The National Road - Dispatches From a Changing America
To read this book is to see America: each state is highlighted in this collection as Zoellner's travels take him to through both famous and less-traveled corners of the country. He describes the state's highest peaks, the stores profiting from rural poverty, the towns issuing traffic tickets to boost funds, and beyond
Zoellner is a master of place, and excels in examining how our relationship to the land has evolved over the course of American history. While the essays are varied in subject and form, they all strive to answer one question: what does it mean to “belong” in America when rootedness to a particular piece of ground means less than at any time during our history?
In 2019, only 11% of Americans changed residences, the lowest percentage ever recorded. Zoellner does not observe people economically privileged enough to move at will, but those anchored to the land, whether willingly or not. The reader sees slaughterhouse employees, sex workers, immigrants cleaning out hog farms, and Dollar General shoppers, all grappling with their own changing relationship to American geography
The author weaves evocative details of his life with journalistic reportage and social history, creating a powerful tapestry of the country "heavily dependent on a shared place. This is our lowest common denominator: we all stand on the same land. If you want to know Americans, look at where they live first. Look at the land. Geography is our bounty; it has also become a curse."
Currently the politics editor of The Los Angeles Review of Books, Zoellner resides in Southern California
Acquired and edited by Dan Smetanka, Editor in Chief of Counterpoint Press