Horatio's Drive

  • by Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns
  • Narrated by Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns
  • 3 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved roads in the entire nation and most people had never seen a "horseless buggy" - but that did not stop Horatio Nelson Jackson, a 31-year-old Vermont doctor, who impulsively bet $50 that he could drive his 20-horsepower automobile from San Francisco to New York City. Here - in Jackson's own words - is a glorious account of that months-long, problem-beset, thrilling-to-the-rattled-bones trip with his mechanic, Sewall Crocker, and a bulldog named Bud. Jackson's previously unpublished letters to his wife, brimming with optimism against all odds, describe in vivid detail every detour, every flat tire, every adventure good and bad - in a country still settled mainly in small towns, where life moved no faster than the horse-drawn carriage and where the arrival of Jackson's open-air (roofless and windowless) Winton would cause delirious excitement.Jackson was possessed of a deep thirst for adventure, and his remarkable story chronicles the very beginning of the restless road trips that soon became a way of life in America. Horatio's Drive is the first chapter in our nation's great romance with the road.


What the Critics Say

"Historian [Dayton] Duncan and documentary filmmaker [Ken] Burns read the bulk of this audio adaptation...with all the enthusiasm of a pair of travelers setting off on the open road." (Publishers Weekly)
"If any audiobook was ever destined to be heard on a car trip, this is the one....A historical American drama never told before." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fun & Short History Lesson

Would you listen to Horatio's Drive again? Why?

Absolutely I would listen again. There was so much information and it moved so quickly that I wouldn't mind listening again. The whole book was just over 3 hours. And such an interesting time in history.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I loved the tenacity. Now a days, we pull over and call AAA if we have a flat tire. I was in disbelief that they traveled over animal paths with a block & tackle to pull their car out of every form of mishap. Boy are we wimps today.

Which scene was your favorite?

I loved the bulldog they picked up along the way that was their mascot. Even bulldogs are wimpier today. This one was a trooper!

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- C. Singer

Great story!

Who knew about the first cross-country road trip? I sure didn't until listening to this book. A cross-country road traveller myself (4 times in the car), I found the plight of Horatio interesting, funny and frustrating, and I was glad that my family's adventures were never as severe as poor Horatio. The book is a companion to a documentary, and it reads a bit like that. I imagine the print version might be better because it probably includes photos, diagrams and maps. I don't think the lack of those took away from the experience of listening to the book, but they probably would add to the reading of it.
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- Elizabeth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-03-2003
  • Publisher: Random House Audio