What is the unum in the American pluribus? What is the “out of many, one,” those cultural values, attitudes, customs, historical heritage and other distinctions answering the question, “What holds us together?” In The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean, Philip Caputo asks this question of people he meets. Caputo begins “his long journey” in 2010 with wife, and two English Setters, truck and Airstream trailer at Key West, ending it months later on Prudhoe Bay’s North Slope, fronting the Arctic Ocean of Alaska. Responses include, in no special order, greed, faith and optimism in a better tomorrow, economic opportunity, change, cultural diversity, bonds of family, neighborhood and community and the “perpetual conflict” between individual freedom and the role of our federal government. Two answers have special relevance on this Thanksgiving Day.
I think the glue [that holds us together] is a belief, that’s not clearly defined, that we have more in common than not, that we’re more alike than we’re different. I’m not sure it’s true, but the important thing is that we believe it is.”
This is the only country where everything changes all the time. People come here expecting change, and if they’re going to survive, if they’re going to be successful, they’ve got to learn to adapt to change, to different people from different races…
Mr. Caputo’s scenes sparkle with life through rich description of flora, fauna and landscape, his finely crafted sentences, humor, and prodigious talent to share himself with his readers. Anyone who A) wants insight into what, if anything, holds us together as a nation; B) plans a cross country road trip or C) wants to take one vicariously, read this book.
Tucker Cox – Zeteo contributing writer
Mr. Caputo’s homepage – click here
The author’s introduction to The Longest Road – very good – on YouTube – approx 5:50 – click here