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My Long Trip Home

My Long Trip Home

A Family Memoir

  • reading group guide
In a dramatic, moving work of historical reporting and personal discovery, Mark Whitaker, award-winning journalist, sets out to trace the story of what happened to his parents, a fascinating but star-crossed interracial couple, and arrives at a new understanding of the family dramas that shaped their lives—and his own.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451627558 | 
  • January 2013
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A Family Memoir from Mark Whitaker

By eminent journalist Mark Whitaker, a search for his parents and their loving reconciliation.

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Read an Excerpt


Growing up, I always took it for granted that it was my mother who was first attracted to my father. After all, he was the exotic one, the gregarious one, the charm machine. She was the shy one, the one who stuttered so badly as a child that her parents sent her away to be treated by doctors in Paris and who still got self-conscious when she couldn’t get her words out quickly. But when I went back and investigated, it turned out that it was the other way around: He became obsessed with her.

She had noticed him around campus, of course. As one of the few black students at Swarthmore College in the mid-1950s,... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for My Long Trip Home includes an introduction, discusMark WhitakerChris Cleave. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In My Long Trip Home, Mark Whitaker, a renowned journalist and editor with over thirty years of experience reporting on the world around him, turns his eagle eye inward. My Long Trip Home traces the fascinating paths of Mark’s parents and grandparents, from the French countryside during World War II to segregated, wartime Pittsburgh, before settling in with his own personal story. Mark’s father, Syl, struggled mightily with alcoholism and anger issues; Mark’s mother, Jeanne, wrestled with depression and financial hardship raising two young sons on her own; and Mark spent much of his childhood angry at his parents for separating, and confused by their bitter divorce. But after years of emotional turmoil, Mark began to make peace with his family’s past, doing so in time to have one last meaningful visit with his father before his death. In this family memoir, Mark explores and retreads the many paths that converged to create his own life, and discovers the healing power of forgiveness and compassion along the way.

Topics & Questions for Discussio see more

About the Author

Mark Whitaker
© Laura Levine

Mark Whitaker

Mark Whitaker is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, My Long Trip Home. The former managing editor of CNN Worldwide, he was previously the Washington bureau chief for NBC News and a reporter and editor at Newsweek, where he rose to become the first African-American leader of a national newsweekly.




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