Arriving in April 2016, my new book
Door to Door
The Magnificent, MADDENING, Mysterious
World of Transportation
I used to brag about having the shortest commute in town: downstairs for coffee, back up to my office to write. How wrong I was. My daily commute is really more on the order of 3 million miles—without ever leaving the house. And so is yours.
From field to broker to port to factory to store to me, my morning coffee blend traveled enough miles to circle the globe—and that’s just the bag of beans. Add the cream, the globally sourced parts of my coffeemaker, the filter, the water and the electricity, and my java has circled the earth a couple times before my first sip. My smartphone is even more well traveled, and the parts of my car have seen enough mileage for a round trip to the moon before the odometer leaves zero—about 250,000 miles. Unprecedented amounts of transportation are embedded in every trip we take and every click we make. Just keeping the average American family moving, eating and working is like building the Great Pyramid, the Hoover Dam, and the Empire State Building all in a day. Every day.
I spent the past year looking under the hood of our have-it-now, same-day-delivery economy. I wanted to know how our lattes and pizzas and phones and cans of coke move door to door, what it all costs, and how much we have left in the tank. The trail led me through the nation’s biggest ports, its busiest delivery service, and across the harrowing obstacle course we call our streets and highways, where the deaths and injuries in one year exceed all the American casualties in all the wars we’ve ever fought.
Now we and our 3-million-mile commutes are at a fork in the road. Will gridlock win the day, or can the dreamers and tech wizards really re-invent mobility, end motor deaths, conquer traffic jams, and remove the most unreliable part of a car, the driver? Are we facing Carmageddon? Or Carmaheaven?
Come take a ride with me in Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. And buckle up.
Published by HarperCollins April 12, 2016
Publicist: Joanna Pinsker
"A fascinating read from the center of world car culture."
—Bill McKibben, author Deep Economy & founder of 350.org
We are the world's trashiest people.
Waste is America's leading product and largest export. Each of us is on track to toss 102 tons of trash in life—7.1 pounds a day, every day. The epic waste embedded in our daily lives not only leads the world, it drives many of the era's greatest crises—in energy, climate, pollution, security and the economy.
The good news? Garbology is also the story of families discovering the joys of zero waste. Artists producing masterpieces at the dump. Businesses being less trashy to serve both profit and planet. It turns out waste is the one big problem each of us can do something about—if we remove our blinders and take some simple steps to lead less wasteful lives.
I have found these issues resonate deeply with many, especially young people. Over the past year I have visited schools from coast to coast, meeting students and innovators of all ages who are coming up with fresh ways to turn trash into treasure.
"Fascinating… Zestful in his curiosity and irrepressible in his vivid chronicling."
— Booklist (Starred Review)
Between the newspaper on your doorstep and the novel on your nightstand lies narrative nonfiction. Some call it literary journalism or the nonfiction novel. But whatever the label, here lies the boundary where story-telling and truth-telling intersect. This is what I love, how I write, and why I tell people mine is the best job ever.
What is that job? I find my way inside a hidden world – a juvenile court, a hospital for preemies, the biggest landfill in the world, the passenger seat of a driverless car – and then bring my readers along for the ride, to meet unforgettable characters and experience something surprising. Call it “the art of being there.”
I started writing for newspapers, received a Pulitzer Prize for covering the military, then took a temporary leave to write one book. The new gig stuck. My recent book is number 13, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash. (Pretty self-descriptive title for a book about the waste embedded in everything we do, eat, buy and sell, don’t you think?) Two of my books, Mean Justice and Mississippi Mud, are being developed for film, and Garbology is a campus-wide read at universities nationwide. What can I say: the kids like to talk trash.
My upcoming book explores the hidden wonder and craziness of our have-it-now, be-there-now economy. Look for Door to Door: Our Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation in April 2016.
This website is your guide to my books and the topics they explore: crime, the justice system, medicine, education, science versus religion, the environment and sustainability, and transportation. Take a minute to browse—you’ll find excerpts, reviews, articles, readers’ guides for classes and book clubs, and video and audio interviews. If you like what you see, please subscribe to my email list so we and stay in touch.
I love to hear from readers and welcome comments, ideas and thoughts about your daily door to door experiences.
Please subscribe to my occasional newsletter using the form below.
For media inquiries about Door to Door, contact Joanna Pinsker at Harper Collins Books.
To book a speaking engagement, or to arrange a campus or community read of Garbology, or any of my other books, please contact the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau.
For literary agent inquiries, contact Susan Ginsburg, sginsburg (AT) writershouse.com