On Foot: A History of Walking

On Foot: A History of Walking

On Foot: A History of Walking

On Foot: A History of Walking

Synopsis

"Extremely readable account... invites a global edition." - Choice"A thought-provoking survey across time and space.... Pick upon Foot and carry it home. It will renew your appreciation for the pedestrian in your own flesh."- Cleveland Plain Dealer "An in-depth examination."- Forecast "A rambling pleasure--leisurely placed and full of interesting cul-de-sacs--pleasantly garrulous and filled with the anecdotes of small details aptly observed."- Star Tribune "On Footis an expansive and illuminating field trip, complete with rest stops for little-known facts about an everyday activity many of us take for granted." - Minnesota History "An enlighening compelling read...a well-researched, well written piece of work." - TCM Reviews "This is a fascinating book, extremely knowledgeable and ambitious, thought provoking in the best sense. Simply put: a very imaginative presentation and, someone has to say it, not at all pedestrian." - Peter Stearns, author of Anxious Parents "Joseph A. Amato has written a richly detailed and engaging account of walking from ancient times to the present. His book explores the many modes and contexts of human ambulation: marching, strolling, promenading, rambling, sauntering, commuting, to name just a few. Taking full account of the evolution of the city, shifting attitudes toward the countryside, and the role of class and labor in determining the value and meaning of walking, this book helps us to see a basic human activity as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon." - Roger Gilbert, author of Walks in the World: Representation and Experience in Modern American Poetry"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understand the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering." - Henry David Thoreau (1817- 1862) "Everything is within walking distance if you have the time." - Stephen Wright (1955-) For approximately six million years, humans havewalkedthe earth. This is the story of how, why, and to what effect we put one foot in front of the other. Walking has been the primary mode of locomotion for humans until very recent times when we began to sit and ride-first on horses and in carriages, then trains and bicycles, and finally cars, trucks, buses, and airplanes-rather than go on foot. The particular way we saunter, clomp, meander, shuffle, plod along, jaunt, tramp, and wander on foot conveys a wealth of information about our identity, condition, and destination. In this fast-stepping social history, Joseph A. Amato takes us on a journey of walking-from the first human migrations to marching Roman legions and ancient Greeks who considered man a "featherless biped"; from trekking medieval pilgrims to strolling courtiers; from urban pavement pounders to ambling window shoppers to suburban mall walkers. Concentrating on walking in Europe and North America and with particular focus on how walking differed according to social class, Amato distinguishes how, where, when, who, what, and under which conditions people moved on foot. He identifies crucial transformations in the history of walking, including the adoption of the horse by the mounted warri∨ the rise of public display among European nobility; and the building of roads and transportation systems, which led to the inevitable ascent of the wheel over the foot.

Excerpt

In his Theory of Walking, nineteenth-century French writer Honoré de Balzac wrote, “Isn’t it really quite extraordinary to see that, since man took his first steps, no one has asked himself why he walks, how he walks, if he has ever walked, if he could walk better, what he achieves in walking… questions that are tied to all the philosophical, psychological, and political systems which preoccupy the world?” I hope here to answer Balzac’s questions as well as the questions that prompted me to write this history of walking.

My questions focus particularly on modern society. I ask who walks now, and how and why do they walk? Do they on the whole walk less? And when they do walk, do they do so as a matter of necessity or choice? I question how changes in the history of walking relate to issues of social class and status, as well as to the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.