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The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey [Paperback]

Douglas Brinkley , Brian Lamb
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 24 2003
Professor Douglas Brinkley arranged to teach a six-week experimental class aboard a fully equipped sleeper bus. The class would visit thirty states and ten national parks. They would read twelve books by great American writers. They would see Bob Dylan in Seattle, gamble at a Vegas casino, dance to Bourbon Street jazz in New Orleans, pay homage to Elvis Presley's Graceland and William Faulkner's Rowan Oak, ride the whitewater rapids on the Rio Grande, and experience a California earthquake.Their journey took them to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Harry Truman's Independence, and Theodore Roosevelt's North Dakota badlands. And it gave them the unforgettable experience of meeting some of their cultural heroes, including William S. Burroughs and Ken Kesey, who took the gang for a spin in his own psychedelic bus. Driven by Doug Brinkley's energetic prose, The Majic Bus is a spirited travelogue of a unique experience.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Chronicles six weeks on the road with an experimental college history class which crisscrossed the country on a sleeper bus.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"The ultimate road trip, a rollicking tour of American history seen through the eyes of a remarkable professor and his students."

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Kudos to Dr. Brinkley for both his book and his concept of a traveling classroom. (Having been on art history tours in Europe--thank you Andy S.--I know how seeing art, architecture, meeting the people and tasting the food brings the lessons of art and history to life). This book stirs my interest in various parts of the United States. However, ours is a vast country, and more books are needed to cover areas neglected in the first trip.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Feb. 28 2004
This book will inspire you to plan and take a great American roadtrip of your own. Brinkley treats America's best road house eateries and greatest historic landmarks with equal reverence. What I loved most about this book is that he constantly reminds you that many of the simplest pleasures we take for granted in America are actually unique landmarks of both human and historic interest. A must read for teachers!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hop on the bus July 3 1998
By A Customer
I picked up a copy last year and can honestly say it has changed the way I look at this country and our cultural heritage. It's honest, witty, quirky and impossible to put down.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Ego Bus March 22 2013
By Eric Maroney - Published on Amazon.com
I was at Hofstra's New College in 1992 when Doug Brinkley took the Majic Bus across country in search of Greater America. I should note that I was never extremely interested in the subjects he taught. Cold War American politics, Jazz, and Beat writers, did not interest me. Brinkley was a young, energetic professor at the time, and had his fans and sycophants among the students. I was not one of them. So, reading The Majic Bus after over twenty years I admit my bias.

First, I think the book is a formal failure. Brinkley is certainly enthusiastic about this venture, and wants to craft an wide ranging experience for the students. But the text is largely about Brinkley, what he feels, thinks, and experiences; there are also some fairly long digressions into his past. The students are certainly there, and treated in the book, but often times they seem more like background characters, and not central to this story. Brinkley should have given the students the foreground.

Second, the book has a strong tone of smugness and superiority that makes the narrative voice hard to empathize with. Brinkley is enamored of pop culture, wants to get out of the classroom to experience reality away from books, or supplement book learning, but what he offers the reader is often times very simple, judgmental fare. It seems popular culture is the culture that Brinkley likes.

Finally, you can see in this book the type of popular TV scholar that Brinkley would become. Despite his constant jabs at TV in The Majic Bus, he tells us about every appearance on local and national TV. This foreshadows Brinkley's rising star, as he would become a TV commentator for CBS news, and in general an all around media hot shot.

So after twenty years, The Majic Bus has few lessons for our time. College is not something to escape from; it is a unique, and very expensive experience. It is a time to engage in scholarly thought, write and discuss ideas; for many, this will be the only time in their lives when such an opportunity presents itself. The Majic Bus is bizarrely anti-intellectual. It promotes the kind of upper middle class disdain for education that is at once hypocritical and adolescent.
5.0 out of 5 stars Next Best Thing To Being There July 1 2014
By Liz Koch Cousins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I highly recommend reading this. A great adventure that will make you fall in love with America. Wish this course were offered everywhere!
5.0 out of 5 stars Brinkley magic -- or majic! April 28 2014
By Gordon Cohn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An outstanding book that makes this 81-year-old wish that historian Doug Brinkley would consider another trip across country, confined to an elder population rather than college kids, that combines great experiences in American history with current popular culture. I loved the book.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hop on the bus July 3 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I picked up a copy last year and can honestly say it has changed the way I look at this country and our cultural heritage. It's honest, witty, quirky and impossible to put down.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before You Vacation Sept. 7 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book and decided to read it before I embarked on a vacation out west. I learned so much more by what I learned and it focused my attention to all the wonderful things I'd love to see and learn more about. A piece of America that is long forgotten to most, this book makes the open roads seem like home to everyone.
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