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Barnstorming Ohio

To Understand America

The question of America’s identity has rarely been more urgent, and no American place has ever more reliably illuminated that identity than Ohio.


Award-winning author and essayist David Giffels, dubbed “the bard of Akron” by the New York Times, has spent a quarter century writing about what it means to live in a state he calls “an all-American buffet, an uncannily complete everyplace.”


As an historic 2020 presidential election approaches, Barnstorming Ohio is Giffels’ account of a year on Ohio’s roads, visiting people and places that offer valuable reflections of the national questions and concerns, as well as astounding electoral clairvoyance—since 1896, Ohio has chosen the winner in twenty-nine of thirty-one presidential elections, more than any other state.


From an autoworker upended by the closing of a GM plant in Lordstown, to a soybean farmer trying to outlast a trade war and historic rainfall, to the aftermath of a mass shooting in Dayton, to newly empowered women voters, Barnstorming Ohio resonates with a chorus asking, “Who will listen to me?”


In a time when Americans are seeking answers, Barnstorming Ohio delivers the people who have always held them.

Praise for Barnstorming Ohio


“Giffels writes gracefully at every stop and actively seeks pockets of sunlight amid the gloom. … An affectionate, realistic survey of a state coming back from the brink.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“Giffels explores the qualities that make Ohio a bellwether for the rest of America in this trenchant mix of memoir, reportage, and political analysis. ... [A] nuanced and often lyrical account.”

— Publishers Weekly

Prepub Alert, Barbara’s Picks: “A two-time winner of the Ohioana Award, essayist/memoirist Giffels is seen Barnstorming Ohio to get a pre-election measure of the state—important because Ohio has chosen the winner in 29 of the last 31 presidential elections.”

— Barbara Hoffert, Libary Journal

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