Standing on an island off the Alaskan coast, PHILIP CAPUTO marveled that Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united?
CAPUTO resolved to drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives.
Fourteen years later, nearing 70, CAPUTO, his wife, and their two dogs drove a truck and an Airstream trailer from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. They avoided interstates, and invited conversations with Americans you meet when you avoid interstates. Somewhere in many of those conversations, Caputo would ask two questions: What holds a country as vast and diverse as the United States together? Was it holding together as well as it once did?