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The author allows people to answer for themselves and from their own experience as truck drivers, state troopers, gas station attendants, artists, photographers, motel and restaurant owners, writers, gift shop operators, and even collectors of memorabilia. There is an excellent chapter on Route 66 museums, attesting to the appreciation of local communities of their 66 heritage. The photography is excellent.
The book takes a very different approach in presenting Route 66; it is about the old highway but through the perspective of people who can still be found along the way and who express well what Route 66 was and still is. The author writes well, but it is clear that through the many interviews conducted for his book he also listens well. A great variety of Route 66 lives are presented, and Robinson's "people book" is a valuable addition to the growing body of literature on the Mother Road.
Besides being a naturally talented writer (this is his first book) and photographer, Robinson shows he has a great gift for getting to the core of his subject matter and sharing it with the rest of us. Rather than filling his pages with dry recounts of Route 66's various alignments and long lessons on '30s-era cartography, he gives us stories that in many cases leave you wanting more, such as the itinerant farmer who had to take a job at a diner in New Mexico -- and wound up owning the business for the rest of his life.
Every tale in the book comes from extensive interviews Robinson conducted while traveling the remaining sections of the highway.
The book's primary theme woven through the various first-hand recounts is the collectibility of Route 66 -- and not just the ubiquitous highway sign that's come to symbolize the Mother Road for so many people around the world. The highlighted collections run the gamut from pieces of the "hard road" itself to one man's lifelong obsession with Route 66-related postcards; from bundles of barbed wire to a yard full of neon signage.
Because I love traveling through the Midwest and West, anything written about Route 66 gets my attention. "Route 66: Lives on the Road," however, should even appeal to readers whose interests aren't so specifically focused on that famous highway.