The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers

A question of knowledge (Ethnographic Trilogy)

Non-Fiction - Cultural
102 Pages
Reviewed on 11/18/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

If roads are considered the bloodline of a country's economy, taxi drivers must be the blood cells that help people reach their destinations, ensuring the smooth running of the country. In The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers, Ruth H. Finnegan delves into the world of taxis and taxi drivers and showcases their cultural, demographical, and economic impact on any given city or town. Starting from the history of professional travel without motor engines from a wide array of cultures around the world to the modern age of Uber, the book contains many different aspects of private travel, ending with personal conversations with real-life taxi drivers who immigrated to England in search of a better life for themselves and their families.

An anthropological quest to understand the large-scale impact of taxis and their drivers has led author Ruth H. Finnegan to stumble upon some human interest stories about immigrants from faraway countries, sharing their beliefs and desires in the everlasting pursuit of happiness. The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers provides an unflinching look at the person behind the steering wheel of the ride you have taken dozens of times but probably never stopped to wonder who they are. Finnegan has a keen eye for detail and covers a wide range of issues concerning taxi drivers. But it is the personal interviews and conversations with the drivers where the book really shines and touches upon universal themes of humanity. Overall, a thoroughly researched and well-written book that I personally found very engaging and informative.

Philip Van Heusen

How often do we, as humans, overlook the ordinary? Most of the time. Because the ordinary surrounds us, we do not investigate or pay attention. Ruth H. Finnegan has written The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers to share information about a universal and common sight. Taxis and their drivers are everywhere. Where do the drivers come from? What type of people are they? Read this book and find out the demographics of this interesting group. Many think taxi drivers are unintelligent, but when you realize the vast amount of knowledge required to get their license, you will understand how intelligent they are. Ruth does an in-depth analysis of these drivers who, in many ways, are a city's backbone. Transportation for hire has been part of history for hundreds of years. Reading this book will cause you to look at taxi drivers in a new light.

Ruth H. Finnegan's documentation of the lives—professional and personal—of taxi drivers opens up a new field of anthropological study. Many different studies can be launched based on The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers. This study starts with a general history of transportation for hire, then goes on to discover the drivers' personal lives. Drivers have a code of honor and conduct that is impeccable. They work hard and earn a decent living. For many, driving a taxi is a second job to provide extra for their family. Most drivers are from other countries, trying to improve their situation and station in life. After reading this book, you will find a new appreciation for what is normally seen as the mundane.

Alex Ndirangu

We see them driving around as part of a line of moving vehicles or in traffic jams. We assume there is always one somewhere, whether at an airport, a station, or a street corner. Taxis are a necessary and expected part of urban life. While no one seems to have considered taking a detailed look at the intriguing subject of the lives of taxi drivers, Ruth Finnegan has been interested in exploring their individuality for a long time. In her book The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers: A Question of Knowledge (Ethnographic Trilogy), Finnegan navigates us through the seemingly invisible world of taxi drivers and their working conditions.
This book provides a global perspective on taxi drivers' lives and their stories, as well as the cultural, economic, and personal contexts in which they work. It also examines some rarely considered aspects of taxi drivers' experiences, particularly their interaction with passengers in an intimate space during a short, shared journey. Ruth Finnegan also takes the reader through the history of the modern taxi industry and its drivers. I liked the way that the author included a series of images that depicts the evolution of taxis. This book helped me to view taxi driving from an angle that I had never considered before. The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers is an unusual and memorable read, and I enjoyed every aspect. It will appeal to anyone who has a taxi driver in their family. It can also be a gift that will make any taxi driver feel appreciated for their work.

Tammy Ruggles

The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers: A Question of Knowledge (Ethnographic Trilogy) by Ruth H Finnegan is a fascinating study concerning taxi drivers. In some ways, it is a love letter to them, complete with the history of taxis and other forms of transportation down through the ages, from the litter in China to modern-day Ubers. We get an inside view, with pictures, anecdotes, and illustrations, a thorough and entertaining immersion in the lives and culture of taxi drivers.

Finnegan takes a personable yet knowledgeable approach to the subject, with character studies of the people who may often appear invisible to us, like the taxi driver, but whose lives are intriguing, with struggles, hopes, and dreams just as we all have. For example, an immigrant comes to a new country to make a new or fresh start, to live the dream, having no idea that they too can offer so much to us by way of conversation, sharing life stories, and lending a listening and interested ear. One of my favorite parts is The Ten Commandments of Road Safety. Whether you've ridden in taxis on occasion or use them regularly, this book will help you gain a new appreciation for the men and women who sit behind the wheel and take you where you want to go.

On a personal note, as a legally blind person, I depend on professional drivers to get me here and there, so I relate to the concept of this book on that level. You can learn so much from talking to your drivers, and your day can be fuller as a result of these conversations. Conversely, you may find that you can brighten the driver's day. If you enjoy slice-of-life books on specific groups of people, do yourself a favor and look into The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers by Ruth H Finnegan.