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Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway
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Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  82 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Interstate 69 is an enlightening journey through the heart of America. With this epic tale of one vast and controversial road project, Matt Dellinger brings to life the country’s complex political, social, and economic landscape.

The 1,400-mile extension of I-69 south from Indianapolis, if completed, will connect Canada to Mexico through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tenness
ebook, 352 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Scribner
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Jul 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I had no idea that the proposed extension of I-69 (a project I hadn't heard anything about in years, and presumed dead), was such a big deal.

The pre-pub reviews of this book caught my eye because I've lived my entire life a metaphorical stone's throw from I-69, and as a child, I remember it being under construction. It was exciting when "our exit" at Hwy 26 finally opened. It's the only interstate highway I've ever driven from beginning (at the Canadian border) to end (at the northeast corner of
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Americans debate the big things - health care, energy, transportation -- the standard narrative is to find two sides and cast one as the big bad villain and one as the little guy just tryin' to save his home/business/children. It's the easiest thing to do, and it's how our media, and its consumers, pretend that we have dealt with a complex issue.

Take transportation, for example. Since the 1950s, the country has solved the problem of moving people and some commerce over vast swaths of land
Kaye McSpadden
This was very interesting. As an Indiana resident, I've certainly been aware of the controversy surrounding I-69, at least the portion of it that's in Indiana. However, I really had no idea about its long, convoluted history and the fact that the original advocates of the project cooked up the "NAFTA Highway" idea (connecting Canada and Mexico via small towns in the Midwest) as a way to achieve their own original, local goal of connecting Indianapolis and Evansville. It's really a fascinating st ...more
Sean Mcdonald
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at modern infrastructure efforts, and does a good job of taking an impartial tone, embedding with both those in favor and opposed.
Bob Stewart
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and informative book about what is needed in this country to build a highway. My have the times changed since the Interstate highway system was built in the 50's - 60's.
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rusty_economics
Holds some relevence to those in the proximity to the existing and proposed I-69. You would think those involved in industries such as automotive, tier suppliers and heavy machinery would be interested, but I have not come across how the so called NAFTA highway achieves any of the NAFTA objectives...besides a straight North-South shot. The book is mostly of the politics of the towns large, medium and small that set along the proopsed extension of I-69. Hoosiers who don't want it, Mississipi Rive ...more
Matt Dellinger tells the story of how the so called NAFTA highway was conceived, semi-built and then held in a state of abandonment. This is a story of local politics across a wide number of states, big business intervention, 60’s counter culture and environmentalism and finally the changing mood in Washington related to big capital road projects. The local politics are well collected and categorized showing which areas fought for the route and what it meant to those areas. There are great histo ...more
This book was not what I thought it would be, but it was a well researched and well written book so it was not deserving of less than three stars. I thought that I-69 would be more about the road itself and the people along the route, which it was, but for most of the last section of the book it was filled with radicalism and strayed away from the road itself, which the author admits through out the book. The best section of the book is where Dellinger explains the life of the rural people livin ...more
This is such a great book! A study of how policy is actually developed in America and how that connects to political philosophy and the political reality of people's lives. IMHO this book should be required reading in high school civics class. Is there another book that is such a great overview of how policy is developed that is at the reading and understanding level of high school students? (Serious question, is there?)

Also, I am indeed one of those people who just sees the geography of the cou
Kudos to the author for a very thorough evaluation of the interstate highway system, US transportation, I-69 proposals (controversies, etc.), and the people who were touched by it all. But, I think if I had been reading this instead of listening, I may not have been able to make it through. While some of the stories about the people and communities involved were very interesting, they did get a bit repetitive after awhile. Also, there was a very large section about highway funding that got a bit ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: planning
This is an interesting book. It wasn't as focused on the communities that might border on I-69, which could have been fun, but it was certainly exhaustive in its review of the history of the project. From a political science standpoint it was very good in its review and overview of the process and manipulation of the process that has kept this dream highway alive.

The portions dedicated to general highway and transportation infrastructure history was very well done. This is especially true towar
Mar 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am struggling with this book. While often easily engrossed in a text such as this, I find the audiobook version to be dull to the point of numbing the mind. I am on chapter 8 currently, and honestly could not remember any major or minor point the author has attempted to make thus far. Part of it may lie in the narrator as this book seems to get higher marks from others. I would avoid the Audible download in favor of an eBook or traditional paperback as I may not even finish the audio version.
Overall, a boring read. Tried to be chatty and sociological, but seemed to swing too abruptly from factual parts about highways (*yawn*) to an anecdote about old Mrs. So & So's famous apple pie (trite). I ended up flipping through it and reading the Wikipedia entry on the rest. I did like the illustrations, though, and the author's well-intentioned efforts to cut through the politics of this would-be interstate.
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at the long history of extending (or not extending) I-69 from Indy south to Evansville, then through KY, TN, AR, MS, LA and finally TX. More drama than you might expect. It looks at proponents of the extension and opponents, especially in southern Indiana. Lots of colorful characters, as well as politicians, lobbyists, environmentalists, activists and anarchists. Sometimes it's hard to keep track of everyone. Overall, I enjoyed it.
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Totally enjoyed this book -- it dealt with the politics of getting an Interstate built through the Heartland in the modern age, and the differing ways in which the government is looking at funding transportation initiatives. The travelogue part of the book, in which Dellinger went to a bunch of the towns along the route, was my favorite. Amazingly, it made this admitted City Boy want to visit Indiana.
Christopher Fox
Exhaustive survey of the political, social, scientific, economic and human ramifications of a proposed main artery. Dellinger uses the lives of key figures from many strata of the population of the affected areas to compile a full picture of all that is/was involved in the gestation of a major transportation corridor. This is a fair and balanced title that reads easily.
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Politics and activism drive "progress." As a Hoosier, living not so far from the established portion of this interstate, I thought the history would be familiar. It turns out, I knew nothing. It was very interesting and I felt that the author laid out each side of the issue equally so as to allow our own brains the chance to think and decide.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, fair, well researched, and easy to read book about a planned road I knew little about. Does a good job of looking at the pros and cons of new roads and the people who love and hate them.
Robert Fuller
My cousin wrote this book - second cousin, that is. We share common great-grandparents. This is on my "to read" list!
Jonathan Rea
I feared it a story that would be one sided about how highways are evil, but it was very even handed and earnest in its attempt to portray both sides...
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Parts of this were great and Dellinger has a fantastic eye for characters and anecdotes but a story that stretches across so much distance and time needs stronger organization.
Elizabeth B
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Aug 05, 2014
Jeff Parenti
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May 24, 2012
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Feb 22, 2012
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May 04, 2014
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Scott Schank
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Feb 17, 2016
Geoff McKim
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Apr 14, 2012
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Jun 29, 2012
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Matt Dellinger has written for The New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Oxford American, Smithsonian, the Wall Street Journal magazine, and The New York Times, and has reported on transportation and planning for the public radio program The Takeaway. He worked for ten years on staff at The New Yorker as an illustrations editor, multimedia editor, and the producer and host of The New Yorker Out Loud, the ...more
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