A World Tour of Books: The Road by Jack London (United States)

When starting my World Tour of Books I decided to not go by any specific order. That way it will make things more interesting as my reader will not know from post to post where the next stop on our journey will be.
So, after having read the first book in the tour I had not specific plan on where to continue next.
One evening I was lying in my bed and happened to look up at a bookshelf in my room when my eyes landed on the two novels The Call of The Wild and White Fang by Jack London. These were my two absolute favorite books as a child and it hit me that I associated a lot of things in London’s work with the United States: rugged individualism, the great Western wild and what we call “The American Dream”.
I decided that one of London’s book would be a great choice for our stop in the US of A. I looked through a bibliography of Jack London and became immediately interested in his autobiographical work The Road when I learned it inspired Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which just happens to be my favorite book of all times.
In The Road London tells of his time when he was a train hopping hobo. It was in the 1890s and the US was experiencing its worst economic crisis in its history up till then. London would travel from town to town and often had to resort to begging for a living. It was during that time in his life that he first mastered the art of storytelling, as he would make up sap stories to try and win the sympathy of those he begged from.
During his travels and his stay at the Erie County Penitentiary, where he spent 30 days for vagrancy, London met the poorest and most marginalised of society. He witnessed the desperation of his time, but also the resilience and ingenuity of people just trying to survive. This influenced him greatly and he would later become a passionate social activist.
The Road was a great read about a fascinating man in a difficult time. This book as well as Jack London’s other works are a must-read for anyone interested in American literary history.

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