Travels with Charley

Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a 1962 travelogue written by American author John Steinbeck. It depicts a 1960 road trip around the United States made by Steinbeck, in the company of his standard poodle Charley. Steinbeck wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level because he made his living writing about it. He wrote of having many questions going into his journey, the main one being “What are Americans like today?” However, he found that he had concerns about much of the “new America” he witnessed.
Steinbeck tells of traveling throughout the United States in a specially made camper he named Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse. His travels start in Long Island, New York, and roughly follow the outer border of the United States, from Maine to the Pacific Northwest, down into his native Salinas Valley in California across to Texas, through the Deep South, and then back to New York. Such a trip encompassed nearly 10,000 miles.
According to Thom Steinbeck, the author’s oldest son, the reason for the trip was that Steinbeck knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time. The younger Steinbeck has said he was surprised that his stepmother allowed his father to make the trip; his heart condition meant he could have died at any time. A new introduction to the 50th anniversary edition of the book cautioned readers that “it would be a mistake to take this travelogue too literally, as Steinbeck was at heart a novelist.”


Read or listen to Travels with Charley

by John Steinbeck