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America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA [Paperback]

Dave Gorman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2008

The plan was simple. Go to America. Buy a second-hand car. Drive coast-to-coast without giving any money to The ManT. What could possibly go wrong?

Dismayed by the relentless onslaught of faceless American chains muscling in where local businesses had once thrived, Dave Gorman set off on the ultimate American road trip - in search of the true, independent heart of the U S of A. He would eat cherry pie from local diners, re-fuel at dusty gas stations on remote highways and stock up on supplies from Mom and Pop's grocery store. At least that was the idea. But in a world of 30,000 McDonalds, 13,000 Starbucks, and 4,200 Best Westerns, could it really be done?

When did you last see an independent gas station?

Gamely, Dave beds down in a Colorado trailer park, sleeps in an Oregon forest treehouse, and even spends Thanksgiving with a Mexican family in Kansas. But when his classic coast-to-coast trip mutates into an odyssey of near-epic proportions and he finds himself being threatened at gun point in Mississippi, Dave starts to worry about what's going to break down next. The car... or him?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091899338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091899332
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 368,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dave Gorman is a Perrier Award-nominated comedian and writer. His TV work has earned him two BAFTAs for The Mrs Merton Show as well as his own two BBC2 series.

Product Description


"The road trip of a lifetime" (The Times)

"An epic quest across America" (Boys Toys) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

One man, one car, no chains, and one hell of a coast-to-coast adventure

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chuckles aplenty 19 April 2008
After the Googlewhack Adventure, Are You Dave Gorman and other Astrological Experiment, driving from coast to coast without patronizing any chained establishments might not seem such a crazy idea, and it isn't either, but the plan stopped here so bring in Dave Gorman's spontaneity, curious mind and humour; drop in some uncontrolable events and you get a joyous roadtrip through small-town America. It made me want to stand up and hug those good people out there who still fight The Man(tm) and are content with getting by in a lifestyle they've chosen and like.
This book is funny, charming, warm and inspiring.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Two Halves 23 Jun 2008
A good idea for a book and it very nearly comes off as a good read.

When Stef is cameraperson there is much more feeling to the book. The detours to visit places make excellent reading. Unfortunately after she has to quit through injury the sparkle goes out of the book.

Enter Andy and it all goes downhill. It becomes apparent that the idea is to get to the finish line as quickly as possible with no thought to what places may actually be missed by this style of travel. They could just as well have flown instead of driving for the last part of the book for the interest shown. If Andy was so desperate to see his daughter why volunteer for the assignment in the first place? DVD sales of the book is all that comes to mind to me. In this case the last part of the book is a let down. All the stars are for the part with Stef in it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dave Gorman has been described as the Bill Bryson of stand up comedy and when you read this book you will see why.It is a book about a road trip across America.The rules are that you can't use any corporate chains to sustain yourself, eg, Travel Lodge, McDonald's, Shell petrol, etc...
The good thing with master story teller Dave Gorman is is that you are in safe hands when it comes to a friendly entertaining read.Even if things aren't going to plan on the trip Dave makes entertainment out of it in the form of an anecdote, etc.
There is a lot of info about the places he travelled to, so the book can be classed as a travel book as well as entertainment.
Highly recommended.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, page turning read 2 April 2008
Part travel log and part misadventure the book becomes something a lot more. If the story of an unchained, coast to coast road trip in a classic 1970's Ford (The story, Dave Gorman and the concept are the stars here but its run mightily close by that car) isn't enough the author throws in observations by the bucket load and plenty of charm to boot. An Its inspiring read, thoughtful throughout and manages to retain just enough silliness to keep you turning the pages. Transcends others thanks to a brilliant attention to detail and gives you a fascinating insight into an America many of us will, sadly it seems on the evidence here, only read about rather than experience. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gorman's mission was simple, fly to the US West Coast, find a car and then subsequently cross the continent without using any corporate chains enroute, be it for petrol, food or lodging and then write / make a documentary about it. And primarily, find out, if it is still possible to do it.

Like a good roadtrip description should, it leaves you itching to hop in the car and replicate it - it's funny, he takes the not insignificant difficulties in stride - especially considering the 1970s full size car with its associated reliability and fuel consumption - and does a great job of selling both the concept and the places he's been through. It works well enough both in terms of being an entertaining read and a good travel guide to replicate the trip.

On top of that the mission - to avod corporate America leads Gorman on a trail of uncovering an older, more appealing version of the US and often it feels a bit like an archeological expedition following where he goes. It is one of the most convincing books in terms of rousing the desire to see the US I have read in a long time - quite an achievement for a British author. I am yet to read Stephen Fry's Stephen Fry in America and until I do, this will stand as a benchmark in this respect.

The Ford Torino's V8 rumble providing the finishing touch to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Someone Unchain Dave - Let His Writing Flow! 26 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dave Gorman for me is one of the founding fathers of the recent quest comedy novels that have filled my non-fiction shelves. With his `Are you Dave Gorman' and his `Googlewack Adventure' I was entertained and educated. `Unchained America' follows a similar path to these two earlier books, but with some major differences. Gorman has made TV shows out of all of his books, but whilst previously he adapted them using the photos and short films he made himself, this time he goes out to make a documentary. Unfortunately, this means that the book suffers.

I have not seen the TV show, but having read the book it seems like it was a difficult undertaking. Dave set out across America to go from the East coast to the West with only using unchained stores, gas suppliers and motels. What should have been a fun adventure meeting quirky characters is repeatedly broken up by the importance of filming things. A lot of momentum is lost in the book because they have to stop and start all the time to change film or help the camera woman. For me this book lacked some of the joy that made the others so good. In the second half the narrative does flow better and some of the usual Gorman wit comes to the fore. It is a shame that this wit is few and far between.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Hilarious and interesting. Dave Gorman writes really well. And he really makes you want him to succeed with the unchained mission.
Published 7 months ago by Clare Hutchison
4.0 out of 5 stars Great again Dave
As always brilliant read. I am dissapointed I saw the TV film before the book but still enjoyed the read.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars No chains to be found
Another excellent book from Dave Gorman, but this time not a frivolous jaunt into the world of Gormans or a quest to find search engine uniqueness; this book has a result romantic... Read more
Published 12 months ago by TheOnlyMoxey
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quirky adventure for Dave
Dave Gorman sets off across America determined not to use anything provided by national chains, and sticking with independent retailers. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Bet you laugh your head off!
I got this book on my way to Turkey...a holiday booked the year before with no notice that I'd actually have had an accident and be using a crutch. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Elenya
4.0 out of 5 stars A real Ma & Pop adventure.
A great book, Dave Gorman is a funny and really engaging guy and a good writer. A great look at how America has changed and how it has become taken over by chains and losing its... Read more
Published 20 months ago by MR G S PARKER
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Too many people are comparing this book with Bill Bryson for some bizarre reason. This book isn't supposed to be a travel guide but Dave's story of his challenging adventure. Read more
Published on 9 April 2012 by Bm Fraser
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
Having previously enjoyed Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure and Are You Dave Gorman? I was looking forward to this but was somewhat disappointed. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by Derek Massey
4.0 out of 5 stars America Unchained
Its a very good idea for a book and Dave Gorman tells it with his usual enthusiasim. Only criticisim I do have is that it felt a bit rushed towards the end, but other than that... Read more
Published on 23 Aug 2011 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright, but expected bit more
I was looking forward to reading this book, hoping for tales of independent America giving an alternative outlook to consumer haven I usually see on television. Read more
Published on 12 May 2011 by Joe
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