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At the age of 52, with a shoestring budget, a backpack and an open mind, Peter Millar set about rediscovering the US, by following the last traces of the technological wonder that created the country in the first place: the railroad. On a rail network ravaged and reduced he managed to cross the continent two and half times, talking to people, taking in their stories and their concerns, shaking stereotypes and challenging preconceptions, while watching the vast American landscape that most visitors fly over unfold in slow motion. In the tradition of Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux, wry, witty, intelligent and always observant, this ‘inland empire’ should appeal to modern Britons keen to get beneath the skin of the country that more than any other influences their lives, and to intelligent Americans open to an oblique look at their own country. And, of course, railway lovers everywhere.