Books: The Routes of Man

Ted Conover tracks globalization through the planet’s “largest man-made artifact”: roads.

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In his latest book, Ted Conover—famous for his turn as a Sing Sing prison guard in Newjack—takes a wild road trip from Lagos to Beijing, Peru to Palestine. His examination of the planet’s “largest human-made artifact” spans four continents, tracking globalization by its asphalt footprints. He rarely takes the path of least resistance: He hitchhikes along an ambitious construction project traversing the Peruvian Andes, braves Israel’s “Highway of Death” through the West Bank, and walks an ancient 40-mile ice road through the Indian Himalayas.

You can tell a lot about a society from its relationship with its roads. Among the schoolkids who guide Conover through the Himalayas, “all three of the boys wanted to become engineers; an engineer, to each of them, was a man who supervised road construction (and got paid well for it).” For the Chinese, highways are a symbol of personal freedom and national unity. The country is pushing for 53,000 miles of freeway by 2035. (In the last 60 years, the United States has built 46,000.) With time, roads also take on new, unexpected meanings. “The road is very unfair, very harsh,” laments a trucker in Kenya, where long-haul routes have been a major corridor for the spread of HIV. “Roads,” Conover writes, “are the best metaphor we have for talking about life.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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