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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Road Trip Extraordinaire
It's a peculiarly national thing, our American obsession with the road and with cars. The desire to hit the road and chase the horizon is part of our national psyche, and women feel it as strongly as men.
Look at Lesley Hazelton. Hazelton, a woman, a British expat who lives in Seattle, is automotive columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She knows all about cars — the romance, the danger, the need for speed — and she knows all about hitting the road. Witness her latest book, Driving to Detroit: An Automotive Odyssey.
Hazelton set out from Seattle in a Ford Explorer, heading for the annual Detroit Auto Show. She gave herself six months on the road, and she covered a lot of miles, passing through Salt Lake City, Tahoe, Pebble Beach, Malibu, Palm Springs, Flagstaff, Santa Fe, Amarillo, Houston, Baton Rouge, Natchez, Nashville, and on northward to Detroit, with plenty of detours along the way, all of them auto-related.
Remember when Craig Breedlove tried to break the sound barrier at Bonneville Salt Flat in Utah? Hazelton was there, and everywhere else, from desert to downtown, including the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, looking at some mighty pricey machinery, and the Autorama in Houston, an annual hot time for hot-rodders. She went to the places where they make cars — and where they break them, here witnessing high-tech crash tests, there operating a press that crushes cars into neat little packages. And for good measure, she visited the spot in California where James Dean died inhisPorsche Spyder.
And speaking of death...
After covering ten thousand miles or so and reaching her objective in Detroit, Hazelton headed due west in a straight line, then northwest toward her houseboat home in Seattle. And just three hours or so short of home, her car slid off a treacherously icy road, giving her some darker and more personal insights into our obsession with the automobile.
Less gripping is Hazelton's rather mawkish pondering of her father's illness and death in England, and her correspondence with a class of schoolchildren who followed her adventures on the road. This all sounds like the sort of thing editors make writers put in for a more human touch. But Driving to Detroit doesn't need embellishment of that sort. Hazelton's tale of hitting the road is lively, sometimes bumpy, and occasionally scary. There isn't a dull mile in it.
— Alan Ryan, barnesandnoble.com