UCF History assistant professor Eric Rutkow aims high and his work is paying off. Rutkow is a Harvard Law School graduate, has a doctorate from Yale, and is an author whose first book was praised by Oprah Winfrey. Along with being chosen for Oprah.com’s 2012 Book Club Selection, his book American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation received the Association of American Publisher’s PROSE award for U.S. history.
Now, he has published his second book, The Longest Line on the Map: The United States, the Pan-American Highway, and the Quest to Link the Americas, which explores the little-known history of the longest road in the world.
The book was released in January and has received glowing reviews from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly.
“Rutkow is a graceful writer with a penchant for well-placed classical allusions,” said the Times. Publishers Weekly called the book “elegantly written” and “an impressively comprehensive and entertaining historical account of [the Pan-American Highway].”
Stretching from Alaska to Argentina, the Pan-American Highway was an attempt to create interhemispheric unity, but was left unfinished due to changing American national outlooks during the Cold War. Despite this, Rutkow notes the current importance of the highway to several Latin American countries and their economies. He also argues that the earlier ideas of interhemispheric unity continue to offer a positive alternative to much of the rhetoric surrounding international interaction within the Americas today.
Rutkow joined UCF last fall and teaches courses such as History of American Law and U.S. Diplomatic History. “I’m excited to be able to teach across a broad range of issues and bring a globalized perspective to American and narrative history,” he said.
The New York Times called Rutkow “a superb fact-finder” for the thorough research he did for The Longest Line on the Map, including uncovering documents that haven’t seen the light of day in decades.
On April 4, Rutkow will discuss how he did his research during the History Department Research Colloquium at 4 p.m. in Room 358B of Trevor Colbourn Hall. The event is free and open to the public.