Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street


?You?ll never understand America until you?ve driven Route 66?that?s old Route 66?all the way,? a truck driver in California once said to author Rick Antonson. ?It?s the most famous highway in the world.?

With some determination, grit, and a good sense of direction, one can still find and drive on 90 percent of the original Route 66 today. This travelogue follows Rick and his travel companion Peter along 2,400 miles through eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles as they discover the old Route 66. With ...

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Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street

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“You’ll never understand America until you’ve driven Route 66—that’s old Route 66—all the way,” a truck driver in California once said to author Rick Antonson. “It’s the most famous highway in the world.”

With some determination, grit, and a good sense of direction, one can still find and drive on 90 percent of the original Route 66 today. This travelogue follows Rick and his travel companion Peter along 2,400 miles through eight states from Chicago to Los Angeles as they discover the old Route 66. With surprising and obscure stories about Route 66 personalities like Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, Al Capone, Salvador Dali, Dorothea Lange, Cyrus Avery (the Father of Route 66), the Harvey Girls, Mickey Mantle, and Bobby Troup (songwriter of “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66”), Antonson’s fresh perspective reads like an easy drive down a forgotten road: winding, stopping now and then to mingle with the locals and reminisce about times gone by, and then getting stuck in the mud, sucked into its charms. Rick mixes hilarious anecdotes of happenstance travel with the route’s difficult history, its rise and fall in popularity, and above all, its place in legend.

The author has committed part of his book’s proceeds to the preservation work of the National Route 66 Federation.

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Editorial Reviews

Route 66 News
“Antonson’s most impressive feat in “Route 66 Still Kicks” is how he incorporates history into the narrative. Even those familiar with the stories of Will Rogers, Cyrus Avery, Mickey Mantle, or Al Capone will find them rendered by Antonson in a fresh way. Highly recommended.”
Chicago Tribune
“Antonson calls Route 66 "the highway of highways," and after reading his luminous travelogue, you probably will agree. A must for Route 66 aficionados.
Joshua Hammer
“One of the best books of the bunch [2012 round up of Holiday Travel Books by The New York Times] is partly a homage to Bobby Troup, the lyricist who wrote the 1946 hit ‘(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.”
Peter Greenberg
“There are travel books, and there are travelogues, and then, if you’re lucky, you come across storytelling like this that actually takes you on a history-filled, magical mystery tour that becomes a remarkably accessible journey.”
Keith Bellows
“His tale is a middle-age Woodstock in motion, an encounter with an America that isn’t as lost as we think…And in the end Antonson proves that Route 66 indeed still kicks—as does America.”
Paul Taylor
“The most impressive account of a road trip I have ever read.”
David Knudson
“There are many Route 66 books but none are a full-length road trip like this … If you plan to motor west and get your kicks doing it, I suggest you read it.”
Bob Moore
“By far the best book I have read about the Road in many, many years. Two guys went in search of Route 66 and found America. Highly recommended.”
Jim Conkle
“I have traveled Route 66 more times than a long-haul trucker and this book is going to become one of the classics of the road … solid proof that Route 66 ‘still kicks.”
Kirkus Reviews
An uninspiring grab bag of a journey down the storied highway. Route 66 is crumbling in spots, even gone to grass and dirt across decommissioned stretches along its path. But it lives on, largely because of Bobby Troup's musical anthem, given in incomplete form to Nat King Cole and forged in his hands into a pop hit. The best part of Antonson's (To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa, 2008, etc.) grinding biography is his look at Troup's song; given the importance of Albuquerque, N.M., as a waypoint along the route, he wonders why it isn't celebrated in the song. The author travels the length of the highway, stuffing his narrative with as many anecdotes and oddments as he can cram in, with the result that the book has a tight-as-a-tick bloat to it. Some of them do useful work; Antonson does a good job, for instance, of considering the contributions of documentary photographer Dorothea Lange to the making of the Route 66 image in the American mind. But others are there just to be there, it seems, from the painfully obvious (" ‘Joliet' Jake Blues, a character portrayed in the 1980 Blues Brothers movie by actor John Belushi, drew his nickname from this town") to the painfully overstretched (of Mickey Mantle: "many people stopped caring--not unlike the highway he called home"). A moment of confused dialogue concerning whether the author of the line "Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" was Jackson Browne or Savoy Brown is emblematic--the answer is easy to look up, utterly unimportant and well-known to anyone who cares about such things. A snooze. There's no ill intent here, but so important a road deserves a better book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620873007
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 321,984
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Antonson is the president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver, and past chair of the board for Destination Marketing Association International, based in Washington, D.C. Rick is the author of the widely acclaimed To Timbuktu for a Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa, coauthor of Slumach’s Gold: In Search of a Legend, and The Fraser Valley.
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