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A Walk Across America

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,892 Ratings  ·  484 Reviews
Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.

"I started out searching for myself and my country," Peter Jenkins writes, "and found both." In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with socie
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 18th 2001 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 14, 2009 Mary rated it liked it
So when i was at the Anchor Archive in Halifax this Fall, I was poring over old National Geogrpahics and found this article about a young man in the 1970's who decides to walk across the USA with his trusty dog Cooper, his "forever friend." A few things that really caught my eye were that he spent some time at The Farm in Tennessee (of the New Farm Cookbook fame) and that he, a white dude, lived with a black family in rural Tennessee for several months. And the intesne dog-companion-love, which ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirish, travel
Unique book. A stunt memoir from before the days of stunt memoir and, therefore, stirringly earnest. A book that is, in some ways, badly written, but whose bad writing contributes to what is ultimately a very effective narrative presentation. (The sense I kept getting was that of reading a novel whose first-person narrator has, deliberately, not been given a slick way with words–because a slick narrator wouldn't work with this particular story.)

Peter Jenkins, 22, raised in comfort in NYC-metro C
Nov 26, 2011 Liz rated it liked it
After reading Looking for Alaska, I really wanted to love this book. What could possibly be more awesome and interesting than crossing America with nothing but your trusty dog and the contents of your pack? Jenkins was also going through some of the early-20s unease that I'm not done growing out of, so I figured the story of his first adventure would have a strong impact on me.

Unfortunately, I think the book is too dated: It doesn't stand the test of time well enough for me to identify with it.
Aug 28, 2007 Gala rated it liked it
Love this story. The writing is passable, by which I mean that sometimes I cringe at the style, but am enough engaged in the drama and the cast of characters that I forgive it happily.
Aug 13, 2010 Bidisha rated it liked it
A man and his beloved dog walk across America (or, more precisely, from upstate NY to New Orleans). They live with black farmers, befriend white Southerners whom Gov. George Wallace addresses on TV as if they are family members, and moonlight at a farming commune in Tennessee. The book ends in New Orleans, where the author finds a wife, marries her, and convinces her to walk the remaining 3,000 miles across America.

In her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit has a perceptive pre
Nolan Ahlgrim
Dec 18, 2013 Nolan Ahlgrim rated it it was amazing
This book is very good because it has the mood of being free in the woods, which is every person's dream at one point or another. This is shown when Jenkins says, "You know, there's no such thing as being lost! It's all in your mind. Right?" (Jenkins 92). The notion if being lost is impossible if you don't have a return point like Jenkins. To just wander through woods and mountain towns until you reach the Gulf of Mexico is what he means by not getting lost. The book also showcases the bond that ...more
Patrick Gibson
Mar 30, 2011 Patrick Gibson rated it did not like it
Shelves: truth_sort-of
Chronicle of a 1973-1975 walk from New York to New Orleans. For the entire trip (west), you have to buy the sequel. Check your local library or buy from the quarter bin at a flea market. Any more time or money invested in this book is a waste.

I do envy the guy his journey—sort of. I was curious to learn about the logistics of undertaking such a long hike. Unfortunately he would rather write of his love affair with his "forever friend" and make up lame similes for every little thing he encounters
Apr 27, 2010 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to start by saying this is a review from the 20-year old me, not the 47 year old me. That said, this book had a profound effect on me in college. It helped make me the person I am today, who has traveled by bike for months across the US, backpacked in Mexico, Central America and Europe, and visited three continents (and adding a fourth--Africa, this summer. I can't remember how well-written (or not)the book was, I just know that even looking at the cover still fills me with wanderlust. A ...more
Nathan Eaton
They say it's not really about the destination, but the journey that gets you there. Peter Jenkins should be thankful that the saying's true, otherwise I would have felt like I wasted a lot of time.

His journey was interesting. He met a lot of actual unique people. It's pretty neat to see him work through his prejudices and get to know people. There were times I really loved this book while reading it, followed by a lot of groans.

Peter Jenkins sets off to walk across America (see title of book).
Jim Kulhawy
Aug 16, 2011 Jim Kulhawy rated it it was amazing
In early 1973 a young college graduate named Peter Jenkins realized that he was unhappy with the United States and the direction it, was headed. One day, while talking to a security guard at the college, he voiced his displeasure with the state of the country and suggested he was going to chuck it all and move somewhere else. This gentleman challenged him to get out and see the country and meet the people before he followed through with his idea to leave, so Jenkins did. He decided that he and h ...more
May 18, 2009 Susan rated it it was ok
This book definitely shows its attitude, language, and self-congratulatory and self-aware hippie liberalism that is beyond patronizing and painful to read. (I'm assuming the author is trying to capture local and individual lingual styles but when he writes the patriarch of a black family as saying things like "Das fo sho", etc, it just feels so inappropriate. Like your bigoted old auntie who swears she isn't, talking about and mimicking other races and ethnicities.)

And don't even get m
Oct 01, 2007 Frances rated it it was ok
I found this book in a tiny library in Maine for 50 cents. I had not traveled in awhile and did not want to stop (had a return flight to catch unfortunately). So, I decided to live through Peter Jenkins and his epic tale of his walk across America. As a recent college graduate, Peter is a young man disillusioned with his country. He contemplates leaving it before settling on seeing it on foot.

Peter Jenkins'writing is simplistic and clichéd. One would think he is getting paid $100 every time he u
Tim Laza
Apr 16, 2016 Tim Laza rated it it was amazing
This book by Peter Jenkins was the first of three books that was read in our Pre-AP World Geography course. The students generally liked this book. It was an easy read. The content of Walk Across America went well with studying culture and people in the United States.
Jul 27, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, except that I had to read it on paper since I couldn't find it in electronic form 8-)

It's one of those books that makes you realize there still are good people out there willing to help a stranger. It is about events that took place starting in 1973 and ending in 1975. In spite of it being a different era from today, I would like to hope that there still are good people in the country that would help a person like the people Peter Jenkins met on his trek.

I won't tell yo
Aug 02, 2014 Cajpgh rated it it was amazing
Read this book over 20 years ago and it had a profound effect on me...I think it planted the seed to make my cross country move. Reading it again I realized that the writing may not be the greatest, but the story of a young man walking across the country with his big, beautiful dog still touched my heart.
Jun 21, 2013 Candice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I love the authentic voice of Peter Jenkins. He has amazing stories to tell, and the focus is less on writing style than content, which is one of my favorite things about this book. Jenkins shares his experience about learning of and loving his neighbors - all across America. This book makes me think of a word so often used in yoga practice - connectedness. We are all connected, and this book celebrates that. Of course the fact that Kenkins travels with his best, forever friend ...more
Michael Robinson
May 05, 2015 Michael Robinson rated it it was ok
I picked up this book from a recommendation from a friend.

The story of Peter Jenkin's walk was a difficult one for me to read. I think it had to do with the mid-70's when the story took place. I was just a little kid when his journey took place. I also had trouble relating to Jenkins philosophy and politics throughout much of the book.

As someone just out of college, Jenkins makes no bones about being disillusioned with American and he decided to take the advice of someone to really see the coun
Apr 18, 2014 Sue rated it liked it
Shelves: hiking-travel
As a young, 20+ yr old in the early 1970's, Peter Jenkins is dissatisfied with the United States. Coming from a fairly comfortable home life as well as a college education that he didn't have to work too hard for, he decides to walk across America searching out proof that the country is cause of his disillusionment. As he hikes, he meets people of different backgrounds than his but finds out they are really nice & interesting, welcoming and accepting - apparently something he wasn't and didn ...more
Nate Strothman
Apr 10, 2014 Nate Strothman rated it it was amazing
A Walk Across America Review
The book “A Walk Across America” is about a man who walks from New York to Louisiana. Along the way he rediscovers his faith and the beauty that America has to offer. He travels with his dog, cooper, who dies along the way, which only makes the journey more meaningful for Peter Jenkins.
I believe that the book teaches about a man who lost his faith, but later rediscovers it through the beauty and people of America. It is the people that he meets along the way that he
Apr 10, 2014 Nathan rated it really liked it
A Walk Across America is a wild and thrilling book. It tells the true story of Peter Jenkin’s heart-wrenching journey across America with his beloved dog. “I started out searching for myself and my country, and I found both.” He says. His amazing journey uncovers many fascinating aspects of human life and experiences.
If you are feeling adventurous but don’t have the time or money to go anywhere you should definitely pick this book up. Just like in real life, the experiences and struggle in thi
Jennie Richards
Recently, I’ve been yearning to read books that are about personal adventure and about people who are interested in testing their personal and physical limits and their potential. So this seemed like a perfect time to read a book that I have always wanted to read.

Peter Jenkin’s desire and experience of walking across America always seemed so daunting to me when I first learned about his walk years ago. So I wanted to read about a man who endeavored to accomplish something that seemed almost imp
Jul 30, 2015 brook rated it really liked it
As other reviewers have noted, this book is 40 years old and showing a bit of age. For readers who live in small, rural, isolated communities, this might still seem closer to the present. The prose is just OK, plain (which is just fine), and a bit repetitive (which is not). Other reviewers complained, but I do not fault the author for stopping the story when he did, for it marked a logical stopping point and allowed more detail for the parts that he did cover.

The story is one that has been told
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
Feb 10, 2014 JoséMaría BlancoWhite rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, travel
A spiritual journey; a humble search rewarded

One of the books that has had a greater impact on me. This is personal testimony of a young man who set out walking across half of America, East to West, disillusioned with his near surroundings. Along the way he will meet many different people who will teach him to see life from many other points of view, and helping him find therefore his own true take on life and on America and Americans. Disenchanted at first; hopeful, reborn, to the end. A spirit
Nate Jordon
Nov 25, 2014 Nate Jordon rated it really liked it
"I had started out with a sense of bitterness about what my country appeared to be. But with every step I had learned otherwise. I had been turned on by America and its people in a thousand fantastic ways."

Peter Jenkins, a young college graduate disillusioned with 1960s America, set off on a cross-country trek to discover the soul of his country with a backpack on his back and his dog by his side. The plot doesn't get more American than this. If you want more, read below but, warning, spoiler al
Grant Trevarthen
Jun 22, 2014 Grant Trevarthen rated it really liked it
There is a time in most peoples lives when they wish things were different, they've lost their mojo, and are genuinely uneasy in their day to day existence.
Such was the case for Peter Jenkins, he was very disillusioned with the state of his life and the way America was heading with their involvement in the Vietnam war, and other social issues affecting the country that weren't being dealt with.
Peter decided to set out to discover the real America, and the soul of it's people, he reasoned that
Rachel Hardley Shelby
I loved this book. It made me want to pack by bags and go.. I was in 9th grade when I read it, pretty much the worst year of my life. I wanted to run away and was so sad when the book ended. I started to read the next one but I just remember being disappointed and never finished it...
Ryan Duclos
Feb 02, 2015 Ryan Duclos rated it liked it
I'm not sure if I would recommend this book because I'm sure there are plenty of other better written books with stories that have more core and detail than what was described here. Peter is right, he is not a writer.

The one thing that surprised me was how little Peter grew in his travels in areas of his life. I don't doubt that his survival and appreciation of America grew with each step, but to hear how immature he still was toward knowing his own soul, the soul of the world and relationships.
Sarah klapprodt
read this as a teenager (think it's the same book) and it really helped carve me into the quasi-hippie i am today...when the kids are older, we're getting a van, painting it with peace signs and setting off accross country to california...just for the experience...yeah,man....
Thomas Fenske
Jul 28, 2015 Thomas Fenske rated it liked it
The book is okay. The story is okay. There is adventure and tragedy. But I found it a disappointing read in many respects. I understood the methodology and he reported very well on the interesting people and places he went. I think I was disillusioned by his apparent lack of direction. I think it is the title. Perhaps A Walk INTO America.
I mean, you take a book like Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon ... he intended to do an internal circumnavigation of the country using small highways, n
Great story. I could have done without the 70s hippie lingo, but overall an amazing story. I marveled at the kindness of the American people and cried when he lost his best friend. Highly recommend.
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Discussion questions 2 24 Oct 20, 2012 04:13PM  
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Born July 8th, 1951 in Greenwich, Connecticut,

Peter is the eldest of the six children of Frederick and Mary Jenkins.

Graduated from Greenwich High School in 1969.

Attended Woodstock in summer of 1969.

Graduated from Alfred University in 1973 with a BFA, majoring in Sculptor/ Ceramics.
Began his Walk Across America on October 15, 1973 in Alfred, New York. It ended in mid-January of 1979 in Florence, Or
More about Peter Jenkins...

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“Mileage craziness is a serious condition that exists in many forms. It can hit unsuspecting travelers while driving cars, motorcycles, riding in planes, crossing the country on bicycles or on foot. The symptoms may lead to obsessively placing more importance on how many miles are traveled than on the real reason for the traveling...On foot, in a van, on a fleet motorcycle or on a bicycle, a person must be very careful not to become overly concerned with arriving.” 4 likes
“As the lifetime-long days passed I began to notice a profound cleansing taking place in myself as we were inmersed in the peaceful Pennsylvania farm valleys. The streams and cotton-clean clouds washed my soul and I felt myself opening up to the world.” 3 likes
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