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The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,255 ratings  ·  237 reviews

Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Picador (first published June 25th 2013)
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Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I could not read Philip Caputo’s new book The Longest Road: Overland from Key West to the Arctic Ocean without reflecting on his extraordinary life. The man has had a hell of a wild ride all over the world, sometimes in extreme danger. Few have lived such a life and few can write as well as he does. His great Vietnam War memoir, A Rumor of War, is considered a classic. He led men in combat in the treacherous jungles of Vietnam. He fought beside them and watched them bleed and
Bob Mayer
I read A Rumor of War a long time ago and was very impressed with the author and the way he approached the subject.

I've also crossed the country a couple of times in my Jeep, always staying off the Interstate, camping a lot. Also drove back from Puerto Vallerta to LA with a friend-- Mexico was great and the people were most friendly.

But to the book-- hitting 70, Mr. Caputo wanted to get this road trip out of his system Initially he was going it alone with his dogs, but then his wife signed.
Teri Stich
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do enjoy Travel Adventures, and I love a wry sense of humor; this book has both. This is the adventure Philip, his wife and 2 dogs took, traveling in an old Airstream from the Southernmost Point of the Continental US to the Northernmost Point reachable by road: Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska. On the way he asked those he met What unites and divides our country. Is it surprising most feel a positive uniting? Should it be surprising?
Caputo writes of their trials and tribulations, as
Nancy Oakes
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
My thanks to LibraryThing and to Henry Holt for my copy.

The author's father once said that there was nothing like being "in a car with everything you need, nothing more, and an open road in front of you." Jack Kerouac wrote "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is so ever on the road." When Caputo's father, who loved being on the road himself, died, the author realized at age 69 that a lot of his own life was behind him, and he pondered about life ahead. He came up with this crazy idea
Feb 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love the USA; People who love road trips
I knew I liked this book, because when I was finished reading it post-its were sticking out of it like thick eyelashes.

Philip Caputo decides to take a road trip from one end of America to the other with his wife, Leslie, and his two dogs. He's ostensibly looking for the reason the United States of America is so united even now, even when Americans disagree about a lot of issues.

I liked how Caputo loves his wife and his dogs. I liked his Zen attitude (as in: people always want, no matter how much
From Lewis and Clark to Jack Kerouac "on the road" American literature usually goes from east to west, a few have gone from west to east and Steinbeck and Charley circumnavigated. Caputo's is only south to north voyage journal that I know of. (In Alaska he learns he's been preceded by a traveler originating in Tierra del Fuego, perhaps another book is yet to come.)

The book chronicles the Caputo's (Phil, wife Leslie and their two English setters) trip from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska.
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
It's road trip season and here's a book that will get you in the mood to hit the road.

Philip Caputo, who has written novels and nonfiction, starting with his Vietnam memoir of 1977, A Rumor of War, was in a philosophical frame of mind as he approached seventy. He wanted to take a long trip and the journalist in him couldn't imagine just wandering about aimlessly. He decided to take the pulse of the nation and find out what Americans think it is that holds us together as a nation, if in fact, we
I don't want to sound as though I'm panning the book, which wasn't bad although the insights Caputo sought seemed almost incidental and tacked-on to fulfill the book contract. My problem was that I never really "bonded" with the couple as a reader. It would be a tad harsh to say they were "slumming it"; however, the tone did become a bit condescending in places, as though the folks along the way were ... specimens. I wasn't that keen on the details focusing on the trailer itself, nor really on ...more
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in exploring U.S.A.
Recommended to Richard by: This is part of the Big Read program.
I think it is impossible to condense a road trip of 9 days and 8,314 miles into a book anyone could lift. Fortunately, Mr. Caputo has the skill to give us wonderful tale summarizing their adventures.

Fortunately, the return 5,000 miles back 'home' only took 9 pages.

This is the kind of book that inspires me to get busy planning the two trips we have planned for this year and 2015. It was an excellent story.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite weekend activities is to hit the back roads to explore the countryside. I take photos of barns, hike with my dogs, discover history, eat in small restaurants and meet a variety of people. I plan road trips for fun. I would like to drive Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. I don't need Paris, France when there are 24 towns in the U.S. named Paris.

Philip Caputo took on the challenge of driving from the southernmost point of the U.S. in Key West, Florida to the northernmost point
Sandi Banks
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this "road trip" book to be fascinating. Caputo begins his journey in Key West Florida and travels to Deadhorse, Alaska to find out what holds oh is diverse nation together. Together with his wife Leslie and two dogs they travel in an Airstream trailer. Throughout the journey I felt like was traveling in the Airstream, trailer seeing the USA and meeting with a variety of people. Caputo's was able to hold my interest through both the descriptions of travel challenges as well interactions ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Philip Caputo and his wife Leslie decide to rent an Airstream trailer and drive from Key West (the southernmost point of the United States) to the Arctic Circle (the northernmost point), asking people the question "What holds us together?"

Summers on the road in his childhood predisposed him to this venture, but the main factor was the growing anger fueling American public discourse - much greater in 2010 than in earlier years. "In Texas, crowds at a political event had called on their governor
J.C. Anderson
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only a third of the way through Phil Caputo's "The Longest Road" on this first day of reading it, and I haven't been so entertained or instructed by my fellow Americans since reading Studs Terkel. Yesterday, the 12th anniversary of the worst crime ever committed against my country, I was wondering what makes the pluribus unum? Still suffering 9/11 and reeling from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression, Americans are mad, by which I mean angry AND crazy. In my state recently, an ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Paul Theroux meets John Steinbeck, sort of. Caputo and his third wife along with two hyper bird dogs take a road trip in the summer from sun to snow. Shades of Travels with Charley but he's also pulling an Airstream trailer, which if you've ever pulled a trailer gives an entirely new dimension to the experience-one filled with anxiety when it comes to parking and backing up. You have to admire a 70 year old man for doing this. He's traveled plenty of places but he's always wanted to do something ...more
John Maberry
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved it. It's a great narrative, with entertaining and interesting conversations with people all along the route from Key West to Deadhorse. The political observations were spot on. The running commentary on Fred (the Tundra) and Ethel (the Airstream) were funny, especially for someone like myself who has had the experience of once being a newbie at traveling with an RV--not exactly the same as a trailer but most of the same issues with refrigerators, hookups, etc. We also have had the ...more
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. I'm assuming because #1, I have a blog of our US travels in an RV. and and #2 we have Setters as the author does.
I was excited to read this book with common interests. The author was out to discover the different lifestyles and attitudes of the American people in different areas of the country. Interesting concept.
Unfortunately, I was very bored with the book. Maybe because I'm living it or maybe because I've read
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caputo wrote a travelog of a very large chunk of rural America , enjoying his time and trying to find out how a country with such human diversity as the USA could remain bonded as one nation. He spoke with Inuit Alaskans, African Americans, Lakota Sioux and multiple others. He tried to discover how individual petroleum engineers and earth firsters can still proudly claim affinity for the USA though much separates them. I am not sure Caputo ever explained this but he is a great story teller who ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, perhaps because I am a road trip junkie but also because I enjoyed the wry sense of humor the author injected at regular intervals. A journalist first, he talked with many people along the way about what they thought united or divided people in America. Often their two dogs would be a conversation starter as was the case when they met a young brother/sister duo traveling together. Caputo observed that, "they were a delightful pair, students on a cross country adventure, ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
great topic from a writer with a great reputation but the final result falls short compared to other on the road books. Caputo makes some good contrasts between Parkman's Oregon Trail and Kerouac's On the Road but ultimately his political
commentary and condescension toward his subjects is distracting. he even ends on a political note which takes away from the travel aspect. his observations on travel are not
original--it's the journey not the destination. William Least Heat Moons Blue Highways
Scott Kauffman
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable and eye opening. Caputo asks the question along the way of what is it that binds America together. The answers he receives were diverse but always fascinating. My own two cents: It is our mythology that binds us together, the stories taught to us as children that hold in them some little truth of who we promised ourselves one day we would be.
kevin kvalvik
Sort of painful. There was no part of this that got me. I'm sure he's a fine author, but all of this sounded like Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie" with out the Steinbeck. A series of disconnected stories by a bored observer. Less like his exciting later-in-life-adventure, and more like an idyll writer looking for anything to fill those empty days and empty pages.

Sorta hated it.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the many slices of America presented in this journey and the political and philosophical insights discovered along the way. Having just completed my own cross-country road trip, I feel like I now understand a little more about what constitutes the United States, and what unites and divides us.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
What a fabulous book- the premise is wildly simple yet fascinating. The book blends all of my favorite things: the best quality writing, adventure, history, travel, interviews with interesting "characters". I am so glad I read this.
Susan Beecher
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this road trip book. The author and his wife travel from Florida to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska with a small Airstream trailer. The author's self-deprecating humor and interesting encounters make this book a pleasure to read.
Sam Sattler
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, travel
Two major life-changing events happened to Philip Caputo in 2010: he turned 70 and his father died. The two events, especially because they occurred so close together, left Caputo speculating about his own old age and how many years might remain to him. Realizing that he was approaching a now-or-never age, the author, accompanied by his wife, set out on a road trip he first contemplated during a 1996 visit to a remote Alaskan village. The result is The Longest Road: Overland in Search of ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished a fantastic book, 'The Longest Road,' by Philip Caputo. I first became acquainted with Mr. Caputo when I read 'A Rumor of War,' his classic memoir of his Vietnam combat experience, which I also highly recommend. On the brink of turning 70, recently losing his father, and perplexed at the increasing political polarization of the United States, he sets out to travel from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska to ask people he encounters along the way the burning question of what ...more
Elly Sands
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all know what it's like to savor a good meal. You eat nice and slow while thoroughly enjoying all the wonderful flavors. That's how it was for me reading this book. I did not want it to end. I wasn't ready for the trip to be over and I certainly wasn't ready to leave the author who I fell a little bit in love with. Such a terrific writer with a dry witty sense of humor. He's perhaps bit of a curmudgeon (his wife seems to balance that with her sunny personality) but a man who truly understands ...more
Washington Post
In May 2011, Philip Caputo, his wife, Leslie, and their two dogs set off, as the subtitle of this account of their journey has it, “In Search of America.” Their route was unusual — from the southernmost point in the United States at Key West to as far north as it’s possible to go by car, the town of Deadhorse, Alaska. Their means of transportation was out of the ordinary, too: a rented 1962 Airstream trailer, “as American as the prairie schooner, its bright aluminum body and rounded lines ...more
Fred Forbes
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy road trips and travel essays so this one was right up my alley. Disappointed originally as he veered off a "blue road", US 41 in Southwest Florida on his way to Tampa once he discovered what an ugly clog it is in that part of the state and headed to Interstate 75 as most of us do. Too bad, I was looking forward to comments on Port Charlotte, Venice, Brandenton, Anna Maria Island and other little known gems in my corner of the world. But soon, back on the road through the smaller towns ...more
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A self-fulfilling journey which did not disappoint. Caputo and his hipster wife, Leslie, forge through harsh roads and even harsher weather at times to engage people and cultures along the way from Key West to Deadhorse, Alaska. Their tenacity and adventurous spirits shined throughout the story. The plight of various cultures in America are delved into in restrained form. The exhaustion the couple felt at the end of the trip is palpable and they couldn't wait to return home to their own beds. ...more
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American author and journalist. Author of 17 books, including the new HUNTER’S MOON: A Novel in Stories. Best known for A Rumor of War, a best-selling memoir of his experiences during the Vietnam War. Website:
“What finger-shaped Florida lacks in breadth it makes up for in length; Tallahassee is 480 miles from Miami (farther than New York City is from Cleveland). The” 0 likes
“I had only one hard-and-fast rule: avoid interstates. They are predictable and boring, and their uniformity somehow erases changes in landscape; you can drive six hundred miles, from forests into desert, and feel that you haven’t gone anywhere. In a sense, you haven’t. You have no idea about the lives of the people in the towns and cities you’ve bypassed at seventy miles an hour. *” 0 likes
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