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Richard Grant has never spent more than twenty-two consecutive nights under the same roof. Motivated partly by his own wanderlust and partly by his realisation that America is a land populated by wanderers, he set out to test his theory. AMERICAN NOMADS is the extraordinary result. 'Freedom is impossible and meaningless within the confines of sedentary society, the only true freedom is the freedom to cross the land, beholden to no one'. Grant follows the trails of the first European to wander across the American West (a failed conquistador); joins a group of rodeo-competing cowboys (and gets thrown by a mechanical bull); tells the story of the vanishing nomadic Indians and links up with 300,000 'gerito gypsies' - old people who live and travel in their RVs (Recreational Vehicles). 'When all is said and done, there are two types of men: those who stay at home and those who do not' Kipling. This is the story of those that 'did not' who are populated - and are still travelling - in America.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349112688
ISBN-10: 0349112681
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 135mm x 21mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 4-Dec-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » There's a scene in the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous that encapsulates a whole (beat) generation of cliches about life on the road in the American West. The squabbling rock group, idealistic journalist and knowing band of groupies are sitting on the tour bus, strumming acoustic guitars and singing along to Simon and Garfunkel: 'They've All Gone/To Look for America'. It captures the dream in an instant - the open road and an empty appointments book. It's wistful, romantic and, of course, totally unreal. Or is it? In Ghost Riders, Richard Grant charts the history of the American drifter. Drawing cultural succour from Jack Kerouac, Hunter Thompson and Easy Rider, and spiritual inspiration from Cortes and the conquistadors, Grant takes us on a fascinating, meandering journey. Bathed in big sky and soaked in sour mash whiskey, it's a picaresque, personal and whimsical narrative held together (just about) by Grant's journalistic style. We learn about Cabeza de Vaca, the would-be conquistador and first European hobo on the continent, who journeyed across the deserts of the Southwest with an entourage of 4000 Indians (Grant insists that 'Native Americans' is patronising terminology). And the decline of the Apache tribes, who feared imprisonment as the worst torture of all. And Joe Walker, the first European American to see the Pacific - and who, as the old Western joke goes, would 'take a bath every springtime, whether he needs it or not'. But throughout, Grant never abandons us to dry history and anecdote. He's a hobo himself and is coming along for the ride. He explains how 'the best of us find a measure of wisdom, enlightenment and self-fulfilment through constant travel. The worst of us are fleeing from ourselves'. Where he stands on that spectrum, we're left to guess. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Richard Grant

Richard Grant has written extensively for the GUARDIAN, ESQUIRE, GQ, the OBSERVER etc.

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