Road books represent one of the richest and most satisfying genres of literature. Beginning with Homer’s Odyssey, and the Apollonius’ Voyage of the Argonauts, or the Book of Exodus for that matter, road stories have both delighted audiences throughout western civilization, and also served as a metaphor for life’s less physical journeys. In American literature Kerouac’s On the Road is pre-eminent, unless you include Mark Twain’s masterpiece Huckleberry Finn and Melville’s epic Moby Dick. More recently, Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, and Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have made significant contributions to the genre.
Award-winning historian, author, and public humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson introduces the themes and structures of the literature of the road, examines passages from several road classics, and explores the theme of restlessness in American history. He has traveled the Lewis and Clark Trail by plane (including an F-16 jet), by canoe, and by automobile, and he twice hiked the entire length of the Little Missouri River between Devils Tower and central North Dakota.
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