Top positive review
AN AMERICAN JOURNEY -- A WONDERFUL BOOK
Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2013
Fifty years ago an enthusiastic and confident fifteen-year-old boy, inspired by John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, set out on his first long distance bike adventure--riding from the plains of Nebraska to the mountains of Colorado. During the fall of 2012, when Americans were focused on the presidential campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, James Shaw, then sixty-five, rode from Wisconsin to Colorado. An American Journey: Travels with Friday is the story of those two rides, comparing the America of 1962 to the America of 2012. He captured the pulse of America by listening to the heart-felt stories (about politics and everything else) of the dozens and dozens of people he met in small-town America. It makes for fascinating reading following along with James as he tells the stories of the many interesting characters he met who helped him see that maybe America hasn't changed so much after all--at least in the heartland of America. Many of the people he met were hopeful--and many were fearful--but just about everyone was hospitable beyond Shaw's wildest expectations. At one point a man he had been talking to for only a few minutes (his weird-looking bike made most of the introductions) told him that he was more than welcome to spend the night at his house if he was tired of battling Iowa's winds.
It was that kind of trip--a box-of-chocolates kind of journey--never knowing what was going to happen or what interesting character he was going to meet--like Clem, the eighty-some-year old glucosamine dancer he talked with for almost three hours on a main street liar's bench. An American Journey will delight anyone who loves stories about people--not as television presents the folks of middle America, but the way they really are. The Epilogue and the Afterword in which Shaw compares and contrasts three Americas (the America that John Steinbeck wrote about, the America that Shaw found in the heartland, and America as presented in the media) are superb--they should be required reading at every journalism school in America--heck, this whole book should be required reading at every school in America!