Door to Door

The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation

Edward Humes

Book

The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Garbology explores the daily miracles and madness behind our have-it-now, same-day-delivery world, revealing just what it takes—and costs—to move us and our stuff door to door.

In ways both glaringly obvious and deeply hidden, thousands, even millions, of miles are embedded in everything we eat, sell, buy, drive, and touch. The capacity to transport a big-screen TV, a vital medicine, or a coffee cup from a factory in Shanghai to a port in California to your local store or front door—and to do so reliably and rapidly 200 million times a day—may be humanity’s most towering achievement. It’s like building the Great Pyramid, the Hoover Dam, and the Golden Gate Bridge all in a day. Every day. Yet the same system delivers grinding commutes, a death every fifteen minutes, an ER trip every thirteen seconds, and crumbling, overloaded roads, rails, and bridges we can no longer afford to make or fix.

Now, for better or for worse, massive change is coming to our door-to-door mega-machine, transforming the nature of commuting, culture, and commerce in the process. We have reached a fork in the road. The question is whether our path leads to Carmageddon or Carmaheaven.

In Door to Door, acclaimed journalist Edward Humes unpacks the epic amount of transportation embedded in a day in the life of a modern American family. With a vivid, human narrative, he brings readers inside America’s busiest port and largest parcel service, details the dough-to-doorbell odyssey of pizza delivery, and rides out a harrowing twenty-four hours on the nation’s deadliest battlefield—our roads and streets.

Through extraordinary access and unforgettable characters, Humes constructs a transportation detective story that reveals the surprising triumphs behind every trip we take and every click we make. At the same time, Door to Door overturns the myths behind our wrong turns: why adding freeway lanes actually makes traffic worse, why bigger cars are less safe, and why there are millions of traffic crashes each year but almost none are “accidents.”

Door to Door offers a glimpse of a possible future transformed by such new efficiencies as ride-sharing and robots, while examining a very real present where transportation is one of the few big things individuals can change—where personal choices can have a profound impact as that fork in the road fast approaches.

Advance Praise for Door To Door

“So much effort goes into moving our bodies and our stuff around. And as this book makes very clear, it could be done so much better! A fascinating read, from the center of the world’s car culture.”—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

“Humes takes readers on a million-mile journey that crosses intersections of public policy, mega-corporations, and local communities, and ends up at the kitchen counter. By looking across an entire system, he reveals the true impact of our consumer-driven, next-day-delivery economy and the (lack of) infrastructure that ties it all together. Door to Door is a must-read for those who want to understand and solve the biggest social challenges of our day.”—Rob Kaplan, co-founder and managing director, Closed Loop Fund, and former director of sustainability, Walmart

“In this groundbreaking work, Ed Humes shows that we could have fast, reliable, and incredibly safe transport if we only had the political guts to choose it. Hopefully, this fascinating work will prompt long-overdue changes.”—Samuel Fromartz, editor in chief, Food & Environment Reporting Network, and author of the award-winning In Search of the Perfect Loaf

“Humes takes us inside the mammoth transportation systems that move things, and move us, around. Door to Door is an eye-opening account of the massive physical systems that support our increasingly digital world.”—Richard Florida, professor, University of Toronto and NYU, and author of The Rise of the Creative Class

Author

Edward Humes

Edward Humes

Edward Humes is the author of ten critically acclaimed nonfiction books, including Eco Barons, Monkey Girl, Over Here, School of Dreams, Baby E.R., Mean Justice, No Matter How Loud I Shout, and the bestseller Mississippi Mud. He has received the Pulitzer Prize for his journalism and numerous awards for his books. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and Sierra. He lives in California.

Reviews

“This timely book will inspire many readers to change their habits and their views of the future.” Booklist

“Like “Silent Spring” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Door to Door” is a rallying point for culturewide change. Hume’s tireless curation of figure and fact, his well-reasoned arguments and his uncluttered, well-ordered prose may turn the ship that’s just begun to budge.” —Mary Roach, the New York Times Book Review

“So much effort goes to moving our bodies and our stuff around. And as this book makes very clear, it could be done so much better! A fascinating read, from the center of the world’s car culture” —Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy

“Humes takes us inside the mammoth transportation systems that move things, and move us, around. Door to Door is an eye-opening account of the massive physical systems that support our increasingly digital world.” —Richard Florida, author of the Rise of the Creative Class, University of Toronto & NYU professor

“In this groundbreaking work, Ed Humes shows that we could have fast, reliable and incredibly safe transport, if we only had the political guts to choose it. Hopefully, this fascinating work will prompt long overdue changes. ” —Samuel Fromartz, editor in chief of the Food & Environment Reporting Network, and author of the award-winning In Search of the Perfect Loaf.