Sep 16, 2017wyenotgo rated this title 3 out of 5 stars
This is a far different Steinbeck from the fellow who wrote "The Grapes of Wrath". Not a travelogue but a nostalgic retrospective on what America meant to him. And in its final pages, a lament when he found himself face-to-face with the agony of America finally beginning, painfully, bitterly, terrifyingly to deal with its heritage of shattered race relations. The book was written in 1961, at the time of the Kennedy inauguration. As such, it depicts an America that had long been the envy of all the world (even the Soviets, through gritted teeth) and yet it was already a nation at war with itself, unable to come to terms with the lofty ideals expressed in its own founding documents. So what can we say about this book today, when much of America has turned its back on its early dreams? How does it tally with the sickening truth of America's failure to live up to those impossibly optimistic aspirations, a time when civil discourse has become impossible and no one knows any more what is truth? When what individuals choose to believe (or claim to believe) is all that matters and if facts presented do not suit one's purpose, alternative facts will do? What journey might Steinbeck, or anyone else of his era undertake today "in search of America"?