Review by Choice Review
Bendixen and Hamera (both, Texas A&M Univ.) provide an excellent resource on American travel literature and the genre as a whole. Exploring national identity, part 1, "Confronting the American Landscape," comprises essays on the pre-Revolutionary period and such pivotal topics as the Mississippi River and the Southwest. The essays in part 2, "Americans Abroad," include "Americans in the Holy Land, Israel, and the Palestine," which looks at changing views of Americans traveling to these places in the 19th and 20th centuries; other essays focus on Latin America, "beyond the Pacific coast," and, of course, Europe. The melange of topics treated in the final section, "Social Scenes and American Sites," suggests these essays, however relevant, did not fit in the other sections. Here one finds a cogent treatment of African American travel literature beginning with slave narratives and the journey across the ocean; a somewhat superficial treatment of women's writing travel; and a chronicle of the American "road narrative" as it expands with postmodernism and interstate highways. Positioning American travel writing within a global context while calling into question the construction of American identity itself, this collection complements The Norton Book of Travel, ed. by Paul Fussell (1987), as it melds scholarship, theory, and postcolonial awareness. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. J. M. Wood Park University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.