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All Gone to Look for America [Paperback]

Peter Millar
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

25 Aug 2011
At the age of 52 and with a shoestring budget, Peter Millar set about rediscovering the United States by following the last traces of the technological wonder that created the country in the first place - the railroad. On a rail network ravaged and reduced he managed to cross the continent in slow motion, talking to people and taking in their stories and concerns while watching the vast landscape unfold. Wry, witty, intelligent and always observant, this ''inland empire'' should appeal to modern Britons keen to get beneath the skin of this influential nation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ARCADIA BOOKS (25 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906413967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906413965
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Millar was born in Northern Ireland and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read French and Russian. He worked for Reuters news agency as the sole non-German correspondent in East Berlin in the early 1980s, also covering the Solidarity movement in Poland before moving to Warsaw, where he pressed the button to tell the world of the election of Mikhail Gorbachev, a defining moment in Soviet history.

In 1985 he joined the Sunday Telegraph in the newly created role as Central Europe Correspondent - a title he invented to anticipate the dramatic changes about to overtake the continent - before moving to The Sunday Times, in early 1989, just in time to catch the climactic final stages of The Cold War. Millar was seized by the Volkspolizei on the streets of East Berlin during the demonstrations which accompanied Gorbachev's visit in October, interrogated by the Stasi and expelled from the country. Nonetheless he managed to get back by November 9, the dramatic night the Berlin Wall came down.

These events form the background to his 2009 autobiographical book: 1989, The Berlin Wall (My Part in its Downfall), a title he freely admits much to the late Spike Milligan. He is a firm believer that there is humour (if occasionally dark) behind even the greatest historical events.

In the 1990s Millar worked briefly with Robert Maxwell, as deputy editor of his ill-fated newspaper The European, a role he has since described as "like being aide-de-camp to Stalin."

For the past decade Millar has concentrated on books, with two thrillers to his name and a third - The Black Madona - due out in the autumn of 2010. He is also author of All Gone to Look for America, a travel book reflecting his love of trains, history and good beer, crisscrossing the United States in a 10,000 mile journey on the now little used railways that were instrumental in turning most of a continent into a single nation.

He is married with two grown-up sons, divides his time between the north Oxfordshire brewing village of Hook Norton and South London where he can often be found (often in a state of chronic despair and with fingernails chewed to the bone) following the vicissitudes inflicted by fate on his beloved Charlton Athletic.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic And Engrossing Read 8 Sep 2009
Well done Peter Millar ! The Northern Irishman gives a thoroughly engrossing , witty , and informative account of travel across America in that much maligned - and often overlooked -form of slow transport : the Amtrak train . However , its not an rail anorak's book at all . He uses the train as a means to an end to explore the cities , out of the way places , and people across this vast and diverse country - with scenery along the way . And nowhere does it more close up - warts and all - than spending a few weeks travelling by train .
Along the way he vistits NYC , Buffalo / Niagara , Chicago , Seattle , Sacramento , Reno , Salt Lake City , Denver , LA , and New Orleans , among others . His style is perhaps more Paul Theroux than Bill Bryson but I found his style thoroughly engaging with his take on inner city decay , the decline of the rail system and the people who use it , the Mormon church , American beer , the Civil War , and many other sights and people on the way . A rare mix of intelligent writing with a twinkle in the eye . Informative without being boring , opinionated without being arrogant , and amusing without being crass . Perfect !
Can't praise this book highly enough and even has me contemplating about doing a similar journey myself sometime in the future .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Gone to look for America 7 July 2010
Thoroughly enjoyed book. Personally very familiar with most places he stopped eg Seattle, Spokane, Sacramento, New York City to name a few but not Malta MN Reno NV New Orleans LA and Memphis TN . A couple of years ago. I crossed USA by Amtrak North Carolina to Pennsylvania, Chicago, Albuquerque NM and Los Angeles so I could relate well to trains. In April this year I also experienced Amtrak again in NE USA.. I use crutches now (recent two titanium knees replacement} and they cared.

I agree with Peter Millar, their staff are excellent and friendly and to me most helpful I even use the word "kind".

The book was perfectly balanced... sadly I am allergic to beer so cannot comment on that score. I thought his style reminded me of Bill Bryson. His understanding of the American pluses and minuses were right on !

I wholly recommend the book to anyone planning to visit the real USA beyond Florida or shopping in New York City or to anyone, who wishes to get a deep insight into America at this time If tempted to visit! read the book !!

Robert Barron
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeking the soul of America 4 July 2010
This book could have been called, 'Places not to visit in America'. However, such is the skill of the author; his discription of so many soulless dying cities is entertaining.

Peter Miller has a genious for describing people. He combines this with the research he has done on the area, and then adds his own often humorous view of the world.

He has inspired me to go to the more unusual places in the USA.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And He Finds America Too 10 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author doesn't attempt any Brysonesque humour, but this is nevertheless a clear, well-written and entertaining account of his journey round the USA by rail. Although we learn plenty about Mr Millar's experiences and encounters on board - and we certainly get the message about how slow and infrequent the trains are and how inaccessible some of the stations are - we also get an insight into second-string cities such as Buffalo and Milwaukee as well as the larger, more obvious places. I particularly enjoyed his account of getting to a football stadium in South Central LA by public transport. The author gives us just enough history and background information to give a little depth to his stories, and he does so in an authoritative manner. His taste for microbreweries - and the characters he meets therein - add another level to the book. If you enjoy America, travel writing, railways, or just want a good read, get this book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's What you Read Travel Books for 17 April 2009
Peter Millar's newest book, All Gone to Look for America, is a primer for anyone who has ever thought of taking Amtrak around the US, or for anyone who would prefer to read about it, without all the legwork. To paraphrase Anthony Burgess's review of Paul Theroux's, The Kingdom by the Sea, `Thanks to Peter Millar for following the Amtrak across America, so I don't have to.' And of course even if we did, we might not uncover the local personalities and peculiar neighborhood lore that Millar unearths as he goes. This is a well researched book with many of its associations coming straight out of the author's own experience as a multi-lingual correspondent for Reuters and his penchant for arcane knowledge of brewing and language and customs. If the book had footnotes it would need often two or three to a sentence, so wide-ranging is the author's command of historical detail.
It is what you read travel books for: Either to visit places you have never been, or to see your own town from the perspective of someone who is `not from these parts'. I not only learned, for example, the correct recipe for Elvis's Peanut Butter and Banana Toast, but I learned that the street I once lived on in Seattle was the original `Skid Row'. Seems more charming, now that I know that.
Mostly, however, Millar's vision of America's city centers is that they don't exist. Many of us have had that disquieting realization before, that we live in a civilization built around automobiles, where there is no concept of foot traffic. In my neighborhood, for instance, there are not even any continuous sidewalks. Oops! It seems an oversight of historic significance, and part of Millar's description is an account of how this came to be a fixture of urban design in the US.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertainly on the right track
Thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable travelogue. Yes ok as others have pointed out there's scant info on practicalities of what travelling on Amtrak is like (other than... Read more
Published 2 months ago by bryophyta
3.0 out of 5 stars So so
I read all the good reviews for this book and bought it. But I was very disappointed, there is just something missing - it doesn't go into enough detail about the trains he rode on... Read more
Published 2 months ago by sos
4.0 out of 5 stars an eye opener
it was very amusing but also enlightening. It made me realise how differently we think and behave in this country.
Published 3 months ago by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and well written account of train travel in the USA with...
We have jsut completed a USA train journey and his wriiting is very believable, accurate and insightful. A good read especially for travel buffs.
Published 4 months ago by Barry Edmonds
5.0 out of 5 stars Just want to book a Ticket now!
I am just getting used to using a Kindle and this for me is just a great book for that medium.
I love train journeys and have a plan at some time to do journeys in the USA by... Read more
Published 4 months ago by anne-marie
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read
A well written, humorous & informative meander across America with interesting tid-bits about many iconic names & places. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. E. Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Unexpectedly I enjoyed this book. It was descriptive and gave another way of looking at things and religions, places and the way forward
Published 4 months ago by Marmite
5.0 out of 5 stars Half way through
I'm not a fast reader. I'm one of those that like to visualise and build the journey in my mind. I was amazed at how dilapidated the American train network sounds. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mart
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceklent read
Great read for anyone thinking of travelling by train in America all of the ups and downs travelling on Amtrak
Published 5 months ago by lanklad
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and well written
Well written, engaging and thoughtful. Feels a little dated in its references to a possible Obama election victory but a good choice to read and learn more about the 'real'... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Boxeyla
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