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Publisher's Summary

New Yorker contributor and decade-long staffer Matt Dellinger uses the controversy surrounding Interstate 69 as a lens through which to examine middle America's current political, social, and economic landscape, including hot-button issues like NAFTA and the country's troubled infrastructure. If completed, I-69 will stretch from Canada to Mexico through Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. In the works for more than twenty years, the highway has been both eagerly anticipated as an economic godsend and the center of a firestorm of protests by local environmentalists, farmers, ranchers, anarchists, and others who question both the wisdom of building more highways and the merits of globalization. Part history, part travelogue, Interstate 69 chronicles the last great highway project in America, introducing the people who have worked tirelessly to build it or stop it from being built, and the many places it would change forever.

©2010 Matt Dellinger (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A rollicking dispatch from the heartland as great plans are laid for a mega-highway just at the moment when America runs out of gas." (James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere)

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Get this for your solo drive across country

which is what I did and though I could not listen to it all the way without breaks for fiction or music I finished it. Interestingly, I got an email from a very conservative family member with a bunch of paranoid non-facts about this very highway and felt much too smug pointing out the reality of the politics behind the NAFTA elements. Mr Dellinger's descriptions of the people and communities are treats.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 09-17-10

Great Insights

Matt Delinger relates the story of Interstate 69 from concept through related controversies to the present status. Along the way he brings the listener up to speed on what has taken place in each region involved in the controversy. This is not only a story of the development of a highway, but a window into democracy in action. I'll never think of " bridges to no where" in quite the same way.

The narrative is great and the reading of Robert Fass just couldn't be better. Anyone interested in American politics, highway systems, economic development, and how our money is spent will benefit from this helpful book. If you just want a great story ... listen to this one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • LWaloski
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • 05-19-13

Could Not Finish

A bit of a history buff, and a long haul trucker, I thought a book about I-69 would be fascinating. In reality, it nearly put me to sleep behind the wheel. The prose rambles, seems disconnected, and the narrator has the ability to cause a driver to lapse into a definite road coma. Ultimately, I couldn't get past halfway.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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For Infrastructure Groupies

Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway by Matt Dellinger tells the story what may prove to be the nation's last major new territory superhighway. A road that was originally intended to reach rural counties in Indiana that have been left behind by a globalized economy, Interstate 69 morphed into a massive Mexico to Canada behemoth, and become known (for a time) as the "Nafta Superhighway."

To enjoy this book as much I did you should share with me the following characteristics:
A fascination (or obsession) with infrastructure. If you love the National Geographic series "MegaStructures" then I recommend this book. Even if you like to hang out in the server room at your campus you may enjoy this book.

A curiosity about the economics of transportation. Interstate 69 got wrapped up in the whole debate about private toll roads and peak pricing - fascinating.

An interest in the tension between globalization and sustainable development, between preserving authentic places and creating economic opportunities for workers.

It is never clear from the story if building Interstate 69 is a good idea or not. Dellinger tells the stories of those who fought the highway, arguing for improvements in local roads as a way to save money and preserve local quality of life. And he tells the story of the highway boosters, who are convinced that without major highways large parts of the rural Midwest and South will grow ever more economically marginalized.

A great read, and an excellent companion piece to Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism by Richard C. Longworth

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Terry
  • Leslie, Arkansas, United States
  • 11-01-11

A Great Listen for Those in the Path of I-69

I selected this book because I grew up in southern Arkansas, an area where Interstate 69 was to pass. I recently moved away from El Dorado, Arkansas which could experience a boom when and if Interstate 69 is built. I wanted to learn more about the interstate. I read a short segment of the book on the Internet. It had intrigued me and I wanted to learn more.

Matt Dellinger’s book tells the story about the Interstate 69, a roadway that has had political, social, and environmental implications. Dellinger shows his skills as a writer by spending equal time with those for and against developing the new interstate.

The first part of the book discusses the concept and history of Interstate 69. It looks at the hopeful economic impact that the interstate would bring to the states and towns it would pass through and how a small idea from Indiana resident became a major roadway that spanned across the United States of America. It discusses the backroom dealings, lobbying, and political stewardship that the befalls any large project such as this interstate.

Dellinger also looks at the questions and concerns raised by many in the interstate’s path. He specifically looks at two grassroots organizations in Indiana and Texas that wish to stop the interstate. Dellinger follows these organizations from startup to protests to lawsuits, and you can see how the battle against the interstate affects the founders of these organizations. I found myself swept up in the emotions and feelings that members of these organizations have for their cause.

Dellinger does a great job of interweaving both paths of those for and against the interstate as you turn page by page. I understood the reasons and the concerns of those who were for the interstate and also the issues and concerns that those who were against it brought to the table. I believe the book gives us a great insight on many different topics that our country faces. First, the great wish by those in the Midwest and Midsouth to bring jobs and industry into impoverished regions of the country. Second, the concerns that we can no longer keep up with the current roadway infrastructure we have in this country. Third, how many state legislatures and agencies will do things that are completely the opposite of public opinion. Lastly, how we as Americans may soon see the funding and upkeep of our national roadways completely change.

This book was an interesting listen and I would recommend it to anyone who has lived in the regions that Interstate 69 passes through.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 05-10-15

Excellent detail for this former TxDOT engineer.

Great story and excellent journalism and research. As a former engineer with TxDOT it was fascinating to see a much broader and deeper story than I am used to seeing.

  • Overall
  • C. Cobb
  • Memphis, TN United States
  • 11-10-10

Excellent

Researched, well-written, and informative. Matt Dellinger brings together the transportation visionaries, the issues, and the citizens affected.

  • Overall

good book, bad reading

The text is a great light history of American commerce and attitudes -- but the reading drains the fun out of it. Robert Fass has a robotic delivery that sounds more like a Kindle than a human being. He's relentless -- he just does not let up his drone, which makes listening to this book a chore.