The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip
What American DOESN'T know Thomas Edison? Even still, Henry Ford was the reason I picked this up (I'm a lifelong car nut). And Harvey Firestone was instrumental in a number of areas. Naturalist John Burroughs was the least known of them to me but he seemed to be one of the key features in those early trips. But what I didn't know was their long-standing connection to one another, their distinctive travels together or the many places where their influential visits are still demonstrating influence.
The book reads like a mini-biography on their individual lives and their mutual connections. The trips seem to serve as a meeting place and bully-pulpit for their enterprises and adventurous spirits. Their travels began as a means to meeting the last of those - adventurers who wanted to see places and experience life out of the ordinary. Their celebrity - after all, these were some of the most widely known and photographed men in the US when they were traveling together - was both a blessing and a bane. It meant it was hard to arrive anywhere incognito. And yet, as their trips continued, they each - in their own way - leveraged that for their own purposes, rightfully so. After all, if a media member is going to interrupt their vacation, the least they can do is help the Vagabond accomplish a larger goal.
Not every trip went according to plan. The early trip to the Florida Everglades for example was a disaster in every way. But for the most part, these trips served each of them as a respite and welcome repose from the push-pull of their working lives and - it seems - some of the happiest days they knew.
Overall, if you're a student of any of these men, this book is a worthy read. A fun, fast read, it's focus on the facts of the trips is a needed component but the impetus for me was understanding WHY they took these trips in the first place was the best component.