15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2003
As the great grandson of Horatio Nelson Jackson and knowing the story intimately, (Used for many a book report in school) I must say what a wonderful job done by Dayton Duncan. To see all the letters and photographs so beautifully displayed initially took my breath away. He has shared the history of the time so well and I also enjoyed his travelling experience with his own father and son. Thank you Dayton. Be sure to watch the Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan PBS movie that is scheduled to air in early October.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2003
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
(Sorry about the title. I just bought a PC, so I have computers on the brain!) This book is the latest effort by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns, a tie-in to their PBS documentary. It takes us back to 1903 and tells the story of the first transcontinental automobile trip, taken by Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson (don't you just love that name?), his mechanic Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. Dr. Jackson was in San Francisco when he decided to attempt the trip- it was really a "spur of the moment" decision, made after a fellow bet him $50 that he couldn't do it. Unfortunately for Dr. Jackson, he needed to come up with a car: he had purchased one just before he made the bet, but it was in the process of being shipped across the country to the doctor's home in Burlington, Vermont. Sewall Crocker suggested the doctor should buy a "Winton,"- because it was a heavy, sturdy vehicle. These were the days before dealerships, so Dr. Jackson had to find one of the few people in San Francisco who owned a Winton. The doctor located someone who was willing to sell his $2,500 Winton for $3,000. The upshot was that four days after making the bet, Jackson and Crocker were on the road. (Bud was purchased shortly after the two men started out.) One of the best features of this book is the pictures. It is difficult for most people today to visualize what driving conditions were like in 1903. There were almost no paved roads- so Jackson and Crocker were, for the most part, following old trails. The numerous pictures give you some idea of the rough conditions. The two men frequently had to remove boulders that were blocking the trails, or get through foot-deep mud, or ford rivers and streams. The two men had to stop frequently to repair blown tires or broken axles. Part of the bet was that the trip would be made within 90 days- at times it looked like "a near run thing" because of all the stopping to make repairs and to wait for spare parts. Adding to the excitement of the trip was the fact that two other teams, sponsored by Packard and Oldsmobile, were trying to make the same trip- although they both started about a month after Jackson and Crocker. Besides the great photos (taken by Dr. Jackson en route), the two authors have included numerous excerpts from the letters that Jackson wrote to his wife, Bertha, during the trip. The doctor's great affection for Bertha comes through in every letter, as does his can-do, optimistic personality (he was fond of comparing himself to Theodore Roosevelt). Duncan and Burns also include lots of newspaper headlines of the time, which are refreshing for their quaint, old-fashioned language (Jackson and Crocker are referred to as "transcontinentalists" and "automobilists") and lack of cynicism. Though brief (because of all the photos, the book can easily be read in one or two sittings), this is a wonderful trip back in time to the days when a person driving a car could still feel like (and indeed, was) a pioneer.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Horatio Nelson Jackson was an intrepid explorer. His exploit should not be ranked, perhaps, with those of Lewis and Clark, or Scott, or Livingstone, but nonetheless, this year we should be celebrating the centennial of his epochal achievement. In 1903, Jackson took the first automobile trip across the United States. The commemoration will include a Public Broadcasting documentary on the trip by Ken Burns, who was persuaded to make the film by his friend Dayton Duncan. The two of them have produced a book to go along with the film, _Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip_ (Knopf), and it is a good-looking and entertaining volume. A hundred years later, anyone can take a car and perform Horatio's Drive in a few days, but in 1903, there were about 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation, and most of those did not link one town to another. Jackson was a real pioneer.
Jackson was a thirty-one-year-old doctor from Burlington, Vermont, and an automobile enthusiast. On 19 May 1903, he was with a bunch of well-to-do men at the University Club in San Francisco. A wager was made; fifty bucks said that no one could drive from San Francisco to New York in less than three months. Jackson accepted immediately; he was on the road four days later. He hired a mechanic, and acquired a mascot, a bulldog named Bud who got his own automobilist goggles. His owner said that Bud was "...the one member of [our] trio who used no profanity on the entire trip." Jackson bought a used Winton for $3,000. It had a two-cylinder, 20 horsepower engine, a chain drive, and top speed of thirty miles an hour. It had no windshield and no roof. Jackson named it the _Vermont_. They bounced along the road, losing important items sometimes, and often they were mired in thick mud. The solution was generally to get a farmer to hitch his horse to the _Vermont_, and then pay the farmer by giving him a ride in the car. Stagecoaches had to bring spare parts. Blacksmiths had to weld parts together. Whenever the car came into a rural town, it caused a sensation. People liked to have their pictures taken as they sat at _Vermont_'s right-sided wheel. It took 63 days, but Jackson made it to New York, and was a sensation.
Jackson went on to become the owner of Burlington's first radio station and a bank president. He got ex-president Teddy Roosevelt to get him into the Army for World War One, even though he was too old to enlist. But he loved telling his story about his great drive as the proudest of his accomplishments. In 1944, he donated the _Vermont_ to the Smithsonian, where it will be forever on display, gleaming without a speck of the dust and mud that it picked up in its historic 6,000 mile journey. Bud's goggles were donated, too. For better or worse, we can drive all over our nation now, with little of the trouble Jackson went through, and with little of the adventure or need for his sort of pluck. _Horatio's Drive_ in pictures and words brings back a time when automobiles were novelties enthusiastically boosted by eccentrics, and a forgotten little epic of American adventure.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2005
This is a brief account of the first cross country automobile trip, sprinkled with photographs taken by the "automobilist" as he traversed the nation's dirt roads just after the turn of the last century. Horation Nelson Jackson bet someone $50 in a club in San Francisco that he could cross the country in an automobile he had just bought, and do it in less than 90 days. He spent over $8,000 winning his bet (though he never collected the money).
The car (something called a Winton) had numerous breakdowns. After each one, Jackson would write his wife and advise her that "the worst is over now" after which the car would inevitably break down again. Jackson and his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, spent endless days waiting for parts and jury-rigging parts for the car. After Jackson and Crocker left San Francisco, two other cars, each with its own pair of intrepid motorists, left there also, all three headed to New York City. In spite of a number of hindrances, Jackson's Winton beat out the Packard and the Oldsmobile. Jackson even picked out a dog, named Bud, who wore goggles and rode in the front seat for most of the adventure.
This is a rather short book. It took me perhaps an hour and a half to read. It's full of illustrations and has a map showing the route Jackson took. It's also very interesting, covering a part of American history that I imagine many people had never heard before. I recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2003
The sprint of American adventure and our love affair with the automobile are captured by Dayton Duncan's in his new book, "Horatio's Drive." Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson sets off in 1903 from San Francisco in a 20-horsepower Winton touring car hoping to become the first person to cross the United States in the new-fangled "horseless carriage."
Duncan retraces Horatio Nelson Jackson's journey from San Francisco to New York, which personifies the individualistic spirit that Americans admire most. Duncan, himself spent 10 years, while on family vacations, retracing Jackson's momentous journey. The details are presented very well and so vivid that it allows you to ride along. You will meet "Bud" and discover a new meaning for the term "optimistic."
If you enjoy history and love a good story, this book has everything. Good Read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not having seen the DVD (but keen to do so now!) I can say that this treatment of the story of the first men to drive coast-to-coast is a good one. Jackson and Crocker set off from California to New York in 1903 in an auto which only vaguely resembles the sophisticated machines of today and across a nation which depended on railroads for serious travel. Roads in most of the country were rarely, if ever maintained and some were still like the old wagon trails pioneers traveled on only a few decades before. It was an adventure and one which the two men (and their dog Bud) rose to the challenge, manhandling their machine through rough patches and mud, struggling to find gasoline where no such infrastructure existed and crossing America few would ever see. Well worth a read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2004
This was a good nonfiction book that read like a journal or a novel. It was about the first transcontinental automobile drive in America: all the obstacles that the drivers had to overcome, what the conditions were like, and how people reacted to seeing this car. Horatio Jackson, accompanied by Sewall Crocker, left San Francisco in 1903 in an attempt to be the first man to ever traverse the U.S. from coast to coast in an automobile (and to win a bet). Jackson funded the trip by himself. They went over the Rocky Mountains, across the plains of the Midwest and all the way to New York City in 63 days. This book was an easy read, but I found it interesting and even learned something. I liked all the excerpts from Horatio Jackson's letters and the excerpts from the newspapers of the towns that he drove through. It also had great pictures and lots of them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2003
Format: Audio Cassette
The authors narrate this own companion to the PBS documentary about the first 1903 automobile trip across the US. There were only 150 miles of paved roads in those days - but Horatio Jackson bet fifty dollars that he could drive his 20-horsepower auto from San Francisco to New York City - and his endeavor comes to life in this vivid audio memoir.
on November 4, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Amazing document about a time in American history when there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire country. In 1903, an adenturous 31 year old Doctor from Vermont, now retired and living happily with his weathy young wife (on her funds), decided he'd attempt to be the first to man cross the continent via the latest technological gadget: the automobile. Being a non-mechanic, he hired an equally spirited 21 year old former bicycle racer who had been working as a mechanic in a gasoline-engine factory in California to accompany him. Most roads were little more than muddy wagon paths, and when those stopped the travellers could only follow along railroad tracks or trust in their sense of direction as they set out across the vast plains and desert. Nevertheless, they made the trek successfully.Equally amazing, his beloved wife condoned his folly and waited anxiously at home. They wrote letters to each other regularly, and these (preserved) letters were the author's primary source of information about his daily successes and frustrations along his cross-country 'expedition'.This book, a companion to the PBS documentary film (available on DVD) is filled with rare vintage photos. Few would attempt such a journey today, even with modern GPS equipped 4x4 vehicles, and the book and DVD are both splendid inspirations for anyone who loves to share in the triumphs of those few individuals who would fearlessly challenge what has never been done simply because they believe they can succeed.I only wish there had been more more detailed excerpts from the original correspondences included in this book. Still, a splendid addition to your library... and your education!
on July 23, 2014
Exciting story of high adventure on the open road, when they could find a road. Men, off living life dangerously. The feelings of both success and failure come strong and quick in this story. My wife, Cricket, just said, "Tell them I love the ugly bulldog Bud." What is all this emotion about an ugly, goggled bulldog? Anyone can see Horatio, the main character, loved not only the challenge of his adventure but loved his darling wife "Swipes."
The DVD is fast moving high impact bump by bump, but the book is enjoyed by savoring the story. Fascinating images in both. Wish we could have been there to help them push their horseless carriage up the hills and out of the mud and streams. Automobiles WERE wonderful adventure. Yea! for the individual.
I spent 40 years as a mechanical designer. These antique cars are mechanical wonders.
Of the fifty or so books and dvds on antique automobiles I have bought from Amazon, this story stirs the strongest emotions. Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend, simply to enjoy the characters and story.
See DVD of this book Horatio's Drive - America's First Road Trip
Hope this is helpful to you.