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Cross Country: Fifteen Years and Ninety Thousand Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America Lewis and Clark, a Lot of Bad Motels, a Moving Van, Emily Post, Jack Kerouac, My Wife, My Mother-In-Law, Two Kids and Enough Coffee to Kill an Elephant

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From the bestselling author of Rats, a personal and national history of one of America's favorite pastimes: driving across the country. The cross-country trip is the trip that often whizzes past us on our way to quaint back roads and scenic parks; it's an America of long, looping highways, strip malls, fast-food depots, and road rage, but also one that is wide-open, awe-ins From the bestselling author of Rats, a personal and national history of one of America's favorite pastimes: driving across the country. The cross-country trip is the trip that often whizzes past us on our way to quaint back roads and scenic parks; it's an America of long, looping highways, strip malls, fast-food depots, and road rage, but also one that is wide-open, awe-inspiring, and heartwarmingly lonely. Here, Sullivan, who has driven cross-country more than two dozen times, recounts his family's annual summer migration from Oregon to New York. His story of moving his family back and forth from the East Coast to the West Coast (and various other migrations), is replete with all the minor disasters, humor, and wonderful coincidences that characterize life on the road, not to mention life. As he drives, Sullivan ponders his nation-crossing predecessors, such as legendary duo Lewis and Clark, as well the more improbable heroes of America's unending urge to cross itself: Carl Fisher, an Indianapolis bicycle maker who founded the Indy 500, dropped cars off of buildings and imagined the first cross-country road; Emily Post, who, before her life as an etiquette writer, was one of the first cross-country chroniclers; and the race car drivers who, appalled by the invention of seatbelts and speed limits, ran an underground cross-country car race in the 1970s known as the Cannonball Run. Sullivan meets Beat poets who are devotees of Jack Kerouac, cross-country icon, and plays golf on an abandoned coal mine. And, in his trademark celebration of the mundane, Sullivan investigates everything from the history of the gas pump to the origins of fast food and rest stops. Cross Country tells the tales that come from fifteen years of driving across the country (and all around it) with two kids and everything that two kids and two parents take when driving in a car from one coast to another, over and over, driving to see the way the road made America and America made the road.


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From the bestselling author of Rats, a personal and national history of one of America's favorite pastimes: driving across the country. The cross-country trip is the trip that often whizzes past us on our way to quaint back roads and scenic parks; it's an America of long, looping highways, strip malls, fast-food depots, and road rage, but also one that is wide-open, awe-ins From the bestselling author of Rats, a personal and national history of one of America's favorite pastimes: driving across the country. The cross-country trip is the trip that often whizzes past us on our way to quaint back roads and scenic parks; it's an America of long, looping highways, strip malls, fast-food depots, and road rage, but also one that is wide-open, awe-inspiring, and heartwarmingly lonely. Here, Sullivan, who has driven cross-country more than two dozen times, recounts his family's annual summer migration from Oregon to New York. His story of moving his family back and forth from the East Coast to the West Coast (and various other migrations), is replete with all the minor disasters, humor, and wonderful coincidences that characterize life on the road, not to mention life. As he drives, Sullivan ponders his nation-crossing predecessors, such as legendary duo Lewis and Clark, as well the more improbable heroes of America's unending urge to cross itself: Carl Fisher, an Indianapolis bicycle maker who founded the Indy 500, dropped cars off of buildings and imagined the first cross-country road; Emily Post, who, before her life as an etiquette writer, was one of the first cross-country chroniclers; and the race car drivers who, appalled by the invention of seatbelts and speed limits, ran an underground cross-country car race in the 1970s known as the Cannonball Run. Sullivan meets Beat poets who are devotees of Jack Kerouac, cross-country icon, and plays golf on an abandoned coal mine. And, in his trademark celebration of the mundane, Sullivan investigates everything from the history of the gas pump to the origins of fast food and rest stops. Cross Country tells the tales that come from fifteen years of driving across the country (and all around it) with two kids and everything that two kids and two parents take when driving in a car from one coast to another, over and over, driving to see the way the road made America and America made the road.

30 review for Cross Country: Fifteen Years and Ninety Thousand Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America Lewis and Clark, a Lot of Bad Motels, a Moving Van, Emily Post, Jack Kerouac, My Wife, My Mother-In-Law, Two Kids and Enough Coffee to Kill an Elephant

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    Let's see, what took longer; Robert Sullivan driving across the country from Oregon to NY City or me reading his book? It was me. Truthfully it wasn't always exciting to read. Reading about driving across the country probably has a lot in common with driving across the country; stretches of boredom; something to break boredom (in the case of this book that would mainly be the history of roads, driving and cross country trips in America starting with Lewis and Clark.) On the other hand, I could r Let's see, what took longer; Robert Sullivan driving across the country from Oregon to NY City or me reading his book? It was me. Truthfully it wasn't always exciting to read. Reading about driving across the country probably has a lot in common with driving across the country; stretches of boredom; something to break boredom (in the case of this book that would mainly be the history of roads, driving and cross country trips in America starting with Lewis and Clark.) On the other hand, I could really relate. I love road trips myself; that anticipation and excitement to get going, the willingness to see what this trip will bring, how it will differ from plans and expectations, the happiness of sharing this with your children, the appreciation of the beauty of our country and our freedom to travel in it. Mr. Sullivan seemed kind of uptight at the beginning of the book, nervous, his jokes fell a little flat and sounded more like self-criticism than anything else. But he loosens up as he talks about history and he seems like a really nice guy when he talks about his family. His love of family and country come through loud and clear. I appreciated that he did a lot of research to write this book, I think he really wanted to teach his readers and I was interested in learning. Some of his philosophical thoughts near the end of the book: "On this bridge, in this daredevil-like moment of multilane over-the-river traffic, I can see that the modern American road is a common space where people share nothing. It is the thing that, while separating us, we all have in common" "When I wonder about the future of the interstates, of these things that cross and bind and rush-hour America in to a stupor of convenience and aggravation, and when I think of what seems so unlikely to change, I think again of how quickly things came to be--of the generations of my parents who saw the birth of the interstates, of the generation of their parents, who saw the birth of the car, of the generation of their parents, who rode the first railroads." In the afterword the author actually relaxes and says some truly funny things. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st... It is an interview with Robert Sullivan and his two kids. Their performance of a song they sing on the road is really good.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Meandering, but often smartly so. Road trips seem to have irresistible pull for writers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Hurst

    My Dad gave this book to me (and my sister) when we drove cross-country (from Providence to Santa Fe) in 2006. He had driven us cross-country as small children in the 50s, and thought this would be the perfect book for us to read while we travelled. I think we probably privately pooh-poohed the idea a bit, but travel can be tedious, and we did turn to the book, taking turns reading to each other as we took our respective stints behind the wheel. It turned out the book was a perfect traveling com My Dad gave this book to me (and my sister) when we drove cross-country (from Providence to Santa Fe) in 2006. He had driven us cross-country as small children in the 50s, and thought this would be the perfect book for us to read while we travelled. I think we probably privately pooh-poohed the idea a bit, but travel can be tedious, and we did turn to the book, taking turns reading to each other as we took our respective stints behind the wheel. It turned out the book was a perfect traveling companion--we would read and then talk about it as we progressed across the country, and a couple of times there were serendipitous road encounters (like the time we discovered a piece of the pretty obscure Lincoln Highway, right after reading about it). On the surface, the book is a story about the author's trip with his family from west to east over a five day period. But he uses this structure to weave in the history of the cross-country highway system, the history of the car on the road, stories of other people who drove cross-country, a discussion of road-side coffee cups and hand-dryers in restrooms, and all kinds of other topics! Very well-written, very interesting, and a great read-aloud book. Thanks, Daddy, for knowing us so well! (When we got to Santa Fe, and my sister returned to the East Coast, I finished the book and then mailed it to her so she could finish. But we missed the intimacy of car-reading!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    After completing a road trip this past summer, I've become interested in books about road trips. I knew of this book before and was interested in reading it, but never went out of my way to find it until now. It's fairly good and is chock full of information regarding the interstate system, its history, the idea of travel in America, Lewis and Clark, the evolution of coffee cup tops, the evolution of gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, etc. I enjoyed following the author's route and especiall After completing a road trip this past summer, I've become interested in books about road trips. I knew of this book before and was interested in reading it, but never went out of my way to find it until now. It's fairly good and is chock full of information regarding the interstate system, its history, the idea of travel in America, Lewis and Clark, the evolution of coffee cup tops, the evolution of gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, etc. I enjoyed following the author's route and especially liked how much the book references Saint Louis, demonstrating how important Saint Louis once was to the country: not only did Lewis and Clark set off from there, but there is reason to believe that the very first section of the Interstate System was started there. However, one drawback to the book is that the author uses a trip of his across the country, thereby taking the reader on as a passenger. The problem with this technique is that it demonstrates what eventually happens in a long trip: one becomes tired of traveling and grows impatient. And that's what happened to me while reading this book. Fortunately, it didn't happen until the last section, when the author's entries often consisted of him showing how tired he was of driving or just plain tired. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and served as great reference material, providing numerous book suggestions regarding the highways.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    A 380-page rumination on the author’s experiences driving across the continental United States, several times over many years. Interspersed with his own experiences, Sullivan talks about history: Lewis and Clark; Carl G. Fisher and the Lincoln Highway; the See America First campaign and the rise of motor tourism; Kemmons Wilson and the Holiday Inn; the rise of the interstate system; the use of Jersey barriers; Jack Kerouac’s beginnings; even a brief look at the history of the to-go coffee cup li A 380-page rumination on the author’s experiences driving across the continental United States, several times over many years. Interspersed with his own experiences, Sullivan talks about history: Lewis and Clark; Carl G. Fisher and the Lincoln Highway; the See America First campaign and the rise of motor tourism; Kemmons Wilson and the Holiday Inn; the rise of the interstate system; the use of Jersey barriers; Jack Kerouac’s beginnings; even a brief look at the history of the to-go coffee cup lid. The factual information is fascinating, and told very well. That’s good, because the personal information is banal in the extreme. I don’t know whether Sullivan believes there’s value in acting as anthropologist of the quotidian (remarks on motel stays and breakfasts, sketches of parking lots), or if he truly thinks his experiences are interesting (he spends quite a long time detailing “the worst cross country trip ever,” in which nothing especially bad happens), but in either case, this book would have been an exceptional history of travel in America without them. It’s too bad. Sullivan’s a terrific historian, but he put way too much of himself in this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I adored this book! I love the way the author writes. He tells about cross countries trips in a way I've never read another author write like---he tells about them like how actual families would take them! He talks about regular hotels, not boutique fancy places, about rest stops, not delightful local cuisine, about car fights, not just amazing scenery. He does talk about history, especially of the highways, but in a way that is integrated into the story. I especially like how he writes about hi I adored this book! I love the way the author writes. He tells about cross countries trips in a way I've never read another author write like---he tells about them like how actual families would take them! He talks about regular hotels, not boutique fancy places, about rest stops, not delightful local cuisine, about car fights, not just amazing scenery. He does talk about history, especially of the highways, but in a way that is integrated into the story. I especially like how he writes about his children. It's rare to find an author that can write about kids and allow it to shine through how much he loves them, but still write about actual kids, with how they actually act, not overplayed for humor. He makes me feel like I'd like to be part of his family, taking a trip.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    Snoozy. I struggled to read the first half and then quit. The Economist book reviewer let me down with this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura Boudreau

    Interesting, enjoyable read, nothing overly exciting and just kind of ends.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book causes me to recall the long cross country rides I made with my family as child. Never fear – I’m not going to wax poetic about childhood vacations. Rather, I express sentiments of the, “Are we there yet/my bottom has gone numb from sitting in a car for five days/if I have to ride one mile further with these people, I’ll kill them – I truly will,” variety. Cross Country goes above and beyond in bringing the experience of the open road to the reader. Author, Robert Sullivan, uses the pr This book causes me to recall the long cross country rides I made with my family as child. Never fear – I’m not going to wax poetic about childhood vacations. Rather, I express sentiments of the, “Are we there yet/my bottom has gone numb from sitting in a car for five days/if I have to ride one mile further with these people, I’ll kill them – I truly will,” variety. Cross Country goes above and beyond in bringing the experience of the open road to the reader. Author, Robert Sullivan, uses the printed word to recreate the torture, repetition and monotony of modern car travel. After setting the book down, I could almost see the dotted yellow lines zipping past my peripheral vision and my head hurt slightly from boredom. To be fair, I have to admit that Sullivan touches on some of more fascinating historical aspects of travel, using the Lewis and Clark expedition as a clever (though overly abused) narrative device. One can’t help but learn a little bit about American history from this book and it covers a wide range of topics which rush by the reader at 65 mph. And there is some wisdom on the subject of travel to be found. On page 180, I discovered Emily Post’s delightful outlook on the small daily disasters of travel. Of one of her small on-road mishaps, she wrote, "There is one consoling feature in such an incident, that although it is not especially enjoyable at the time, it is just such experience and disappointments, of course, that make the high spots of a whole motor trip in looking back upon it.” Well said, Emily. Perhaps I will take Post's observation to heart and will remember this book fondly.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Giovanna

    Here's another book I'd probably give a 3.5 to 3.75; but since the average rating is below that, I'll use my powers to tweak it up a bit! First, a quibble--I think almost any book is improved with a map. But a book called 'Cross Country', about driving across the US, really has no excuse not having a map. This was a fun book for me--having driven cross country (only two full times and a couple half trips, I've got nothing on Sullivan!), I enjoyed recognizing places--even a diner in Shamrock, Texas Here's another book I'd probably give a 3.5 to 3.75; but since the average rating is below that, I'll use my powers to tweak it up a bit! First, a quibble--I think almost any book is improved with a map. But a book called 'Cross Country', about driving across the US, really has no excuse not having a map. This was a fun book for me--having driven cross country (only two full times and a couple half trips, I've got nothing on Sullivan!), I enjoyed recognizing places--even a diner in Shamrock, Texas, that I'm sure I had a hamburger in 35 years ago with my grandmother--but also the weird things you get into, like searching for a particular motel chain, or remembering one fondly from an earlier trip (Comfort Inn in Bismarck, with its huge water slide for me). I see that a lot of people disliked the digressions in the book--and there are many, about early cross country travelers (Emily Post!), how the interstate system came about, coffee cup lids...but I thought he captured exactly the nature of driving cross country. That's exactly what happens, you drive along, see something, wonder about it for a couple days, bore your companions considering it. I'm afraid I read this book poorly, though, at least the first third--I put it aside and came back to it every few weeks. There's something very disheartening about coming back to your cross country trip to find you're still in Montana or North Dakota. I would suggest that this book requires a more regulated reading than the one I gave it. But I am ready to hit the road now!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    I read this fascinating, multi-faceted history and account of American road trips soon after returning from a family road trip of my own, and it was really a good companion piece for such a journey. Sullivan travels with his family from Portland, OR to New York City, with stops in states in between. I really identified with his personal obsessions and quirks on the journey, asking his kids to read aloud from the diary of Lewis and Clark as the family crossed the route traveled by the explorers ( I read this fascinating, multi-faceted history and account of American road trips soon after returning from a family road trip of my own, and it was really a good companion piece for such a journey. Sullivan travels with his family from Portland, OR to New York City, with stops in states in between. I really identified with his personal obsessions and quirks on the journey, asking his kids to read aloud from the diary of Lewis and Clark as the family crossed the route traveled by the explorers (who, it turns out, went on a rather pointless voyage, considering that they encountered a variety of Europeans already in Oregon upon the arrival), and insisting on stops that accentuated this theme. This is the kind of stuff I’m typically all about as well, much to the occasional chagrin of my friends and family. In addition to the amusing personal anecdotes of this road trip (and similar ones preceding it) as he and his family drive through the various states and cities of their transcontinental journey, Sullivan fills his book with a multitude of interesting historical stories and asides. Including discussions of the development of the interstate highway system, tales of early cross country road trips such as the one completed by Alice Ramsey in 1909, and some of the strange and breathtaking sights seen out of the windows of your car; even as a non-driver, this is some very compelling stuff, and I would recommend this book as a great compliment to your own journeys across the highways and byways of the United States.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bart Hansard

    This book is a combination of history lessons/travelogues/family memoirs all rolled into one. The author has a great sense of humor about himself and his position as didactic tour guide to his family; while exploring the great expansion to and fro across our great (and sometimes not-so-great) country and how travel has shaped our nation. I found it a bit logy at first, almost like an overladen vehicle as it lumbers out to make a journey of many, many miles. By the end, I was tickled with the trav This book is a combination of history lessons/travelogues/family memoirs all rolled into one. The author has a great sense of humor about himself and his position as didactic tour guide to his family; while exploring the great expansion to and fro across our great (and sometimes not-so-great) country and how travel has shaped our nation. I found it a bit logy at first, almost like an overladen vehicle as it lumbers out to make a journey of many, many miles. By the end, I was tickled with the traveling saga of his family and fascinated by all the facts and theories surrounding Lewis and Clarks epic trip, the expansion west by wagon and train, and the building up of highways and suburbia...with all the triumphs and plagues this "progress" has wrought. If you have ever felt yourself a road warrior or been on a "forced march" of a vacation, the pleasure of reading this book safely ensconced in your armchair is delicious. A great boon to how we have overwhelmed our country with our teeming selves and our autos; and how we got here. Like any good trip, I was heartened by the end and glad I made the journey; in spite of all the miles! Sullivan's journalistic background and self-effacing style make this a superb "sleeper" of a read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Orman

    The author has driven cross-country from Oregon to New York more than 25 times, a sort of annual family migration. I see a photo of him at the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, so he has not always taken a direct route! Sullivan begins most of his east-bound trips from Portland, OR, heading up the Columbia River Gorge, so he has some nice essays on the Lewis & Clark expedition. Yes, on one trip the author and his family did go through New Mexico! He has a funny story about visiting the Georgia O'Keefe The author has driven cross-country from Oregon to New York more than 25 times, a sort of annual family migration. I see a photo of him at the Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, so he has not always taken a direct route! Sullivan begins most of his east-bound trips from Portland, OR, heading up the Columbia River Gorge, so he has some nice essays on the Lewis & Clark expedition. Yes, on one trip the author and his family did go through New Mexico! He has a funny story about visiting the Georgia O'Keefe museum in Santa Fe, then setting out without directions to find Ms. O'Keefe's house. They did eventually find that domicile in Abiquiu, then found Ghost Ranch too. The series of essays describing segments of the "Worst Cross-Country Trip Ever" are pretty funny when you are not the one involved. When the car trailer detached from the rental truck, Robert is lucky it didn't cause a lot of damage and bodily harm! I enjoyed the author's discussion of how the hamburger came to overtake the hot dog as American's road food of choice.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    With a title running an amazing 45 words in length I just had to check this one out. Plus it was about cross country driving (something I love to do) and it sounded humorous. Well suffice it to say if I was on a cross country journey with this guy I would have gone into early onset homicidal rage. With his constant references to Lewis and Clark, whom he even admits were not really all that, I feel for his family being trapped in the car with him. And a travel book with no maps? Oh sorry, if I re With a title running an amazing 45 words in length I just had to check this one out. Plus it was about cross country driving (something I love to do) and it sounded humorous. Well suffice it to say if I was on a cross country journey with this guy I would have gone into early onset homicidal rage. With his constant references to Lewis and Clark, whom he even admits were not really all that, I feel for his family being trapped in the car with him. And a travel book with no maps? Oh sorry, if I remember correctly there was one page with a small map on it. As far as the humor, sorry not a lot here with such an anal retentive personality writing the book. There is some good history of the road and travel in general. Even this portion could have been helped along with some photos. So I say that for me the book was O.K. and also quite a journey. By the time I got to the end I felt as if I had been trapped in the car on a LONG cross country journey with the author. And as stated earlier that would not be such a good thing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cory Hughes

    I was questioning whether to even give this book 3 stars as I was leaning towards a 2 for most of the time I was reading it. ended up deciding on a 2.5 so rounded up. When I bought this book I was really hoping for a 75% personal road-trip experiences/25% historical info ratio; but sadly it was the other way around, and there was just too much obsolete unnecessary historical data (some of which was recounted multiple times). The personal experiences that were relayed in this book were almost alw I was questioning whether to even give this book 3 stars as I was leaning towards a 2 for most of the time I was reading it. ended up deciding on a 2.5 so rounded up. When I bought this book I was really hoping for a 75% personal road-trip experiences/25% historical info ratio; but sadly it was the other way around, and there was just too much obsolete unnecessary historical data (some of which was recounted multiple times). The personal experiences that were relayed in this book were almost always hilarious or at least mostly entertaining, but sadly I got about 2/3 of the way through and almost wanted to quit reading. I don't like not finishing a book once i've invested that much time in it though, so I just ended up skipping any of the historical info and just read the 25% personal stories. If I knew what I know now about this book back when I chose it, I would have placed it back on the shelf.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bookmarks Magazine

    Robert Sullivan, a contributing editor for Vogue, claims to have logged over 90,000 miles of transcontinental travel. Though Cross Country details just one of those jaunts, the experience comes in handy for this "charming memoir-cum-rumination on the great American road trip" (New York Times Book Review). Where his earlier books featured immersive, expansive treatments of narrow subjects (Rats, ***1/2 July/Aug 2004; The Meadowlands), here the rolling odometer opens up a hodgepodge of topics for Robert Sullivan, a contributing editor for Vogue, claims to have logged over 90,000 miles of transcontinental travel. Though Cross Country details just one of those jaunts, the experience comes in handy for this "charming memoir-cum-rumination on the great American road trip" (New York Times Book Review). Where his earlier books featured immersive, expansive treatments of narrow subjects (Rats, ***1/2 July/Aug 2004; The Meadowlands), here the rolling odometer opens up a hodgepodge of topics for this "urban Thoreau" (Boston Globe). A few critics feel there's too much room to mentally roam, but most reviewers proclaim it a trip well worth taking.This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  17. 4 out of 5

    John

    What does a writer with an overactive mind do as he drives a boring Interstate? Well, he recalls previous trips along similar routes. He observes signs that prompt mundane stories about their origin. He recalls historical events that occurred at places along the way. And he does it for the most part with aplomb -- a five-day trip equals a near 400-page tome. Wry wit and profound musings help make his account even half-way interesting. The journey begins in Portland, Ore., and ends in Bellafonte, What does a writer with an overactive mind do as he drives a boring Interstate? Well, he recalls previous trips along similar routes. He observes signs that prompt mundane stories about their origin. He recalls historical events that occurred at places along the way. And he does it for the most part with aplomb -- a five-day trip equals a near 400-page tome. Wry wit and profound musings help make his account even half-way interesting. The journey begins in Portland, Ore., and ends in Bellafonte, Pa. We readers learn about Lewis and Clark, Evel Knievel, copper mines, first cross-country road, Emily Post, Carl Fisher and the Indianapolis 500, fast-food joints, grungy motel, just to mention a few topics. When in the introduction the author states that this trip across the country would be primarily by Interstate, I groaned. But I bore with him and glad I did.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ken-ichi

    This book is a bit like a giant tangle of tangents loosely bound to the author's brain, flapping about madly in the breeze as said brain speeds along the interstate. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if you like history, travel, and/or 6-page diatribes on the variety and origins of disposable coffee cup lids. It just so happens I do, so a fairly enjoyable experience overall, even if it did take me forever to get around to finishing. Whether or not you read this book, you should totally listen This book is a bit like a giant tangle of tangents loosely bound to the author's brain, flapping about madly in the breeze as said brain speeds along the interstate. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if you like history, travel, and/or 6-page diatribes on the variety and origins of disposable coffee cup lids. It just so happens I do, so a fairly enjoyable experience overall, even if it did take me forever to get around to finishing. Whether or not you read this book, you should totally listen to the Fresh Air interview with Robert Sullivan, in which he and his two kids perform one of their car songs, instruments and all, with rather surprising skill. He and his kids are also hilarious.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Geri

    This book is more than just a families journey from the west coast back home to the east coast. Robert Sullivan throws all kinds of history and interesting tidbits at us as we travel along with them. We learn about Lewis & Clark, early automobile travlers, a hisory of roads, road designers and builders, service areas not too be confused with rest stops, motels and how they started, fast food, Jack Kerouac, the Cannonball Run a coast to coast car race, the worst coast to coast trip the author mad This book is more than just a families journey from the west coast back home to the east coast. Robert Sullivan throws all kinds of history and interesting tidbits at us as we travel along with them. We learn about Lewis & Clark, early automobile travlers, a hisory of roads, road designers and builders, service areas not too be confused with rest stops, motels and how they started, fast food, Jack Kerouac, the Cannonball Run a coast to coast car race, the worst coast to coast trip the author made by himself since his family took the train, plus his obsession with Holiday Inn Express and coffee. I enjoyed reading this book. I learned about all kinds of stuff I'd never thought about before.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    I'll admit it took a few dozen pages to get into it, but very shortly I was along for the ride in Robert Sullivan's "Cross Country." This book follows the journey of Sullivan, his wife, and two children driving from Oregon back to their home in New York City, a trip they expected to take 5 days, yet stretched out due to endless distractions, like playing golf one morning instead of hitting the road. Before reaching the end of their travel, the story has taken interesting side-trips into the hist I'll admit it took a few dozen pages to get into it, but very shortly I was along for the ride in Robert Sullivan's "Cross Country." This book follows the journey of Sullivan, his wife, and two children driving from Oregon back to their home in New York City, a trip they expected to take 5 days, yet stretched out due to endless distractions, like playing golf one morning instead of hitting the road. Before reaching the end of their travel, the story has taken interesting side-trips into the history of motel chains, roadside restaurants, and the interstate highway system itself. Many books of this kind focus on the places, landmarks, and scenic aspects of the journey, but Sullivan's tale is set clearly in the confines of the rented Chevrolet Impala.

  21. 4 out of 5

    amanda mello

    This book wasn't what I expected. I was hoping for a family's travel story, maybe something to serve as a sort of guide of what to expect on my move from the East Coast to West Coast. Instead I got a ton of information on Lewis and Clark and the formation of America's interstate highway system. It's not that those things aren't interesting, but it wasn't what I wanted and had I realized that would be the larger focus of the book I wouldn't have read it. It was sort of torturous for me to read pa This book wasn't what I expected. I was hoping for a family's travel story, maybe something to serve as a sort of guide of what to expect on my move from the East Coast to West Coast. Instead I got a ton of information on Lewis and Clark and the formation of America's interstate highway system. It's not that those things aren't interesting, but it wasn't what I wanted and had I realized that would be the larger focus of the book I wouldn't have read it. It was sort of torturous for me to read parts of the book, it just wouldn't end. Also, Sullivan uses a serious amount of commas, more than necessary. Not a great book, but it's got some good parts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This is part memoir about a families cross country trip and part history lessons about all of the things you think about on cross country trips (Lewis & Clark, coffee cups, interstates, hotels, fast food etc.). What I found interesting is how my own interest in the book progressed similarly to a long road trip. I was excited for the challenge early on in the book and found everything interesting. As the story progressed, though, I felt my interest slowly fade. By the end the author’s family is ap This is part memoir about a families cross country trip and part history lessons about all of the things you think about on cross country trips (Lewis & Clark, coffee cups, interstates, hotels, fast food etc.). What I found interesting is how my own interest in the book progressed similarly to a long road trip. I was excited for the challenge early on in the book and found everything interesting. As the story progressed, though, I felt my interest slowly fade. By the end the author’s family is appreciative for the trip, but happy that it’s over, and I have to say that I felt the same about the book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    I have never taken a Cross Country Road trip. In fact, I have only take one trip that could be considered a "road trip" and that was only from South Carolina to Connecticut. I think I pick this book, because I have always wanted to go on a road trip, especially cross country. I loved this book, because Sullivan is exactly like me. He gets excited over Historical landmarks and silly tourist traps. He is pretty much fascinated with America and he engages the reader. I learned a ton of trivia and es I have never taken a Cross Country Road trip. In fact, I have only take one trip that could be considered a "road trip" and that was only from South Carolina to Connecticut. I think I pick this book, because I have always wanted to go on a road trip, especially cross country. I loved this book, because Sullivan is exactly like me. He gets excited over Historical landmarks and silly tourist traps. He is pretty much fascinated with America and he engages the reader. I learned a ton of trivia and essentially interesting, yet useless knowledge from this book. I have a better appreciation of our interstate system. I am eager to plan a road trip!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Another gift book that I really loved! Thanks, Dave and Leela! As you all know, I spent the summers of my early years driving back and forth between Oregon and New York. This book is sort of about a very specific end of summer trip between Portland and New York, but also really a meditation on Lewis and Clark, the history of cross country travel, what such trips tell Americans about themselves, and the evolution of coffee cup lids, among other things. Really, a very enjoyable book, whether you'v Another gift book that I really loved! Thanks, Dave and Leela! As you all know, I spent the summers of my early years driving back and forth between Oregon and New York. This book is sort of about a very specific end of summer trip between Portland and New York, but also really a meditation on Lewis and Clark, the history of cross country travel, what such trips tell Americans about themselves, and the evolution of coffee cup lids, among other things. Really, a very enjoyable book, whether you've made that kind of trip or not.

  25. 5 out of 5

    CB

    Read the first half or so, and became unbearably bored. It's a five day trip across the country and it takes 256 pages. You do the math. He spent more time rambling on about Lewis & Clark than anything else. I think what bothered me the most was that the book didn't live up to the billing. It comes off as a kooky account of 15 years spent driving back in forth across the country. In actuality, it is more of a wandering rumination on the history of cross-country travelers in America, with some fa Read the first half or so, and became unbearably bored. It's a five day trip across the country and it takes 256 pages. You do the math. He spent more time rambling on about Lewis & Clark than anything else. I think what bothered me the most was that the book didn't live up to the billing. It comes off as a kooky account of 15 years spent driving back in forth across the country. In actuality, it is more of a wandering rumination on the history of cross-country travelers in America, with some family anecdotes tossed in for flavor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    A fun travel book with the author recording the thoughts and digressions that run through his head as he pounds out the miles on the interstates. Not one to drive with the singleminded pursuit of distance travelled per day, the author and his family take many side excursions to investigate historical sites. They even pause one day long enough to play golf, although the teenage son seems to be the only one who actually played; the father, mother and sister moseyed around the course making their o A fun travel book with the author recording the thoughts and digressions that run through his head as he pounds out the miles on the interstates. Not one to drive with the singleminded pursuit of distance travelled per day, the author and his family take many side excursions to investigate historical sites. They even pause one day long enough to play golf, although the teenage son seems to be the only one who actually played; the father, mother and sister moseyed around the course making their own observations. Many trips are covered in this one memoir, all seem ultimately interconnected.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joellen

    Author and family take a cross country trip with many sidetracks (the author's observations, not the actual driving route). This had me skimming a lot of the book, I wasn't too interested in the invention of plastic coffee cup covers for example. The thing that really stands out for me, is that even though I skipped a quarter of the book and skimmed much of the rest, I still managed to notice 5 spelling errors! It seems I can't read any books lately without seeing at least one spelling error. Ed Author and family take a cross country trip with many sidetracks (the author's observations, not the actual driving route). This had me skimming a lot of the book, I wasn't too interested in the invention of plastic coffee cup covers for example. The thing that really stands out for me, is that even though I skipped a quarter of the book and skimmed much of the rest, I still managed to notice 5 spelling errors! It seems I can't read any books lately without seeing at least one spelling error. Editors are putting a lot of unwarranted faith in Spellcheck it seems.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Enjoyed the author's retelling of his family's cross-country expeditions. Having been on these trips myself I could easily relate to the joys of new vistas and the difficulties of travel on the nation's highways. I especially enjoyed the side trips in search of Lewis and Clark and other historical tidbits. I would compare this work to some of Bill Bryson's books in that it combines travel, history, and humor. This was my first book by this author and I definitely intend to read some of his oth Enjoyed the author's retelling of his family's cross-country expeditions. Having been on these trips myself I could easily relate to the joys of new vistas and the difficulties of travel on the nation's highways. I especially enjoyed the side trips in search of Lewis and Clark and other historical tidbits. I would compare this work to some of Bill Bryson's books in that it combines travel, history, and humor. This was my first book by this author and I definitely intend to read some of his other books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Another wonderful and informative book by Sullivan! Using accounts of his many crossings of the US as a spring points, Sullivan shares information about the US Turnpike system, Lewis and Clark, Jack Kerouac, the origin of rest-stops, asphalt, and aerodynamic automobiles, along with information about the cross-country "Cannonball Run" races of the 70's, Evel Knievel, motels, Emily Post's racist views of the Indians in New Mexico, and regional jerky companies. I would read anything Sullivan writes Another wonderful and informative book by Sullivan! Using accounts of his many crossings of the US as a spring points, Sullivan shares information about the US Turnpike system, Lewis and Clark, Jack Kerouac, the origin of rest-stops, asphalt, and aerodynamic automobiles, along with information about the cross-country "Cannonball Run" races of the 70's, Evel Knievel, motels, Emily Post's racist views of the Indians in New Mexico, and regional jerky companies. I would read anything Sullivan writes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Skellett

    I have this book 2 stars because there were some interesting parts but I'm not normally that into history. The book details the history of travel across America and how we got to where we are today told through the story of one summer cross country family trip. Honestly, the book is really long and pretty boring in some parts. But I also love the small random facts that stick with you - little things you would have never known otherwise. One of my favorite parts was learning about carriage trave I have this book 2 stars because there were some interesting parts but I'm not normally that into history. The book details the history of travel across America and how we got to where we are today told through the story of one summer cross country family trip. Honestly, the book is really long and pretty boring in some parts. But I also love the small random facts that stick with you - little things you would have never known otherwise. One of my favorite parts was learning about carriage travel across the country.

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