"This man knows how to do road trips. He's a Picasso of the Winnebago...Herzog gives us a portrait of the nation slowly healing itself though grief and laughter. It's a trip we all need to make." -- Orlando Sentinel
“A terrifically capable writer, styled with a dash of Paul Theroux and a dollop of Tom Wolfe… Herzog’s prose is facile and satisfying, often times stunning.” – Ithaca Times
“Following loosely in the footsteps of John Steinbeck… he’s an insightful observer, with a mature voice and compelling take on the soul of the country today.” – Asbury Park Press
Join author Brad Herzog as he marvels at a castle in Versailles, visits a guru in Calcutta, discovers a descendant of King David in Jerusalem, and more—all without leaving the United States. From Athens (New York) to Amsterdam (Montana), from Cairo (Illinois) to Calcutta (West Virginia), from Paris (Kentucky) to Prague (Nebraska), SMALL WORLD is a journey through a world of stories in tiny American towns struggling to live up to their grandiose names. Herzog encounters a cast of characters as varied as the landscape – devout ranchers and devoted nudists, miners and migrants, artists and activists, hillbillies, hippies, hermits and Hare Krishnas.
It is no accident that the trip concludes on the first anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks—in the desert hamlet of Mecca (California). SMALL WORLD is an examination of America in the wake of (supposedly) The Day That Changed It, as seen through the prism of dwindling communities that may soon be mere historical and geographical footnotes. Following the shock of 9/11 the great majority of Americas reveled in allegiance to country. Ask what we were defending, however, and the usual reply offered only sound bites and vague abstractions. Listening to the typical American describe the provenance of his patriotism is a bit like listening to a book report by an eighth-grader who read only the back cover. We understand our world by expanding our reach, and it begins with the world close to home.
SMALL WORLD is about people trying to survive in the nation’s nooks and crannies—the citizen of historic Athens (New York) trying to save the Hudson River environs by fighting construction of a massive power plant, the ranchers in Rome (Oregon) trying to save their land from what they consider to be overzealous environmentalists, the African-American city treasurer of Cairo (Illinois) working to save a city that was nearly destroyed by racial unrest a generation ago, the principal of an elementary school in Mecca (California) trying to educate the sons and daughters of migrant workers, the wife of a 30-year POW-MIA from Bagdad (Arizona) still clinging to hope and admitting, “I’m neither a wife nor a widow.”
The United States is less a melting pot than a masterpiece of pointillism, a dot painting defined not by the broad strokes of mainstream media and metropolitan muscle, but by the smallest dots on the map. The colors blend from a distance; they stand out boldly from up close. If you want to understand America, you have to connect the dots. Small worlds tell large tales.