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The Road

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  1,677 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
The Road is Jack London's collection of stories from his life as a hobo. In this entertaining collection of tales and autobiographical essays, London relates every aspect of the hobo's life -- from catching a train to cadging a meal. The wealth of experiences and the necessity of having to lie for a living brought depth London's subsequent stories. In "The Road," Jack Lond ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Aegypan (first published 1907)
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Feb 25, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it
The Road by Jack London was published in 1907, years before George Orwell’s
Down and Out in Paris and London and decades before Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

This compilation of stories and essays is gleaned from the remembrances of an older and more successful London, looking back on his days as a tramp and hobo. We learn about life aboard box car trains, running and evading the train conductors, time in prison for vagrancy and the ubiquitous begging and scamming for food.

Also detailed is London
J.M. Hushour
Apr 20, 2016 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When he was a teenager, London decided, for the pure fact that the road was there, to become a hobo. Later, he compiled his wanderings into a series of essays, thus, The Road. These stories are wonderful, testament to the fact that London was something far beyond The Guy Who Wrote the Wolf Books. He spent 1892-1893 hopping trains across America and Canada, getting tossed in jail for a month in Erie, playing deadly train-hopping games with railroad employees trying to ditch him, stole boats, begg ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Willcaban rated it it was amazing
Has to be by far one of the most interesting Non-fiction travel stories I have read. A classic needless to say; makes you want to jump on trains and travel across the US or the world for that matter.
Jennell McHugh
May 29, 2013 Jennell McHugh rated it really liked it
This is The Road before On the Road. It's funny and ugly and individualistic and crafty and bad and good and American and human.

I can't imagine what it's like to be so far over the edge, and then to come back.

"I became a tramp-well, because of the life that was in me, of the wanderlust in my blood that would not let me rest. Sociology was merely incidental; it came afterward, in the same manner that a wet skin follows a duckling. I went on 'The Road' because I couldn't keep away from it; becaus
Jul 11, 2013 Steven rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, non-fiction
This was a great book. When I found the free e-book I didn't realize it was an autobiography until I was a few pages in, then did some research on it. That just made it better. Jack London has to be one of the most fascinating figures in American literature.

This slim book is a series of vignettes about the time he spent as a train-jumping hobo in his youth. It is a fantastic look into a long-past time and a unique culture. Many of the stories are funny, such as how he would win food or elude the
Oct 20, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
The 'Road' in question is the railroad - motor cars were almost unheard of when Jack London was travelling around America as a hobo. This is a fascinating look at a very different country. It's full of great characters and long-forgotten slang and exciting tussles with policemen and railroad employees.

The interesting thing about the book, for me, is that it works so well even though the story doesn't have much of a trajectory. It's really just a series of anecdotes about life as a hobo, from sur
Oct 24, 2013 jen rated it liked it
Shelves: hobos
Three and a half stars. I hadn't been interested in reading any more hobo literature after "You Can't Win" - it just didn't seem like anything had a chance against Jack Black. However, Jack London's stories of tramping are definitely worth reading, and I'm glad I gave this book a chance. I especially recommend this one if you are interested in hobo terminology; by the time you get through the book, you will have learned a bunch of the lingo for train-hopping and other hobo activities.
Jeffrey Bumiller
Aug 05, 2012 Jeffrey Bumiller rated it did not like it
Painfully boring. Poorly written. This happened, then this happened, then this happened. On and on for 100 pages. It's a shame that this is so bad because it is an interesting subject (train hopping, the life of a hobo) The reality is that it's been written about so much better, with so much more insight. This left me completely unmoved, it is filled with as much emotion as the instruction manual to my electric toothbrush. Good for you Jack London, you were a hobo for a few years when you were a ...more
Oct 13, 2008 David rated it really liked it
I’ve enjoyed several other hobo accounts (such as Jim Tully's great Beggars of Life), and don’t know how this had escaped my notice for so long, but I enjoyed it so much I think it may kick off a Jack London binge for me. In these real-life adventures drawn from his tramping days during the depression years of the 1890s, London shares with the reader the fine art of lying and begging for food, the vicious skill of holding one’s own amidst the rough handling of wolfish road kids and predatory pro ...more
Kemal Demirkol
Kitabı anlatmakta gerçekten bende zorluk çektim. Çünkü Jack London'un Martin Eden, Beyaz Diş ve Vahşetin Çağrısı'nı okuduktan sonra çok başka bir roman bu kitap. Diğer kitaplarına nazaran biraz daha az etkiledi ama bu kitapta da heyecan bitmedi. Devamlı aksiyon. Ama tekrar eden olaylar. Aksiyonların içinde değişik dersler, bilgiler.

Olaylar genellikle demiryolu ve trenlerde geçiyor adı üstünde bir roman... :) Betimlemeleri gerçekten bir harika. Gözünüzün önünde yaşanıyor tüm olaylar. Bıkmadan öz
Jun 07, 2016 Barakiel rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Should have been called "The Rail". There are a lot of train-related stories, which were my favourites. The rest were not so good; the one about the gypsies left an especially bad taste. As did the bit in Kelly's army when he was in L company.

The narrator lost all credibility from the start when he admitted to being a great liar. For the rest of the book I wondered "Is this true?" As someone who values truth and honesty above most things, this particular suspicion grated on my nerves throughout
I am still on the fence about London. But he can tell a story. And that was what stood out to me throughout this book - everything hinged on his skill at storytelling. The way way he describes life as a hobo is one of learning how to read what story his audience will believe and spinning it so they give him something of themselves. He says he did some of his best work on the road. I couldn't help thinking of Huck Finn. Or even Ed Ricketts ( Cannery Row, John Steinbeck). It actually made me wonde ...more
Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
Jan 26, 2015 Erika B. (SOS BOOKS) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
"I went on "The Road" because I couldn't keep away from it; because I hadn't the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn't work all my life on "one same shift"; because — well, just because it was easier to than not to.” -London

I went into this with apprehension. What I found was that Jack London is a first class "blown in the glass" wit! I found myself laughing out loud at his tall tales and his near escapes. He keeps the road realistic but still makes it rom
Aug 08, 2008 Wylie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hobo, autobiography
I've embarked on a project (both academic and personal) to read lots and lots of hobo narratives (both fictional and autobiographical). London's book is often mentioned (by those who bother to talk about such things) as the first literary treatment of the subject, although other writers (e.g., Josiah Flynt) had addressed the subject before. Published in 1907, the book is made up of a series of articles that London published earlier that year (strictly for the money, apparently). The articles are ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Andy rated it it was ok
No one was a greater champion of Jsck London's work than Jack Kerouac himself, and with The Road it's easy to see why. Lots of stories about tramping, riding the rails and the wanderlust that takes you through the hills and valleys of the great North American landscape.

I think Kerouac tells tramping stories a lot better, though. London goes into tedious attention to tramp detail, page after page, and I think some of the stories aren't terribly enjoyable. I wasn't too impressed about the story o
Jul 30, 2015 Kahveci rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-story, kindle
Otobiyografik bir roman.

İmrenilecek bir serseri hayat sürmüş yazar olmadan önce. Birçok maceraya atılmış, hayatını dolu dolu yaşamış ama zevk ve sefa içinde değil, çok kereler ölümden dönmüş, sürekli dilencilik yapmış. Kışın kar, yazın güneşin altında çok sefer tren memurlarıyla hayatı pahasına kovalamaca oynayarak vagonlarda, kimi zaman ceza evinde yatmış. Amerika kazan o kepçe misali adım atmadık yer bırakmamış.

O kadar maceranın peşinden yazacak çok hikaye bulması normal karşılanabilir ama nas
Christopher Sutch
Feb 14, 2015 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it
London's episodic collection of magazine pieces about his youthful travels as a hobo has some fascinating moments mixed with some things that are only of historical interest. His description of his travels with Kelly's Army (a group of poor and unemployed formed during the depression of 1893 to march on Washington as a protest against the labor environment in the US) is quite fascinating, particularly in demonstrating how ordinary people all along the route the Army took through Nebraska and Iow ...more
Matt James
Sep 17, 2016 Matt James rated it liked it
Like 'People of the Abyss' and 'Cruise of the Snark', 'The Road' is an account of another of Jack London's own adventures - this time being his travels as a nomadic vagrant across the railways and roads of rural USA.

'The Road' provides some great insight into the life of a hobo and London becomes fully immersed in this underground society, using lingo like 'road-kids' and 'gay-cats' and describing in detail the various techniques of travelling upon the railway and avoiding capture by the wardens
Ian Russell
Mar 31, 2015 Ian Russell rated it really liked it

Jack London's rather pragmatic account of his life on The Road, meaning railroad, could be intended as a manual for tramps and hoboes travelling around North America. He goes to pains to explain all the jargon and slang. One chapter dedicates itself comprehensively on how to successfully board a freight and avoid being "ditched" (thrown off) by a "shuck" (railroad man) or, much worse, collared by a "bull" (policeman). He even tells the reader which parts of the train to board and where it's leas
Bernie Gourley
Jan 06, 2016 Bernie Gourley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a freight-hopping hobo, you need look no further than Jack London’s autobiographical account of the hobo life. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t know London had been a hobo, or anything about the man other than that he wrote a book called “The Call of the Wild” that you read in high school. When you read “The Road” you’ll learn skills like how to avoid getting kicked off a train, how to survive being jailed for vagrancy, and how to tell a ...more
Sep 19, 2016 Gavriil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Καλή γραφή, καλή μετάφραση, περιγράφει μία όχι και τόσο γνωστή εικόνα της Αμερικής. Εν μέρει αυτοβιογραφικό, στο βιβλίο αυτό αποτυπώνονται μάλλον οι προσωπικές εμπειρίες του London από την εποχή που περιφερόταν ως Hobo προσπαθώντας να επιβιώσει.

(view spoiler)
Mar 31, 2016 Nick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, classics
This Jack London memoir of sorts is so much fun. Documenting his time traveling around the US as a hobo in his unique writing style is simply refreshing despite being written well over a hundred years ago. There is a humbleness alongside an innocent comedy that seeps through page after page. Where many others may have seen despair London found acceptance, where others saw difficulty London saw a challenge and where others gave up London seemed to think that was where the measuring yourself start ...more
Jun 02, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My four-star rating includes the introduction by editor Todd DePastino, which provides fascinating historical context about the labor conditions, racial tensions, economic philosophy, and gender/sexual relationships of the time--details which aren't really evident if you just read London's essays.

The essays themselves are a mixed bag. "Confession," in which London details some of the lies he told in order to hustle people, is really amusing and written in a lively, comic style. With the context
May 18, 2015 Enikő rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Très, très bonne lecture. C'était comme un véritable voyage dans le temps. Les récits étaient intéressants et le langage était en même temps simple, mais élégant. (Donc, la traduction était très bonne!)

Dès le début, j'étais captivée:

De temps à autre, il m'arrive de tomber, dans un journal, un magazine ou un dictionnaire biographique, sur un article qui m'apprend, en termes choisis, que si je suis devenu un vagabond, c'est afin d'étudier la sociologie. C'est très gentil, et très délicat de la pa
Sep 03, 2014 Nash rated it liked it
one of my favorite reads. i read it while traveling via thumb and train so maybe thats why it holds a spot for me.
Carrie Speaking
Oct 27, 2015 Carrie Speaking rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-writing
I found my 1930s exemplary on the shelves of Pegasus Books, in Wellington, New Zealand, while travelling NZ in a van, during winter time.

When I read "Jack London", opened the book, saw the pronoun "I" used on every page and realized that this "I" actually referred to Jack, I was excited: I only knew JL through his "Call of the Wild" kind of books. I smiled and pressed the book hard on my chest. I was going to love it. And I did.

"The Road" documents the time JL spent on the road as a hobo, a tram
Jack London's story of being a tramp/ hobo.
Skuli Saeland
May 09, 2015 Skuli Saeland rated it really liked it
Sagan The Road eftir Jack London var gefin út á íslensku undir heitinu Flækingar og hana er hægt að hlusta á sem hljóðbók í lestri Sigurðar Arendts Jónssonar í útgáfu
Í sögunni lýsir ævintýramaðurinn London lífi sínu sem flakkari um Bandaríkin þegar hann var u.þ.b. 18 ára gamall á síðasta áratuginum fyrir aldamótin 1900. Bókin kom út 1907 og í henni lýsir hann þegar hann stalst sem laumufarþegi á lestum þrátt fyrir harða eftirgrennslan lestarvarða, sníkti mat, sagði sögur til að hafa í
Michelle Boyer
I was really surprised that I was not a fan of this book. I enjoy London's other work, so I was excited to read about his experiences as a tramp. However, this just didn't hit home for me. It seems so distant from the classics that I enjoy from London.

This is interesting if you want autobiography. I know a lot of the fellow Ph.D. students that read this in the course I was in enjoyed it. However, if you're expecting a huge punch, this book just doesn't have it. There are some cute stories that
Jan 28, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it
Great stories about being a hobo in the 1890's and riding the rails. Full of interesting terminology and "how to" lessons. So context as to why so many men were "on the bum" would have been nice. Kelly's Army (part of Coxey's Army) didn't just spring out of no where... and the son of a sometime railway cop doesn't just get up and ride the rails for no reason, either.

Regardless, an entertaining read and a fine companion piece to Jack Black's autobiography of the same era, You Can't Win.
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The Road 3 19 Dec 17, 2007 08:08PM  
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent ti
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“Every once in a while, in newspapers, magazines, and biographical dictionaries, I run upon sketches of my life, wherein, delicately phrased, I learn that it was in order to study sociology that I became a tramp. This is very nice and thoughtful of the biographers, but it is inaccurate. I became a tramp — well, because of the life that was in me, of the wanderlust in my blood that would not let me rest. Sociology was merely incidental; it came afterward, in the same manner that a wet skin follows a ducking. I went on "The Road" because I couldn't keep away from it; because I hadn't the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn't work all my life on "one same shift"; because — well, just because it was easier to than not to.” 5 likes
“And all the while the four men lay beside me and watched and made no move. Nor did I move, and without shame I say it; though my reason was compelled to struggle hard against my natural impulse to rise up and interfere. I knew life. Of what use to the woman, or to me, would be my being beaten to death by five men there on the bank of the Susquehanna? I once saw a man hanged, and though my whole soul cried protest, my mouth cried not. Had it cried, I should most likely have had my skull crushed by the butt of a revolver, for it was the law that the man should hang. And here, in this gypsy group, it was the law that the woman should be whipped.

Even so, the reason in both cases that I did not interfere was not that it was the law, but that the law was stronger than I. Had it not been for those four men beside me in the grass, right gladly would I have waded into the man with the whip. And, barring the accident of the landing on me with a knife or a club in the hands of some of the various women of the camp, I am confident that I should have beaten him into a mess. But the four men were beside me in the grass. They made their law stronger than I.”
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