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Showing 1-10 of 545 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 857 reviews
on December 24, 2012
I'd give 'em if I could. "Travels with Charley" is one of those books that gets better every time I read it.
50 years after it appeared, it is becoming a window on America at the beginning of a pivotal time, which gives it a poignant feel, especially near the end. I've been to the Steinbeck Center and checked out the restored Rocinante as well as the great old GMC 3/4 ton truck it's mounted on...I'd have like to have looked through it at the end of the journey.

The Kindle edition I purchased is just fine: easily navigated, as ususal.
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on September 7, 2015
A snapshot of the 60's.

So, John Steinbeck needs so reignite his creative juices and decides to travel across the country with an old reliable friend,his poodle, Charlie.
It's a long trip and gets a bit boring here and there. The part that gave me good laugh was the time spent at Yellowstone and Charlie's reaction to the bears.
But I thought the entire book was really a lead in to the scene in the South, which was his witnessing of the beginning of the desegregation of the schools. It was disturbing and disheartening. His description of the tiny child trying to go to school and the screaming women hurling insults and racial slurs at the little girl is something I will long carry with me.

The book did make me want to take my own dog,Charlie with for me some travel of our own, nothing quite so ambitious,however.
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on June 5, 2017
Great story from a great author about his journey around America in a truck hauling a camper and with his beloved dog. Interesting views of 1960 America. Enjoyed this book immensely.
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on February 19, 2017
Awesome audiobook. Gary S. does a great job reading it. Steinback's descriptions are so detailed-you feel as if you're right there. Loved it.
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on October 29, 2016
I loved reading John Steinbeckk's Travels with Charlie ! My husband had read this book a long time ago, so he was sure that I would like it. It is ffull of humor, beautiful discriptions, and empathy for his fellow man, which I admired. I used to live in Wisconsin, so when he descibed Wiaconsin, I longed to move back, until I thought of the slipery streets, and cold snowey weather. He was turned off by the predjudice he found as he talked to people he met, something I also admired about this really great writer.
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on October 8, 2015
This was the first Steinbeck book I have read, at least as I remember. It is for a History club. This book is witty, funny, and sad sometimes. The clothes washing idea is something I would never have thought of, and that's what the club members commented. He also said he wanted no one to recognize him. I wonder if anyone really would have. If he dressed like everyone else, would someone really recognize his face? There wasn't social media then, just book covers, magazines. I would like to know what others think about this. If Steven Tyler came to your town in blue jeans and a plaid shirt, no jewelry, etc. would anyone know it was him?
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on July 27, 2016
In 1960, at the age of fifty-eight, John Steinbeck decides to search for America’s identity. What unfolds in his travels across the United States at that particular time in space is so indicative to the present day...actually for the majority of times past, present and future.
While not in the same vein as a Bill Bryson, Tony Horwitz and other travel writers, it does depict how times change over the years and yet some components never do.

Deep thoughts on survival while traveling through the Mohave Desert; why progress looks so much like destruction...“a carcinomatous growth” as he says when approaching Seattle; his childhood town in California has changed so much it is unrecognizable with many of the familiar faces dead and gone; or his strong feelings on racial injustice while traveling in the Deep South...witnessing the New Orleans desegregation of schools with the infamous “Cheerleaders” protests; etc.

Then again his tongue-in-cheek observations, comments and musings along the way do bring clarity to his travels...the ‘new’ trailer parks which are springing up everywhere; accommodations at the ‘auto courts’, speaking with strangers about this and that...it is a worthwhile, descriptive read with Steinbeck behind the wheel of his camper-truck and Charley the French-poodle laying next to him for companionship.
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on April 30, 2016
After having read this book many years ago, I had the urge to revisit it, and am glad I did. Despite some of the controversy it's generated recently, I still found it entertaining, if a bit nostalgic, and a good read. It really highlights some of the changes our society has undergone in the intervening decades, not all for the better. And there were passages that I'd completely forgotten about, making it seem like a completely new book. I'll have to crack it open again in another decade or so and see how it fares then.
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VINE VOICEon October 12, 2010
Travels with Charlie was the first book I picked for my new Kindle and my first non-fiction book by John Steinbeck.

It is a fantastic book as a travel memoir that really gives the reader a glimpse into the person that was John Steinbeck. I've always been a fan of his works although my breadth in reading his work has been limited to about 5 novels before this.

Travels with Charlie is a chronicle of the writer's journey from his 1960's home in Long Island across the Northern U.S. to the home of his youth in Monterey County (Salinas and Monterey) in California, back home by way of the south.

It is a relatively short book that perhaps provides the reader the best opportunity to get to know the person that was John Steinbeck. You'll find yourself a part of a journey just as you may have with the Grapes of Wrath only John and Charlie (his poodle) are your companions. Not only do you see the character of Steinbeck, you see the character of the U.S. at the beginning of the 1960's. The stories he tells, the people he meets, his interactions with Charlie are all fantastic.

If I had to make any criticism of the book, it would be that as the story progresses, things get a bit more sparse. However, this isn't really so much a fault of the book as a loss of patience on Steinbeck's part. You get the feeling during the beginning that this trip is going long, and it does. A lot of detail goes into the trip through the northern part of the country. I am not sure it is too much detail, but as Steinbeck gets exhausted with the length of his trip, so does his writing. From the beginning, I was interested in what his commentary would be as he came back around. Unfortunately, given the length of his trip, he became more rushed and the commentary more sparse. That doesn't necessarily hurt things as there are some interesting items from the South to be read about, but it is too bad there isn't a bit more. The end is a little too abrupt for the quality of the overall book.

Overall, it is a fantastic read, and the interactions with Charlie are really fantastic. He really does a fantastic job of showing the love that most people have for their dogs. I am thankful I gave this book a try as it really added to my admiration for John Steinbeck and gives the reader a window into a man who is obviously not perfect but is definitely respectable.
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on February 17, 2012
I loved this book. I don't know why Steinbeck's gentle prose and sharp wit surprised me so much--perhaps because The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, my other Steinbeck reads, were more serious. But from the first few chapters it is obvious that Steinbeck is not only a masterful writer but also an incredibly likable person.

This book is about a road trip Steinbeck took in 1960 with the stated goal of finding out what the true America is like. Upon further research, I found that Steinbeck had a heart condition and knew he would not live much longer. Thus, as his son surmised, the real reason of the trip was to give Steinbeck one long, last contemplative look at the American that permeated his classic novels.

"In Spanish, there is a word...vacilando. If one is vacailando, he is going somewhere but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction." That is the spirit with which Steinbeck sets off with Charley, his standard poodle. His camper is named Rocinante after Don Quijote's horse, an acknowledgement of his quixotic quest.

He sets off from New York and circles the country counterclockwise and literally observing it from all angles, one of America's greatest writers describing his grand subject in short scenes and insightful observations.

Although Steinbeck laments the disappearance of regional dialects and the growing homogeneity of the country, America is still a collection of vastly different cultures. A testament to Steinbeck's writing is that he is able to capture a cross-section of the country, good and bad, big themes and personal moments, in what is a relatively slim book.

He is critical of politics ("I find out of long experience that I admire all nations but hate all governments."), sometimes disillusioned by what he sees as the loss of American culture ("We have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us."), and wary of progress:
"American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash--all of them--surrounded by the piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish."

But his faith in our goodness is bolstered time and again by personal encounters with folks at roadside campsites, lakes and veterinary offices. He frequently invites strangers to his camper to share a whisky or coffee, picks up hitchhikers to pick their brains, and has amusing encounters with a cast of characters that might populate a modern Canterbury Tales.

"I can only suspect that the lonely man peoples his driving dreams with friends, that the loveless man surrounds himself with lovely loving women, and that children climb through the dreaming of the childless driver." Steinbeck has Charley, the perfect companion, sometimes observing in bemusement the mysteries of human civilization, sometimes disinterested, sometimes engaging Steinbeck in fully-rendered conversations as 10,000 miles unfold under them.

"One goes, not so much to see but to tell afterward," Steinbeck reflects on the American traveler. What Steinbeck tells here is the story of who we are, an invaluable portrait that captures our complicated, idiosyncratic character, as true today as it was fifty years ago. Charley's conclusion, after much experience, is less nuanced: "I've seen...a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."
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