scope for icebergs,” icebergs that includernVolkswagens, horse-drawn carts, and justrnabout every other vehicle Europe canrntoss out on the highways.rnTheoretical education behind him.rnCoster is off to Russia—”straight on pastrnthe Pizza Ilut, left at the Kremlin”—rnand ready to give the reader lessons inrneconomics, sociology, and history. Tornthe truckers of the European EconomicrnCommunity, we learn, Hungary is thernpirate nation of the highway, underbiddingrnat catastrophically low rates to securerntrucking for its huge state-run conglomerates;rnto sail under Hungarianrncolors is to hoist the Jolly Roger. In Europe,rnas in America, trucks accountrnfor more than 90 percent of all goodsrnhauled, and, with markets expanding cvervwherc,rnCoster does not quite comernout and say that nationalist tensions arernlikely to enter into the business with increasingrnfrequency. The internationalistrntensions are strange enough: thanks tornEEC rules. Coster remarks, a contractrntrucker will haul a trailer full of ice creamrnfrom England to Russia, only to pick uprnanother trailer full of ice cream in Germanyrnto cart back across the channel:rncoals to Newcastle, sops to the tutelaryrnspirits of overregulated trade.rnCoster is generous with details, remarkingrnthat truckers are obsessed withrnthe cleanliness of their vehicles not onlyrnas a mark of pride but also as a matter ofrneconomics; he is told dark cautionaryrntalcs of one driver “whose dedication tornsqualor had managed to knock a goodrnthousand [pounds] off the resale price ofrnhis truck.” As a travel writer must, he instructsrnin local custom, especially thernubiquity of Snickers bars as the ultimaternroad food. “They are as nutritious andrnhealthy as a plate of eggs and bacon,” hernwrites without irony. He is less forthcomingrnwith other elements of therntrucker’s diet; as Bruce Chatwin said inrnllie Songtimes, the interiors of Australiarnand other vast inland empires werernsettled bv big trucks and amphetamines.rnLongtime English haulers. Costerrnwrites, dream of trucking America, pilotingrnan “indestructible Kenilworth, thernHadev-Davidson of trucks, with a widernroad and a distant horizon to itself.” Thernsecond half of A Thousand Miles fromrnNowhere takes Coster from the Eurasianrnplain to the interior of America, and herernhe can only marvel at the differences.rn”Continental truckers in Europe had thernborder queues for Russia and Hungary,”rnlie writes. “In America you had Texas.”rnIn Europe, truckers keep their trailersrnspotless; in America, Coster finds themrnfestooned with slogans like “If You Can’trnRun with the Big Dogs Stay on thernPorch,” “Intellect Is Invisible to the ManrnWho Has None,” and “Nothing NeedsrnReforming So Much as Other People’srnHabits,” leading him to remark brightly,rn”If Schopenhauer had had the chance tornvisit Truckworld . . . he’d have seen thatrnthe Road Kill Cafe T-shirts said it better.”rnA Thousand Miles from Nowhere worksrnat every level, but it leaves a few thingsrnunsaid. I wish, having marveled throughoutrnmy travels in the mountainous Westrnwhy more big rigs don’t go plunging offrnthe cliffside ledges that often pass forrnhighways in these parts, that Coster hadrngiven us a bit more “thick description”—rnor even a heavier dose of gonzo—on thernactual business of operating a truck. Irnwould like him to have explained whyrntruckers find it necessary to dog the tailsrnof small cars at great rates of speed in thernmost inclement weather, why they eatrnlike Elvis, why so many people are luredrnto a hard life of hemorrhoids and badrncoffee on the road.rnBut I am glad to have what Costerrngives us here: a good antiromantic look atrnthe world of trucking, a glimpse insidernthe cab. “Travel writers may still essayrntransnavigation of the globe by antiquernsteam-engine or renovated sail-boat, butrntrade doesn’t,” he remarks, and his devotionrnto the real world is welcome. It is alsorna challenge to American writers to dornhim one better on their own turf, and tornbring the big rigs within the scope of ourrnliterature.rnGregory McNamee’s newest books are Inrnthe Presence of Wolves and The SierrarnClub Desert Reader.rnR EADE RSrnJANUARY 1996/35rnrnrn