Is there love in Love, Virginia, or hope in Hope, Mississippi? Brad Herzog, a disillusioned Generation X-er, and his wife traversed the country in a 34-foot Winnebago in an attempt to seek out the states of mind so elusive in the eyes of Americans today. They turned a literal search for small places on the map into a figurative examination of the small places of the heart.
In this journey across America, Herzog reports on the state of 18 tiny towns and villages. States of Mind goes beyond the traditional travel narrative, presenting the small town as microcosm and the hamlet as allegory.
For example, in Comfort, Texas, Herzog examines the concept of comfort as it applies to roots, loyalty to home, and America's nomadic tradition. He unearths the fact that the town, founded by German immigrants, is the site of the only Union monument on Confederate soil, dedicated to several dozen German freethinkers who refused to pledge loyalty to the Confederacy and were then slaughtered while trying to escape to Mexico.
Through its setting, its history, or its remarkable citizens, each town provided Herzog with a way to merge the literal and figurative. Triumph, Louisiana, located at the end of the Mississippi River, has been completely destroyed twice by hurricanes -- and rebuilt twice. Freedom, Wyoming, is a state-line town founded by a Mormon polygamist escaping religious persecution. Half the population of Justice, West Virginia, consists of direct descendants of the infamous Hatfields and McCoys. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, located near the Trinity site, offers an opportunity to reflect on the atomic age. Hope, Mississippi, is near the site where three civil-rights workers weremurdered in 1964.