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Travels with Charley in Search of America Paperback – January 31, 1980
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"The Black Presidency"
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“Profound, sympathetic, often angry . . . an honest moving book by one of our great writers.” The San Francisco Examiner
“This is superior Steinbecka muscular, evocative report of a journey of rediscovery.” John Barkham, Saturday Review Syndicate
“The eager, sensuous pages in which he writes about what he found and whom he encountered frame a picture of our human nature in the twentieth century which will not soon be surpassed.” Edward Weeks, The Atlantic Monthly
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Top Customer Reviews
It is about John Steinbeck's trip across America. He begins in New York, drives up through Maine, across the midwest, through Montana to Washington, down the Pacific Coast, through Texas and finally through the American southeast. He was 58 when he took this trip, and his only companions were his loyal dog Charley and trailer Rocinante. I appreciated the way that Steinbeck respected Charley, gave him human characteristics, and looked for Charley's observations on mankind as well as his own.
I have heard this memoir described as an "angry" book, but I think this only describes a small portion of Steinbeck's experiences on the road. Steinbeck was certainly troubled by certain things--chief among them the horrifying "witches sabbath" that occurred in New Orleans. He also looked with sadness upon the "progress" that has diminished our cultural identities and ravaged our beautiful land. However, he was wise enough to know that older people often cling to the past simply because it is familiar, but not because it was superior or even good. He recognized that trait in himself and challenged it.
Some individual passages in this book were so wise I read them several times to try to appreciate the full extent of his wisdom. For example, the passage where Steinbeck remarks that too many older people turn in their exciting lives for healthy and safe ones.Read more ›
Overall, Steinbeck seems to paint a pretty picture. While driving through New England in the fall, he is taken with the brilliant foliage on display. He is much impressed with Wisconsin, and says about Montana, "I am in love. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love." Later, Steinbeck also speaks glowingly of the California Redwoods.
Steinbeck also has nice things to say about the American people - sometimes. He notes that midwesterners are openly friendly, and again praises Montana, for its inhabitants "had time...to undertake the passing art of neighborliness." However, interspersed throughout his journey, Steinbeck encounters many things which are not so delightful. In fact, some were quite upsetting. He talks of waste - "American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash" - and of miserable people - "(some people) can drain off energy and joy, can suck pleasure dry and get no sustenance from it. (They) spread a grayness in the air about them." (This was his opinion of a waitress Steinbeck had just met in Maine.) And the waitress wasn't the only one.
Along his journey, he met many close-minded, opinionated, bigoted and rascist Americans, and it made for depressing reading.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
40 years ago I had a high school English teacher who felt that John Steinbeck was the greatest American author ever to set pen to paper. I read Grapes of Wrath (outstanding! Read morePublished 5 days ago by Fogerty Fanatic
Educational, informative and entertainig. An eye opening presenntation of the life and attitudes of Americans away from the big cities.Published 7 days ago by Elsa Fowler
What is not to like in this true story of Steinbeck and hid dog traveling the country in their camper.Published 8 days ago by S. Willoughby
This is a CLASSIC and anyone who likes to read should drink in this Steinbeck prose. Wonderfully relaxing. A comfortable look into Americana. Read morePublished 10 days ago by woodworkerman
I've owned several traditional copies of this book and wore them out. This book is such a great look into an America gone by told in a way that only Steinbeck could do it. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Randall B.