I read this inspiring and depressing book a few weeks after a young man in Charleston, South Carolina, sporting Confederate flag images and apartheid slogans, and using a gun given to him by his father for his birthday, shot dead nine black churchgoers. Their families forgave the killer. The Confederate flag that had been flying over the state house was finally hauled down and consigned to a museum.
I say depressing because what Paul Theroux learned in his year-and-a-half drive through the Deep South is how poor and racist much of it remains. Its industries, even catfish raising, have moved to China and its poor whites languish in a dream of an Old South that never was. But the book also inspires, because of the ways in which the poor, white and black, welcomed Theroux,