etting sail with Walter Cronkite You don't have to be a yachtsman to enjoy Walter Cronkite's nautical travelogue, Around America: A Tour of Our Magnificent Coastline. Big genoa and little mizzen, the staysail and main these may or may not be household words where you come from, but Cronkite uses them with seaworthy aplomb. He is one of more than 6 million Americans who own and enjoy the boats that ply our coastal waters from Passamaquoddy, Maine, to San Diego, California, and his tour around the edges of America is far more than a daily log of his travels.

The journey begins in the Northeast with Cronkite's personal recollection of running the inlet at Atlantic City during a hurricane. Like the accomplished storyteller he is, Cronkite moves smoothly from his own near-disaster to the history and characters, famous and obscure, that abound in the upper Atlantic states. He shifts to the Southeast with his own shipboard adventures as well as historic ones, from Blackbeard the pirate's visit to Oxford, Maryland, to the first Anglican church in the New World to Kitty Hawk and on to Cape Canaveral. The historical tidbits he shares as he sails past these landmarks add rich dimension to the voyage. The Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas presents a change of scenery with its tropical climate and history as diverse as Spanish galleons and modern oil rigs. Rounding out the journey is a chapter devoted to the West Coast with its magnificent scenery another ocean, another way of life, but still very much America.

Reading Around America is like being part of Cronkite's crew, sharing shipboard adventures, and in calmer weather, listening to him weave his vignettes of American history, brought to mind by the coastline at hand. This book is Cronkite's tribute to his love for sailing as well as his love for his country and the history of its four unique sections.

Cronkite has been a journalist since 1937. His soothing voice is one of the most familiar sounds on television, where he was long-time anchorman for the CBS Evening News. Fortunately for readers, he has been able to combine his career with a lifetime of sailing adventures, which he so generously shares in Around America.

Mary Garrett reads and writes in Middle Tennessee.

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