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 Jackson's previously unpublished letters to his wife, brimming with optimism against all odds, describe in vivid detail every detour, every flat tire, every adventure good and bad - in a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.

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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 "A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!"

Book Details

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