Cover image for A hell of a place to lose a cow : an American hitchhiking Odyssey
A hell of a place to lose a cow : an American hitchhiking Odyssey
Brookes, Tim, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, [2000]

Physical Description:
308 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.04 .B7565 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E169.04 .B7565 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E169.04 .B7565 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In the drolly comic tradition of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, a celebrated culture critic, British expatriate, and NPR essayist offers a lively and thoughtful account of his long, strange trip hitchhiking across the United States. of color photos.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In 1973, Brookes, then a British student, spent three months hitchhiking across America, dazzled by a girl from Iowa he had met at Oxford. In 1998, Brookes, now a writer, teacher, and longtime Vermonter, decides to re-create that experience and hitchhike to the same places again. He's not crazy: he periodically takes trains or buses and carries a cell phone in his daughter's sock. He tracks a few of the people and most of the places he encountered the first time, but this is no self-referential wallowing. He's not interested in reliving the past but in illuminating the present, and he carries both a cheerful lack of anxiety and a disarming lack of pretense. In crisp, short chapters, he recounts conversations with the folks who pick him up and his responses to the places he goes: a gospel church in San Francisco; a previous wife in Seattle; a desolate reservation in South Dakota. He finds kindness and gratitude, and he clearly has those within himself as well. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Library Journal Review

The somewhat offputting title refers to the three-month journey Brookes made across America in 1973 at the age of 20. Describing how he traveled from east to west, touching into Canada and then returning home, the author offers a valid perspective on what has changed over 25 years. A professor, essayist on National Public Radio, and author (e.g., Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness), Brookes is more than qualified to write an account of this sort. However, he lacks the vital art of sharing his emotions and capturing and entertaining the reader so skillfully demonstrated by the likes of Dervla Murphy, Tim Cahill, and Bill Bryson. Since this is a National Geographic title, one expects high-caliber, exciting, and engaging writing. What one gets instead is rather disappointing; there is an underlying sense that this book is the completion of an assignment rather than a work of passion. An optional purchase.ÄJo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 A Barometer of Goodwillp. 1
2 Anywhop. 10
3 Clothing Technologiesp. 16
4 The Road to Jerichop. 20
5 Searching for That Wonderful Tribep. 24
6 Been a Long Time Since I Did the Strollp. 29
7 The Vagabond, When Richp. 48
8 "Public" Being a Dirty Wordp. 57
9 In the Silverware Drawerp. 70
10 Dysgeographyp. 78
11 Missile Silos Would Make Great Condosp. 84
12 A Frontier Planetp. 96
13 "A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow"p. 104
14 Red Wind at the Miragep. 113
15 Another Casualty of the Sixtiesp. 123
16 Between Me and the Basted Eggp. 143
17 Laundry on the Freewayp. 147
18 Don't Start Singing Before the Money Gets Throughp. 152
19 Fundamentally Nomadicp. 161
20 An Overlapping Assortment of Fantasiesp. 174
21 Trodden by Roguesp. 179
22 The Last Donp. 185
23 Idiot A, Idiot B, and the Journey Back Eastp. 194
24 Hate Kickin' This Thing out of Cruise Controlp. 201
25 Jeff Bridges Has a Ranch Up Herep. 213
26 Where My Dead Lie Buriedp. 228
27 The Hitchhiker Remains at Largep. 236
28 The Lord Said It Was All Rightp. 242
29 Falling by the Waysidep. 249
30 Between Order and Chaosp. 254
31 Bitumen in Their Veinsp. 262
32 You Aren't Going to Blow Us Up, Are You?p. 266
33 Dowsing for Kindnessp. 285
34 We Should Do All Rightp. 296
Appendix A A Short History of Hitchhikingp. 301
Appendix B Product Testing Notesp. 306