Neil King’s ‘American Ramble’ is said to be a near-perfect book

CHESTERTOWN — The Bookplate is continuing its 2024 season of author lectures on Thursday, April 4 with “American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal” writer Neil King Jr. for a 6 p.m. event at The Kitchen and Pub at The Imperial Hotel.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Kitchen at The Imperial is located at 208 High St. in downtown Chestertown.

Neil King’s desire to walk from Washington, D.C. to New York City began as a whim and soon became an obsession.

By the spring of 2021, events had intervened that gave his desire greater urgency. His neighborhood still reeled from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. COVID-related lockdowns and a rancorous election had deepened America’s divides.

King himself bore the imprints of a long battle with cancer.

Determined to rediscover what matters in life and to see our national story with new eyes, King turned north with a small satchel on his back and one mission in mind: To pay close attention to the land he crossed and the people he met.

What followed is an extraordinary 26-day journey through historic battlefields and cemeteries, over the Mason-Dixon line, past Quaker and Amish farms, along Valley Forge stream beds, atop a New Jersey trash mound, across New York Harbor and, finally, to his ultimate destination: the Ramble, where a tangle of pathways converges in Central Park.

The journey travels deep into America’s past and present, uncovering forgotten pockets and overlooked people.

At a time of mounting disunity, the trip reveals the profound power of our shared ground.

Acclaimed filmmaker and historian Ken Burns said “American Ramble” is a near-perfect book, “an exquisitely seen and felt memoir of an American journey; it’s not just a geographic journey, full of keen observations and thoughtful insights, but a spiritual one, finding in our complex and sometimes contradictory landscape a mirror in which King’s own inner life awakens as he wanders. Amazing.”

Neil King Jr. grew up in Colorado in a house with the Rocky Mountains out the back door and the flat plains out the front.

He attended school in Chicago and then New York City, where he studied philosophy at Columbia University.

He worked a multitude of jobs, from busboy and ranch hand to cab driver and private investigator, before settling into a career in journalism.

He worked in Florida for The Tampa Tribune and later for the Prague Post in the newly born Czech Republic.

For 20 years he traveled to more than 50 countries in all continents to write and report and poke around as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. During his years in Washington, he served as chief diplomatic correspondent, national political reporter and, at the end, the WSJ’s global economics editor.

He now travels and writes on his own. He is the founder and editor of Gotham Canoe, an online journal dedicated to life out of doors.

“American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal” is King’s first book.

He lives with his wife in Washington.

For more event details, call The Bookplate at 410-778-4167 or email contact@thebookplate.net.

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