ISBN: 13: 978-1-63489-516-3
Allegiance to Winds and Waters: Bicycling the Political Divides of the United States
“An offbeat personal account of an adventure from sea to shining sea. The author’s past study of political struggles give the work a distinctive flavor. Readers will keep turning pages…” —Kirkus Reviews (read full review)
In Allegiance to Winds and Waters a laid-off college professor from Minneapolis, bicycles the perimeter of the US with her spouse. Inspired by a study showing that Americans of all ideological stripes, are united in desiring a more equitable economy, she sets out to discover why we don’t have what we want.
On the 420-day bicycle tour, she discovers US regions unique in beauty and culture, but similar in the things that ail them: historical trauma, unsustainable local economies, gross inequities, and crippling fears of people outside their borders.
Winkler-Morey finds a way to talk back to her own ghosts, and she discovers paths to overcoming the endemic inequality, nativism and urban/rural divisions that threaten the United States.
Allegiance to Winds and Waters mixes the angst and hilarious misadventures of an unlikely bicyclist, poignant stories of the strangers she meets, and acute observations of a historian and social activist.
“Enthralling and thoughtful memoir about what divides and unites us both as people and as a nation. Five Stars.” — San Francisco Book Review
2023 Memoir Book Prize Winner
Allegiance to Winds and Waters has been named a 2023 Memoir Prize for Books winner in the Social Justice category.
2023 Memoir Book Prize Winners by Memoir Magazine
Eric Hoffer Prize
Allegiance to Winds and Waters has been named an Eric Hoffer Prize Grand Prize Finalist and Honorable Mention for Memoir!
Allegiance to Winds and Waters was also a North Street Book Prize finalist for Creative Nonfiction & Memoir and Indies finalist for Travel (Nonfiction).
“It is hard to know whether to recommend reading this moving and intelligent book as I did–in one rapt sitting–or that it should be parceled out to savor longer. Allegiance to Winds and Waters succeeds as odyssey, as life story, as a showcase for its author’s skills as an historian, and as a loving appreciation of a land, if not a nation. It imparts the mechanics and travails of a life on the road, capturing the costs of governmental austerity and the daily practices of mutual aid.”
— David Roediger teaches American Studies at University of Kansas. His most recent book is The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History.
“Have you ever imagined exploring the back roads of America on a bicycle? Only a fantasy for many of us. Anne Winkler-Morey allows us to experience this journey of a lifetime. When she struggles physically, psychologically, and spiritually, so do we.
Allegiance to Winds and Waters is a reminder that in both physical endeavors and social and political movements, commitment and persistence is necessary to reach our goals. As Winkler-Morey quotes Fredrick Douglas, “without struggle, there is no progress.”
Biking the perimeter of the United States with Winkler-Morey, we experience the beauty, and awesome power of the land. The importance of Mother Earth and the need for sustainable economies are always present. Anne shows us vividly that more is not better if it is not tied to environmental outcomes.
We meet Americans who graciously share their stories. Many open their homes; even more open their hearts. Near to home, for example, Anne listens to Native American writer and Vietnam veteran, Jim Northup.
The storytellers are a diverse group, rural, urban, reservation, employed and unemployed, from different ethnic backgrounds, and differing sexual preferences.
Winkler-Morey retells their stories, respecting each giver, placing their testimonies in the context of peoples’ history and current politics. The past and present illuminate each other. Allegiance to Winds and Waters shows us how our collective stories can heal us
— Ruth Voights, Professor Emeritus, Liberal Arts, Minneapolis College of Art and Design
“Anne Winkler-Morey’s Allegiance to Winds and Waters recounts a bicycle journey around the United States at a time of deep political division. Written in a pre-pandemic world, it is a travel book that informs us about the landmarks and hazards of bicycle touring around the United States and a memoir of a journey and a life dedicated to learning about and changing the world. At its heart, the book is about meeting people where they live and learning from them—and ourselves—as Winkler-Morey tells stories, invokes ghosts in her and our past, and explores the haunted places of our history. Allegiance to Winds and Waters confronts the challenges of living in the changing social, economic, and political landscape of the United States. The hills the cyclists climb, thunderstorms they survive, the accidents that interrupt but also structure their journey serve as metaphors for the continuing struggles against inequality and for justice. It’s also just a good read.”
— Elizabeth Faue, Professor of History, Wayne State University, and the author, most recently, of Rethinking the American Labor Movement
“Anne Winkler-Morey’s Allegiance to Winds and Waters is a narrative of those close, personal encounters within a nation in the midst of another deep, politically and morally divisive period. If what we do matters, so is what we read. This book is a prayer.”
— Alex Kuo, American Book Award winner, author of a dozen books, including Cadenza (2021)
I was lucky to hear you talk about your book at the Bikes Not Bombs event in Cambridge, MA. We spoke after the event, which I greatly appreciated.
I must admit that I was stunned as I read the recounting of your traumatic sexual assault at the age of 17. It is heartbreaking to know that you have suffered so. I couldn’t imagine where the book would go after that, but decided that I would go on the journey. I’m glad I did.
What I came to appreciate deeply is that the two of you just set out on your bikes. The fact that you completed the adventure is amazing. I was struck by the number of cafes, coffee shops and museums you wandered into, and your willingness to absorb your surroundings at every turn. I guess that was the point. My husband and I have recently traveled in a camper van, often on smaller roads, but we haven’t always stopped and paid attention to the history and the current state. I hope that changes. I won’t pretend to bring your knowledge, but I will pack my compassionate curiosity from now on.
Thank you for getting on your bike and for writing about your experience. It was funny, sometimes sad and inspiring. our directness was poignant. The kindness you were shown runs counter to what we are led to believe exists these days. Not only should we try and recognize that kindness, but I think showing it in our daily lives is equally critical.
I just finished Allegiance to Winds and Waters while riding a stationary bike in my building’s exercise room. It doesn’t face a window so I usually read. I love your energy and honesty and the adventure of it all. I loved that some of it happened in places I know well (Turtle Bread and Martha’s Vineyard) and some places were completely new to me. I love the footnotes for the way they gave me information and perspective without slowing the story. And I especially love the way the last paragraph inspires me to hope.
—Jane in St. Paul
I am an avid road cyclist and educator and was very excited to read about your epic trip.
Your trip was indeed epic! I am quite impressed that you and David were able to complete your journey. I was even more impressed with your personal, social, and political insights. You are a thoughtful and beautiful thinker and writer. I am proud to know you vicariously through this book.
—David Hellmich, President, Sauk Valley Community College, Dixon, IL
“I just finished reading your book. I couldn’t put it down — kept reading it during my workday yesterday, for example. It’s such a good read. Congratulations on finishing it. And thanks for finishing it. As a reader, I depend on writers — a group that includes you!
I’m keeping this note of appreciation — for your stories, for your honesty, for your ability to connect things across multiple dimensions — short for now because I’m afraid that if I wait to send you a longer note, the note might not get sent at all, and I didn’t want this moment to get away from me…”
—Marrietta Hitzman, Arlington, Massachusetts
“I received your book, thank you, and am already about half-way through.
I wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying it. Your writing is warm and draws the reader in – it reminds me of the writing of one of my favorite authors, the late Tony Horwitz (particularly Confederates in the Attic but also Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War).”
—Elizabeth Miller, Madison, Wisconsin
“My heart is full after finishing Allegiance To Winds and Waters! This book is raw, honest, brave, painful, and full of the best kind of love. Full disclosure: Anne is a long-time friend of mine, but I’ve come to really know her through her writing here. In a country so damaged by Reaganism, neoliberalism, capitalism, colonialism, racism, and now grappling with the extremely toxic shit that came in on the bottom of Donald Trump’s shoe, the final chapter with its call for radical hospitality is a light that can perhaps guide our way forward to a better world.”
—Suzy Grindrod (Goodreads Review)
“Your book is very multi-faceted and an enjoyable read. I love all the historical, activist and local contexts, the stories about the people you met on the road and additionally you being so open about your own experience not just on the road, but also on life in general.”
—Lian Gale, Minneapolis
“I just finished your book this evening. I found it fascinating, and as an older reader (and former graphic designer), I really appreciated the legible excellent typography design.”
—Leslie P. Noe, McMinnville, OR
“I just finished your book. Enjoyed getting to know you and David. I could envision many of the locations and people you encountered as well. A bit of a vicarious journey for me. Thanks. “
“I have just finished reading the fascinating chronicle of your amazing adventure–an extreme alternative to my sedentary and solitary not-quite-post-pandemic life in New York City. It is a brave and a wonderfully honest book, from which I learned a lot about biking, Montana, Texas, etc., and people, politics, persistence, and precipitation–as well as stuff about you and your family. Thanks for writing; I hope it reaches, engages, and touches a wide audience.”
—Rachel Brownstein, New York City
“If you are looking for a book that draws you in as if you are bicycling with them, this is the book to read! I enjoyed it from beginning to end!”
—Sharon, Hartely Fargo
“I received the book yesterday. Many thanks. It’s a great read. I was just going to read a few pages last night at 12:30 and ended up riveted, reading for over an hour. Great mix of bike travails, personal stories, human encounters, history and politics. It reminds me of Bill Bryson’s Walk in the Woods. Congratulations! Hope it sells well!”
—Terry Burke, Minneapolis
“An easy-to-read, intimate window into the people and places that make up these expansive United States. I think many will relate to the struggles shared from the author’s unique perspective and those she meets along the way. I was drawn in with nostalgia for the places I was familiar with yet also learned so much more about the “people’s history” of those same places. And I experienced new places I’ve never been to from the perspective of an activist historian continuing to collect the stories of those who are left out of most history books. I highly recommend you ride along with this unlikely cross-country bicyclist and you may, like me, just want to hear much more from this talented writer!”
—Happy Camper (Amazon Review)
“An engrossing combination of memoir, history, and political analysis. I was absolutely riveted reading this. It weaves together the physical joys and difficulties of bicycling around the U.S., often on roads that are not designed for that purpose, reflections on the economic issues coming to light as the Occupy Wall Street movement gained strength, and the personal struggles of not only the author but a wide cast of characters.
The author is upfront about her own flaws and biases, which gives her a strong narrative voice.
This would make a great podcast with additional material diving deeper into the history as well as follow up on the people and places Winkler-Morey encounters!”
—Elizabeth (Amazon Review)
“Traveling by bicycle and stopping in every place big enough to contain a restroom, Anne got a unique view of the entire perimeter of the USA, and she connects each funny, heartwarming, or horrifying observation to a larger story about what gives people a sense of loyalty, safety, homeland and home.”
—Greensmith (Thriftbooks Review)