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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2012
I had visited the US several times during the 90's - LA, Vegas, NY, Florida and DC and thought that I knew the country well. It was only when I went to visit a friend in rural West Virginia at the end of the decade though when I realized that I had only seen the tip of the iceberg - the same tip of the iceberg whenever you see an American movie or TV show. Most of America - the flyover states - aren't like that at all and it's this America which is the subject of this book.

Maybe it's telling about America that the 'Kindness' referred to in the book's title comes from those who have the least to give. The stories of the people that the author meets are nearly all sad; some of them heart-breaking. The author is an excellent writer - one of the best that I have read in quite a while since I started playing Russian Roulette with random titles out of the Kindle bargain bin.

In summary, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in poignant travel writing in general, and smalltown America in particular.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 1997
This book is a great read. I couldn't set it down. McIntrye has an amazing ability to capture the humor, irony and sadness in the lives of every day people. He meets the full spectrum of amazing characters, as well as ordinary people, and writes with beautiful simplicity, reminiscent of Raymond Carver. This is an adventure for the 90's, when most Americans fear adventuring into their own country.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 1998
I bought this book only days before I left on my own roadtrip across the country. I honestly didn't think that anyone else had expressed the exact same fears that I had when leaving my life behind. Between this book and my own travels, my faith in humanity was restored. There are still good people in this land that will take you in and feed you, even tho' you've met them minutes before. I lost this book during my travel to someone whom I know needed it, and I don't regret that loss. It's always given as a gift to anyone who asks me about what it was like on the road for 6 months with only $1,000. I currently cannot survive without a roadtrip every 2-3 months now. To quote the book, "Hell... maybe you'll find Utopia out there and won't want to come back."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2012
I bought this because...? I can't recall why but I did. I find the book irritating in that it is hard to close it because Mike never dwells on a stranger for too long and I know there is always another down the road.

I have found myself glancing at the bottom of my Kindle page to see how far through the book I am - my knowledge of the States is not enough to allow me to visualise a map and I never seem to think to look when I have one to hand.

It is my experience that strangers are often very kind rather than out to do me harm and that those who have least in material terms are often the most generous; however, this book reminds me not to judge and to give a little more of myself. It also tells me much about a country that is more than its coastal strips might have us believe.

At a time when Presidential elections are on the news in the UK I find myself avidly flicking the pages and wondering how a President can reach out to all the citizens of such a huge and diverse country.

This month I, too, am penniless; had it not been for this fact i would have The Wander Year on my shelf already. Great stuff! many thanks from over here in the UK.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2012
It's quite a substantial risk to quit your job and decide to venture on a journey from east to west across America. To leave behind loved ones for several weeks and to leave your credit cards at home and give your last change to a stranger. That is what Mike McIntyre did. Choosing to use a notice labelled with his destinations rather than his thumb, he hitched lifts across the States. In this day and age of suspicion and fear when you hear of so many murders and abductions in the news he did well for lifts, although there were plenty who passed him by. The interesting thing was the variety of folk who gave him lifts, both men and women, young and old, rich and poor and some hustlers. Many of the people who gave him a roof over his head and food at their table were Christian, some via the church and others who were believers but did not necessarily have ties to a particular church. He met many good people, some with nothing, some coping with mental illness and others who had plenty to give. Mike's journey was not only a sociological experiment but a personal journey. He learnt to trust, after all you have to trust the people who offer and he did refuse a lift where he felt the people weren't genuine or were just shady. On questioning some of his lifts why they picked him up, the response was that he looked genuine, clean cut, clean (dress) and white. This does open up the fact that parts of America are still very racist, something that came up in conversations along Mike's journey. Mike left San Francisco to start his journey and this is a far more cosmopolitan area than many of the states he crossed to get to Cape Fear which are farmland and have small towns which perhaps explains some of the mentality, although there is no excuse for it. An interesting read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 1999
An incredible reading experience. I'm envious of Mike's journey and his experiences. I just finished the book about an hour ago, and I'm still awestruck. Wow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 1998
Mike McIntyre has come as close as possible to capturing a solitary road trip in a book. It is filled with the freedom and spontenaiety that comes with abandoning responsibility, but also with the urgent need to know whether or not the world is still prepared to protect its free spirits. It is extremely motivational with out any psychobabble, deeply touching without excessive sentiment, and most of all, reassuring, with absolute sincerity. A great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2012
The Kindness of Strangers follows Mike McIntyre in his journey across the US - from Coast to Coast - penniless. I bought it off Amazon when I was looking for something to read & it caught my eye (partly because it was a free book!) I read it about a week after I bought it & I have to admit, I have some pretty mixed feelings about the book & about Mr. McIntyre's journey, as a whole.

McIntyre professes to be a man afraid of living & decides to, for the first time in his life, do something brave. He decides that travelling across the USA, coast to coast is the way to combat this fear of living & to make it even more interesting, he decides to do it by hitchhiking penniless. He will be completely reliant on the kindness of strangers for food, shelter & transportation - leaving home with only a backpack, no money & no real food. He plans to start his journey across America in his native California & to end in Cape Fear, North Carolina. He sees it as a way of finding the "real" America, the real Americans. Only real problem is will he succeed? McIntyre readily admits he's a quitter & his own family are betting on how far from home he will get before he gives up. You'll have to read the book to see how far he got!

Along the way McIntyre meets a motley crew of "Average" Americans - often people who have little & share much with McIntyre. McIntyre's journey is an interesting idea, but I wasn't overly enthusiastic about how he described some of the people he met along the way. He admittedly knew these people for brief moments (sometimes only a few hours), but he makes some pretty hasty (& sometimes mean) judgements.

McIntyre is a journalist & always had it in his mind to turn this journey into a book, I don't think he did the journey justice in this memoire. He barely touches on the locations he travels to & through & while he met some real salt-of-the earth people along the way, he does little to get to know most of them & makes some pretty shocking judgements of some of them.

It's a decent book, but I think with a little effort it could have been so much better!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2012
I couldn't put this book down and finished it in about a week and I'm not a fast reader. It reads like a diary/blog so it is a very simple easy to read book, no overly long explanations, it's like reading an e mail from a friend doing the journey. It's a great holiday read. It is one of the the most uplifting, phenomenal book I have ever read. Even though the author says none of it is made up you do get the feel that some most experiences have been, shall we say "developed" a little more, especially the last page about the post office.

The only thing is the concerns me is how ethical was his journey? Many people that helped him are the poorest of the poor, and he is getting richer from the profits of his experiences with them in his book. He never mentions anything in the book about donating some of the profits to any charities or good causes. In fact it looks like the thousands he made from the book went to fund his round the world trip he took later with girlfriend.

Nevertheless, don't pass this one up - you'll miss out on a great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 1998
Mike Mcintyre has managed to put a little bit of hope back into the human race after a tremendous journey. He manages to tell his story of his quest across america with no $$ with a great deal of sincerity and a nice touch of humor. His writing stlye is so friendly, that you feel like you know him when you read the last page. I have loaned the book to five other people and everyone has loved it. Read it.
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