04 June 2009

Book Review: Planetwalker

Feel like reading an inspirational book over the summer?

Read Planetwalker.

Planetwalker is a life story about John Francis, PhD who gave up his car to walk around for the next 22 years. After John witnessed the oil spill in the ocean not too far from his hometown, he became disgusted with the increasing negative impacts on the environment from modern human endeavors which caused him to drop out of the petroleum society. He saw how birds and fishes were soaked in oil and how local people were rescuing them from death. Without a car, he walked across the town to see his doctor. He walked to the bar to see his friends. Before long, he trekked across North America and South America by feet.

Eventually, people in his town realized John was walking everywhere with a banjo and they thought he was crazy. Some people offered him car rides and he refused. John became tired of arguing with people about why he would not ride the car again when he knew their arguments would not go anywhere at all, so he became silent for 17 years. He looked up to ancient thinkers and philosophers on the reasons to stay silent and followed their ways. To communicate without voicing, he pantomimed with people. Then, he became familiar with Indian Sign Language, Signed Exact English, and American Sign Language. (Right on, John!)

When John Francis walked across the country from the west coast to the east coast, he stopped at universities to pick up his degrees. He met many interesting people including deaf folks and sign language interpreters along the way. For instance, King Jordan from Gallaudet University was mentioned in the book. Besides meeting inspirational people, he experienced eye-opening and life threatening moments while footing across America.

How did he survive while walking across the desert or through a blizzard? How did he communicate when giving a speech to a classroom of people? Did he have sign language interpreters with him during presentations? Did he start talking again? Did he ride the ambulance after he was hit by a car? What did he actually do to convince the federal government and petroleum companies to look at the consequences and costs of oil spills then do something about it? And what is he doing right now?

Find out and read the book my friends!

Thank you, John Francis, for sharing your life journey through your book.

Much Eco-preciated!

book review written by an EcoDeaf Contributer, Anthony Brucato


  1. Sounds like a must-read book for me! I never had a car myself. Despite the fact that I live in Tempe (part of the Greater Phoenix, where ASU is) in AZ, it's pretty hard without a car around here, but I continue to walk and use public transportation here anyway. One day soon, I intend to move to a walkable area in the Bay area of Calif. I think i will buy this book next month. Many thanks for the post, Anthony!

  2. By the way, I just found John Francis' Planetwalk link. http://www.planetwalk.org/

  3. Truly, truly inspirational! He's a man of simplicity.

    My family grew up without a car except when our father came for his visitation. I didn't get my first car until age 25 and am trying to figure out how to get rid of it and go back to cycling, walking and use public transportation all the times. I miss those days because I remember how un-stressful it was!

  4. ordered it on amazon. thanks for directing this book/this person into the paths of other people at deafread.

  5. I think all Deaf libraries should have a copy of Planetwalker. He mentions a lot about nonverbal communications in his book. I requested Deaf Adult Services (in Buffalo) to add that book in our library.

    Veronica, I applaud you for never owning a car.

    Come and live in the west side of Buffalo if you don't want to own a car! We could use more Deaf folks and ASL users in the area. :)

  6. actually this is the dream of my life, take a backpak, some clothes, some money, and simply walk, I don't care if I know the place or not, it's simply know something new all the days.