The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America

Tom Zoellner (Author)

Product Details

$26.00  $23.92
Counterpoint LLC
Publish Date
October 13, 2020
6.3 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author

Tom Zoellner is the author and co-author of eight previous nonfiction books, the politics editor of The Los Angeles Review of Books, an associate professor of English at Chapman University and a visiting professor of English at Dartmouth College. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, Men's Health, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other places. He is the recipient of fellowships and residencies from The Lannan Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.


Praise for The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America

"Who and what is America? Tom Zoellner's wonderful The National Road takes us a long way toward right understanding, a forty-years-and-counting road trip across American space and time that absorbs huge swaths of our collective experience. Casinos and atom bombs, real estate and porn movies, small-town corruption, big-city strivers, Mormon martyrs and so much more get rolled into the pages of this questing and questioning big-hearted book. To get where we're going, we need to know where we've gone, and Tom Zoellner is the best guide for our times that I know of." --Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Praise for Train: Riding the Rails that Invented the Modern World, from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief

"Tom Zoellner's writing is never less than engaging; in Train he has made himself a veritable Walt Whitman of rail travel. It's a great read."--Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

"Train is such a pleasure to read, elegant, deeply informed and smart, full of knowledge-bearing sentences, and prose so companionable and rich in insight that it is as if its author were at your shoulder, taking you along with him. What an enjoyable journey. I will never hear the far off moan of a train in the night without thinking of it, and I know of no higher praise one can give a book. Tom Zoellner is quickly making himself a reputation as a man of wide and eclectic interests, and oh, my! Can he write!" --Richard Bausch, author of Peace

"Engaging . . . lyrical . . . keenly observed." --The New York Times

"Entirely terrific." --The Washington Post

"Spirited and bighearted . . . Zoellner enlightens us about an industry that's hiding in plain sight."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Highly entertaining, lucid and perceptive . . . It's a train lover's celebration of the great epic story of rail travel itself." --Los Angeles Times

"Enchanting and informative." --New York Post

"This is one of those all-too-rare books that have so much to them." --The Washington Times

"[Train] is a gracefully written, densely detailed meditation of trains--past, present and future . . . [P]art travelogue, as he rides seven train that shaped the modern world; part personal memoir, as he describes the people he met along the way; and part history of trains, from their origin to their impact on societies around the world and their vital role in the fast-forward 21st century." --LA Weekly

"Train makes for fascinating reading . . . The author's easy, breezy style will keep readers chugging along." --The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Zoellner illustrates how the modern era was ushered in and strapped in place by railroads, and how trains--the reality and the idea--continue to shape the world as we understand it . . . Train is by turns lyrical, powerful, romantic, transporting, and rich." --Phoenix New Times

"[Train] is an absorbing round-the-world journey." --BookPage

"Great for fans of Paul Theroux's railroad journeys, except that Zoellner isn't anywhere nearly as ill-tempered, and he has a better command of social history. A pleasure for literate travelers." --Kirkus Reviews

"[Train], rich with history and local color, is a mesmerizing read for anyone interested in the impact of trains on the environment, politics, economics, and daily life around the world today." --Library Journal

"An absorbing and lively reflection on an enduring marvel of modern industrial technology." --Booklist

Praise for A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America

"A true-crime story so well-written that it reads like a novel; a dark story, well told. It's a bit of a memoir, too. And at its heart, this book is an argument, one sharply composed . . . A Safeway in Arizona is a book that answers some questions of the shootings in a very elegant, detailed way." --NPR

"Zoellner's genre-defying project, which was somehow completed in less than a year, is staggeringly ambitious . . . A Safeway in Arizona is a masterly work of reporting, historical analysis, and sly cultural criticism." --The Boston Globe

"A Safeway in Arizona is Zoellner's quirky, uneven, brave and astonishingly heartfelt attempt to make sense of the Saturday-morning massacre that left six people dead and 13 injured . . . The cultural and political climate of early 21st century Arizona did not make the Tucson massacre inevitable. Nor were they the motivating cause of the tragedy. But, as Zoellner successfully argues, they were aggravating factors." --San Francisco Chronicle

"The horror and the drama of the slaughter could have made writing a book about it a no-brainer. Fortunately, journalist Tom Zoellner eschewed the no-brainer route of sensationalism for an angry yet nuanced book, A Safeway in Arizona, that he is unusually (probably uniquely) qualified to write. His credentials include growing up in Arizona, returning later as a newspaper reporter, previous experience as a book author, investigative journalism talent -- plus a deep friendship with Giffords, as well as a friendship with her murdered congressional aide Gabe Zimmerman. Readers . . . should find plenty to admire in this book." --Houston Chronicle

"A groundbreaking and enduring investigation for a national readership of the very questions that few writers or observers are willing to ask . . . Deeply moving, illuminating and original." --The Huffington Post

"There's a gaping gulf between the shooting itself and the glib remembrances that make it into the news. Tom Zoellner's new book about the shooting, A Safeway in Arizona, almost fixes this." --Slate

"No one has probed the terrain around the Tucson shooting better than author and journalist Tom Zoellner . . . Zoellner set out to transcend the endless political banter over blame and explores the social contexts underscoring how Giffords' act of democratic participation-"reaching out to strangers at the fringe of a Safeway"-could lead to one of the most disturbing assassination attempts in recent history. In the process, Zoellner asks a lot of questions most Arizonans would prefer to ignore."

"With his personal history interspersed through the book, Zoellner adds a literary touch to his excellent journalism. He applies his own experience to an incident that affected a whole state, and thus evokes the emotion that is necessary to tell such a story. From his emotion flows the truth." --ZYZZYVA Magazine

"Zoellner is a talented journalist who goes where the facts take him . . . He talks to shooting victims, politicians, immigration experts, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, gun enthusiasts, psychologists, talk-show hosts, businessmen, historians and anyone else he can find." --The Oregonian

"An impressively ambitious project undertaken in just a few months after the shootings . . . Sometimes bumpy, but always interesting." --The Arizona Daily Star

"Appealingly candid and thought-provoking . . . What could be a long slog of dry background information is skillfully structured to read as a fresh account of crucial events that made a lasting impression on the teller . . . A gripping story that presents a side of the whole mess you're not likely to find elsewhere." --Phoenix New Times

"His book is a personal plea for radical empathy, because the achievement of a democracy is empathy, nothing less . . . It is not much to ask for, to work for. It is too much. But it is all there is." --The Los Angeles Review of Books

"Zoellner brilliantly evokes the past and present of Arizona, the outsized personalities that have shaped the state and the paranoia lurking at the edge of society. A sure-to-be-controversial, troubling tale of the wages of fear on the body politic." --Kirkus Reviews

"Compelling . . . As Arizona approaches its centennial, Zoellner argues passionately for greater civility in the Grand Canyon State." --Booklist

"Compelling as his probing of the Giffords shooting is, Zoellner's greatest service here is illuminating the darkest corners of this sun-drenched seedbed of rugged individualism." --Bookpage

"Tom Zoellner's remarkable book about a moment of tragedy in Arizona ends up a story of survival-a wounded Congresswoman's survival, and a wounded nation's survival as well." --Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America

"This is a remarkable book. It was deeply reported before Tom Zoellner could have known he would write it. It was deeply reported after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords made it absolutely necessary for him to write. Zoellner's long, intense relationships with his two main subjects--Giffords and the State of Arizona--give enormous authority to his storytelling. Unsentimental but driven by powerful emotion, the book makes crisp, riveting, expansive sense of a tragedy that was far more than a random massacre by a madman." --William Finnegan, author of Cold New World: Growing up in a Harder Country, and staff writer for The New Yorker

"A compelling cry from the heart, this poignant book mixes an intimate personal story with painstaking journalism, and in doing so draws meaning from a terrifying attempt at political assassination. A Safeway in Arizona reveals the life-and-death consequences of alienation in an asphalt desert, and it makes a simple, forceful appeal: give a damn about your neighbor." --Michael Downs, author of House of Good Hope

"One of the great comforting fictions of our time is the notion that acts of public violence are random things. In his exemplary account of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the murder of several other people, Tom Zoellner denies us the cheap solace of easy answers and sets Jared Loughner's rampage in the context of a violent time in a country that seems more fragile by the hour." --Charles P. Pierce, author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became A Virtue In The Land Of The Free

"Tom Zoellner brilliantly captures the slow death of Tucson and how one disturbed young man trapped in this emptiness shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and wounded and killed other people. This is a tale created by greed in the Southwest, and written in blood." --Charles Bowden, author of Down by the River and contributing editor of Esquire

Praise for Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock that Shaped the World

Winner of the 2011 Science Writing Award from The American Institute of Physics

"Crazy fascinating."--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

"Who knew that a rock could be so endlessly fascinating? In this engaging geo-thriller, Tom Zoellner leads us through uranium's dark and colorful past and points us to its possibly terrifying future. Put on your haz-mat suit and prepare yourself for a wild and ultimately sobering ride." --Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice, and winner of the PEN award for nonfiction

"A stunning book about the 'apocalyptic pull of uranium.' [Zoellner's] reportage reads like a detective story with a cast of characters ranging from H.G. Wells to Robert Oppenheimer to A. Q. Khan. His writing is at once lyrical, historically informative and deeply investigative." --Kai Bird, co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

"Part history and part travel narrative, the book presents the atomic age not through its scientists or grand strategists, but through its raw material." --The New York Times

"Journeying to such far-flung sites as Congo's Shinkolobwe uranium mine and a smuggling route along the Russian-Georgian border, Tom Zoellner examines how uranium has helped shape our recent history and could determine our future. Policymakers and citizens alike need to read Uranium." --The Washington Post

"In this fine piece of journalism, Zoellner does for uranium what he did for diamonds in The Heartless Stone--he delves into the complex science, politics and history of this radioactive mineral, which presents the best and worst of mankind." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Zoellner possesses the gift of making complex science clear, while weaving the saga of the historically unwanted rock into a compelling narrative." --Christian Science Monitor

"A cogent, fascinating investigation of one powerful rock that offers a clear explanation of the current state of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, readable for even those who would prefer not to dwell on the matter." --New West

"This multi-faceted investigation of uranium sheds light on the rock in new and interesting ways, but doesn't shy away from the controversy that surrounds it." --Santa Fe Reporter

"One long, cool look at the history of uranium." --Salt Lake Tribune

"A riveting journey into perilous terrain."--Booklist

"There may be nothing on this Earth that more powerfully symbolizes human hope and dread than the 'unstable element' known as uranium. Tom Zoellner has spun the curious, epoch-defining story of this yellow dirt into journalistic gold." --Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic and Survival City

Praise for The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire

"An illuminating expose of a mineral and an industry." --The Wall Street Journal

"A dazzling display of intrepid reporting." --Entertainment Weekly

"The author is expert with vivid prose . . . This is a superior piece of reportage." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Lives up in every way to the power of its almost magical subject . . .With on-the-spot reporting from each of these locales and detailed portraits of individuals whose lives have been shaped by the quest for and business of diamonds, Zoellner follows a tortured trail all the way to the ring finger of an expectant bride. En route, he offers fascinating details about the geology, craftsmanship, advertising, economics and politics surrounding the gem." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A mesmerizing guided tour full of meticulously researched history, interviews, personal stories, and reflections. The Heartless Stone is scrupulous nonfiction that reads like a novel." --Bloomberg News

"An exhaustively researched and beautifully written work of narrative nonfiction." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A thoroughly engrossing and admirable piece of journalism. Part investigative reporting, part 'extreme' travelogue, it reveals through vivid details of geology, artistry, marketing, economics and politics, how diamond lust has changed cultures and societies forever." --Albuquerque Journal

"Still want a diamond? Before laying out your cash, Zoellner advises that you first understand its origins . . . An informative book that's equal parts history and travelogue." --Rocky Mountain News

"Riveting . . . A fascinating story." --The Arizona Republic

"A sobering and well-reported look at today's diamond culture." --The Salt Lake Tribune

"Eye-opening . . . With a sharp narrative style and wealth of detail, The Heartless Stone cuts through the sparkle and marketing to show us that a rock is what you make of it." --St. Petersburg Times

"[Tom Zoellner's] investigation into the global diamond industry shatters the mystique with all the vengeance of a jilted lover." --The Oregonian

"It's got all the requisite ingredients of intriguing journalism: greed, sex, gaping economic disparities, and glamour. It's too bad it took a failed engagement to prompt this book, but Zoellner has risen from the romantic ashes with The Heartless Stone . . . He doesn't miss a stop on the diamond road, hopping from Africa to South America to the British Isles in pursuit of the gem whose exclusivity is based only on the tight control of a few greedy individuals. That little blue Tiffany box might never look the same." --Bookmarks

"Zoellner's sharp, observant descriptions of people and places will sensitize readers to the wider processes of monopoly, smuggling, and war, all of which lurk in the background when a suitor buys a ring for his beloved." --Booklist

"Zoellner's book is part personal travelogue, using the return of his own proffered diamond engagement ring as the starting point, and part investigative journalism. . . . The end result? A gem." --Library Journal

Praise for An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography

"The book's emotional power comes from his understatement and humility." --The Boston Globe

"An exhaustively researched and beautifully written work of narrative nonfiction." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"With the aid of a New York journalist, Tom Zoellner, he recounts the ordeal with a narrative tension worthy of a superior thriller, and the passages on the build-up to the genocide are particularly compelling . . . it is quite as harrowing as you'd expect." --The Guardian

"Read this book. It will humble and inspire you." --Daily Mail

"A fascinating book . . . by an ordinary man, about ordinary people, the kind of daring it takes to survive, and most of all, the courage it takes to endure." --The Sunday Telegraph

"Here is a memoir that incontrovertibly matters." --The Sunday Times

"Part memoir, part polemic, part social history, An Ordinary Man is a deeply impressive work that pays fitting tribute to the 800,000 who lost their lives" --Scotland on Sunday