Matthew F. JordanNov 17, 2023
Danger Sound Klaxon!
The Horn That Changed History
University of Virginia Press 2023
Danger Sound Klaxon!:The Horn That Changed History (University of Virginia Press, 2023) reveals the untold story of the Klaxon automobile horn, one of the first great electrical consumer technologies of the twentieth century. Although its metallic shriek at first shocked pedestrians, savvy advertising strategies convinced consumers across the United States and western Europe to adopt the shrill Klaxon horn as the safest signaling technology available in the 1910s. The widespread use of Klaxons in the trenches of World War I, however, transformed how veterans heard this car horn, and its traumatic association with gas attacks ultimately doomed this once ubiquitous consumer technology.
By charting the meteoric rise and eventual fall of the Klaxon, Dr. Matthew Jordan highlights how perceptions of sound-producing technologies are guided by, manipulated, and transformed through advertising strategies, public debate, consumer reactions, and governmental regulations. Jordan demonstrates in this fascinating history how consumers are led toward technological solutions for problems themselves created by technology.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.