The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator)

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The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator)

Category: Travel
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A journalist crosses America without any money, reliant on the kindness of strangers. Thought-provoking and fascinating.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 260/8 hours 54m Date: December 2014
Publisher: Audible
ISBN: 978-1495213762

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In 1994 Mike McIntyre was a thirty-seven-year-old journalist with a secret: he was frightened. There were specific fears, but what it boiled down to was that he was frightened of life - and then there was a memory. He remembered - with some shame - not stopping for a hitchhiker with a gas can in the desert. It was almost on a whim that he decided to cross America, from San Francisco in California to Cape Fear in North Carolina, which might sound like a great adventure, but McIntyre decides to do it without money - to be completely reliant on the kindness of strangers. He was confronting his own fears.

McIntyre didn't consider that he was hitchhiking - at one point he likens it to carpooling - and generally gets his lifts by holding out a sign with his destination in large letters. He doesn't volunteer the information that he's a journalist but is never less than truthful. Of the hundred or so people who give him help in the course of the six-week journey most are keenest to tell him their story and it's only a few who are interested in McIntyre and can ask the correct questions to get to the nub of what he's doing.

This was a massive leap for a man who had always been most contented when keeping people at a distance and one who was happier to be giving than receiving. For this type of person it can be a particular torture to be reliant on others. There were occasions when he had nowhere to stay - by and large he was treated well - but was surprised by the fact that it seemed to be the people who had least who gave the most. He rarely found himself in difficulties but did learn to trust his gut instincts about people and on one occasion refused a lift when he thought he would be putting himself in danger. Surprisingly, people would warn him about towns or states to which he was heading - there were bad people there: bad people always came from somewhere else.

Personally I was shocked by the casual racism which McIntyre encountered, particularly in America's heartlands - and had to confront some of my own prejudices about religion when I realised the extent to which the various churches rallied round to help. So far as McIntyre's expectations went he was prepared for a miserable time but found instead a positive and uplifting experience. even twenty years later he says that giving up money gave him the richest experience of his life.

I listened to an audiobook, narrated by Chris Brinkley who does a superb job of bringing all the various personalities - male and female - to life. At the end of the book he chats to Mike McIntyre about his experiences and I found this particularly enlightening.

I'd like to thank Audible for sending me a download.

On a similar theme but at the opposite end of the scale we have a memoir from a couple who became homeless so that they could travel: Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World by Lynne Martin.

Buy The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) at Amazon You could get a free audio download of The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre and Chris Brinkley (narrator) at Amazon.com.


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