How I Left Politics, Learned to Back Up a Bus, and Found AmericaAuthor: Angus King
Publisher Format:Down East Books (2011), Paperback, 128 pages
Subject: Traveling Through America with family
Setting: broad spectrum of US visitor attractions
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Such a fun book! I wanted to run right out, buy (or at least rent) an RV and start driving. Angus King, former governor of Maine, walked out the door of the Governor's mansion, went "home", finished packing, and took off in a 40 foot RV with his wife, a 12 year old son, and 10 year old daughter on a six month adventure across the US. Now right there is a recipe for disaster! The King family however, turned it into a luxurious episode of learning, loving and living.
The book is loaded with pictures, and uses them to tell the story with well-written captions, along with some thoughtful essays by the author offering reflections on the environment, family dynamics, friendship, the beauty of the US, aging, politics (not too much) and educating our children. It's an easy read (about 2 hours), a great conversation starter, and a book that begs to be shared.
It definitely brought back memories for me of a trip my family took back in the late 60's. My mom and dad loaded their 4 daughters (ages 20,17,14, and 11) into a 1964 Dodge Coronet (no A/C in July), put five suitcases and four "train cases" into the trunk (back then the trunk was the size of a small aircraft carrier) and headed west from Baltimore. In 27 days we saw something like 18 states, visited the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, LosAngeles, Disneyland, San Franciso, Reno, Yosemite and Yellowstone Parks, the Corn Palace, the Badland, Mt Rushmore, saw friends in Lincoln Nebraska, and Cincinnatti OH. We had no Ipods, no personal computers, no airbags, no shoulder belts, no GPS and no satellite radio --in fact, if I remember correctly, we didn't even have FM radio. We were NOT allowed to eat in the car. We had maps (and learned to read them), we each had a book, and we fought to sit in the front seat between my parents, or to get a window seat in the back. We became best friends and built memories that have lasted our entire lives.
The King family had a self-contained world inside their RV -satellite TV, internet, cooking, bathing, etc, but did not allow those modern devices to interfere with their experience of and appreciation for the sheer majestic beauty and diversity of the US. I think this was the best gift they gave each other and the strength of the book: by letting us join in the experiences of his family, Angus King shows us our country, shows us that while "there's no place like home," we have so much else to be thankful for. His descriptions and reflections certainly show why the US is never to be taken for granted.
This is a book to be shared, to be out and available for visitors. If you only buy a few books a year, get this one. It's the real deal - - one of those books that is going to keep print books on real paper from dying.
Many thanks to Judy Paolini at DownEast publishers for making a review copy available.