this was a hard one for me to rate, because there are parts of this book that i really enjoyed, and then parts that i really wasn't that into. and i'm biased, because steinbeck is one of my favorite authors. that said, this is not a novel but an accounting of a drive he took across america, to reacquaint himself with the people and the country that are the subject of his writing. so it's a book that teaches not just about what steinbeck wants to talk about, but also about steinbeck as a person; i learned that while i love steinbeck the writer, i wouldn't really like steinbeck the man very much. i can live with that, and i suppose that i can even live with his racism because this was written in 1960 and because he was obviously so much less racist than a lot of the country at that time.this book does do something for me - makes me really wonder what you'd see and encounter retracing his drive 50 years later. he was shocked at the change in america that occurred in the 20 years that he'd spent writing about her in new york. i wonder if the places of nature that he described are even in existence anymore. he avoided highways and thoroughfares for a good part of his trip (because you can drive through an entire state without seeing any of it that way) and i wonder if you can even make this drive today without them.a few quotes, 2 of which are hints of the changes we've seen in 50 years."I've seen many migrant crop-picking people about the country: Hindus, Filipinos, Mexicans, Okies away from their states. Here in Maine a great many were French Canadians who came over the border for the harvest season. It occurs to me that, just as the Carthaginians hired mercenaries to do their fighting for them, we Americans bring in mercenaries to do our hard and humble work. I hope we may not be overwhelmed one day by people not too proud or too lazy or too soft to bend to the earth and pick up the things we eat.""Some years ago at Abercrombie and Fitch I bought a cattle caller...""...what I found was closely intermeshed with how I felt at the moment. External reality has a way of being not so external after all."