DISCOVER AMERICA: A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Our Country's Greatest Destinations

Reader's Digest, Editor . Reader's Digest $39.95 (704p) ISBN 978-0-7621-0434-5

This hulking volume might be best described as a cross between a fact-filled encyclopedia of the 50 states and a collection of brochures from state-sponsored travel agencies. With 100 pages of road maps, over 3,000 place entries and sidebars highlighting significant cities and state parks, the book is chockablock with random bits of trivia and essential information. The editors have divided it by geographical region and subdivided by state. Every state gets a full-page introduction, along with a few paragraphs each on principal cities and national monuments and parks. Although the prose is, for the most part, rigidly straightforward (and even hokey: "Wherever you visit in the South, you're sure to meet an interesting character with a spellbinding story to tell"), the editors don't shy from covering some locales' less attractive aspects (e.g., they mention Detroit's "decaying core" and problems with crime, poverty and unemployment in the late 1990s). The photographs neatly capture iconic images: an intricately sculpted sand castle on the beach at Fort Lauderdale, the crowded Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, bison roaming the North Dakota wilderness, brilliant fall foliage in New York's Adirondack Park. The book ends with a gazetteer including towns and cities, national parks, national forests and other national reserves, with page references. Flipping through this vast compilation of American places should inspire would-be travelers to get out of their armchairs and hit the road. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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