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What the Great American Road Trip Says (and Misses) About America

Traveling the open road is an American literary tradition. A history professor says the canon needs an update, especially to include women and people of color.
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By the time Jack Kerouac published On the Road, his counterculture account of a zigzag adventure around North America, the idea of a cross-country road trip was reaching the mainstream.

One year earlier, in 1956, the Eisenhower administration had authorized construction of the interstate highway system, promising 41,000 miles of new roads that made travel almost impossible to avoid for millions of Americans. While travel stories were common long before the invention of the automobile, the rapidly growing network of highways meant more people could take to the road, and they could actually do it as a form of leisure.