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Don't Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip
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Don't Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  917 ratings  ·  249 reviews
Don’t Make Me Pull Over! offers a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips—before portable DVD players, smartphones, and Google Maps.

The birth of America’s first interstate highways in the 1950s hit the gas pedal on the road trip phenomenon and families were soon streaming—sans seatbelts!—to a range of sometimes stirring, sometimes wacky locations. In the
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 3rd 2018 by Scribner
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May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American kids from the 70s and 80s
Road trips are my spirit animal!

I am not sure if this book is for everyone, but if you are anything like me, you will love it! If you love travel, travel history, and/or non-fiction about everyday life, this is the book for you. I ate the whole thing up and it made me very excited for my next road trip, which is in a couple of weeks. (YES!)

I can 99.9% guarantee you that if you grew up taking family road trips in the US in the 1970s or 80s, this book will be beautiful nostalgia for you. From
Diane S ☔
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pure nostalgia, both entertaining and informative. As a young boy, the last of three boys and one sister, the author was baby of the family. As he recounts the road trips he took with his family he used to love riding in the back window of the family car. Of course cars were much larger then, and gasp! Seatbelts were not required. The book opens with a doozy of a beginning, and a near disaster at the beginning of one trip, but as is often the case when something goes wrong, that is the thing or ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I knew I was going to have to get my hands on a copy of Don’t Make Me Pull Over as soon as I saw the cover. I mean, who could really resist the siren song which is that of the family truckster . . . .

Being that I am of a certain age, my fondness doesn’t lie courtesy of film alone. No no, I was a willing victim passenger of the “way back seat” as a child. Much like the author, some of my best memories spurred from the place where
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
”Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
But in Camelot, Camelot
That's how conditions are.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.”

-- Camelot, Richard Burton, Songwriters: Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Despite most of our family vacations being courtesy of the airline for which my father flew, we took a lot of road trips. For my father, as much
Cindy Burnett
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Don’t Make Me Pull Over is a tribute to the American family road trip, but the book encompasses a whole host of topics – 1960’s and 1970’s pop culture, the history of roads in the U.S. including the creation of interstate highways, a short look at airline regulation and eventually deregulation, the development of motels, the creation of the drive-through, and so much more. Much like Rocket Men by Robert Kurson, Ratay effectively weaves in fascinating factual detail fluidly providing information ...more
Karen Rush
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gee willikers this is a fun book and blast to the past honoring the great family road trips of days gone by. Ratay and I are close in age, both the youngest of four kids and I felt kinship as he chronicles his family’s car trips in simpler times before electronics, google maps and seat belts.

Ratay has similar humor to one of my favorites, Bill Bryson. He intertwines personal experiences with interesting history of our highways and byways, beloved landmarks, and recognizes trailblazers and
Nancy H
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Richard Ratay has written an excellent book about what it was like to travel on America's roads with his family on many family vacations. As a person who shares this type of experience with him, I relished this book and his memories of what it was like in the back seat of all of those over-the-road journeys. His descpriptions are spot on! In addition, he has added a lot of background information on highway travel, which adds depth to his story. This is definitely a good read!
Tom Quinn
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A mixed bag. The introduction really turned me off, with its hokey and overembellished style. There are a lot of strained and unnatural similes and jokes thrown in throughout in an effort to be charming. Sometimes you can say more with less, and Ratay gives off an air of desperation, a forced zeal that says, "Please like me, I'm interesting!" It's especially pronounced in chapters one and four, where Ratay tells us nothing about road trips writ large and focuses exclusively on his own family, ...more
Despite some perfunctory sections on the development of highways in America, automobile regulation (or lack thereof), various cultural movements and shifts, and so on, this intentionally flippant book is really more of a memoir of the author's own boyhood experiences of family road trips than a comprehensive history of them. It appealed to me largely because I'm a sucker for 70s nostalgia. Richard Ratay lovingly recalls the details of his youth -- the candy, the TV commercials, the not using ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
If the cover and the title make you curious about the book, chances are, you will enjoy it. The design evokes nostalgia and humor, and Richard Ratay delivers both. In between reminiscences of family road trips from his own childhood in the 1970s, Ratay explores some of the aspects of road tripping, such as the interstate highway system, rest stops, and drive-thru restaurants. He looks at the rise of automobile travel, paved roads, camping, and motels. Some detours include thoughts on video ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this telling of the history of family road trips in America. Although the trips were set in the 1970's because of the author's age, he goes into great detail (wonderfully!) about the history of such things as the beginning of: roads in America, roadside motels & restaurants, fast food, video/arcade games, and air travel. But what I liked most was his description of his family jammed into the car for miles on end playing family road games, singing songs, and generally ...more
Nostalgic . . . Historical . . . Entertaining . . . Fun Reading!

Richard Ratay had me laughing at his family vacation anecdotes AND fascinated by the history elements too - along with America's obsession with automobiles and expansion, family dynamic travel nuances, and the hunt for quirky entertainment.

A delightful read, for the most part. Had the line editing been tighter and some of the language a bit less colorful, this would a have garnered four stars from me. Still though, easily
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Part history, part memoir, this book was a fun and nostalgic read.
Hal Brodsky
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a Bill Bryson lite kind of book:
The author begins by recounting some road trips he took as a child (though technically not road trips, his family simply drove as quickly as they could from their home in the midwest to golf resorts in the South East), and then detours into other subjects that interest him. These range from the story of the development of toll roads and the interstate highway system and the histories of the Stuckys and Howard Johnson chains to the totally irrelevant
Janette Mcmahon
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wonderful history of American travel, not just family road trips. As one reads, memories good and bad will come to every reader. Even though long road trips have gone out of fashion, we continued to take them with our kids, even today as they are adults. They are a special bonding for families and never fail to give a good travel story or adventure, that faster plane travel cannot provide. Part non fiction and part memoir. Recommend to those who enjoy travelouges and fond memories.
Marcella Wigg
Don't Make Me Pull Over! is a decent nostalgic look back at the heyday of the family road trip in mid-twentieth century America. Ratay explores a variety of aspects of the experience of traveling American highways in the 1940s through 1970s, from the marked improvement of American roads throughout the twentieth century (particularly as a consequence of Eisenhower's highway construction program) to the advent of national chains of fast food restaurants and hotels to the ways in which riding in a ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
As someone who has spent probably more than an average amount of time on the road, both as a child and as a parent, I could appreciate the author's interest in the subject of family road trips. Amidst Ratay's recounting of his family's travels are tucked facts on a variety of subjects; I was glad to take these in. However I grew a bit weary of the author's overly generous use of extended puns (if you've ever watched the Food Network show "Unwrapped," you'll know what I mean), and I felt the book ...more
Denice Barker
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How many times have you heard that as a kid?? While an age contemporary of the author, my family never took a road trip anywhere but I had friends who did and my husband did and I lived them through their stories.
This book is so much more than reminiscing about being packed into a car the size of a boat and barely being let out for food or bladder relief until the destination was reached. What is it about dads anyway? I may not have taken road trips when I was a kid, but once married with kids
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 so I’ll round up to 4.0 traveling stars

Listened to this great audiobook on an informal history of the car, our interstate road system and family car trips before the deregulation of the airline industry.
The best part, of course, is the car trips many families took in their “land yachts” of cars back in the 50’s and 60’s before the minivan was invented. Families of six could fit comfortably with a food basket in the back and all their luggage in the spacious trunk. No one even thought about
Paul Pessolano
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Don’t Make Me Pull Over” by Richard Ratay, published by Scribner.

Category – Travel/Comedy Publication Date – July 03, 2018.

Remember the family vacation where the family was packed into the car and the fun began. This book tells the story that most of us have lived through, either as children or parents.
Watch out for the noogie!

This was a time before cell phones, hand computers, GPS, and in care movies. Mom kept everyone contained, well for the most part, by playing silly games. How about the
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fun read about the history of the great American road trip vacation as those of us who experienced it remember from the 1960;s and 1970's. Richard Ratay chronicles the history of the American road trip from the building of highways to roadside attractions to old time road maps and car travel games to the development of chain hotels and safety devices for automobiles. This is another quick and fun read for the summer.

David G
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am the perfect demographic for this book. I went on road trips in the 70's. I was the youngest of three. Once we drove from Mill Valley to Seattle to pick up my brother before he went to Vietnam,then we went to Minnesota from thereabout that was only the tip of our family trips to Minnesota.
I loved this book. It is as interesting as a fun research piece(the creation of stuckeys and Howard Johnson's) as it is a memoir.
If you ever took a road trip as a family, check this one out.
This was a wonderful trip down memory lane, not just for Ratay. I’m delighted and amazed at all I learned about travel, roads, traditions, etc. This was an enjoyable, relaxing read that my husband and I enjoyed each night.
Book received from Edelweiss

Review to Come
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
Very funny! I laughed out loud and learned lots of interesting history, too. Probably wouldn't be as funny to you if you're under 40 years old. :)
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this more for its content them for how it was written. Sometimes the in formal approach helps me understand the history that I was telling Anne why he was telling it, but other times it just got in the way. As far as the content, this is fabulous and would be five stars.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun read. Ratay brings up memories of my own growing up years and details the history of travel in the 70's and 80's told in a fun style.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
His trips can't compare with ours. . . Actually, what I enjoyed most was the factual parts, the history of the road systems, motels, etc.
This is a great and entertaining book that provides a history of family road trips from the post-war era. It includes a history of the interstate highway system, drive through restaurants, amusement parks, motels, and even airline deregulation. The author was the youngest of four in a 1970s road tripping family, and his stories of driving in giant cars, through the night, with a dad more concerned about making time than stopping for food, bathroom or sleep breaks were hilarious and will resonate ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Ralphie, the narrator from A Christmas Story, grew up, had a family, and dragged them all over the country on road trips, and if his youngest son then wrote a history of the American road trip and interspersed it with delightful tales from his family's adventures, that would give you a pretty good idea of the feel of this book.
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Richard Ratay was the last of four kids raised by two mostly attentive parents in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and has worked as an award-winning advertising copywriter for twenty-five years. Ratay lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, with his wife, Terri, their two sons, and two very excitable rescue dogs. “Don’t Make Me Pull ...more
“The truth is my dad may have loved his cars a little too much. When it came to selecting optional trim packages, styling accessories, and color combinations, he could go a little overboard. In an era when automobile designers already pushed the limits of good taste, my father was all too willing to nudge them just a little further. He loved whitewall tires and sparkling chrome wheels. He insisted on pinstripes, the more lines the better. He adored monument-size hood ornaments and glimmering side trim. He considered features like carriage tops and burled wood dashboards standard equipment. As a result, one of the two cars my family owned at any given time often resembled the perp vehicle being chased down on the latest episode of Starsky and Hutch.” 1 likes
“Another friend told me of the cheers he and his siblings let loose as they finally crossed the state line into sunny Florida. After being cooped up together in a car for two and a half days, they were eager to finally spend a day frolicking on the beach. Instead, upon seeing a billboard, my friend’s dad impulsively pulled over in St. Augustine to tour the home of Prince Achille Murat, the son of the brother-in-law of Napoleon. I’ll say that again: the home . . . of the son of the brother-in-law of Napoleon.” 0 likes
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