I got the most from the “beginnings,” “travel,” and “autobiography” chapters. “Teachers of American literature have long understood the value travel writing holds for the history of colonial American writing, but the novels and short stories and poetry of the 19th and 20th centuries often muscle books of travel off the syllabus. They shouldn’t. Any piece of writing that approaches excellence can be considered literature regardless of genre. Indeed, there may be more literature in William Bartram’s description of an alligator attack, Francis Parkman’s account of a thunderstorm traversing the plains, or John Stephens’s narrative of hunger in the desert that can be found in any number of 19th century novels. American travel writing can fire the imagination and take readers round the globe.” P.48Interesting to learn that the Federal Writers’ Project, which formed part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, hired writers to fan out across the nation, interviewing people and researching places. The result was the American Guide series, which consists of beefy guidebooks for every state and a variety of specialized volumes. … Since the guides were published anonymously, the efforts of the individual contributors have been obscured, but the separate volumes possess a general literary quality otherwise rare for guidebooks.