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American Road: 06/02/16

American Road by Pete Davies

American Road by Pete Davies is a history of the first transcontinental drive of the United States from Washington DC to San Francisco. Along with the truck and automobile caravan is the story of the planning, funding, and building of the first interstate highways.

My interest in the American road trip is at the point of intersection between the road, the machine, the road markings, and popular culture. There are, of course, men and women behind the creation of these pieces but I am less interested in them as driving forces than I am in the ways their creations have affected the American narrative.

American Road though is focused almost entirely on the biggest names behind the history including Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Fisher, and others. As a war hero and president, Eisenhower gets top billing even though his role here was more one of observer than leader.

If this book is to be taken at face value, then Eisenhower's participation in the transcontinental journey was part of a greater manifest destiny that could only, should only, result in the modern day freeway system that in part bears his name.

The reality is that the freeway design and building process is far more complex and involved than a single person (even a future president) being in the right place in the right time.

Two stars

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