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America Unchained

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,527 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
The plan was simple. Go to America. Buy a second-hand car. Drive coast-to-coast without giving any money to The Man™. What could possibly go wrong? Dismayed by the relentless onslaught of faceless American chains muscling in where local businesses had once thrived, Dave Gorman set off on the ultimate American road trip—in search of the true, independent heart of the U S of ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Ebury Press (first published April 3rd 2007)
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Apr 19, 2011 Sho rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sho by: Maggie Biegel
I didn't know who Dave Gorman was - actually I'm still a little unclear - but when I mentioned that I like travel-writing an internet friend suggested this and then sent it to me. Cool.

I like travel books to have a theme and this one is quite interesting. Very interesting in fact. The plan was to drive from the west to the east coast of America using only independent retailers to refuel, overnight and buy supplies at. The great American tradition of the Mom & Pop store was to be tested, in f
Jan 12, 2010 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I was after a bit of roadtrip inspiration and picked up Dave Gorman's America Unchained off the shelves. After doing a US tour, he came home thinking he didn't like America very much but his problem was that he had only seem the soulless corporate side. He sets himself a mission to cross the country without giving any money to The Man, avoiding hotels, gas stations, cafes and shops that are part of any chain.

The journey ends up a little bit like one of those Top Gear specials where they buy old
Feb 25, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
The biggest draw in this story, for me, was to get to the end and learn if the author really was able to accomplish his mission. However, it turns out that the journey was pretty interesting, in itself. I'm sure there's a moral there somewhere -- something along the lines of "the destination not being as important as the journey". Nonetheless -- I enjoyed reading about all of the unbranded, "Mom and Pop" hotels they stayed in and restaurants they ate in. It's nice know that quirky spots like tha ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Snoakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend loaned me this a while ago. Although there are a few Dave Gorman books in my wishlist, I've never read one, and this wouldn't have been the first one I chose, so it languished at the bottom of my TBR pile for some time before I picked it up.
As you'd expect, it's a light hearted, entertaining easy read. Dave makes a good travelling companion, and his enthusiasm for America and his challenge is infectious.
Glad I finally got round to it, and looking forward to catching up on some of his ot
Feb 05, 2017 Pierre rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Dave Gorman. I like his gently intellectual, yet inclusive comedy. I've liked his books before. But this one... eehh. It feels like the framework of the road trip hinders what could have been a much more interesting set of anecdotes, but instead those are spread thinly and danced through quickly and interspersed with a lot of very dry travelogue about places I will never go and have no desire to go. It also doesn't feel like it makes much of a point about commercial and cultural homogenis ...more
Christopher Lane
Something that I would love to do with a few get out clauses. Dave Gorman decided to drive from Coast to Coast of America without giving any money to 'The Man'. That means no Starbucks, no McDonalds, he didn't mention them, but no Cracker Barrel (that would be my get out clause), no chain motels or hotels and obviously causing the most problem only filling up at independent gas stations. I wouldn't even know where an independent gas station is in the UK. By and large he almost does it, with a fe ...more
Jul 29, 2012 Feistytiger rated it it was amazing
The plan was simple. Go to America. Buy a second-hand car. Drive coast-to-coast without giving any money to The Man. What could possibly go wrong? Dismayed by the relentless onslaught of faceless American chains muscling in where local businesses had once thrived, Dave Gorman set off on the ultimate American road trip - in search of the true, independent heart of the US of A. He would eat cherry pie from local diners, re-fuel at dusty gas stations and stock up on supplies from Mom and Pop's groc ...more
Dane Cobain
Aug 27, 2014 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
America Unchained tells the true story of one man, his car and his mission; the man is British comedian Dave Gorman, the car is a Ford Torino and the mission is to travel across America from coast to coast without giving any money to The Man. The Man, of course, is corporate America, the chained stores that threaten to eradicate independent ‘mom and pop‘ stores.

It’s an admirable mission, and Gorman writes about it with his typical wit – as always, it’s interesting to see how his adventure pans o
Dec 27, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Dave Gorman has recently become a new hero of mine when I saw his TV show "Modern Life is Goodish". I found this book and thought it might be worth a read. Spoiler: it was.

The premise is fairly simple- Gorman sets out to travel across America, from LA to New York, without giving any money to "The Man", chained companies. Therefore he has to stay in independent hotels, get gas from independent gas stations and eat at independent diners. Of course this is easier said than done, and what's more he
David Jones
Apr 24, 2013 David Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The third Dave Gorman book I have read and if he can keep with the interesting premises hopefully it's not the last.
In this book( which was also filmed so there's an accompanying DVD to seek) Dave travels the US with the idea of avoiding major chain hotels,restaurants and gas stations...the first two in the UK would be easy enough but except for one I can think of in Wales I can't think of a single independent gas/petrol station...if that's the case here surely the US would be even harder?
In fai
Oct 31, 2010 Raj rated it really liked it
Is it possible to travel from one coast of the US to the other without giving any money to The Man? This is the question that Dave Gorman posed to himself after a tour of the States where he was taken from one identical hotel room to another to perform. So to counteract this, he decides to start in LA and travel to New York using only independent motels, diners, grocery stores and, most problematically, gas stations.

I find Dave Gorman a very entertaining writer, and this book had me laughing out
Jun 25, 2011 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I hit the motherload of books in the apartment building/hotel I was living at in Sydney! Someone left a whole bunch of travel books that I have been dying to read and usually I am very good about only swapping one for one because I don't want to be grabby, but I had to grab more then my share one day, because I just wanted to read them all! I put back books as a read them without taking more later. And this book was one of them.

I had read something by this author in the past and liked it, so of
Brian Clegg
Aug 28, 2014 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it
I bought this book as holiday reading, expecting a humorous travel book, and though the humour is there, it proved to be more of a straight tale - but was none the worse for that. After suffering a comedy tour staying in bland chain hotels, Dave Gorman decided to try to cross America from coast to coast without giving any money to 'the Man', avoiding chain hotels, chain restaurants and chain filling stations.

As is often the case with these kind of books, the car itself (regularly breaking down)
Aug 09, 2011 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical
An excellent travelogue of Dave Gorman's attempt to wipe the memory of a previous terrible comedy tour of USA. Instead of staying in big chain motels where every room is identical across the continent (and around the world), he chose to stay in independently owned motels where each one is different. Instead of eating in big chain places like McDonalds and Starbucks, he chose independent restaurants. Instead of renting a modern car from a big chain hire shop like Hertz, he bought a 2nd hand car a ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty standard Gorman, which is by no means a bad thing. Yet another silly 'project' trying to do something and ending up having an adventure along the way.

This time the premise is simple: travel across America without giving any money to 'the man.' So no chain stores, hotels, or - trickiest of all - gas stations.

It's quite interesting to read about how hard it is to actually do this. It doesn't especially help that Dave keeps getting sidetracked on little diversions, or his travelling companio
Aug 24, 2016 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read Too Much Information I was not expecting huge amounts from this book, whilst funny it wasnt a page turner just a reasonably amusing read. This however was completely different.

Whilst the story may sound like something from a documentary style Hollywood movie the book manages to engage and delight throughout. You are there with Dave as he and Stef struggle along, you want them to succeed and are gutted when things go wrong.

The wittiness of his TV performances is fully present (albeit
I read this in 2 days, was always gonna be an easy sell to me having been to lots of places in America, loving America and knowing Dave Gorman as being Danny Wallace's flatmate I knew I'd be in for a good read. I did enjoy it, was nice to hear about the less commercial aspects of America and could really imagine the places he was describing, but it was repetative in parts and not as funny as I had envisaged - it didn't have to be, I was just expecting it to be. I'm a big fan of Danny Wallace and ...more
Jul 31, 2009 Fatatat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book thinking 'If it's anything like his stand-up for googlewack adventure it'll have me laughing out loud' and it did but that's not what sticks in my mind about this book. first is two points about Dave Gorman 1) He's got some guts and 2) He has actually lost at least a part of his mind! It was a fantastic book and a great way to get even a small idea of the small parts of America from a brit-eye-view. He talks about all the tiny bits of America that everyone one else has forg ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
c2008. I had watched the actual documentary that was filmed during this trip and I didn't recall it being outstandingly good. The book, though, was a good humorous read. Sadly, he didn't make it to the state that I prefer (Hawkeye!) but seemed set on visiting as many Independences as possible whilst traversing from coast to coast. I have been lucky enough to meet some really lovely hospitable and friendly people during my sojourns to the States and I am not at all surprised that the people Mr Go ...more
Alan Williams
Apr 07, 2008 Alan Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: will
Shelves: travel
Book title: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)

Dave Gorman sets off across America to see if he can travel the Country without using any chain businesses, including petrol stations.

In the Ford Torino station wagon (yes Starsky and Hutch drove a Torino, but there's was the saloon version), he sets off with a film director for company who's job it is to make a film of the trip. Along the way he run's into all sorts of different characters and place
Mar 01, 2011 A.J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the premise of the road trip, although I did find it slightly ironic that Gorman was rejecting the idea of big chains and brands, while managing to milk the trip and his own personal brand for all it was worth, by making a documentary as part of it. The filming itself caused problems and threw the author into what can only be described as a full-on strop when he got to Moab in Utah. I lost a fair bit of respect for him there, and again at the point when the car's water pump failed and he ...more
Rae Gee
Jul 19, 2012 Rae Gee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine sent me the book and DVD bundle. It came with a note which read, "Your documentaries will be like this!". I took it as high praise indeed.

Unchained America covers two of my favourite subjects: Small town America and "sticking it to the Man". It follows Dave and his sometimes long suffering film crew as they attempt to cross America without giving any money to any of the chains. That means hotels, food and petrol.

The book is great. Funny and fast paced it'll keep you glued to the
Sian Powell
Apr 28, 2014 Sian Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had one of those rare qualities for me: I couldn't put it down! I'd pick it up to read a few pages and find I had carried on reading a few chapters! Dave Gorman has a way of describing the people he meets and the places he goes in very funny and apt ways. He decides to travel across America without using any chain hotels, shops or gas stations. Gas stations proves to be the most difficult and the car he buys is hardly economical with gas which makes it worse but also more exciting! We ...more
Mark Simon
Dec 17, 2014 Mark Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fun.

I've now read 5 of Dave's books. I'd rank this one 3rd (behind Are You Dave Gorman and Googlewhack Adventure), which is more a compliment to the other books than a knock on this one.

In this one, Dave tries to travel the USA from coast to coast without using a chain. Along the way, he has all sorts of mishaps and fun encounters, most of which teeter on the "this couldn't have happened" line. And he's honest ... he likes some people and doesn't like others (spoiler: he has some bad ex
Mar 28, 2010 Gary rated it it was amazing
After a 4 month tour of America doing his stand up routine a jaded Dave Gorman returns to the UK feeling his love affair with the States is over. Reflecting on his tour he realizes his frustrations lie within the faceless nature of corporate America, and so the idea is formed for rediscovering his love of America, the real America. The plan- a coast to coast road trip with just one stipulation, not to give any money to The Man.

This is his diary/travelogue, filled with bizarre and colorful charac
Jul 18, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-that-i-own
This book was entertaining and simply enjoyable. It follows Dave Gorman as he makes a road trip from the USA west coast to the east coast. The entertaining book not only makes you laugh but makes you want to read more of his books. I really enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone who wants a change from the normal fiction books they read (I've read a lot like TFIOS and divergent) This was a change and I loved it even though at parts the story could have moved a little faster (a lot of small deta ...more
Oct 26, 2009 Kerry rated it liked it
A wacky British dude attempts to find independent America and make a documentary on the side. To find out what happens, you'll just have to read it for yourself.

I did enjoy hearing the stories about these less traveled, relatively unknown places in the U.S. It was fun to read an outsider's perspective on it all.

Makes you think about the character that gets lost with some chains. On the other hand some of his experiences would have had be begging for some quality and service standards.
Jan 24, 2011 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-writing
The idea for this book was a simple one, travel across the USA from west coast to east in a car using only independent petrol stations, resturants and hotels, no chains that meant no Best Western Hotels, no McDonalds or Burger King’s and no refuelling stops at Shell, or BP garages etc. The idea WAS simple, but the execution wasn’t, and all the trials and tribulations are in this travelouge.
Dave’s writing style is easy to follow and he writes with humour and wit that will have you chuckling aloud
Duke Orsino
Apr 27, 2008 Duke Orsino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love travel books, and Dave Gorman's style, so this is perfect. Travelling across America without giving money to The Man sounds like a perfect adventure, and Gorman carries it off (almost) with aplomb, conveying a different America than usual, and showing that it's not as homogeneous as you might think. It loses a star because it shares a fault with most travel books, where the first half of the journey takes up most of the book, and then the rest is dispensed with in the last couple of chapt ...more
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Amazon & Goodreads 1 6 Mar 28, 2013 02:51PM  
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David James Gorman is an English author, stand-up comedian and presenter. He has performed comedy shows on stage in which he tells stories of extreme adventures and presents the evidence to the audience in order to prove to them that they are true stories. He was a stand-up comedian before he became famous for Are You Dave Gorman?, then took a break from normal stand-up. He returned to stand-up in ...more
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