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Allegiance to Winds and Waters: Bicycling the Political Divides of the United States

ISBN: 9781634895163
Binding: Paperback
Author: Anne Winkler-Morey
Pages: 352
Trim: 6 x 8 inches
Published: 3/22/2022

"This moving and intelligent book succeeds as odyssey, as a showcase for its author's skills as an historian, and as a loving appreciation of a land, if not a nation."—David Roediger, professor of American studies at the University of Kansas and author of The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History

People break rules about talking to strangers when they meet someone with luggage on their bike.

That's what a laid-off Minneapolis professor found when she bicycled the perimeter of the United States seeking to understand the forces moving the country toward less equity, sustainability, and understanding.

In this bicycle memoir, Anne Winkler-Morey collects the stories of hundreds of "trail angels" who shared their hearts and homes. Over her fourteen-month bicycle tour, Winkler-Morey discovers US regions that are unique in beauty and culture, but similar in the things that ail them: historical trauma, unsustainable economies, inequities, and crippling fears of people outside their borders.

Winkler-Morey is not physically or mentally prepared for the ride. She wants to leave behind the emotional baggage of a past trauma, but even as she rides, it climbs into her panniers.

As Winkler-Morey finds ways to talk back to her ghosts, she discovers that national allegiance is manufactured, but attachment to place is real. Despite the inequality, nativism, and rural-urban divisions that threaten the United States . . . evidence of our mutual self-interest is everywhere.

Allegiance to Winds and Waters mixes the angst and hilarious misadventures of an unlikely bicyclist, poignant stories of the strangers she meets across seemingly unsurpassable political divides, and acute observations of a historian and social activist.

 

"Biking the perimeter of the United States with Winkler-Morey, we meet Americans who graciously share their stories. Many open their homes; even more open their hearts. Allegiance to Winds and Waters shows us how our collective stories can heal us."

—Ruth Voights, professor emeritus at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

"This book is a prayer. A remarkable bicycle journey around and within the boundaries of this vast country, Allegiance to Winds and Waters is a narrative of personal encounters during a politically and morally divisive period of a nation."

—Alex Kuo, American Book Award winner

"The hills the cyclists climb, the thunderstorms they survive, and the accidents that interrupt but also structure their journey serve as metaphors for the continuing struggles against inequality and for justice."

—Elizabeth Faue, professor of history at Wayne State University and author of Rethinking the American Labor Movement

Anne Winkler-Morey has a PhD in history and has been a scholar-activist of education, peace, immigrant rights, labor, and anti-racist social movements since the 1980s. Her Minneapolis Interview Project is a collection of one hundred oral histories with a social justice lens. 

“An offbeat personal account of an adventure from sea to shining sea. The author’s left-leaning perspective and past study of political struggles give the work a distinctive flavor. Readers will keep turning pages, as they’ll never know what conundrum or helping hand awaits the pair in the next state.” — Kirkus Reviews

 "A remarkable bicycle journey around and within the boundaries of this vast country, Anne Winkler-Morey's Allegiance to Winds and Waters is a narrative of those close, personal encounters within a nation in the midst of another deep, politically and morally divisive period. If what we do matters, so is what we read. This book is a prayer." - Alex Kuo, American Book Award winner

"Allegiance to Winds and Waters is a reminder that in both physical endeavors and social and political movements, commitment and persistence is necessary to reach our goals. Biking the perimeter of the United States with Winkler-Morey, we experience the beauty and awesome power of the land. The importance of Mother Earth and the need for sustainable economies are always present. Anne shows us vividly that more is not better if it is not tied to environmental outcomes. We meet Americans who graciously share their stories. Many open their homes; even more open their hearts. The storytellers are a diverse group—rural, urban, reservation, employed and unemployed, from different ethnic backgrounds and differing sexual preferences. Winkler-Morey retells their stories, respecting each giver, placing their testimonies in the context of peoples' history and current politics. The past and present illuminate each other. Allegiance to Winds and Waters shows us how our collective stories can heal." - Ruth Voights, professor emeritus at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

"Allegiance to Winds and Waters succeeds as odyssey, as life story, as a showcase for its author's skills as an historian, and as a loving appreciation of a land, if not a nation. It imparts the mechanics and travails of a life on the road, capturing the costs of governmental austerity and the daily practices of mutual aid. It is hard to know whether to recommend reading this moving and intelligent book as I did—in one rapt sitting—or that it should be parceled out to savor longer." - David Roediger, professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas and author of The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History

"Allegiance to Winds and Waters recounts a bicycle journey around the United States at a time of deep political division. Written in a pre-pandemic world, it is a travel book that informs us about the landmarks and hazards of bicycle touring around the United States. It is also a memoir of a life dedicated to learning about and changing the world. At its heart, the book is about meeting people where they live and learning from them—and ourselves—as Winkler-Morey tells stories, invokes ghosts in her and our past, and explores the haunted places of our history. Allegiance to Winds and Waters confronts the challenges of living in the changing social, economic, and political landscape of the United States. The hills the cyclists climb, the thunderstorms they survive, the accidents that interrupt but also structure their journey serve as metaphors for the continuing struggles against inequality and for justice. It's also just a good read." - Elizabeth Faue, professor of history at Wayne State University and author of Rethinking the American Labor Movement

 

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