Buried Agendas and Family Secrets at the Tourist Sites Where Bad History Went Down
What would happen if you took a long road trip–but only visited the tourism attractions that opened because something really horrible had happened? Jason Cochran romps through American disaster zones, battlefields, Confederate memorials, terrorist attack sites—as long as it has a parking lot and a gift shop, he put it on the itinerary, no gravestone unturned. Along the way, he takes a look at why these places matter, why some really don’t, and what motivated the people who built the monuments. And when he pauses to seek the meaning behind the early demise of one of his own ancestors, he uncovers a tragic race-based murder plot that had been buried for a century.
This is a kaleidoscopic American journey that could only be undertaken in our turbulent times, puncturing the absurdity of the lies we tell about our past while surveying the country’s teetering patriotic mythology from a healthy position on the margins. Jason creates a hilarious and often moving miniature portrait of what it really means to be an American: what’s “fact,” what’s “history,” and how we figure out what really matters.
Advance Praise for Here Lies America:
“Jason Cochran’s Here Lies America joins the great tradition of works from my favorite travel writers, from W. Somerset Maugham to Tony Horwitz. I love great historical tales, and those from the fringe are best of all. In pursuit of chronicling our country’s most popular tourism death sites, Cochran uncovers even better history, a better story, a better pursuit and a Southern Gothic tapestry to lay it all out on. This amazing book merges the best of superbly unknown historical moments with relatable learning all tied up with the insouciant bow of what feels like a year long trek in the family station wagon with your favorite incurably curious dotty uncle.” —Andrew Zimmern, Television Producer, Author, Teacher
“With Here Lies America, Jason Cochran takes his place among America’s most influential travel writers. But beyond travel, Here Lies America is a searing expose of our nation’s frequent hypocrises over historic events. It is also an important commentary on many of our current political beliefs, and a page-turner that I could not put down.” —Arthur Frommer
“Americans sometimes have a way of hiding behind rationales to cover for bad behavior—and I know, because I’ve seen a lot of bad behavior. But Jason Cochran doesn’t let us get away with it. Whether he’s wryly exposing how all those Confederate statues really got there or stunning us with forgotten stories from the historical events we thought we knew, Jason Cochran nails it. His writing is quick and witty, and never dry like medicine. He has a sharp eye for absurdity, and he knows how to stand aside and let the crazy circus of America show its true colors, with all its noise and and all its heart, and I know something about that, too.” —Jerry Springer
“Through writing that holds you all the way, Jason unearths the destinations in America that reveal the truth and contradictions about our civil myths. It’s a fascinating look at the places we visit and our complex history.” —Matt Kepnes, author of the the New York Times bestseller How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
“Thank you, Jason Cochran, for being a brilliant tour guide to America’s darkest corners. This book is funny but not flippant. It tussles with big, serious issues but keeps you fully entertained. It is dark but not somber, learned but not pedantic. Plus, it’s got the best writeup of Stonewall Jackson’s arm that you’ll ever read.” —A.J. Jacobs
“Here Lies America is an engrossing and darkly comedic road trip through American history and tragedies. As he shuttles the reader from cemeteries to battlefields, opulent memorials to tacky souvenir shops, Jason Cochran plays both engaging tour guide and masterful investigative reporter. I found myself laughing and learning—and wondering who chooses what we end up memorializing.” —Tom Meyers, host, The Bowery Boys
“Visceral, mysterious, engrossing, chilling, and, considering the subject matter, surprisingly funny, Jason Cochran’s deliciously gruesome new book brings some of the darkest moments in history — both his and ours — to life, even when everyone involved is dead. This is, quite literally, a bloody good read.” — Frank DeCaro, author of Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business and The Dead Celebrity Cookbook
“One of America’s go-to travel writers, Jason Cochran has taken his passion for place to new heights with Here Lies America, a funny, irreverent, insightful look at our nation’s obsession with disaster-based travel–and what that fixation says about us as a people. Once you start reading, you might just find yourself itching to book your own next trip.” —Kristin Harmel, international bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie