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Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark Hardcover – June 27, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582345279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582345277
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sullivan (Rats; The Meadowlands) offers a boisterous, busily researched composite of trips he and his family have taken across the American continent. Sullivan claims he's gone from the West to East Coast and back about 27 times over the years, and on this particular summer sojourn, the vacationing family—comprising husband, wife and two kids, one a teenager—blast from Oregon back to their home in Brooklyn, N.Y., over five days. They first garner a personalized TripTik from AAA, which plots the route and provides essential information, then set out in a rented Impala. The author is adamant about stopping at the Columbia River Gorge to offer an extended digression on the Lewis and Clark expedition; the family then penetrates the intractable Bitterroot Range and manages to make time for Western highlights such as the Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda, Mont., before sailing through Woody Guthrie country; Jack Kerouac's gas station in Longmont, Colo.; and speedily over the George Washington Bridge. The coffee-addled navigator engages in entertaining discourses on the standardized highway system, Emily Post and the provenance of the convenience-store coffee lid, among other subjects. His narrative is fun and chatty, with an emphasis squarely on the West. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From 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 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.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


More About the Author

Robert Sullivan is the author of Rats, The Meadowlands, A Whale Hunt, How Not To Get Rich; Or Why Being Bad Off Isn't So Bad, Cross Country, The Thoreau You Don't Know, and most recently My American Revolution. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, A Public Space, Runner's World, Condé Nast Traveler, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Independent of London, The London Times and Vogue. He was born in Manhattan and now lives in Brooklyn, after living for many years in Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

He has historically appropriate fiddle music ready on CDs.
R. Hardy
It's as if he felt a compulsion to record all of his thoughts regardless of how inane they were or how meaningless they would be to the reader.
Dean A. Hoffman
I'm sure there were many other mistakes I could have caught if I had actually finished the book.
Debra Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You can sometimes tell a lot more about a book from its subtitle than its title. This is surely the case with _Cross Country: Fifteen Years and Ninety Thousand Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with 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_ (Bloomsbury) by Robert Sullivan. You can view the sample of the topics in the book on display in the subtitle, but more important, you get an idea that Sullivan is a writer who cannot resist cramming more in. This was true in his last book, _Rats_, an examination of a rat colony in New York City, and is even more true in this big and desultory rumination on the great American road trip. Sullivan reports that when in the car, "I am - like a tour director nobody paid for, like a tour guide nobody can stop, like a human roadside plaque - going on and on... I wish I could control myself; my explications worry me to some extent." His family, he reflects, is a captive audience, but he invites the reader to remember that the book can be put down for a few minutes or possibly forever. Many will find this expansive book disorderly and self-indulgent, but I found it hard to put down, and was sorry when the long trip was all done. Sullivan is an engaging, informative, and funny writer, and in a book that is about wandering, he never really wanders off subject, but he does pull in facts and history about an astonishing range of topics, from roadside sculptures to the Cannonball Run.

Sullivan has driven across the country more than two dozen times, since he has contacts on both coasts.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on September 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cross Country is about straight driving on America's interstates. The book, however, is more like a Sunday afternoon ramble over country lanes with many detours and unplanned stops.

Robert Sullivan is a cross-country veteran, having made numerous trips from coast to coast in pursuit of jobs, weddings and vacations. The central thread of this book is his latest cross country trip back from a west-coast family wedding to home in New York City. Along the way, Sullivan gets sidetracked many times, delving into past trips, the "cross country trip from hell," the creation of the interstate system, rest stops, towel dispensers in rest stops, rest stop coffee, rest stop food, road side art and most enduringly, Lewis and Clark related stops in the North and Upper Western parts of his journey (the author has an abiding fascination with the first US cross-country explorers).

At its best, Cross Country is a fascinating collection of trivia and stories behind the interstate system. At its worst, it's like watching somebody else's home movies. Fortunately, the home movie aspect is less than the fascinating. I enjoyed the in-depth telling of the creation of the interstate road network, and Sullivan has a collection of interesting factoids about America's roads, crash and safety statistics and the personalities behind the creation of America's national road system. He also highlights Lewis and Clark's journey whenever the road crosses their trail. He delves into the story of incredibly mundane aspects of road travel, like the development and variety of coffee lids and the pros and cons of competing bathroom towel dispenser designs. (It really is more interesting than it sounds - he writes these well.)

Interspersed with these vignettes is the family trip.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. morrison on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If the author of this book left out the words LEWIS AND CLARK tbis book would have been 200 pages shorter. I nearly put this book down in the beginning because of this monotony but glad I didn't because it became an enjoyable read with lots of interesting facts and trivia about roads, motels, people and early days of travel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mary Jackson on September 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I heard the author on NPR and thought the book sounded promising. I expected to discover a wonderful family experience of four people locked for days in a car; I really wanted to know these people. I expected an enjoyable trip. Instead, Mr. Sullivan gave me a synopsis of every book he'd read about Lewis and Clark, and more trivia than I wanted to know. This author even turned a brother/sister backseat conversation about Barbie into a mindboggling trivia fact sheet. Mr. Sullivan, I wanted to know you and your family; instead, I'm afraid I learned only about you. Frankly, on a road trip, you're a bore.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dean A. Hoffman on September 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to like this book---I really did. In fact, I wanted to like it so much that I kept plodding all the way to the end despite the fact that I found it boring most of the time. I love books about cross-country travel, but this one had so much of what I considered just "padding" to fill pages. There were a few gems in the book, but not enough for me to recommend it to someone. It's as if he felt a compulsion to record all of his thoughts regardless of how inane they were or how meaningless they would be to the reader. The book represents a great concept poorly executed.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marla on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This guy is an excellent writer. He could write about rats and it would be interesting. Wait, he DID write about rats and it was interesting. "Cross Country" is about Sullivan, like most of his books, but he somehow dodges the navel-gazing traps of so many so-called memoirists out there.
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