The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America
From the offices of struggling small-town newspapers to the adult film sets of California; from the checkout lanes of Midwestern dollar stores to the sacred sites of Mormonism; from our nation’s highest peaks to the rising seawaters of pilgrim-haunted New England to the corrupt Southern municipalities that prey upon their residents: Tom Zoellner takes to the highways and byways of a vast land in search of the soul of its people.
“A sneakily ambitious book whose 13 ‘dispatches’ present a sweeping view of the American land and its inhabitants―how each has shaped, and deformed, the other . . . Zoellner is a beautiful writer, a superb reporter and a deep thinker.” –– Jody Rosen, The New York Times Book Review
“A fascinating investigation into American places and themes; metaphors for our country. The National Road is an enthralling journey that proves his point.” –– Martha Anne Toll, National Public Radio
“A marvel of cohesion in a divided time.” — Bill Thompson, Charleston Post and Courier
“A poignant collection of essays about American identity.” –– Adam Skolnick, Outside
“The collection is brimming with untold history and thoughtful reflection. Zoellner’s inquisitiveness and no-holds-barred exploration of the country’s DNA, both harmful and beautiful, makes The National Road well worth reading―especially at a time when we can’t travel down that road ourselves.” –– Elaine Elinson, New York Journal of Books
“Zoellner exposes naiveté, foolishness, and malfeasance with equal clarity, but he is evenhanded and sometimes produces a piece of sardonic humor, haunting beauty, or melancholy that pulsates on the page.” —Kirkus Reviews
Island on Fire: The Revolt that Ended Slavery in the British Empire
Nonfiction finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award, 2020
A peaceful labor strike in 1831 turned into a full-blown slave revolt, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of plantation houses in smoking ruins. While the rebels lost their military gamble, their sacrifice galvanized public opinion, resulting in emancipation through the British Empire.
Island on Fire the dramatic day-by-day account of this transformative uprising, the first full portrait of its enigmatic leader Samuel Sharpe, and a poignant glimpse of the dreams of the enslaved people who died fighting for their liberty.
“Zoellner makes deft use of primary sources, and illustrates how the atmosphere of energetic political reform and events like Sharpe’s rebellion converged to end slavery in the ‘agricultural prison camp’ of Jamaica, and in the British Empire at large.” — The New Yorker
“A pounding narrative of events that led to the end of slavery in the British colonies . . . Zoellner’s vigorous, fast-paced account brings to life a varied gallery of participants black, white and ‘colored’— the then-standard designation for quasi-free people of mixed race.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Tom Zoellner is completely right that the 1831-32 revolt in Jamaica helped break the back of slavery in the British Empire. It’s high time that we had a book like the splendid one he has written: a highly readable but carefully documented account of the greatest of all British slave rebellions, the miseries that led to it, and the momentous changes it wrought.” — Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains