Reading

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Here are some of the books we are reading in relation to our journey.

1. GRAPES OF WRATH, by John Steinbeck (1939): The book that gave us the “Mother Road” moniker for Route 66. [Follow our progress and discussions about THE GRAPES OF WRATH here]

While many folks have read this literary classic back in school, it is definitely worth a re-read if you are planning on driving Route 66.

Set during the Great Depression, this story of sharecroppers, driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry, puts the early years of Route 66 in perspective, reminding us that the road did not always symbolize the free-wheelin’ spirit of adventure that we have today.

In those early years, many of the route’s travelers were fleeing a nearly hopeless situation, and only took to the road in search of land, jobs and dignity in the mythical promised land of California.

The Team started reading and discussing this classic in January 2010.

2. THE AMERICAN WEST, by Dee Brown (1994): A well written history of western expansion in the United States by the author of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Focused on the inland American West during the last half of the 19th century, this book gives the uninitiated a broad overview understanding of the historical events that defined the popular image of the “West.” It shows how the railroads opened up the area to settlers, leading to the conflicts with the Plains Indians already living there.  And continues to detail how the Indians made their final stand as cattle ranches spread from Texas to Montana. It also examines the origins of the Western myth in literature and traces the rise of rodeos and Wild West shows.

An easy read, “The American West” gives readers a familiarity with some of the main characters of the Western narrative: Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, Charles Goodnight, Billy the Kid, Teddy Roosevelt, Generals Crook and Custer.

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR MORE ROAD READING:

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