|About the Book|
Nestled between Montreal, Boston, and New York City exists a magic land called Vermont. Its a state of the union, a state of mind, a state of grace, and a state of confusion and contradiction. Because of its beauty, its scale, and its depth ofMoreNestled between Montreal, Boston, and New York City exists a magic land called Vermont. Its a state of the union, a state of mind, a state of grace, and a state of confusion and contradiction. Because of its beauty, its scale, and its depth of culture, Vermont is truly a perfect state.The image of Vermont that leaps off the pages of Vermont Life is one of rolling hills, small villages, white churches with soaring steeples, town meetings, and blazing foliage. But there is another side of A Perfect State, a complex composite of dirt roads turned to Mud Season quagmires, sharply divided citizens who cannot find common ground on critical issues such as school financing, gay marriage, environmental protection, and development.Joe Sherman portrays the last fifty years of Vermont history, a time when the state evolved from a bucolic bedrock of conservatism to a rural theme park on Americas cutting edge. Whether the subject is sprawl, gourmet ice cream (Vermont is home to Ben & Jerrys), or rock and roll (Vermont is also home to the rock band Phish), Vermont finds itself at the center of the stage. Fast Lane on a Dirt Road is a raucous book about a rocky state from a perspective so fresh that controversy is unavoidable. Traditionalists will take issue with Shermans portrayal of the state as a cauldron of social change, while newcomers might object to the homage paid to Vermonts past.Vermont was the last state to allow in a Wal-Mart, and the first to authorize domestic partnerships. It is the only state with a Socialist representative in Congress, a state where a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate (dairy farmer Fred Tuttle) actually voted for his better-qualified opponent.Sherman is a journalist and a social historian more than an academic. He has not had the luxury of time to filter and clarify his observations. As he states in his own acknowledgments, Writing contemporary history is risky business. Fast Lane on a Dirt Road is a great read for anyone interested in the rapid evolution of American culture. The quirky history of Vermont shows us both where weve been and where were going. The rest of America can learn a lot from Vermont.