American Notes is the fascinating travel journal of one of nineteenth-century America's most celebrated visitors: Charles Dickens. A lively chronicle of his five-month trip around the United States in 1842, the book records the author's adventures journeying by steamboat and stagecoach, as well as his impressions of everything from schools and prisons to table manners and slavery. More than a travelogue, it is also a serious discourse on the character and institutions of a young democracy. Dickens distrusted much of what he saw, and he wrote so frankly that the New York Herald dismissed the work as 'the essence of balderdash.' In retrospect, American Notes can be read as the account of a traumatic excursion from which Dickens emerged, both emotionally and politically, a changed man. With a new introduction by Christopher Hitchens.