“How was it possible, I wondered, that all of this American land–in every direction–could be fastened together into a whole?”
From the embattled newsrooms of small town newspapers to the pornography film sets of the Los Angeles basin, from the check-out lanes of Dollar General to the holy sites of Mormonism, from the nation’s highest peaks to the razed remains of a cherished home, like a latter-day Woody Guthrie, Tom Zoellner takes to the highways and byways of a vast land in search of the soul of its people.
But what does it mean when a nation accustomed to moving begins to settle down, when political discord threatens unity, and when technology disrupts traditional ways of building communities? Is a shared soil enough to reinvigorate a national spirit? In these divided times, Zoellner’s journey across America–and into our often-contradictory histories–serves to remind us that despite our differences we all belong to the same land.
By turns nostalgic and probing, incisive and enraged, Zoellner’s reflections reveal a nation divided by faith, politics, and shifting economies, but–more importantly–one united by a shared sense of ownership in the common land.