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The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Oceanby Philip Caputo
Synopses & Reviews
One of our greatest living writers completes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and reflects on what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.
September 1996 found Phil Caputo on Barter Island, a windscoured rock in the Beaufort Sea populated by two hundred Inupiat and a handful of whites. As he gazed upon an American flag above the only school for 150 miles, he marveled that the children in that school pledged allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants on Key West, almost 6,000 miles away. Awed by America's vastness and diversity and filled with a renewed appreciation for its cohesiveness, an idea began to form. With enough time, gas money and nerve he could drive from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of the US reachable by road, talking to people as he went and try to better understand what held our great country together. And then, cicada-like, the idea went dormant, not to be reawakened for fourteen years.
In 2011 in an America struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression and more divided than it has been in living memory, Phil, who had just turned 70, his wife, and his two English setters, set off in a truck hauling an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska. The journey, which traveled back roads, state routes, took 4 months and covered 17,000 miles.
Caputo interviewed more than 80 Americans from all walks of life to get a picture of what their lives and the life of the nation are like in the 21st century and created a book that informs as much as it entertains.
"A continental tale that is always engaging and frequently reassuring." PW
"[Caputo] keeps the narrative moving with his observant eye and mordant sense of humor." The New York Times Book Review
"A new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Caputo…is always an event. Pithily capturing their characters and opinions about the state of America, Caputo snares reading devotees of a classic American theme, the road trip." Booklist, starred review
"[Caputo] gives us a view not only of the 17,000 miles he traveled but of the many people with whom he spoke. The novelist and multi-award-winning journalist, whose Rumor of War was one of the defining books of the Vietnam era, should get it just right." Library Journal
One of America's most respected writers takes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and asks everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.
Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he'd drive from the nation's southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question.
So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today's United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.
About the Author
Philip Caputo is a former journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner who has written eight novels, including Acts of Faith, The Voyage, Indian Country, Horn of Africa, and his most recent, Crossers. He has also written several works of non-fiction, of which A Rumor of War is the most famous. One of the most highly praised books of the 20th century, it is read widely in colleges throughout the country. He divides his time between Connecticut and Arizona.
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