The Last Great Walk
The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today
By Wayne Curtis
(Rodale Books, Hardcover, 9781609613723, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
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In 1909, Edward Payson Weston walked from New York to San Francisco, covering around 40 miles a day and greeted by wildly cheering audiences in every city. The New York Times called it the "first bona-fide walk . . . across the American continent," and eagerly chronicled a journey in which Weston was beset by fatigue, mosquitos, vicious headwinds, and brutal heat. He was 70 years old.In The Last Great Walk, journalist Wayne Curtis uses the framework of Weston’s fascinating and surprising story, and investigates exactly what we lost when we turned away from foot travel, and what we could potentially regain with America’s new embrace of pedestrianism. From how our brains and legs evolved to accommodate our ancient traveling needs to the way that American cities have been designed to cater to cars and discourage pedestrians, Curtis guides readers through an engaging, intelligent exploration of how something as simple as the way we get from one place to another continues to shape our health, our environment, and even our national identity.Not walking, he argues, may be one of the most radical things humans have ever done.
Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine. He’s also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, and This American Life. The author of And a Bottle of Rum, Curtis was named Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year in 2002. He lives in New Orleans.
"There is a lot in our busy, hyperconnected modern world that can be solved by walking. Taking long walks can improve our well-being, boost cognitive performance and creativity, and help us tap into our wisdom and capacity for wonder. Wayne Curtis’s colorful recounting of Edward Payson Weston’s 1909 walk across America is a timely and inspiring reminder of what we stand to gain physically and spiritually by simply walking."—Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group"Smart, engaging, and tremendously fun to read, The Last Great Walk introduces us to Edward Payson Weston, probably the greatest, if forgotten, walker of modern times, and reminds us, gently but persuasively, that all of us, as humans, are born to walk." —Gretchen Reynolds, author of the New York Times Phys Ed column and The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer "Animated by the once sensational, now-forgotten 'last walk' of a turn-of-the-century championship pedestrian—yes, they existed—Wayne Curtis has gifted us with a kind of metaphysical self-help book, good for mind, body, and the national soul. An impassioned celebration of what makes us human."—Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)