Synopses & Reviews
A fascinating account of the greatest road trip in American history.
On July 7, 1919, an extraordinary cavalcade of sixty-nine military motor vehicles set off from the White House on an epic journey. Their goal was California, and ahead of them lay 3,250 miles of dirt, mud, rock, and sand. Sixty-two days later they arrived in San Francisco, having averaged just five miles an hour. Known as the First Transcontinental Motor Train, this trip was an adventure, a circus, a public relations coup, and a war game all rolled into one. As road conditions worsened, it also became a daily battle of sweat and labor, of guts and determination.
American Road is the story of this incredible journey. Pete Davies takes us from east to west, bringing to life the men on the trip, their trials with uncooperative equipment and weather, and the punishing landscape they encountered. Ironically one of the participants was a young soldier named Dwight Eisenhower, who, four decades later, as President, launched the building of the interstate highway system. Davies also provides a colorful history of transcontinental car travel in this country, including the first cross-country trips and the building of the Lincoln Highway. This richly detailed book offers a slice of Americana, a piece of history unknown to many, and a celebration of our love affair with the road.
"In his spirited telling of the First Transcontinental Motor Train, Pete Davies...takes us down 3,251 miles of raw American highway. It's a truly incredible journey. Along the way we encounter such memorable characters as Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Ford, Henry Joy, and William Randolph Hearst. American Road is a high-octane classic." Douglas Brinkley, director, Eisenhower Center for American Studies, and professor of history, University of New Orleans
"American Road captures our longing to go out on a quest even before we had the roads for it. A bridge between Whitman and Kerouac, this is a vivid story of how the seeds of the way we live now were planted long ago in cement." Ronald Primeau, author of Romance of the Road: The Literature of the American Highway
"I commend this book to anyone interested in a superbly told tale of real-life adventure and heroics." Carlo D'Este, author of Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
"Using the progress of the caravan and the metaphor of paving toward the future versus stagnating in the mud, Davies touches on the industrial and social factors that developed the small and mid-sized towns that line the highways and byways of the nation." Publishers Weekly
"[R]eaders with an interest in the interwar US military or the history of the American motor industry will find it useful." Kirkus Reviews
“Davies recounts these treacherous travels in a brisk and readable style . . . he has put history, sociology, politics, and human nature into well-tuned balance.” —The Boston Globe
“Thoroughly absorbing and often amusing . . . American Road is a fascinating social history of a vanished age and of Americas breathtakingly swift transformation into a mobilized society.” —Bill Bryson, A Book-of-the-Month Club Judges Selection
“A first-rate story.” —Richmond Times Dispatch
“A crackerjack book, a dandy slice of Americana . . . Davies has researched and written well. His anecdotes do not merely amuse, but also illustrate the points being made.” —Chicago Sun-Times
Offering a slice of Americana, American Road is a fascinating account of the greatest road trip in this country's history: a 1919 cavalcade of 69 military motor vehicles traveling from the White House to California.
On July 7, 1919, a cavalcade of sixty-nine military motor vehicles set off from the White House on an epic journey. Their goal was California, and ahead of them lay 3,250 miles of mud and rock. Sixty-two days later they arrived in San Francisco, having averaged just five miles an hour.
American Road is the story of this incredible trip that was proposed by the government to crystallize the need for good roads. Pete Davies vividly chronicles this remarkable voyage, bringing to life the men on the trip, their trials with uncooperative equipment and weather, and the punishing landscape they encountered. This richly detailed book is a piece of history unknown to many, and a celebration of our love affair with the road.
About the Author
is the author of a number of critically acclaimed works of nonfiction, including Inside the Hurricane
(0-8050-6611-X) and The Devils Flu
(0-8050-6622-5). He lives in West Yorkshire, England.