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Lost in America: A Dead-End Journey Hardcover – August 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061841358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061841354
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Defiant... this is an exploration of our nation at its most raw and browbeaten." (The Daily Beast)

"Buzzell's voice--tough, jaded, sardonic... speaks for a generation unmoored by economic stagnation and diminishing opportunity." (Columbia Journalism Review)

"A gift for seeing the seamier side of life as an adventure in a lower key... Buzzell is a useful mix of scholar and tramp, serving as an interesting travel guide...  a shrewd observer of some things the rest of us would otherwise miss." (Malibu Magazine)

"In a voice that is blunt, sarcastic and viscerally honest... searching for what was once the American dream... Buzzell writes with a jolting, unique voice." (The Providence Journal)

“A witty, fearless, sharp-eyed chronicler of America in decline. Buzzell exhibits a Henry Miller-like talent for the memorable character sketch.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

A stunning portrait of modern America by Colby Buzzell, the critically acclaimed author of My War: Killing Time in Iraq. Recounting his five-month journey through the country, from its thriving coastlines to its rust-belt wrecks, Buzzell reveals a paradoxical landscape of American dreams both achieved and broken, manifest destinies claimed and refuted, and community ties pulled apart and patched together. In the tradition of John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, Buzzell's Lost in America uncovers the stark realities of our national character even as it explores the deepest questions of identity, unity, and fatherhood.

More About the Author

Colby Buzzell is the author of My War: Killing Time in Iraq and served as an infantryman in the United States Army during the Iraq War. Assigned to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team in 2003, Buzzell blogged from the front lines of Iraq as a replacement for his habitual journaling back in the states. In 2004 Buzzell was profiled in Esquire's "Best and Brightest" issue and has since contributed frequently to the magazine. The Washington Post referred to his article "Digging a Hole All the Way to America" as "A Tour de Force Travelogue," and his article "Down & Out In Fresno and San Francisco" was selected for The Best American Travel Writing 2010. His work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Penthouse, Time.com and on This American Life. He currently lives in San Francisco, California.

Author website: colbybuzzell.com

My War: Killing Time In Iraq

"My War by Colby Buzzell is nothing less than the soul of an extremely interesting human being at war on our behalf in Iraq."
- Kurt Vonnegut

"I remember reading Colby's journal entries on the internet when he was filing them from Iraq. I was amazed at how heavy the material was but what really knocked me out was how sharp and vividly intense his writing was. My War is the real deal reportage from the ground. There's no way any reporter could have brought this back. If you care about our brave soldiers in the fray and want to get an insight into what it's really like out there, My War is essential reading."
- Henry Rollins

"Endlessly surprising...delightfully profane... an unfiltered, often ferocious expression of his boots-on-the-ground point-of-view of the Iraq war."
- Arianna Huffington

"If, in 20 years time, people want to know what it was like to fight in Iraq, they can pick up 'My War' and find out. It tells what it's like to be a grunt fighting in the Sunni Triangle - with more power and authority than the best 'embedded reporter' could manage. It is something of a triumph for blogs over traditional media."
- Nick Cohen

"My War is breathtaking. His self-awareness is total and unromantic, his instinct for what matters unrelenting, his writing lyrical, heartbreaking, hilarious, and essential. We can read a thousand dispatches from Iraq, but we will never know the war-or ourselves-like we will after reading My War."
-Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers

"Incredible accounts of combat from a grunt's-eye-view."
-Rolling Stone Magazine

"The most extraordinary writing yet produced by a soldier of the Iraq war"
-Esquire Magazine

"My War is perhaps the finest and most genuine writing to come so far out of the war in Iraq, uncompromising in both its criticism and its praise, willing to admit the ugliness of violence and the exhilaration that it breeds."
-War, Literature & the Arts Journal

"Buzzell's account of military life as a grunt in Mosul, My War: Killing Time In Iraq, is like no war diary written before. Blunt, brutal, foul-mouthed, and immediate.
-The Times UK

"In gutsy, sometimes profane prose, he takes you on a soldier's-eye view of the front lines of the war."
-Newsweek

"Remarkably blunt, honest and often hilarious."
-Chicago Sun-Times

"Striking....Buzzell tells the story of his year in Iraq with a steeliness that's both sincere and chilling."
-People Magazine

"Profound, profane....told with irresistible gallows humor and anger devoid of self-consciousness. Give[s] us a much deeper understanding of the war."
-Atlanta Journal Constitution

"My War" is the story of a young grunt trying to survive boredom and death in a war zone...What you soon realize about this stranger at the bar, Colby Buzzell, is that he can knock you off your barstool at a moment's notice with soul-jarring observations and darkly comedic insights into what it really means to be fighting and idling in this war."
-L.A. Times Magazine

"Funny, often surreal "What the @!%# am I doing here?" account of military life...(Grade: A-)"
-Entertainment Weekly

"Raw, sardonic, and thrashingly honest, My War is a stellar grunt's-eye view of the Iraq war."
-Mens Journal

"Buzzell's My War, written in a style reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson and Allen Ginsberg, is fueled by an antiauthority, punk-rock attitude."
-Poets and Writers magazine

"Military recruiters won't be handing My War to prospective soldiers, who would do well to read one grunt's account of what they could be getting into."
-USA Today

"Several other books have come out during the war... What makes "My War" stand out is the author. The way in which a punk-rock skateboarder navigated the Army gives him a compelling voice and take on the Iraq war."
-Denver Post

"My War: Killing Time in Iraq... the most charming and funny of the memoirists"
-New York Magazine

"The war in Iraq may be far from over, but it has already produced a small crop of books by soldiers who fought in it... Colby Buzzell is perhaps the best storyteller, and without a doubt the funniest."
-BBC News

"My War is all about immediacy, and it's an invaluable reference to the current war"
-Seattle Weekly

"Sensational book... Buzzell is in the habit of telling it like it is, a skill he uses to great effect in this tragi-comic account of 'Joe' (Infantrymen) life in Iraq... In My War, he records his experiences with a mixture of irreverence and awe, like a latter day Holden Caufield who suddenly finds himself behind enemey lines"
-The Big Issue (U.K.)

"Provid[es] more truth than CNN or the army could or would."
-Library Journal

"Captivating memoir about the year [Buzzell] spent serving as an army 'trigger puller' in Iraq....though the combat scenes are exciting, this book is actually more engrossing as a portrait of the day-to-day life of a young American soldier."
-Publishers Weekly

"Reminiscent of Michael Herr's Dispatches."
-Wall Street Journal

"While deployed as an Army machine gunner in Iraq, the iconoclastic Buzzell kept an anonymous blog that chronicled his wartime experiences. His cynical but captivating memoir expands on those viscerally frank (and sometimes profane) postings."
-Parade Magazine

"[A] book that stands quite tall in the literature of that conflict to date."
-Booklist

"This is a book you NEED to read."
-AMP Magazine

"A brilliant read."
-Business Standard

"Gripping memoir... My War proves that the best blogs really can become the best books."
-E! Online

"My War: Killing Time in Iraq is a fresh and unique memoir, bridging the gap between the professional soldiers and the disillusioned... Colby Buzzell has written one of the strongest and most creatively constructed memoirs to date... My War is still one of the best memoirs written about the Iraq War... It is recommended to junior officers and NCOs who want to understand the new type of soldiers they are leading into combat..."
-National Museum U.S. Army Book Reviews

"If military recruitment is down now, wait till the kids read this book."
-Kirkus Reviews



Lost In America: A Dead End Journey


"Defiant... this is an exploration of our nation at its most raw and browbeaten." -The Daily Beast

"Buzzell's voice--tough, jaded, sardonic... speaks for a generation unmoored by economic stagnation and diminishing opportunity." -Columbia Journalism Review

"A gift for seeing the seamier side of life as an adventure in a lower key... Buzzell is a useful mix of scholar and tramp, serving as an interesting travel guide... a shrewd observer of some things the rest of us would otherwise miss." -Malibu Magazine

"In a voice that is blunt, sarcastic and viscerally honest... searching for what was once the American dream... Buzzell writes with a jolting, unique voice." -The Providence Journal

"A witty, fearless, sharp-eyed chronicler of America in decline. Buzzell exhibits a Henry Miller-like talent for the memorable character sketch." -Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

He really seems to not care about anyone but himself and by the end of the book I really didn't like him at all.
P. Cannon
This type of travel writing is either pulled off by an amazing author or an amazing experience, unfortunately Lost in America offers us neither.
Forkknifespoon
Buzzell has a sense of humour but it only gets to shine through in little bits and the rest of the book leaves me just feeling melancholy.
M. Reynard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Kim on August 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First off I must confess that I have never read On The Road, nor do I feel like I need to in order to appreciate Lost in America. I took Buzzell's latest book in as a stand-alone offering with no comparisons. The plot meanders and then lingers in Detroit where Buzzell discovers a place with a sense of loss and decay that mirrors the loss and decay in his own psyche. The Army, the Iraq war, his relationship with is mother, Detroit; all things that are simultaneously rough, beautiful, strong and now lost. As a half Korean, his experiences growing up with a Korean parent gave me a certain esoteric mirth; the bowl haircut he received with an actual cereal bowl, the sense of alienation between an immigrant parent and their first generation American offspring. The writing is simple and intelligent and it compliments the subject matter. The gritty but ever-present underside of America that we try to sweep under the rug is exposed honestly and with compassion and understanding as well as a certain muted outrage that also mirrors the bitter acceptance of the characters he meets. A funny, sad but ultimately entertaining read.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By cheryl1213 on September 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love that reading for Harper let's me explore outside my usual fiction rules. I don't read a ton of memoirs but was very intrigued by Colby Buzzell's Lost in America: A Dead-End Journey. The Iraq war vet who had recently lost his mother and had his first child (the former gets a lot more discussion in the text), sets out with the instruction to live a modern-day On The Road. With a few interruptions, he travels in an old car, focusing on towns tourists tend to skip, back-roads, and less-than-savory motels. He has a clear interest in the underbelly world...by that, I mean more the very working-class, simple folks that people often overlook (and who have been hit hard by the economy). Usually, he mentions but doesn't encounter a heavy-duty criminal element.

This was a quick read. And I enjoyed it at times. I usually note I need to find characters interesting, but not necessarily likeable. Maybe this just doesn't translate for memoirs because not being a fan of the author, who plows through too much liquor and is ignoring the fact that he has a wife and son, really impacts me in this case. I'd normally feel reticent to say that...I'm guilt-prone and don't want to insult...but I don't think Buzzell would care. I also think he tends to gloss over the fact that he ISN'T just one of the "trying to make ends meet" types he pals around with...he has a book deal, an existing writing career, and is able to fly away a couple times during the journey (with really no note about how incongruous this is to his "I'm one of them" style).

It is an easy read and part of me did have fun with it, but I'm stuck at 3 stars for the taste it left behind.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Wannabee VINE VOICE on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Solid 4 Stars. Later in the book I felt like it started lagging a little bit, more and more of the same stuff, therefore the 4 Stars rating. Lost in America is an enjoyable account from what appears to be an incisive young writer who certainly possesses the gift of gap. In a way is a sad account of a segment of people in america, particularly those who go from town to town and seek day jobs and stay at inexpensive places to make do. I was impressed with this writer subtle humor sometimes and his observations are so current and accurate they are worth admiring. As he travels he is keeping kind of a log of his journey which include different people, places and jobs. I found the book intelligent, quite desolate at times, specially when he describes Detroit, Michigan after the many layovers. Part of the city abandoned, projects halted in mid term to never start again. Characters along the way are a perfect example of the spirit of the people of this great country, however bleak at times the narratives takes. The racial aspect is also covered to some extent and I was delightfully surprised when I learned the writer is half Korean and loved some of the stories concerning his world. Moments of sadness are to be found, or was it my delicate emotional state of mind these days, but some parts of the book got me a little shook up. But it is the optimism, the enthusiast approach to the book's theme that impressed me the most about this author. Certainly one to look for in all future works. Real, incisive to the point of no return, I found the book quite enjoyable but as I pointed out above a certain section became somewhat more tedious to enjoy. Perhaps due to the fact that he stayed in that particular place the longest?
Mr. Colby Buzzell is the real deal and should be noted.
Read more ›
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gross VINE VOICE on October 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was really looking forward to love Lost in America. Any book that celebrates the dark side of America, the shady and decrepitude inner core of this flashy empire does nothing but motivate me to open this one and get lost in its desolation. But the book has one decisive problem; its author. He spends far too much time in a kind of phony sounding self-effacing grandiosity. He speaks so grandly of the callous disregard in which he treats his family and especially his wife, that I just couldn't get past my contempt for him personally. I made every attempt to plunge forward only to get caught up again in my visceral dislike for its author. I strongly do not recommend this book. There has to be far more engaging and less personally egocentric stories about traveling in declining America than "Lost in America". Frankly, this book might have really succeeded had it better editing of the author's need to sound cool and callous.
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