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Reizen zonder John op zoek naar Amerika by…
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Reizen zonder John op zoek naar Amerika (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Geert Mak

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194860,720 (3.79)2
Member:jefke
Title:Reizen zonder John op zoek naar Amerika
Authors:Geert Mak
Info:Amsterdam Atlas Contact 2012
Collections:Your library
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Reizen zonder John op zoek naar Amerika by Geert Mak (2012)

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Showing 4 of 4
Geert Mak has written a stellar (travel) history of Europe in the 20th century. This book is his attempt to repeat this with a history of the United States. In contrast to Mak’s deep knowledge about Europe’s history and literature of the 20th century, a good part of which constitutes Mak’s own life, his knowledge about the United States is rather shallow and lacks the deep connections he so wonderfully enmeshed into “In Europe”. This is further complicated by Mak’s choice of following in the footsteps of John Steinbeck’s journey across America.

John Steinbeck was feeling old and outdated when he undertook his journey. His route took him into the decaying, depopulated agricultural America not the vibrant emerging consumer society of the 1960s and 1970s. Mak, himself not the youngest, thus presents an America that was outdated even in the 1960s. Apart from the Civil Rights events in Louisiana, Steinbeck’s route is far from the locations that transformed America.

This is further complicated by Mak’s reliance upon the shallow knowledge (one could also call it disinformation) of US newspaper columnists. If you have to rely on David Brooks and Tom Friedman for your facts, you are building your story on extremely shaky ground. Did nobody inform Mak that David Brooks’ Applebee’s salad bar and Friedman’s taxi drivers do not actually exist? The bibliography of “In Europe” alone is worth the price of the book, the bibliography about the United States lacks depth: Almost all the books were written since 2000 or are classics quoted in those books. Caro’s The Passage of Power is listed, The Power Broker isn’t.

Overall, a big disappointment and not up to Mak’s usual level of writing. While not truly bad, it is a pessimistic account of an old man following in the footsteps of a dead old man and his sick dog. The United States may currently not be at its most beautiful, it still deserves better treatment. ( )
  jcbrunner | Aug 31, 2013 |
For a Steinbeck enthusiast and one who has a keen interest in the US, this book is gefundenes fressen. If you have read Mak's Europe, you also have a lot to look forward to. For me it was grand slam. My Travels with Charley is one of my favourite books, and I loved the idea of someone, particularly, Geert Mak, doing the trip Steinbeck did in 1960 all over again. I wasn't prepared, however, for the authors comprehensive and disturbing description of contemporary US, which was a delight, an eye-opener and more of a page turner than the travelogue itself. In fact, my only disappointment was that Mak deviated from Steinbeck's route more often than not. It would have added to the authenticity if he had been truer to the events fifty years ago. He also did the trip in a modern Jeep - stayed in hotels mostl, and travelled with his wife as his companion. Now I have learned that Steinbeck often did the same, but that's another story... I loved the fact that Mak writes about the US in a non-ideological way, from a non-US perspective, and with as much love for as scepticism against America and Americans.
It is sad, but a sign of the times, that this book is not translated into English yet, and not available to Americans. ( )
2 vote petterw | Jul 24, 2013 |
Buitengewoon onderhoudend en leerrijk verslag van de reis die Mak maakte door de VS in het spoor van John Steinbeck, die dezelfde reis maakte in 1960. Mak ontdekt dat de latere Nobelprijswinnaar het niet altijd zo nauw nam met de waarheid en ook dat hij niet de enige is die het spoor van de meester volgt . Mak gaat na in hoeverre de VS veranderd zijn in vergelijking met de jaren 60 en legt gaandeweg meer en meer nadruk op de geschiedenis van het land meer dan op het reizen. Hoewel zijn werk daardoor eerder een geschiedenis- dan een reisboek wordt, en dingen ook wel eens herhaald worden, is het een must voor iedereen die in een relatief kort tijdsbestek een goed én genuanceerd beeld van de Verenigde Staten wil krijgen. ( )
2 vote joucy | Mar 26, 2013 |
Travel, History, USA ( )
  deHaas | Dec 31, 2012 |
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