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Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  237 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Harley-Davidson bikers . . . Grand Canyon river rats. . .Mormon archaeologists. . . Spelling bee prodigies…

For more than fifteen years, best-selling author and historian Hampton Sides has traveled widely across the continent exploring the America that lurks just behind the scrim of our mainstream culture. Reporting for Outside, The New Yorker, and NPR, among other national
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Paperback, 450 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Anchor
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Karen Germain
My Friend Nicole passed this book my way and it was absolutely fantastic. Hampton Side’s “Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier” is comprised of thirty chapters, each reflecting on a different American subculture or perspective. The stories each vary drastically in tone, some taking more of a travel writer feel and some hardcore journalism.

As with all collections, some pieces are bound to be more interesting than others, but I really don’t think that there was a low point in this book. The
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Scott
Anthologies aren't the type of books that I knowingly choose to read. i didn't realize this book was an anthology when i bought it; i might not have bought it had i known it. anyway, when i discovered this was a book of short stories, i wasn't thrilled. well, the book was good. it was in the travel section at half price books, but it shouldn't have been. Maybe the sociology section would have been more appropriate for it.

This author wrote interesting non-fiction stories about interesting topics
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Kate
I thought this book was incredibly interesting. The anthology style means you get a brief glimpse at all kinds of different people and events, tons of which I wouldn't have read about otherwise.

I would love to read a biography of Hampton Sides. He has definitely lived an interesting life.
Patrick Gibson
Mar 05, 2009 Patrick Gibson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like social commentary road trips
It is precisely because Hampton Sides writes with articulate verbosity that I like him. Knowing clever words and using them wisely is craftsmanship not showoffyness. And he doesn’t need me to defend him—but there are critics among you who find him elitist and wordy. Can you imagine such a thing? He also has a macho bravura that takes him places other chroniclers of the human condition shy away from. The annual Harley hog-fest in Sturgis, South Dakota for example. Or tracking the Bassmasters in R ...more
Kellun Turner
Mr. Sides is an excellent writer; however, I didn't love this book and I think it's quite accurate for him to label the writings "dispatches." It reads like a book for "macho" guys and I'd rather not know about, especially in such detail, many aspects of these sections of Americana. But he's definitely someone who knows how to capture the essence of people and experiences.
Patrick Dean
This collection of nonfiction pieces, many of them from Outside magazine, has some dated entries (G. Gordon Liddy?) but is otherwise strong and interesting. Sides's wide-ranging subjects include an ultra marathon in the Moroccan desert, the aftermath of 9/11, the Sturgis Harley Rally, and Mormon archaeologists. Recommended.
Tyler
A collection of eclectic essays portraying America's personality. Dated but interesting. Wordy and well crafted in the usual Hampton Sides style. Recommended for those who typically enjoy the history genre.
Susan
Very good anthology of stories from the author of "In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette". Very readable, interesting, and a varied.
Suzanne Lavine
Well worth reading

This is a series of very interesting and varied short stories, each one is very unique. I learned a lot. Many are very touching.
Wendyhodges
Interesting to see the early formations of writing styles and topics that comprise some of his full books. Still one of my favorite non-fiction writers.
Joseph
I loved Ghost Soliders and just read Blood and Thunder before this one. Maybe not as great as the others, but still very good. It is more like a 3.5.

This is a collaberation of articles he had done in the past 15 plus years about America. Some were better then others and I thought some needed to be expanded on. I know some were written in the past, but he could have updated some maybe. Of course he might have already done that. The best stories were a Chief Without Indians, Toughest Guy in Alaska
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Marc
Hampton Sides chooses his words so effectively that you forget you're even reading
Booth Babcock
Have you ever picked up a book from your shelf and struggled to remember if you had already read it? Have you ever wondered that after you finished the book? That's the case with this collection of medium- and long-form essays from Hampton Sides...I like the long form article, so this is a book of various ones written mostly in the 90s covering a variety of American characters and subcultures. Somewhere between something you'd read in the New Yorker and in an in-flight magazine. Not bad, but unm ...more
Elizabeth
3.5 instead of just a 3. Sides is a great writer, but some of the essays are brief enough to leave you wanting more, like the second half of "Embedded". He starts talking about al-Issawi, the top correspondent of Al-Jazeera, only to stop the essay soon after. I'm sure these limits were based more on length for the magazine he's writing for & not his own choosing. A good collection to get lost in.
Fred Forbes
I must have been in the mood for essays after Bryson's book about the summer of '27 in America so this one was a nice continuation. A lot of different, interesting topics from "Airstreaming" retirees, to cavers to bass fishing. But probably the most powerful writing is on the experience of the those at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Pretty tough to come away from those stories with dry eyes.
Jonestw4
Hampton Sides is one of my favorite writers of History. Here is a collection of articles written mostly for "Outback" maganize about various people and pursuits in America. Some of it is a bit dated, with stories from back in the early 90's, but there's lots to enjoy here, and an especially riveting article about three people who survived the 911 attacks, and their memories of that day.
SonicRim
Dec 22, 2011 SonicRim added it
Shelves: featured
This is a great collection of 30 short non-fiction stories of American subcultures. Fasinating and bizarre characters keep me constantly curious about people and human behavior. This book helps me appreciate the many different places and environments I've found myself around the world, and the interesting people I've met. Few careers would have afforded me this gift.
Drew
I love American Travel narrative and Hampton Sides does a great job with this one. He is a writer at Outside magazine and writes great narrative. this book takes him all over the US of A to inhabit strange subcultures, from the harley rallies at Sturgis to hippy communes in the west. one of my favorite authors. I read everything he writes.
Karl
This anthology is spotty. Some of the pop culture pieces are now 15 years old. But there are some terrific pieces in here too: "In Darkest Bohemia", ""The Silver City", "A Murder in Falkner", "This is Not the Place", "At Home in a Fake Place", and "Points of Impact." Worth a look see if you're interested in this sort of thing.
Kimberly
I've been thinking about this book alot lately. After reading Hunter S. Thompson, the piece of the Hell's Angels is disappointing. And the piece on that local murder was too long. But other than that, I really enjoyed this collection of articles, and like I said, they keep popping up in my memory.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I loved this book, from essays about Airstream trailer road clubs to a bass fisherman tournament; left on my own to seek out reading material, I would have sought out nary a one. The author can write and I once again find myself following a good writer wherever he takes me like a loyal dog.
Karson
Read this one a while ago. Tons of fun. It is kind of brief scan of the different types of people in America, and the variety of cultures within it. From sneaking into FreeMason meetings to Christian rallies in Appalachia to techno raves in the middle of the forrest. It's pretty fun.
Colleen
This is an anthology of magazine pieces about different aspects of life in America. The pieces range from articles on Tony Hawk to a profile of 3 9/11 victims. Overall it’s particularly well written and all the pieces were pretty interesting. Definitely recommended.
Brian
I've never been one for a book of short stories in the past, but this book changed that. Hampton Sides really had a great time documenting and spending time with these real American Outliers. Story after unique story. Great compilation.
Kennedy
This book is a series of article about many different topics, such as the Bohemian Grove, the Iditarod, Mormon archeology, and the Church of God in Christ. Really interesting snippets into all sorts of stories.
John
A variety of true stories mostly about things, people and events of which the general public is not familiar. Eye-opening, intriguing, interesting and thought provoking. Hampton Sides does not disappoint.
Karen
It's hard to give this book a rating since there were some stories in the collection that I really liked and others that I was less crazy about. On the whole, though, I enjoyed it.
Melanie Buchleiter
Good easy read although not necessarily one that you will consume in a single setting. I spread it out over several weeks just to better separate each of his experiences from one another.
Lauren
THE STORIES IN HERE ARE SOOO COOL. Tupper Ware Parties! and a secret camp for the FILTHY RICH Politians of America dating back to the 1900 or something. haha SOO COOL.
Ed
Overall, very well-written. Some very interesting and entertaing stories on America and Americans. The profiles on 9-11 are gutwrenching.
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