I was after a bit of roadtrip inspiration and picked up Dave Gorman’s America Unchained off the shelves. After doing a US tour, he came home thinking he didn’t like America very much but his problem was that he had only seem the soulless corporate side. He sets himself a mission to cross the country without giving any money to The Man, avoiding hotels, gas stations, cafes and shops that are part of any chain.

The journey ends up a little bit like one of those Top Gear specials where they buy old cars and they start to fall apart, except that Dave doesn’t really know anything about cars. He buys a 70s Ford Torino on the west coast and the car is as much a part of the book as the social side. I’ve never know a trip to the mechanic to be a gripping narrative before! One thing that does stand out is how friendly and helpful folks are in the west and midwest.

Of course, it’s one opinion of America from a liberal and British point of view so it may not appeal to all readers. I certainly wouldn’t recommend to a Mormon because after educating himself on the religion, Dave starts to find them a little bit scary. I blame the lack of tea… what kind of religion bans tea?

It strikes me that whilst relying on mom and pop businesses in America is still just about possible, you wouldn’t be able to do the same trip in the UK. Yes we have plenty of fantastic independent hotels and B&Bs and places to eat and buy food…but when was the last time you saw an indie petrol station? The big supermarket chains pretty much rule the roost here and I’m not sure what would drive an individual to even attempt to compete.

You can view photos from Dave’s roadtrip here.

My copy was second hand and I found a little bookmark between the pages: