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'A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow': An American Hitchhiking Odyssey
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'A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow': An American Hitchhiking Odyssey

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3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Tim Brookes was a 20-year-old Oxford student when he first succumbed to the lure of America's open road. Equipped with a change of clothes, a cheap guitar, and the youthful wanderlust of the "Easy Rider" era, he spent the summer of '73 hitchhiking from the East Coast to the West Coast and back again, an exhilarating experience that ultimately led him to leave old England t ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by National Geographic (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-28 of 175)
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HeavyReader
Apr 23, 2016 HeavyReader rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-stories, travel
I picked up this book from a free pile and didn't pick it up to read for about three months. What a great surprise! I ended up REALLY enjoying it.

The author, Tim Brookes, grew up in Great Britain. In the 1970s, when he was in his early 20s, he got a cheap ticket to NYC, and ended up hitchhiking across the United States. Twenty-five years later, he decides to retrace his hitchhiking route. He has more resources this time and can easily rent a car or buy a bus ticket when he needs to, but he hasn
...more
Travelling Cari
Jul 03, 2007 Travelling Cari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Copied from my BookCrossing review:
http://bookcrossing.com/journal/1401364

Although my interest petered out by the end, I found it to be a good and quick read. Brookes gets compared to Bryson and while that comparison usually makes me think of the polar opposite of Bryson, this wasn't as drastic. I still didn't think he was anywhere near as funny as Bryson.

I love that his original trip to the US was via BUNAC, who I travelled to Australia with.

"The vagabond when rich is called a tourist" was a si
...more
Mary
Apr 01, 2014 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for traveler stories, whether they be hitchhiking, train riding, sailing...whatever. This author hitched across America in the 1970s and in this book, revisited some of the people and places while discovering new ones. I wish it included more of the photos that his National Geographic photographer sidekick took on the trek, but it was still a satisfactory read. At the end, though, I was ready for it to finish, just like the author was ready for his journey to end.
Sandy D.
I love travel books, and this was a good one. The author is an English college professor who lives in Vermont, who decided to re-do his youthful 1973 hitchhiking journey across America in 1999.

He absolutely hated Detroit and its outskirts: "a sight from hell, from a Hieronymus Bosch painting, but a modern Bosch, with no hellish, contorted people, just hellish contorted objects: refinery piping, tanks, high-tension wires. The air was hot and fetid; it smelled like a fume hood....The on-ramp to I-
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Russ
Jun 06, 2008 Russ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hitchhikers, travelers
What is the state of hitchhiking today? Tim Brookes, a Brit who made a journey across the USA in the 1970s as a college student, takes another go at it and captures his new journey in writing. He tells us about the good, the bad, and the weird. He tells us about places and people and even encounters a celebrity or two. He revisits friendships from the past and reflects on the changes that time brings.

I found this book to be interesting, thoughtful, and entertaining for the most part. Tim doesn'
...more
Sally Brooks
Interesting but not great! The author was comparing a hitchhiking adventure from 1973 to a 1998 trip across the USA. From a single 20 year old to a married 45 year old with a photographer driving the route and available at any time. Well written but I wasn't convinced that it was a fair comparison considering the different eras.
Lisa
Feb 22, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it years ago and still sticks with me. Adventuresome and it solved the mysterious as to why Americans think hitchhiking is crazy dangerous.
Sheryl Osgood
I enjoyed the author's journey but I wished to see more photos that the National Geographic photographer took.
Lester
Jul 30, 2011 Lester rated it it was ok
Not the worst, but nowhere near the best travel book I have read about the US. The author sets off on a hitchhike across the US, but disappointingly also takes the bus a lot, as well as lifts from his photographer. There is a lot of small-town America that he comes across, but not any more so than Bill Bryson finds travelling by car. Most infuriatingly, he keeps talking about the fabulous photos that the accompanying photographer took, but all we get in the book are about 10 average photos. I ga ...more
Laurie Stoll
Dec 20, 2013 Laurie Stoll rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is a true story of a man who hitch-hiked across America as a young man.. The author recreates his journey around 30 years later. Hoping to find some of the people that touched his life the first time around. He successfully meets a few.

I was expecting this to be much more interesting than it was. Also, I felt that he cheated a great deal on his second trip. Using buses, trains, and a photographer that traveled by car which he could call whenever he needed to.
Abbey
Mar 29, 2014 Abbey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gave up before finishing. I was hoping for a memoir and an interesting travel book - I really got neither. The current travel was partially taken by hitchhiking, but, more often by bus or in his photographer's car, and the interactions with people along the way were superficial. Mr. Brookes does seem to have a few passions, most notably for music, and the few passages concerning it are among the best in the book. He CAN write - now he just seems to need something to write about.
Kendra Haggerty
Jun 09, 2014 Kendra Haggerty rated it liked it
Funny at interesting at times. Often slow and plodding.
Katie
This is definitely a 3.5. It was really fun to read, and an easy and pondering read at that. Brookes has some great insights into both the American landscape as well as into the "art" of hitchhiking. Considering his timeline lines up with the particular time of year we're in now, it was a nice summer escape with lots of funny, inspired observations. A really great summer book.
Nicole
Apr 11, 2010 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read...but I found it hard to relate as I don't believe as a woman I'd be assured of the same experiences if I tried to hitchhike across the US. But it seems to speak of an era (ie 1960's) where hitchhiking was a more accepted activity even though the author attempts throughout the novel to insist that this is still alive and kicking in present day.
Jod
Aug 01, 2012 Jod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about this memoir about travel and hitchhiking is the author's central premise that the best way to travel is to make yourself as vulnerable as possible and then wait for people and fate to treat you kindly. He shares a number of anecdotes where this rather miraculously happens on the road.
David
A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow: An American Hitchhiking Odyssey by Tim Brooks (National Geographic 2001)(917.3). The author hitchhikes across the US and lives to write about it. The focus of the book is on "The Great American Road Trip." My rating: 7/10, finished 2004.
Nitrorockets
Jan 07, 2008 Nitrorockets rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For humor, photos and perspective, this is a good fun read. I recommend this to read if you are interested in people and parts of America you would never see. There are some illuminating pictures of very unusual places, which I found to help visualize some of the sites he sees.
Wendy
May 21, 2009 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting take on the idea that we can have is "the now"... nostalgia and memory will fail us so better to take each experience as it comes
Still I could never hitchhike so experiencing it this way was fun no harm came to him, etc...
Naomi
Aug 11, 2008 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but expected it to be better. More about the adventure and less about his getting along on the road.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Brookes recreates his hitchhiking
adventures from the early 1970's
as he attempts to hitchhike across
America. Recommended.
Ronnie
May 16, 2009 Ronnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by a local author, talking about a cross country hitch hiking trip. Awesome to see his views, the people he meets, and to know he writes in my hometown paper, and for NPR.
James
Jan 14, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Fun, funny, thought-provoking, and often counterintuitive and encouraging. I thoroughly enjoyed this author's memoirs about hitchhiking around the US and the people and places he found.
Tracy
Aug 22, 2008 Tracy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: road trippers!
Shelves: memoir
Love the title! The author hitchhiked across the US in the sixties and comes back to do it again.
C.M. Thompson
C.M. Thompson rated it it was ok
Apr 25, 2016
Alissa Paige
Alissa Paige rated it really liked it
Feb 29, 2016
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46589
I was born in England to parents who were poor, honest, and loved nothing more than going for long walks, preferably in the rain. My education consisted of being forced to take written exams every five or six weeks, and eat school lunches of liver and onions-until I got to Oxford, where we had written exams every eight weeks and had lunches of pickled onions and Guinness.
This was quite enough to
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