Nancy A. Nichols
Headshot for Nancy A. Nichols
Agent: Reiko Davis

Nancy A. Nichols is the author of Women Behind the Wheel: An Unexpected and Personal History of the Car and Lake Effect: Two Sisters and a Town’s Toxic Legacy. She is a journalist, editor, and former broadcaster who has worked at Harvard Business Review, The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, and on the documentary team for PBS. Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Book Review, Harvard Business Review, The Nation, The Atlantic, and more. She has written commentaries for National Public Radio’s Marketplace and produced a documentary that was nominated for an Emmy Award. She lives in Boston.


As Heard on "Fresh Air with Terry Gross"

Named One of the Best Books of March 2024 by The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] fascinating, funny, enraging and often very moving book…For all its hard-edged machinery, gender warring and auto-business shenanigans, the emotional engine of this book is Nichols’s own poignant story...[W]hile recounting more than a century’s worth of motor history, Nichols includes her personal experience of the boxy 1960s Dodge Dart, the sporty 1970s Mustang and her subsequent minivan, Beetle, Honda, Jeep and Subaru. And there is much more to this often heartbreaking memoir: jagged relationships, a fatal car accident and the deaths of those closest to Nichols."—The New York Times Book Review

"Journalist Nancy A. Nichols offers a spirited exploration of the effects of the automobile on American women. She documents the ways driving has both expanded women’s freedoms and, citing midcentury isolation in the suburbs, limited their opportunities."—The Christian Science Monitor

"In her new, highly readable part memoir, part car history, Nichols makes clear that the woman driver and her experience behind the wheel is no laughing matter."—The New York Post

“Journalist Nichols offers a unique and captivating history of women and the automobile. Combing through decades of carmakers’ advertisements and marketing strategies, Nichols finds that not long after its invention in the 1880s, the automobile became 'our most gendered technology'…Nichols interweaves meticulous and intriguing research into engineering and advertising history with poignant reflections on how automobiles have played an outsize role in her own family: an uncle killed in a car accident, an alcoholic father who was a used car salesman, time spent driving herself and her son for cancer treatment…[T]his perceptive study will compel readers to reevaluate their own relationship with cars.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Nichols has engineered an engaging book about how the invention of the automobile both liberated and limited women. She smoothly shifts gears between nostalgia and narrative, family memoir and muscle cars. Evocative and powered by facts. Eager to get behind the wheel, women were still arrested by stereotypes of women drivers and societal expectations about how far and fast they could go. For men cars promised the open road; for women it meant errands and carpools. As a ‘motown girl,’ whose first car was a Mustang, I enjoyed Women Behind the Wheel very much.”—Elisabeth Griffith, PhD, author of Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality, 1920-2020, a New York Times Editor's Choice

Women Behind the Wheel is a joyous combination of autobiography, history and romance. Nancy A. Nichols celebrates the way cars made the modern world and defined the lives of modern women. Witty, moving and impassioned, this book leads women triumphantly into the once male-dominated automotive space.”—Bryan Appleyard, author of The Car

  • WOMEN BEHIND THE WHEEL: An Unexpected and Personal History of the Car
    Pegasus Books, 2024