2011

    " As an automotive engineer, this book was really interesting. The depth of analysis and research into this story is outstanding. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Dennis | 9/14/2010

    " Amazing to me people would give Malcom Bricklin multiple chancesto run an automotive company. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dave | 7/10/2010

    " The Yugo jokes at the beginning of each chapter were the best part. I wanted this to be more about the psychology of America and why this car became such a reference point and less about the importer who brought it here. "

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About the Author

Jason Vuic is an assistant professor of modern European history at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia. He has published articles in the South Slav Journal, Serbian Studies, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Indianapolis Star. He earned a BA from Wake Forest University, an MA from the University of Richmond, and a PhD in Balkan and East European history from Indiana University at Bloomington. He has also served as assistant director of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies at Ohio State University. He lives in Staunton, Virginia.