About this item

"There is no feeling in the world like sitting in a side-door Pullman and watching the world go by, listening to the clickety-clack of the wheels, hearing that old steam whistle blowing for crossings and towns." -George Phillips in Riding the RailsAt the height of the Great Depression, 250,000 teenage hoboes were riding the rails and roaming America. Some left home out of desperation and went looking for work and a better life, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles on the rumor of a job waiting farther down the line. Others left out of boredom; still others with a wanderlust and romantic idea of life on the road.The restless youth of these boxcar boys and girls, many who went from "middle-class gentility to scrabble-ass poor" overnight, is recaptured in Riding the Rails.

About the Author

Errol Lincoln Uys

It has been 25 years since my epic novel Brazil rolled off the presses. A best-seller in Europe and in South America, Brazil was orphaned in the United States when its editor left Simon and Schuster two months before its publication in April, 1986.In France, critics hailed the novel as a "masterpiece," a first printing of 14,000 copies sold out in three days, and the book became a summer blockbuster. It went on to sell over half a million copies in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Israel and Brazil.I was buoyed as much by my international sales figures as by the words of eminent Brazilian literary critic, Wilson Martins, who wrote in the prestigious Jornal do Brasil:"Uys has accomplished what no Brazilian author from José de Alencar to João Ubaldo Ribeiro, as well as Jorge Amado and Bernardo Guimarães was able to do."He is the first to write our national epic in all its truly decisive moments."Uys is the first to have the talent required for the task, to see us with total honesty and sympathy, the first to understand Brazil as an imaginary creation, coherent in its apparent inconsistencies, organic in its historic development."Descriptions like those of the war with Paraguay are unsurpassed in our literature and evoke the great passages of 'War and Peace.'"French reviewers were similarly enthusiastic: "A masterpiece! Brazil has the look and feel of an enchanted virgin forest, a totally new and original world for the reader-explorer to discover," crowed L'Express, Paris."No one before knew how to bring to life Brazil and her history. Uys's characters are brilliant and colorful, combining elements of the best swashbuckler with those worthy of deepest reflection. Most stunning is that it took a South African, now a naturalized American, to evoke so perfectly the grand but interrupted dream that is Brazil," lauded Le Figaro.I began my writing career as a newspaperman on the Johannesburg Star and at the helm of the Cape edition of Post, then the country's biggest weekly publication serving its African and mixed-race population. Following a stint in London, I became Editor-in-Chief of Reader's Digest in South Africa. In 1977, I emigrated to the United States to work at the magazine's international headquarters.I met the American author James A. Michener through my work at the Digest and worked for two years on Michener's South African saga, The Covenant. Commenting on our collaboration, Stephen J. May, Michener's most recent biographer, concludes: "Michener committed a scarlet literary crime and used his celebrated influence in publishing to get away with it." - The affair is chronicled in an extensive literary archive on my website.I spent five years on the writing of Brazil. I devoted a year to my primary research, including a 15,000-mile trek through Brazil, almost entirely by bus in order to get a feel for the vast countr

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