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America at Twelve Miles an Hour: A View from the Edge of the Road [Paperback]

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Item description for America at Twelve Miles an Hour: A View from the Edge of the Road by Phil Shrout...

America at Twelve Miles an Hour: A View from the Edge of the Road by Phil Shrout

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Item Specifications...

Pages   384
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.94" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.96"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 20, 2004
Publisher   Greenleaf Book Group
ISBN  1929774303  
ISBN13  9781929774302  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Sports > Individual Sports > Cycling > General
2Books > Subjects > Travel > United States > Regions > General

Reviews - What do customers think about America at Twelve Miles an Hour: A View from the Edge of the Road?

A wealth of wonderful and interesting facts about America's unknown frontier  May 8, 2006
America At Twelve Miles An Hour: A View From The Edge Of The Road by Phil Shrout is the entertaining story of a summer-long journey the author, at the wry age of fifty-four, made with his wife when they traveled by bicycle from the coast of Oregon through the far stretches of America, including the bucolic South. Colorfully describing the entire journey, America At Twelve Miles An Hour includes a wealth of wonderful and interesting facts about America's unknown frontier and the peculiar intricacies which make up the extensive diversity of our unique states. America At Twelve Miles An Hour is very highly recommended to all non-specialist general readers considering their own coast-to-coast bicycle journey in a nation-wide exploration of America's greatest oddities.
content and effort makes up for writing style  Sep 26, 2005
As an avid cyclist I have a great amount of respect for anyone who can not only complete a transcontinental ride of the US, but also write a book about the experience. Having said that, I can fully appreciate the opinions of readers at both ends of the spectrum with regards to this book. To Phil's credit, he is admittedly not an accomplished author, but his attempts at humorous writing do often fall flat (did he really think that "in the interest of accuracy" the reader needs to be informed that he and Merj did not actually wear lead lined shorts while riding through an area noted for the pioneering of nuclear reactors?). His added explanation that the seats were already uncomfortable enough makes the reader have to consider whether they did only "joke" about it.
Phil's writing style, appreciated by some, found annoying by others, does not over-shadow the overall effect and intent of the book. It does give an accurate, honest and detailed account of a married couple's ride of a lifetime filled with historical background and interesting observations. I think Phil's book could have been much better perhaps with more editorial input, but it is still worth reading(if you are somewhat forgiving). I do find myself wondering if Merj were given the opportunity to proof-read the manuscript though, as his love for her is sometimes overshadowed by the less than complementary ways in which she is occasionally portrayed. In fairness, Phil does attempt some self-deprecating humor, but it seems a bit forced.
This could easily have been a 4+ star book. If you really want a laugh-out-loud travelogue in the same vein, find a copy of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods".
Great Traveloge!  Jun 11, 2005
In the spirit of the late Charles Kuralt, Phil and his wife Merj traveled the roads of america; on bikes no less. It makes me tired just thinking about it! But thankfully Phil has written this book for us couch potatos, and given us a wonderful glimpse of the best of America to boot. Anyone who enjoy traveling, and likes to hear whats right with our country, will enjoy this book. It's a great story told with humor and wit, makes me wish I could hit the road too!
Reads like an engineering report  Jun 6, 2005
Mr. Shrout's account of their cross-country bicycle trip reads like a technical report, full of third-person references to himself and witticisms delivered in a way only an engineer could appreciate. His wife Merj accompanies him, but despite his claims to the contrary, he portrays her as finicky, complaining, inept excess baggage. We know from the dedication and the prologue that he loves her, but all his references to her are more backhanded than complimentary. The descriptions are detailed but lack any real emotion, and for the most part are delivered in a passive-voice construction that gets old quick. There is some good information here, but you'll have to slog through what amounts to a lengthy engineering report to find it.

There are good things about this book. Many of the descriptions of the history of the places they passed through or stayed are accurate, though perhaps delivered in less than compelling prose. The daily progress update helps you to understand the distances they covered and the small steps that are needed to make the whole trip possible. There are even passages that will, perhaps, restore some faith in your fellow man (or woman).

However, the vast majority of the book is more of a struggle to read than a joy. Most of this is due to Phil's writing style, which bears the sharp imprint of an engineer. It might be some attempt at humor, or maybe it is just the way he talks, but many of the descriptions are rendered in the passive-voice form, resulting in sentences like "It was decided to have our evening meal at . . ." or "Their assistance was met with appreciation by the tired cycling duo". That gets tiresome pretty fast.

To make matters worse, he frequently refers to himself as "the male contingent of our cycling duo", or to his wife Merj as "the female member of . . ." - well, you get the picture. His occasional attempts at humor fall flat, and he even describes (in excruciating detail) how flat they fall. Some of the sentences are constructed in such a convoluted way that you have to read them more than once just to believe someone would write it that way. Phil, as punishment, should be forced to diagram some of those offenses to the language.

I read this book because I am anticipating a long tour myself, and I wanted to see how someone else described it. I found the day-by-day detailing a good idea, but the writing style left me rolling my eyes sometimes (actually, most of the time). I recognize that travel is all about discovery and the people you meet, and Phil did at least convey much of that sentiment; but the fact that they bypassed things because it would have added a few miles to their trip was discouraging. I hope I don't feel so rushed on my tour that I have to skip Rock City or the Worlds Largest Cedar Bucket. So what if I have to ride an extra six or ten or even twenty miles? In the scheme of the whole tour, that's nothing.

ONE LAST CAUTIONARY NOTE: This couple stayed in motels, hotels, and B&B's the whole way, and did not camp at all. If you are looking for a book documenting a self-contained cross-country bicycle tour, then you can safely bypass this one.
Delightful!  Jan 23, 2005
What a fun way to see our beautiful country! I enjoyed reading the Shrout's adventures as well as the conversations with all the local people. It's amazing to have the stamina and the desire to take on a project such as they did. Well written and a great read!

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