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Dispatches from the New Frontier


By Hampton Sides
Anchor Books
$13.95 U.S.
450 pages
ISBN # 1-4000-3355-1

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From the best-selling author of the World War II epic Ghost Soldiers, 30 stories about life in America today, In Americana, Hampton Sides...

. . . drops in on the charmed life of skateboarding icon Tony Hawk; studies counter-terrorism at the G. Gordon Liddy spy school; goes Hollywood with American Indian Movement radical-turned-movie-star Russell Means; steps out of the closet with Mel White, religious right ghostwriter-turned-gay activist; mushes the Iditarod Trail with Alaska legend Joe Redington.

. . . runs the rapids during a man-made flood in the Grand Canyon; crashes the redwood retreat of California’s elite Bohemian Club; debriefs the “bio-nauts” as they emerge from captivity in the Biosphere; dives into America’s greatest swimming hole; gets ecstatic with the Zippies at their secret all-night techno-rave.

. . . ponders silver bubbles at the annual Airstream RV convention; revs it up at the Harley-Davidson rally in Sturgis, South Dakota; sails the Chesapeake with snooty owners of a rare antique sailboat known as the log canoe; roams the streets with D.C.’s hard-core band of bike couriers.

. . . speaks in tongues with black Pentecostalists of the Memphis-based Church of God in Christ; fishes for lunkers at the Bassmasters Classic; goes underground with the world’s greatest cave rescuer; unravels the mystery of a notorious teen murder in rural Mississippi.

. . . crosses the Sahara Desert with American endurance runners at the infernal Marathon des Sables; bushwhacks through MesoAmerica with Mormon archaeologists in search of lost tribes of Israel; visits a high school friend who’s become an Uzi-toting Zionist pioneer in the West Bank; walks the route of the Bataan Death March with characters from Ghost Soldiers.

. . . cranks it up with high-end stereophiles at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; gets bowled over by 5,000 squealing salesladies at the annual Tupperware convention; plumbs the mysteries of the "schwa" at the National Spelling Bee; scrapes at the stucco of the neurotic architectural tradition known as Santa Fe Style.

. . . traces the harrowing stories of three World Trade Center survivors; goes off-roading in the Imperial Sand Dunes; almost embeds on the Iraqi frontlines with the U.S. Marines; remembers Shane Childers, the decorated Marine who became the first American combat death in Iraq.



[Excerpt from the book]

Beauty and the
Burpable Lid

"The most remarkable attraction at the Tupperware headquarters is a million-dollar permanent art exhibit called the Museum of Historic Containers. It traces mankind’s struggle against spoilage in all its grim forms. The tour begins with an Egyptian earthenware jar from 4000 B.C. and proceeds more or less chronologically, displaying objets d'art from the Babylonians, the Greeks and Romans, the Incas, and so on. There are containers made of shells, reeds, and horns. There are compotes, cruets, ewers, urns, tankards, and Delftware bowls. Having seen the history of containment, visitors are then invited to gaze upon its future. The tour moves to a second room filled with the latest runs from the Tupperware factory. The products are neatly arranged on the display tables. Modular Mates. Servalier Bowls. Super Crisp-It Containers. The wisdom of 6,000 years has led human civilization directly to this room. For a few moments the visitor can hold a little piece of victory—the triumph over the microbe and the cockroach and the mold spore: the paragon of packages."

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