Film profile of the book on the BBC News Magazine web segment
Picture This

Microdocumentary by Kelly Loudenberg about Charles Starkweather on

Radio interview with Anne Strainchamps on Wisconsin Public Radio
To the Best of Our Knowledge

Out in paperback: Killer on the Road

Starting in the 1950s, Americans eagerly built the planet's largest public work: the 42,795-mile National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Before the concrete was dry on the new roads, however, a specter began haunting them--the highway killer. He went by many names: the "Hitcher," the "Freeway Killer," the "Killer on the Road," the "I-5 Strangler." Some of these criminals were imagined, but many were real. The nation's murder rate shot up as its expressways were built. America became more violent and more mobile at the same time.

Killer on the Road tells the entwined stories of America's highways and its highway killers. There's the hot-rodding juvenile delinquent who led the National Guard on a multistate manhunt; the wannabe highway patrolman who murdered hitchhiking coeds; the record promoter who preyed on "ghetto kids" in a city reshaped by freeways; the married man who stalked the interstates seeking women with car trouble; and the trucker who delivered death. Thudding away behind these grisly crime sprees is the story of the interstates: how they were sold, how they reshaped the nation, and how we came to equate them with violence.

“. . .part true-crime entertainment, part academic exegesis, part political folk ballad. . . . Reading Ms. Strand's thoughtful book is like driving a Nash Rambler after midnight on a highway to hell.”
—New York Times

“If there is, as Strand suggests, something sick about the rampant growth of the nation's highway system and the blighted landscapes it leaves in its wake, the 'new and insidious kind of serial killer' she's writing about here seems an appropriate metaphor for that systemic disease.”
—New York Times Book Review

“. . . a titillating, clever volume that mixes the sweeping sociological assertions of an urban-studies textbook with the chilling gore of true-crime stories.”

“. . . may do for road trips what Jaws did for surfing.”

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