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The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America [Kindle Edition]

Mike McIntyre
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (458 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

A Wall Street Journal bestseller.
"Could you survive a cross-country trip relying only on the kindness of strangers? Well, Mike McIntyre did. He put our country to the test, and what he found out sure surprised me."--Oprah Winfrey

Stuck in a job he no longer found fulfilling, journalist Mike McIntyre felt his life was quickly passing him by. So one day he hit the road to trek from one end of the country to the other with little more than the clothes on his back and without a single penny in his pocket.
Through his travels, he found varying degrees of kindness in strangers from all walks of life--and discovered more about people and values and life on the road in America than he'd ever thought possible.
The gifts of food and shelter he received along the way were outweighed only by the touching gifts of the heart--the willingness of many he met to welcome a lonely stranger into their homes...and the discovery that sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.
"An incredible journey."--CBS News
"A superb writer."--Los Angeles Times


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A road-trip and self-discovery book with a difference: McIntyre hitchhiked across America with no money, accepting only the "kindness of strangers"--rides, food, shelter, and the occasional beer. This book grew on me with every page, just as McIntyre's feelings for the ordinary people he met grew with every mile. Few books I've read since Studs Terkel's Hard Times (a classic oral history about the Great Depression) so effectively captured the day-to-day lives of typical Middle Americans, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Highly Recommended.

From Publishers Weekly

McIntyre decided to confront his fears and the shaky path his life was taking by hitchhiking from San Francisco to Cape Fear, N.C. Along the way, he hoped to find some kindness in the soul of America and vowed to accept no money, only food, shelter and friendship. Rather like William Least-Heat Moon's Blue Highways or Andrei Codrescu's Road Scholar, The Kindness of Strangers is the story of those who help and hinder his journey: the vast array of kind souls and weirdoes, as well as Americana at its best and worst. He stays a night with Edie, who cares for her brain-damaged granddaughter yet happily takes him in. A woman with a tear-shaped tattoo teaches him to feel at home in nature, not to fear the dark woods where he sometimes sleeps. He finds a sense of family on a ranch in South Dakota and meets a couple who give him a tent, although it is one of their most valuable possessions. Not everyone along the way is kind and generous, and there are plenty of strangers with dark ulterior motives. Exhausted and road-weary, he finally arrives in Cape Fear and realizes that it is a misnomer: "The name is as misplaced as my own fears. I see now that I have always been afraid of the wrong things. My great shame is not my fear of death, but my fear of life." McIntyre writes eloquently and rekindles optimism in America's character.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1313 KB
  • Print Length: 261 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1495213765
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Kite Press (August 27, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004183KI6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,756 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up lifting must read September 19, 2001
Format:Paperback
I have purchased numerous copies of this book to give to friends. After recently rediscovering book and reading for 5th time I was checking amazon to see if Mike McIntyre has any other titles. I felt compeled to write a review. In light of the recent World Trade center attack I really need something that confirmed my belief that good people are all around us. It really lifted me out of my gloom. A++++
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kindness of Strangers... June 12, 2000
Format:Paperback
This book reminds me a little of Scott Savage's book (A Plain Life: Walking My Belief), although the author is not a Quaker. Reading one chapter in another book was enough to draw me to this title.
At 37, Mike McIntyre was an established journalist, with a good job in San Francisco, a girlfriend, a nice apartment. His job enabled him to travel all over the world, but he felt moved to leave it all behind, and travel by the grace of others from the West Coast to Cape Fear, North Carolina. He feels he's a coward, that he's afraid to take a gamble with anything...neither of these being words that describe Quakers. But his feeling that an inner voice is telling him to do this, and his conviction to go ahead despite less than encouraging words from his family ("you'll get raped," his own grandmother tells him) are, to me, a spiritual calling. He says he will not take money, not even if he finds it on the road in front of him. He sets out, wary but determined to go. Like Scott Savage's need to turn over his already expired driver's license, McIntrye has picked his destination as a symbolic gesture. "If I make it to Cape Hope," he says, "it will be as a different man from the one who starts the journey. I am afraid."
Right out the door, he finds himself a fill-in guest house on a talk show ("Life in the Country") on a local radio station. He isn't alone as a guest - his new partner is a tall, blond with red lipstick and high heels, a firefighter named Diana, who used to be named Dennis. The book is full of strange encounters, and is an interesting read, to put it mildly.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel books don't come any better November 23, 1999
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was in a trance from page one right through the epilogue. The author had the guts to do what so many of us are terrified of doing--to leave our lives for a couple of months, to step away and challenge our biggest fears. He describes his experience in a straightforward, no-punches-pulled manner that puts the reader right into his shoes. The reader sees "the real America"--a believable America, sees Life sliced right open, sees himself or herself vicariously exposed. The book shows heart, humor, whimsy, commitment, strength, vulnerability. A moving tale. A gift. I'd give it six stars if I could.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Exciting, But Entertaining April 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
McIntyre sets out from California to see if he can get all the way across the country without touching money, relying only on average Americans for shelter and food. It's interesting to note that this was not just a journey of self-discovery; the event was undertaken with the book in mind, which I felt detracted a bit from the actual experience.

If this book can boast anything it is the clear and unadorned view of America from the road. There are no car chases, no big reveals, and no hidden agendas. McIntyre didn't dress it up with rhetoric, religious or political, he acted as the journalist that he is and reported what he saw; average people living their lives who took a few minutes or hours to help another person.

Funny at times and heartbreaking at others, this was a well written and fascinating story.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing glimpse of American spirit November 24, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
in light of recent events this book shed a ray of light on the dimming light of humanity in our world. A man leaves home with only identification and hitch hikes across the country relying only on the "kindness of strangers." Although he clearly points out that were he not male and caucasion the outcome could have been much different, the story is still heart warming. I have recommended this to sooo many friends and all have thanked me profusely for helping them search their hearts and souls with out being battered with questions of faith.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glued to this book March 16, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I myself couldnt put it down I love to travel the USA & found it very interesting. Not only did he encounter kindness he ran into some not so nice encounters too. Sadly ignorance still exsists in this day & time. I read this in 2 day's, I loved this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Feel Good Book January 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put this book down and finished it in one day. It is the most uplifing, phenominal book I have ever read. I'm only sorry that it's over. I learned so much about myself from reading this book. I am so grateful to Mike for having the courage to bare his soul and relate the experiences of his journey. This book has renewed my faith in the human race. All you see and hear is bad news today. I feel that I've lived through the best years of America and hold much fear for my children's futures. After reading this book I know, even 20 years later, there is more good than bad out there. I feel like I've taken a spiritual journey today. This book will always be a part of me now, the people in it and the author have really touched me. Don't pass this one up - you'll miss out on something really beautiful.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindness of Strangers July 9, 2012
By Jex
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I picked up this book as a freebie off Amazon.

When I started reading this book I really didn't know what to expect. Free books always seem to be so hit or miss. The premise of the book reminded me a lot of [book:Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America|1869], a social experiment book that I absolutely loved. I think I may have hyped myself on the book too much because I had read Nickel and Dimed previously.

The book follows a young journalist as he packs up his things and heads across the country without a penny on him. No credit card, no money, no food. He crosses the country by getting rides, food, and shelter from strangers and never accepting a penny from anyone. How far will he make it? And will he survive?

Sound fascinating, right? It was, until about Montana. I felt after a while the story became a bit repetitive. I never truly connected with any of the people that the author described. There were touching stories of the down trodden, but for some reason I never felt myself actually feeling anything for these characters. I don't know if it was the writing style or the narration, but I just couldn't get into the story the way I wanted to. My biggest disappointment was the lack of conclusion and lesson learned at the end. It was just kind of over. I definitely applaud Mike McIntyre for taking this journey as it would never be something I could do. How do you put your life in the hands of strangers? I just wanted a bit more from the book in terms of how Mike felt on the journey or how he reacted to the people he came across. Something that felt a bit more real instead of a list of life stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My Review
This book is easy to read. It restored my faith in the human race. It kept my interest. It was a quick read.
Published 6 hours ago by Susie Landrum
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage of his Convictions
This is a moving true life account of courage, kindness and reality. As humans we're inevitably flawed, as the author relates to others through his own challenges. Read more
Published 5 days ago by kip zwickel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A real page-turner!
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reads like a spell binding novel. Very compelling reading .
Published 14 days ago by paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Where is the real America?
Very interesting look at America. Mike was a journalist who traveled all over the world before he decided to chuck it all and walk
penniless across America. Read more
Published 16 days ago by S. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for any traveler
Even though this book is now 20 years old, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the applicable still to today's world. Very captivating. I plan on reading more of Mike's books.
Published 20 days ago by SCubed
5.0 out of 5 stars a positive read!
The kindness of strangers was a very interesting book. Mike got to see how people across America live. Read more
Published 28 days ago by gs
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story of faith in others!
Published 29 days ago by kathleen carvalho
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of trust!
I loved this book and the amazing adventure shared by the author. Well-written, it is a story that never bogs down or makes you want to stop reading.
Published 1 month ago by Cindy From Indy
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad for the way it ended
Cleverly written and a interesting story overall. Sad for the way it ended...but a good read.
Published 1 month ago by CB
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More About the Author

Mike McIntyre bounced around a lot as a child. As an adult, nothing's changed. He's lived, worked and traveled in eighty countries. His newest book is The Distance Between, a travel memoir about his three decades of wanderlust. His other travelogues are The Wander Year and The Kindness of Strangers, which was featured on Oprah. He's also the author of the crime novel The Scavenger's Daughter. After earning degrees from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Michigan, he turned to journalism, writing for the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He's a frequent visitor to Scotland, where he indulges his passion for links golf. When not traveling, he lives in San Diego with his wife and cat.

To learn of new releases and promotions, sign up for Mike's newsletter at www.eepurl.com/Jl_gn


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