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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chuckles aplenty
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...
Published on 19 April 2008 by A. Burgot

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Two Halves
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...
Published on 23 Jun 2008 by P. Byford


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chuckles aplenty, 19 April 2008
By 
A. Burgot (London,uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
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
By 
P. Byford - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but could do with a bit more depth., 29 April 2008
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
I first encountered the comedian Dave Gorman some years ago thanks to his TV series, The Dave Gorman Collection, in which Gorman recounted how, after a drunken bet with his friend Danny Wallace, he ended up travelling the world searching for other people with the name Dave Gorman. The TV series and the accompanying book were both hilarious, as Gorman's quest to find 52 other Dave Gormans took him on some very odd adventures (including an extremely awkward moment when he had to explain to Israeli airport security why he wanted to visit their country). He followed this up with Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, in which he tracked down owners of 'Googlewhack' websites, where two words are combined to create a unique website with only one result returned on Google.

This third TV/book pairing opens with Gorman recovering from a particularly soul-crushing four-month tour of the USA, during which he criss-crossed the country several times but didn't see much more of it than the soulless interiors of chain motels. After getting back to the UK Gorman decided he wanted to see the 'real' America, the small towns with local businesses run independently of 'The Man'. And to do this he would cross the country from coast to coast and not once stop at a chain-owned motel or petrol station. Obviously, with local businesses rapidly becoming extinct in the USA, this is not as easy as it sounds.

The plus points first: like his earlier two books, this is a very funny and at times uplifting book. Gorman's writing style is engaging and, despite some parts of his plan being totally bonkers, he pulls you into his story and makes it all seem to make sense, even when a week after setting out from San Diego and having covered a thousand miles he has somehow ended up in Portland and is actually further west than when he started out. The stories of the people he meets along the way, such as the delightful owners of Taylor's Soda Fountain in Independence, Oregon, are also well-told. I suspect the owners of the treehouse resort in Takilma, Oregon and the Giant Beagle Hotel (a hotel in the shape of a huge dog) in Cottonwood, Idaho are going to see an upsurge in business as a result of this book. Gorman is quite honest about his own failings during the journey, such as his near-breakdown upon reaching Moab, Utah. The book also delivered an educational lesson about Mormonism. Prior to this book I hadn't looked at Mormonism at all and simply assumed it was just another Christian denomination (albeit one which had some odd ideas about marriage). Dave's rather disturbing encounter with the religion in Salt Lake City proved to be a bit of an eye-opener, to say the least.

Onto the downside. Whilst Dave's journey is highly enjoyable and informative, there isn't much depth to his mission. He never really analyzes why big chains are taking over from small businesses, even when he champions those small businesses who chase the big chains out of town or survive in the face of fierce competition from them. Also, there is a feeling of repetitiveness throughout the book. Because of the scarcity of independent petrol stations, there is a constant fear of the car running out of petrol, but the number of times that this is brought up borders on the tedious. Similarly, the number of times the car breaks down is as frustrating for the reader as it presumably was for the driver. These occurrences are often told well and usually lead to a great story about the kindness of local strangers or a similar event, but the reader can be forgiven for occasionally being hit by deja vu during the narrative. Slightly odder is the very abrupt end - the final few hundred miles are summarised in just a couple of lines - and some hyperbolic publicity for the book. Contrary to the back cover blurb, Dave is never held at gunpoint by anyone, although someone clearly intending to scare him off does show him his gun. Also, because the book ends the second the journey does, we don't really get to see any conclusions Dave draws from his journey.

The result is a very entertaining book which will hold the attention and is even fairly educational, but it is light on analysis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good roadtrip description, with a bit of pre-corporate Americana archeology thrown in, 18 Mar 2010
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: America Unchained (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love badger-based puppetry ... This is for you ., 4 Sep 2014
This review is from: America Unchained (Kindle Edition)
An unlikely move into badger-based glove puppetry ... But Gorman pulls it off .... Hilarious ! A triumph !
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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
By 
Kevin Luff (Darlington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Badger, glove and puppets, 10 Sep 2014
This review is from: America Unchained (Paperback)
I wouldn't say Dave was the oracle on badgers, gloves or puppets, but he is the go to guy for badger glove puppets.

Don't believe me? Check out this brilliant book and be prepared to be left speechless, bemused, befuddled and bewitched.
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4.0 out of 5 stars his journey through America seems to serve a higher purpose – it’s almost not funny anymore, because it’s heartbreaking to read, 27 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: America Unchained (Paperback)
America Unchained tells the true story of one man, his car and his mission; the man is British comedian Dave Gorman, the car is a Ford Torino and the mission is to travel across America from coast to coast without giving any money to The Man. The Man, of course, is corporate America, the chained stores that threaten to eradicate independent ‘mom and pop‘ stores.

It’s an admirable mission, and Gorman writes about it with his typical wit – as always, it’s interesting to see how his adventure pans out, and this one feels more honest, if anything, than his previous work. In the past, Dave went on a Googlewhack Adventure, met 54 other people called ‘Dave Gorman’ and followed his horoscope for 40 days and 40 nights, all in the name of entertainment. Here, though, his journey through America seems to serve a higher purpose – it’s almost not funny anymore, because it’s heartbreaking to read about some of the places that he visited that no longer exist.

And ultimately, that’s sort of the point of the book, and one of the reasons why it’s worth reading – the independent stores that were once typical of America (and, on a wider scale, the rest of the world) are disappearing at an alarming rate, and Gorman’s journey and the book that resulted from it could be the last great celebration of them before they die out entirely. Besides, it’s a hell of a journey anyway – you’re sure to be entertained from start to finish, even if you do struggle to hold back tears along the way.

So I urge you to read the book, to watch the D.V.D. and to go out and buy something from an independent shop, because the only way that places like these can thrive is if we support them ourselves, if we ignore our own laziness and shop at a corner shop instead of at a supermarket when we next need to pick up a loaf of bread and a bag of sugar. If Dave Gorman can do it all of the way across America, then what’s to stop you from doing the same thing in your own back yard?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Almost makes America sound nice..., 8 May 2008
By 
Vp Campbell (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America Unchained: A Freewheeling Roadtrip In Search of Non-Corporate USA (Paperback)
Like many people I encountered Dave Gorman's comedy/documentary through his quest to find 54 other Dave Gorman's (to win a bet), and was further won over by his 'googlewhack adventure' which is a very funny, and structurally very fine piece of work.

At first America Unchained lacks the comic angle, and sure there are fewer laugh out loud moments than the earlier books, but this book grew on me. There's less of a wacky conceit to the journey here (so not the type so derided recently by Mitchell & Webb in one of their sketches- unnecessarily attacking fellow comedians) with a reasonable logic to try and find the non-corporate America, and it's successful in finding a mostly friendly and helpful America (apart from Mississippi) so removed from stereotypes (some coming from their own media).

It's not a great piece of travel writing either, if you're a reader of such books, in terms of describing places and spaces, but as ever this is really about taking another journey with Dave. He's very good at a particularly English kind of blend of whimsy, intellect, and self-deprecation, with an added does of a relatively untypical (for an Englishman) degree of unabashed passion over things he experiences and values.

The only downside is this is only his third book, and I'v now read them all. I hope whatever journey he takes next, he writes it down
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