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The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across…

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

by Mike McIntyre

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This travelogue recounts the authors trip hitchhiking across the US. The main characters of the book are the people he meets along the way. His experiences provide a transition between these stories.

I found the book fascinating, insightful and (at times) moving. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 23, 2015 |
Mike McIntyre leaves his job as a journalist in an attempt to fulfill a dream of traveling across the US without a penny. All items, aside from clothes and a sleeping bag, would be available if, and only if, they were provided as an act of kindness from a stranger. Mike meets some interesting characters on his hitchhiking pilgrimage, but for the most part kindness ruled the day from state to state to state.

In some respects, I wish McIntyre would have captured more details on the people he met on his journey or at least included a bit more self-reflection. The book was more of a photo album than a moving picture. Well worth the read if you are looking to restore your faith in humanity. ( )
  JechtShot | May 22, 2014 |
Mike McIntyre's story of hitchhiking his way, without once using any cash from his home, in San Francisco all the way to Cape Fear, NC, is an intriguing one. Along the way, Mike ran into some very kind and generous people, folks willing to take a chance on him by giving him the benefit of the doubt. Surprisingly (or maybe not), a high proportion of the drivers willing to pick Mike up along the highway (and even take him into their homes for a night) were women. As a male, I find that surprising...and foolhardy on the part of these women. Women, apparently, see it differently.

Something that did not surprise me at all is that those with the least to give were the most generous people that Mike met during his entire trip, a trip about which he planned to write this book from the very beginning. Mike did resign his journalist job in order to free up time for the trip (he was very burned out about his work and his life, in general), so I have to give him extra points for his commitment to the trip.

Now, I do find it a bit odd that he refused to accept donations of cash when people offered to give him money for a meal but he accepted food and meals from almost anyone willing to offer him one. The "penniless" part of his quest seems to have been too strictly adhered to when there is very little difference in accepting a five-dollar bill from someone and sitting down with them five minutes later to a fast food meal they treat him too. Seems like just a technicality, but that's me.

"The Kindness of Strangers" is an engrossing read, and that is probably why I found its abrupt ending so disappointing. Because of the book's last three or four pages, I think it is more a 3 1/2 star book than a 4 star book - but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel books of this type. ( )
1 vote SamSattler | Apr 10, 2014 |
Interesting book. I'm glad he did it so I don't have to. An amazing assortment of folks that were willing to help. I was surprised he didn't run into more trouble than he did. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
I do not read a lot of non-fiction, although amongst the not-a-lot that I read, I do have a soft spot for travel memoirs. I was drawn to this one by the fact that my husband and I had recently concluded a US roadtrip of our own - albeit one with a rental car and money. Mike sets out with a goal - to reach the east coast of the USA without a penny in his pocket, relying entirely on the kindness of strangers. And, amazingly, it actually works. Although it does intrigue me that most of the kind strangers were people with troubles of their own. Displaying his journalistic skills, Mike brings each of the characters to brief but vivid life. He does make you wonder what become of each of them later, and what stories they might have had to tell. ( )
  LemurKat | Sep 12, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425154556, Mass Market Paperback)

A road-trip and self-discovery book with a difference: McIntyre hitchhiked across America with no money, accepting only the "kindness of strangers"--rides, food, shelter, and the occasional beer. This book grew on me with every page, just as McIntyre's feelings for the ordinary people he met grew with every mile. Few books I've read since Studs Terkel's Hard Times (a classic oral history about the Great Depression) so effectively captured the day-to-day lives of typical Middle Americans, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Highly Recommended.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:21 -0400)

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