A Walk Across America
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A Walk Across America

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  6,547 ratings  ·  400 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...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 18th 2001 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1979)
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Mary
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
Katherine
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...more
Gala
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.
Jim Kulhawy
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
Nolan Ahlgrim
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
Bidisha
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...more
Liz
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....more
Susan
This book definitely shows its age...in 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...more
Frances
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...more
Patrick Gibson
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...more
Donna
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
Cheryl
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...more
Candice
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
Sue
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
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...more
Nathan
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...more
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
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...more
Grant Trevarthen
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...more
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...
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....
Laura  Yan
This is an earnest book about a hell of an adventure. Peter Jenkins is not a writer (he said so himself!) so the writing is slightly awful, but its childish enthusiasm adds to its charm--and Cooper his adorable canine companion makes the story so much more delightful. Peter's long long walk brings him in touch with some memorable characters, and their stories are worth reading, as are the lovely photographs. This certainly brings back a certain time/feel of America that seems long gone now. Anyw...more
Laurie
Some interesting experiences here, but the writing blows.
Sarah
this is my second reading after about 20 years.
David
I don't know why, but these books about traveling across the country by foot are absolutely riveting to me. There is something exciting and idealistic about making your way long distances by foot, the act of discovering the country, as well as oneself.

This book, inspite of its modern cover, covers the first portion of a walk in the 1970s. As a travel journal, it does a really good job talking about the internal feelings of the voyage, it does an excellent job profiling the people Jenkins met alo...more
Emily
Oh man, I've been hot and cold on this book the whole time. I really, really liked it...until the end. His marrying good ol' Barbara Jo and whisking her away on his journey with him was a) just too perfect b) a pain in the ass to end the book 'to be continued' - seriously, what a cop out! and c) they got divorced in 1988, so so much for their sweet, volcanic love.

On the flipside, I did love his dog, Cooper, their hike, the genuine tone of the writing- the overpowering sincerity, his black family...more
Dakota
Uh, well...yeah. I have a hard time giving 3 stars here, but since I did enjoy the beginning I suppose it's fair. Before I start in I want to point out that I really had a hard time finishing this book. Even just skimming pages I had to force myself to the end.

The story is pretty simple, Jenkins becomes disillusioned with his world and decides to walk cross country by way of the southern states. He takes his dog, Coooper, with him and together they get all the way to...The Gulf of Mexico. Yeah,...more
Marty
This book was okay. It was an interesting idea to walk across america to gain wisdom and to gain different views of the country we live in. I did love the stories of the people he met and lived with, they were fantastic. I was also intriged with how many people would invite a stranger to stay the night with them, or live with them based on the idea of trust. I would NEVER do that! I guess that is a pity about the world we live in today, that we never trust strangers and think twice before we rea...more
Melissa
I've really been getting into the travel books lately. And this one ranks pretty high with me. The author was excellent and really described his trip with a different tone than I've seen from most travel writers. Sure there were a couple of things that could be changed, but despite these, it really is an excellent book.

After leaving college Peter Jenkins isn't quite sure what he wants to do with his life. He is discontent, most especially with America in general. After voicing this to a friend,...more
Laura
This book evoked the lyrics from the folk song "This Land is Your Land."

“This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California
To the New York Island,
From the redwood forest,
To the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.”

I really do believe people need to get their butt off the couch and see, as well as experience, America – the land, the people, and the food. See what makes this big and beautiful country tick.

The author, Peter Jenkins, is a young disillusioned individual wh...more
Amanda Paisley
I really enjoyed reading about Peter Jenkins travels across America during the early 70's. He wrote in depth about the people he met and befriended, as well as strangers who helped him along his way. He writes from the fresh perspective of a young man in his early twenties; somewhat naive and ever-optomistic. His writings are descriptive and thorough, although I did notice towards the latter part of his writings, he left out details. For instance, in the beginning of the journey he allows the re...more
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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
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.” 2 likes
“After living in Smokey Hollow these three months my bearded face was darkened to a tan, and for more than a moment, I couldn't tell what color I was. Black is what I saw and what I expected to see. I grabbed a towel and rubbed to get a clear look. No, I was white. At least my skin was. I had been through so much with my family here, and all I had seen was black faces, that I forgot for a split second that I wasn't black too. For weeks after the flood in the bathroom, I remembered the morning I forgot my skin color.” 1 likes
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