Riding the rails, Ted Conover tasted the life of a tramp with companions like Pistol Pete, BB, and Sheba Sheila Sheils. From them he learned survival skills - how to "read" a freight train, scavenge for food and clothing, avoid the railroad "bulls." He was initiated into the customs of their unique, shadowy society - men and women bound together by a mutual bond of failure, camaraderie, and distrust.
Sixty-five freight trains, 12,000 miles, and 15 states later, Conover chronicles his impressions of their lives in this fascinating piece of first-hand reporting that becomes a thoughtful story of self-discovery.
©2001 Ted Conover; (P)2005 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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"Good but not the Best"
This was a well-read and well-written book. While Conover spends a little bit too much time complaining and attempting to pull "deep meaning" from the book, he manages to create a good narrative.
Conover is a good storyteller and someone that is unfamliar with his other books, esp. Newjack, should look those up before listening to this one.
"Interesting. Held my attention. Easy to listen to."
Yes. I have listened 3 times. I worked for Union Pacific in Green River Wyoming. I used to see & sometimes talk to guys jumping the trains. Always wondered what it was like. They all looked like they had a hard life. But, somehow they seemed content to wander. Sometimes I also wanted to wander. The book gives a glimpse into that way of life.
Kept my interest.
"Had potential, but fell short."
Like his other book, Newjack, Conover bravely puts himself into an interesting and potentially dangerous situation. But having read both books, I've arrived at the conclusion that Conover just isn't a very interesting guy.
Where a guy like Bill Bryson can make even a walk in the woods seem enthralling, Conover fails to make even the most intriguing adventures seem exciting, or in some cases, even interesting. Hate to say it, but he just strikes me as a fairly boring guy with mundane insight. While I give him much credit for having the courage to place himself in extraordinary situations, he somehow fails to do very much with them. Even his writing skills are rather bland and unremarkable.
I don't regret having read his books, per se, I just can't help but feel underwhelmed and a bit disappointed that he didn't do more with his opportunities.
"What a crazy,but fascinating idea for a story"
The author offers a first hand account of what homeless people do to survive without a job by becoming homeless and winning the confidence of modern hoboes,who divulge secrets about raiding the KFC dumpster after closing to get chicken,simply eating someone's left over pizza,getting meals or living at a shelter for three days at a time and enduring a religious sermon in exchange for food and temporary shelter.
It made me feel less sorry for homeless people,but at the same time more understanding of how difficult it must be to have nowhere to live,no money and nothing to eat.
I picked this one up,since I really have enjoyed travel on trains in China and also really enjoyed Paul Theroux's titles previously.Instead I came away feeling once again,that Ted Conover has a keen eye for details and putting things in an easy to follow narrative that is captivating and well thought through.
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