With this month’s travel theme, Joachin Koch of Books Tell You Why in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, U.S.A, recommends a great modern American travel book.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America
by John Steinbeck
A fine copy in a near fine jacket.
Publisher: New York: Viking
Publication Date: 1962
Binding: Hardcover, with the original dust jacket. A fine copy in a near fine jacket.
Edition: First edition
Find this Copy
The premise for the book seems unlikely to produce an American masterpiece. Steinbeck, already sick with the heart ailment that would kill him a few years later, buys a truck (which he christens Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse) and drives across the country with his standard poodle named Charley. Man. Dog. Truck. Road. It’s a simple formula, but Steinbeck was at the height of his literary powers as he set out to revisit the country that he had written about so movingly in classics like Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden. Steinbeck had been living in New York City for many years and longed again for the freedom and adventure of his youth.
Now, after nearly five decades have passed since the book’s original publication, many of his observations about the land and its inhabitants still ring true. “From start to finish, I found no strangers,” Steinbeck wrote. “These are my people and this is my country.”
Copies of this book in fine condition are not common. Signed copies are available—look for ones inscribed with a variation of “from John and Charley Steinbeck.”