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The Longest Road

Cover of The Longest Road

The Longest Road

Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean
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September 1996 found Philip Caputo on Barter Island, a wind-scoured rock in the Beaufort Sea populated by two hundred Inupiat and a handful of whites. As he gazed upon an American flag above the only school for a hundred and fifty miles, he marveled that the children in that school pledged allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants on Key West, almost six thousand miles away. Awed by America's vastness and diversity and filled with a renewed appreciation for its cohesiveness, an idea began to form. With enough time, gas money, and nerve he could drive from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of the United States that is reachable by road, talking to people as he went and trying to better understand what holds our great country together.

Cicada-like, the idea went dormant, not to be reawakened for fourteen years. In 2011, America was struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Depression and was more divided than it had been in living memory. Caputo, who had just turned seventy, his wife, and their two English setters took off in a truck hauling an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida, en route via back roads and state routes to Deadhorse, Alaska. The journey took four months and covered seventeen thousand miles, during which Caputo interviewed more than eighty Americans from all walks of life to get a picture of what their lives and the life of the nation are really about in the twenty-first century.

September 1996 found Philip Caputo on Barter Island, a wind-scoured rock in the Beaufort Sea populated by two hundred Inupiat and a handful of whites. As he gazed upon an American flag above the only school for a hundred and fifty miles, he marveled that the children in that school pledged allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants on Key West, almost six thousand miles away. Awed by America's vastness and diversity and filled with a renewed appreciation for its cohesiveness, an idea began to form. With enough time, gas money, and nerve he could drive from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of the United States that is reachable by road, talking to people as he went and trying to better understand what holds our great country together.

Cicada-like, the idea went dormant, not to be reawakened for fourteen years. In 2011, America was struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Depression and was more divided than it had been in living memory. Caputo, who had just turned seventy, his wife, and their two English setters took off in a truck hauling an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida, en route via back roads and state routes to Deadhorse, Alaska. The journey took four months and covered seventeen thousand miles, during which Caputo interviewed more than eighty Americans from all walks of life to get a picture of what their lives and the life of the nation are really about in the twenty-first century.

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About the Author-
  • PHILIP CAPUTO is a former journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner who has written numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Rumor of War, one of the most highly praised books of the twentieth century, which is widely read in colleges throughout the country. He divides his time between Norfolk, Connecticut and Patagonia, Arizona.

Reviews-
  • Booklist[HC starred review]

    Pithily capturing . . . characters and opinions about the state of America, Caputo snares . . . devotees of a classic American theme, the road trip.

  • Publishers Weekly

    Caputo . . . provides ample historical background to the trip's sites and a nice dose of humor. Curious and genuine, he weaves these elements together to produce a continental tale that is always engaging and frequently reassuring.

  • Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way

    Pure joy. The best thing to come along since Blue Highways and Travels with Charley.

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    HighBridge Company
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The Longest Road
The Longest Road
Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean
Philip Caputo
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