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Mak, Geert, In America: Travels with John Steinbeck, translated by Liz Waters (London: Harvill Secker, 2014).

In 1960 John Steinbeck and his dog Charley set out in their green pickup truck to rediscover the soul of America, visiting small towns and cities from New York to New Orleans. As Steinbeck said to a friend: ‘I must see how the country looks and smells and sounds.’ The trip became Travels With Charley, one of his best-loved books.

Half a century on, Geert Mak sets off from Steinbeck’s home with his wife and his sat-nav Sandy. Mile after mile, as he retraces Steinbeck’s footsteps through the potato fields of Maine to the endless prairies of the Midwest, sits down to eat with farmers, workers, fishermen and teachers, stumbles across glistening suburbs and boarded-up stores, he searches for the roots of America and what remains of the world Steinbeck describes.

Part biography, part cultural history, In America asks how America has changed in the last fifty years; what’s happened to Main Street, USA, and the American dream; and what do we, Europe and America, have in common in the twenty-first century?


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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