In his memoir, Woods provides enough fodder for three books in this account of his experiences as a boy, businessman, and cross-country walker.
The author begins with a frank look at his impoverished childhood during the late 1930s and ’40s and includes a bleak portrait of an alcoholic father—“I have no positive or personal childhood memories of my father that made me feel connected to him”—whom he initially planned to murder but later viewed “as a pitiful individual, a completely humiliated man.” When he was 11, Woods was sent to live with 68-year-old Grandpa Huber, where he endured a harsh farm life until 16. The stories of childhood adversity lead the reader to marvel at the kind of backbreaking work asked of children at the time. As an adult, he used his strong work ethic in various startups—insurance agency, construction company, flea market, flight school—some successful, others huge busts. In 2004, he walked east to west across America to inspire his countrymen to “become participants in molding our country,” which Woods believed needed an “overhaul of morals.” In 2010, he did it again—this time north to south to promote fitness. The story of the first walk is highly entertaining. (The second walk’s account feels a little rushed, though it redeems itself with his experience on “Oprah.”) If you’ve ever seen the news coverage of these walkers and wondered how they do it (23.31 miles a day on average, five pairs of 991 New Balance shoes) or what it’s really like on the road, you’ll enjoy Woods’ story. However, the memoir—Woods’ first book—suffers from clunky prose and too many dull details.
While it needs more polish, Woods’ life story is still a memorable autobiography of a remarkable, self-made man.