Jena Henry's Reviews > After Ike: On the Trail of the Century - Old Journey that Changed America

After Ike by Michael S Owen
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it was amazing

I know some of you don’t care for non-fiction. But how about a vivid book that shows you what it was like to drive across America 100 years ago and what it would be like to do it today? Happy trails do await you with this book, subtitled “On the trail of the century-old journey that changed America.”

Near the White House is an obelisk that marks the starting point of the first transcontinental Convoy over the Lincoln Highway, July 7, 1919. Eight-one military vehicles left to drive more than 3,200 miles to San Francisco. The main purpose was to assess the feasibility of rapid cross-country transport. Another reason was to promote the new program of “Good Roads”. Now that motor vehicles were becoming a way of life, better roads were needed. The Convoy became huge national news. The Convey changed America!

Really- it was a big deal! And Author Owens brings it all to life for us. In addition to researching the events of the Convoy, he actually drove United States Highway 30 (the modern Lincoln Highway) from Washington to San Francisco. In his charming and folksy way, he shares the day-to-day news of the Convoy mixed with his own experiences on the road, 100 years later.

“The Convoy was the Apollo moon landing of 1919.” Now, here’s a fact that will fascinate you- the moon landing happened exactly 50 years after the Convoy. What a leap for Mankind!

The Convoy was big news. Every town or city along the route planned festivities to celebrate and give the soldiers a good meal and entertainment. The author describes the chicken dinners and speeches and also shares current local events.
In addition to changing America, did the trip across America change one young soldier? It well may have. Serving with the Convoy, was a young officer, Ike Eisenhower. Did his dusty and slow trip with the Convoy show him more about the America that he would serve for most of his life?

He would rise to become a five-star general in the Army and serve as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II. He would also be elected President of the United States and as President, he would oversee the development of our modern interstate highway system. But during the Convoy’s trip, he was a joker and prankster.

According to the Statistical Officer of the Convoy, the Convoy drove 3,251 miles in 62 days, or 58.1 miles per day. More than half of the mileage was over dirt roads, wheel paths, mountain trails, and alkali flats.

Each chapter of the book covers one state of the trip, from Pennsylvania to Ohio (where I live, 30 miles from the Lincoln Highway) and other mid-western states to Iowa and Nebraska, then the western states, and finally to Nevada and California. The author gives us a true feeling of each town he passes through, sharing the little cafes and bars, the museums and tourist sites. Americana- “You know you’re in a small town when you hear a dog barking and know whose it is.”

I enjoyed reading about events that were made possible by the automobile, such as a 300-mile garage sale, drive-in movie theatres and eateries, bank robbers and get-away-cars, billboards, and bumper stickers. The book is a pleasure to read.

So, why not be a Slow Traveler? Check out the Lincoln Highway Association website. Skip the interstates and try the backroads and have fun discovering America! How else will you get to see the Barbed Wire Capital of the World, or the Wall Paper Capital of the World? And you wouldn’t want to miss the World’s Largest Frying Pan, or CarHenge. But most of all, don’t miss reading this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for a digital review copy. This is my honest review.


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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 20, 2019 – Shelved

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