American Ramble: A Walk of Memory and Renewal

“American Ramble is a dazzling mixture of travelogue, memoir, and history. At times profound, funny, and heartbreaking, this is the story of a traveler intoxicated by life. I couldn’t put it down.” — Nathaniel Philbrick

A stunning, revelatory memoir about a 330-mile walk from Washington, D.C., to New York City—an unforgettable pilgrimage to the heart of America across some of our oldest common ground. 

Neil King Jr.’s desire to walk from Washington, D.C., to New York City began as a whim and soon became an obsession. By the spring of 2021, events had intervened that gave his desire greater urgency. His neighborhood still reeled from the January 6th insurrection. Covid lockdowns and a rancorous election had deepened America’s divides. Neil himself bore the imprints of a long battle with cancer.

Determined to rediscover what matters in life and to see our national story with new eyes, Neil turned north with a small satchel on his back and one mission in mind: To pay close attention to the land he crossed and the people he met.

What followed is an extraordinary 26-day journey through historic battlefields and cemeteries, over the Mason-Dixon line, past Quaker and Amish farms, along Valley Forge stream beds, atop a New Jersey trash mound, across New York Harbor, and finally, to his ultimate destination: the Ramble, where a tangle of pathways converges in Central Park. The journey travels deep into America’s past and present, uncovering forgotten pockets and overlooked people. At a time of mounting disunity, the trip reveals the profound power of our shared ground.

By turns amusing, inspiring, and sublime, American Ramble offers an exquisite account of personal and national renewal—an indelible study of our country as we’ve never seen it before. 

Neil King Jr. is a former national political reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal. He was deeply involved in the coverage of 9/11 that won the Journal the Pulitzer Prize. He has also written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, and other publications. American Ramble is his first book. He lives in Washington, D.C.