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The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today

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The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"When I traveled to the struggling ski-resort town of Davis, West Virginia, this past winter, all the locals I met seemed to want to know how I had gotten there. They talked about the highway that has been inching their way for years. Most looked forward to the flood of tourists and prosperity they thought the project would bring, but others saw only the prospect of unwelcome change. Although Ted Conover writes about far more exotic places than hardscrabble West Virginia in The Routes of Man, he sees its conflict everywhere: The coming of new roads distills the modern dilemma over progress and its discontents." Steven Lagerfeld, The Wilson Quarterly (read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Newjack, an absorbing book about roads and their power to change the world.

Roads bind our world — metaphorically and literally — transforming landscapes and the lives of the people who inhabit them. Roads have unparalleled power to impact communities, unite worlds and sunder them, and reveal the hopes and fears of those who travel them.

With his marvelous eye for detail and his contagious enthusiasm, Ted Conover explores six of these key byways worldwide. In Peru, he traces the journey of a load of rare mahogany over the Andes to its origin, an untracked part of the Amazon basin soon to be traversed by a new east-west route across South America. In East Africa, he visits truckers whose travels have been linked to the worldwide spread of AIDS. In the West Bank, he monitors highway checkpoints with Israeli soldiers and then passes through them with Palestinians, witnessing the injustices and danger borne by both sides. He shuffles down a frozen riverbed with teenagers escaping their Himalayan valley to see how a new road will affect the now-isolated Indian region of Ladakh. From the passenger seat of a new Hyundai piling up the miles, he describes the exuberant upsurge in car culture as highways proliferate across China. And from inside an ambulance, he offers an apocalyptic but precise vision of Lagos, Nigeria, where congestion and chaos on freeways signal the rise of the global megacity.

A spirited, urgent book that reveals the costs and benefits of being connected — how, from ancient Rome to the present, roads have played a crucial role in human life, advancing civilization even as they set it back.

Review:

"[Signature] Reviewed by Jeb BrugmannIn The Routes of Man, Conover, author of the NBCC award-winning Newjack, reveals globalization's neural system growing along the world's expanding and connecting road systems. Governments and smugglers, armies and insurgents, and the local poor and international NGOs negotiate their ambitions at border crossings, checkpoints, and dives. Tracing the route of rare mahogany from Peru's illegal jungle logging camps to Manhattan's brownstones, he examines how highways connect the fates of forests, untouched tribes, and finicky antique collectors. In the Himalayan frontier of Kashmir, highways are ventures of national territorial control, and in China a growing superhighway system underscores the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Conover's voice is that of a sobered Kerouac, tamed by a bigger conscience, and on an open road increasingly controlled by corporate, government, and military interests. His acclaimed narrative gifts are on full display in a wonderfully evenhanded treatment of the roadway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highways have been co-opted for Israeli settlements, and Palestinian professors, engineers, and migrant laborers construct ever-shifting back-road routes and taxi-hops to earn their living. With Conover as our guide, we move through Israeli checkpoints in Palestine's West Bank and witness the daily indignities faced by corralled Palestinian commuters and the psychological angst of Israeli soldiers. There is no open road here, just a gritty, fractured infrastructure of hatred that strangles both nations.More subtly, Conover reveals the highway as common social territory, particularly as the meeting place between men and women. His treatment of east African truck drivers — whose travels are suspected to be linked with the global spread of AIDS — avoids stereotype and sensationalism. He is as attentive to and interested by the drudgery of transporting goods as with the truckers' polygamy or encounters with sex workers and police bribery. We meet truck drivers who are true gentlemen and tough, articulate women fully capable of negotiating roadside life. Conover maintains a commitment to accurate portrayal and embraces the whole world, not only its dramatic aspects. The Routes of Man seeks to describe more than to explain this ever-connecting world. It does the former with an agility that leaves the reader anticipating the next adventure. But the narrative fails to build the argument posed in its subtitle: that roads themselves have become a source of change in the world, independent of the nations, armies, and cities that build, control, and fill them with trade and traffic. But this many-textured journey is not to be missed. Conover deftly navigates the romance and harsh reality of a world intent on a real and not just a virtual connectedness.Jeb Brugmann is author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[Signature] Reviewed by Jeb BrugmannIn The Routes of Man, Conover, author of the NBCC award — winning Newjack, reveals globalization's neural system growing along the world's expanding and connecting road systems. Governments and smugglers, armies and insurgents, and the local poor and international NGOs negotiate their ambitions at border crossings, checkpoints, and dives. Tracing the route of rare mahogany from Peru's illegal jungle logging camps to Manhattan's brownstones, he examines how highways connect the fates of forests, untouched tribes, and finicky antique collectors. In the Himalayan frontier of Kashmir, highways are ventures of national territorial control, and in China a growing superhighway system underscores the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Conover's voice is that of a sobered Kerouac, tamed by a bigger conscience, and on an open road increasingly controlled by corporate, government, and military interests. His acclaimed narrative gifts are on full display in a wonderfully evenhanded treatment of the roadway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highways have been co-opted for Israeli settlements, and Palestinian professors, engineers, and migrant laborers construct ever-shifting back-road routes and taxi-hops to earn their living. With Conover as our guide, we move through Israeli checkpoints in Palestine's West Bank and witness the daily indignities faced by corralled Palestinian commuters and the psychological angst of Israeli soldiers. There is no open road here, just a gritty, fractured infrastructure of hatred that strangles both nations.More subtly, Conover reveals the highway as common social territory, particularly as the meeting place between men and women. His treatment of east African truck drivers — whose travels are suspected to be linked with the global spread of AIDS — avoids stereotype and sensationalism. He is as attentive to and interested by the drudgery of transporting goods as with the truckers' polygamy or encounters with sex workers and police bribery. We meet truck drivers who are true gentlemen and tough, articulate women fully capable of negotiating roadside life. Conover maintains a commitment to accurate portrayal and embraces the whole world, not only its dramatic aspects. The Routes of Man seeks to describe more than to explain this ever-connecting world. It does the former with an agility that leaves the reader anticipating the next adventure. But the narrative fails to build the argument posed in its subtitle: that roads themselves have become a source of change in the world, independent of the nations, armies, and cities that build, control, and fill them with trade and traffic. But this many-textured journey is not to be missed. Conover deftly navigates the romance and harsh reality of a world intent on a real and not just a virtual connectedness.Jeb Brugmann is author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A readable, fact-filled, well-written exploration of how roads works, for good and ill, and what their future likely holds." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Ted Conover] has a wonderful eye for detail and the easy, unshowy style that marks the best travel writing....Mr. Conover here has taken an unpromising subject and turned it into a book that is about far more than just the strips of tarmac that criss-cross the world." The Economist

Review:

"Ted Conover is one of the great writers of my generation, and this may be his finest book. Fearless and compassionate, with echoes of Conrad and Kerouac, it explores how the road, once a symbol of limitless possibility, has become a path to annihilation. I have enormous admiration for what Conover has achieved." Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

Review:

"Ted Conover's exploration of six far-flung 'roads,' from a truck route over the Andes to an ambulance crew's rounds in Lagos, Nigeria, will prove a delight, while at the same time serving to remind that in many places of the world the act of getting around is an art marked by pride, lust, corruption and bloodshed." Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City

Review:

"Ted Conover's courageous reporting and vivid prose lend The Routes of Man an un-put-down-able momentum." Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

Synopsis:

From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Newjack comes an absorbing book about roads and their power to change the world.

About the Author

Ted Conover is the author of several books including Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) and Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hoboes. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and National Geographic. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he is Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

marcthomas7, June 15, 2010 (view all comments by marcthomas7)

Ted Conover is the best American (possibly the world's best) practitioner of an underused literary form, participatory journalism. In past books...in Coyote, in order to study illegal immigration, he became an illegal immigrant and got a smuggler (a Coyote) to bring him across the United States/Mexican border. In New Jack in order to study crime and the American prison system, he got job as a prison guard.
In Routes of Man, Conover becomes a hitchhiker, riding along with truck drivers across Africa and Latin America...tagging along with an upscale car club as they race along China's new highways, navigating military checkpoints in Israel and the West Bank. This book is much more than a travelogue. It is really an amazingly broad study of human life in early twenty first century.
What makes Conover such an excellent and important journalist is his ability to interact with an amazing range of people of all religions, all economic classes, all ethnic groups in an open a friendly manner without any preconceived political or ideological baggage.
I highly recommend this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
marcthomas7, June 15, 2010 (view all comments by marcthomas7)

Ted Conover is the best American (possibly the world's best) practitioner of an underused literary form, participatory journalism. In past books...in Coyote, in order to study illegal immigration, he became an illegal immigrant and got a smuggler (a Coyote) to bring him across the United States/Mexican border. In New Jack in order to study crime and the American prison system, he got job as a prison guard.
In Routes of Man, Conover becomes a hitchhiker, riding along with truck drivers across Africa and Latin America...tagging along with an upscale car club as they race along China's new highways, navigating military checkpoints in Israel and the West Bank. This book is much more than a travelogue. It is really an amazingly broad study of human life in early twenty first century.
What makes Conover such an excellent and important journalist is his ability to interact with an amazing range of people of all religions, all economic classes, all ethnic groups in an open a friendly manner without any preconceived political or ideological baggage.
I highly recommend this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Rita, February 10, 2010 (view all comments by Rita)
Ted Conover is a brilliant writer who will take you to places you've never imagined...amazing!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400042449
Subtitle:
How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today
Publisher:
Knopf
Author:
Conover, Ted
Subject:
Roads -- Social aspects.
Subject:
Conover, Ted - Travel
Subject:
Special Interest - Adventure
Subject:
General
Subject:
Adventure
Subject:
International
Subject:
Travel Writing-General
Publication Date:
20100209
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
6 MAPS, 32 PHOTOGRAPHS IN TEXT
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.6 x 1.25 in 1.5 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today
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Product details 352 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9781400042449 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Jeb BrugmannIn The Routes of Man, Conover, author of the NBCC award-winning Newjack, reveals globalization's neural system growing along the world's expanding and connecting road systems. Governments and smugglers, armies and insurgents, and the local poor and international NGOs negotiate their ambitions at border crossings, checkpoints, and dives. Tracing the route of rare mahogany from Peru's illegal jungle logging camps to Manhattan's brownstones, he examines how highways connect the fates of forests, untouched tribes, and finicky antique collectors. In the Himalayan frontier of Kashmir, highways are ventures of national territorial control, and in China a growing superhighway system underscores the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Conover's voice is that of a sobered Kerouac, tamed by a bigger conscience, and on an open road increasingly controlled by corporate, government, and military interests. His acclaimed narrative gifts are on full display in a wonderfully evenhanded treatment of the roadway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highways have been co-opted for Israeli settlements, and Palestinian professors, engineers, and migrant laborers construct ever-shifting back-road routes and taxi-hops to earn their living. With Conover as our guide, we move through Israeli checkpoints in Palestine's West Bank and witness the daily indignities faced by corralled Palestinian commuters and the psychological angst of Israeli soldiers. There is no open road here, just a gritty, fractured infrastructure of hatred that strangles both nations.More subtly, Conover reveals the highway as common social territory, particularly as the meeting place between men and women. His treatment of east African truck drivers — whose travels are suspected to be linked with the global spread of AIDS — avoids stereotype and sensationalism. He is as attentive to and interested by the drudgery of transporting goods as with the truckers' polygamy or encounters with sex workers and police bribery. We meet truck drivers who are true gentlemen and tough, articulate women fully capable of negotiating roadside life. Conover maintains a commitment to accurate portrayal and embraces the whole world, not only its dramatic aspects. The Routes of Man seeks to describe more than to explain this ever-connecting world. It does the former with an agility that leaves the reader anticipating the next adventure. But the narrative fails to build the argument posed in its subtitle: that roads themselves have become a source of change in the world, independent of the nations, armies, and cities that build, control, and fill them with trade and traffic. But this many-textured journey is not to be missed. Conover deftly navigates the romance and harsh reality of a world intent on a real and not just a virtual connectedness.Jeb Brugmann is author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Jeb BrugmannIn The Routes of Man, Conover, author of the NBCC award — winning Newjack, reveals globalization's neural system growing along the world's expanding and connecting road systems. Governments and smugglers, armies and insurgents, and the local poor and international NGOs negotiate their ambitions at border crossings, checkpoints, and dives. Tracing the route of rare mahogany from Peru's illegal jungle logging camps to Manhattan's brownstones, he examines how highways connect the fates of forests, untouched tribes, and finicky antique collectors. In the Himalayan frontier of Kashmir, highways are ventures of national territorial control, and in China a growing superhighway system underscores the disparity between the haves and have-nots. Conover's voice is that of a sobered Kerouac, tamed by a bigger conscience, and on an open road increasingly controlled by corporate, government, and military interests. His acclaimed narrative gifts are on full display in a wonderfully evenhanded treatment of the roadway in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Highways have been co-opted for Israeli settlements, and Palestinian professors, engineers, and migrant laborers construct ever-shifting back-road routes and taxi-hops to earn their living. With Conover as our guide, we move through Israeli checkpoints in Palestine's West Bank and witness the daily indignities faced by corralled Palestinian commuters and the psychological angst of Israeli soldiers. There is no open road here, just a gritty, fractured infrastructure of hatred that strangles both nations.More subtly, Conover reveals the highway as common social territory, particularly as the meeting place between men and women. His treatment of east African truck drivers — whose travels are suspected to be linked with the global spread of AIDS — avoids stereotype and sensationalism. He is as attentive to and interested by the drudgery of transporting goods as with the truckers' polygamy or encounters with sex workers and police bribery. We meet truck drivers who are true gentlemen and tough, articulate women fully capable of negotiating roadside life. Conover maintains a commitment to accurate portrayal and embraces the whole world, not only its dramatic aspects. The Routes of Man seeks to describe more than to explain this ever-connecting world. It does the former with an agility that leaves the reader anticipating the next adventure. But the narrative fails to build the argument posed in its subtitle: that roads themselves have become a source of change in the world, independent of the nations, armies, and cities that build, control, and fill them with trade and traffic. But this many-textured journey is not to be missed. Conover deftly navigates the romance and harsh reality of a world intent on a real and not just a virtual connectedness.Jeb Brugmann is author of Welcome to the Urban Revolution: How Cities Are Changing the World." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "When I traveled to the struggling ski-resort town of Davis, West Virginia, this past winter, all the locals I met seemed to want to know how I had gotten there. They talked about the highway that has been inching their way for years. Most looked forward to the flood of tourists and prosperity they thought the project would bring, but others saw only the prospect of unwelcome change. Although Ted Conover writes about far more exotic places than hardscrabble West Virginia in The Routes of Man, he sees its conflict everywhere: The coming of new roads distills the modern dilemma over progress and its discontents." Steven Lagerfeld, The Wilson Quarterly (read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
"Review" by , "A readable, fact-filled, well-written exploration of how roads works, for good and ill, and what their future likely holds."
"Review" by , "[Ted Conover] has a wonderful eye for detail and the easy, unshowy style that marks the best travel writing....Mr. Conover here has taken an unpromising subject and turned it into a book that is about far more than just the strips of tarmac that criss-cross the world."
"Review" by , "Ted Conover is one of the great writers of my generation, and this may be his finest book. Fearless and compassionate, with echoes of Conrad and Kerouac, it explores how the road, once a symbol of limitless possibility, has become a path to annihilation. I have enormous admiration for what Conover has achieved."
"Review" by , "Ted Conover's exploration of six far-flung 'roads,' from a truck route over the Andes to an ambulance crew's rounds in Lagos, Nigeria, will prove a delight, while at the same time serving to remind that in many places of the world the act of getting around is an art marked by pride, lust, corruption and bloodshed."
"Review" by , "Ted Conover's courageous reporting and vivid prose lend The Routes of Man an un-put-down-able momentum."
"Synopsis" by , From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Newjack comes an absorbing book about roads and their power to change the world.
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