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On the Road

Adventures from Nixon to Trump
Narrated by: James Naughtie
Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
5 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)

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Summary

James Naughtie, the acclaimed author and BBC broadcaster, now brings his unique and inquisitive eye to the country that has fascinated him and drawn him across the Atlantic for half a century. In looking at America, from Presidents Nixon through to Trump, he’ll tell the story of a country that is grappling with a dream. What has it come to mean in the new century and who do Americans now think they are?

Drawing on his travels and encounters over 40 years in the ‘Land of the Free’, On the Road will be filled with anecdotes, memories, tears and laughter, reflecting Naughtie’s characteristic warmth and enthusiasm in encountering the America of Washington, of Broadway, of the small town and the plains. Naughtie watched the fall of President Richard Nixon in 1974, and subsequently as a journalist followed the story of the country – its politicians, artists, wheeler-dealers and the people who make it what it is, in the New York melting pot or the western deserts. This will be a story filled with encounters, for example with the people he has watched on every presidential campaign from the 1970s to the victory of Donald Trump in 2016.

As the 2020 presidential elections are well underway, Jim sees for himself how the main contenders are campaigning. He sees, also, how POTUS himself is dealing with impeachment proceedings and what the ordinary citizen thinks of it all.

©2020 James Naughtie (P)2020 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic reviews

"Everything you would expect of a James Naughtie book - droll, absorbing and wonderfully perceptive." (Bill Bryson)

"An insightful account of living through momentous times...much to enjoy in Naughtie's astute memoir." (Martin Chilton, Independent)

"A revealing and at times spellbinding tapestry of a nation.... It is thought-provoking, constantly surprising and hugely entertaining. Sublime stuff." (Michael Simkins, Mail on Sunday)

What listeners say about On the Road

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  • Overall
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Brilliant brilliant brilliant!

Expertly woven detail with wry observation. A wonderfully evocative account of a fascination with USA politics over many decades. Perfectly combines the personal with arch of history. A must listen for anyone who lives American politics.

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Superb storytelling .

Excellent insightful writing and superb presentation. must be Non Fiction Book of the Year. IMHO.

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Warm, incisive and compelling journey of America

James Naughtie brings his charismatic style in a personal journey of American politics and their increasingly divisive effect on the American homeland and their political establishment. The effect of Trump and the stark contrast with previous political crisis is interesting. The greatness and political acumen of pre and post Obama and his own research into Lincoln fascinating. Compelling and brilliant narration by James...wish he would do more

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Elegant and enlightening

Naughtie’s atmospheric evocation of everyday America digs deep beneath the surface. It is elegant and elegiac, suffused with melancholy and a sense of loss of a USA now just out of reach. You get a feeling for the country and its people but also a sense the America visited in earlier years is a ghostly echo of the country it has become. I am left feeling less hopeful about the future of the USA but with a much greater understanding of how we have arrived at this point.

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Excellent

I really enjoyed this tale of James Naughtie's relationship with America and it's Presidents over 6 decades. I particularly enjoyed hearing it read by James.

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Best analysis of American politics in years.

Really good book. Recommended to all those trying to figure out what is happening to America right now. You walk away with a better idea of how important political leadership is, and what happens when it doesn't exist - a deeply divided society that, probably, can only healed in the aftermath of a traumatic or cathartic event. The mark of leadership in politics is bringing people of different ilk and creed along the same path.

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James does not like the Donald

If you are an admirer of Donald Trump this is not a book for you. Mr Naughtie excoriates Trump so completely that at times I wanted to look away. The old lefty does not pull his punches, yet there is more to this book than a Liberal rant, there is poetry in his description of small town America. A train journey to New Orleans, a late night walk in George Town and, best of all, a Thanksgiving in New England immediately after 9/11. Those who loved (as I do) this pen portraits of American campaigns on the Today program will enjoy this book

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Incomplete Recording

I was looking forward to hearing this book read by James himself. He has a very engaging style.
Unfortunately the recording doesn’t live up to expectations. The sound quality is below normal standards of audio books in general and, most disappointing of all, the recording is incomplete. The Introduction ends mid sentence! I have tried removing the recording and re downloading but that hasn’t corrected it. Very poor quality control.
This is such a shame as I have always associated James’ work with much higher standards.