Richard Lord: Dylan Dethier's book, '18 In America,' earns high praise


After about three weeks in book stores, it looks like Williams College student, golfer and author Dylan Dethier's book ‘18 in America' is striking a positive chord with readers.

After starting out at around No. 20 on’s list of popular golf books, it has steadily risen to No. 8. Perhaps more importantly, reviews posted by those who have read it have been effusive in praise of the story of Dethier's 48-state golf journey.

Having read the book -- I couldn't put it down -- this comes as no surprise. Frankly, I envy his story-telling ability and his insight into the people he met and the places he visited. At his age -- he made the trip when he was 17 and 18, and is now 21 -- I was struggling to produce 10-inch high school football stories.

For those who are unaware of the senior-to-be's journey, Dethier decided to put off entering Williams College for a year to travel to all of the lower 48 states and play at least 18 holes of golf in each. As someone who was enamored with the game, but not necessarily with the air of elitism that sometimes surrounds it, he wanted to see just where golf fit into American culture.

He set off in his Subaru hatchback with less than $5,000, and what an adventure he had! The book has plenty of golf moments ranging from playing a municipal course with two African-Americans in economically devastated Flint, Mich., to teeing it up at Pebble Beach and Sawgrass, as well as a day as a caddie at a PGA Tour pro-am in a foursome that included Phil Mickelson.

But it's really about the adventures, and misadventures, he experienced along the way, the wide range of people he met, the out-of-the-way places he visited and how all of that opened his eyes to a new world outside of the Berkshires.

The writing is vivid. You can see the people, imagine the places and understand a young man's moments of loneliness and fear then on the next page laugh at his sense of humor. You'd think this was his 20th book, not his initial effort.

I seldom read a book in two days, but I devoured Dethier's superb 256-page effort that quickly with ease.

Still, one might think as a Berkshire resident and golfer, I'm not objective in praising Dethier's work. So check out a few excerpts from some of the 15 reviews posted on Amazon's website (14 of which gave the book five out of five stars):

n "I would recommend this book to anyone. It is a smart, well-written book about growing up, filled with great stories and a voice that many will find inspiring and entertaining. Definitely two thumbs up."

n "I'm not sure how a young writer did such a great job. Very well-written with golf and life intertwined. Cannot recommend it enough. One of the best I've read this year."

n "Dethier writes with the clarity, intuition and wisdom of someone twice his age, and his ability to see and convey the irony in any situation is truly unparalleled."

n "It is an amazing tale of growing up and pursuing what you love. Honestly, you don't need to have any connection to golf or sports or travel to be completely enthralled by this."

To contact Richard Lord:,
or (413) 496-6236.


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