In conformist 1950s America, Jack Kerouac's On the Road was greeted with both delirium an dismay. For his generation - 'a generation waiting to be written' - he and the universe he created symbolism freedom. He identified the living pulse of America in jazz clubs and fast cars, and found vibrancy in hoboes hopping freight cars and travelling the highways. In his hunt for the big experience and his longing for greatness, Kerouac has inspired each successive generation. He is now an icon, an image, an attitude, forever personifying 'the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time ...' Including the sale of the Kerouac archive to the New York public library, Jack Kerouac : King of the Beats is a completely up-to-date, provocative and intimate portrait of one of the twentieth century's most influential writers, revealing a man full of contradictions, rarely at peace with himself.Barry Miles, friend and official biographer of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, provides a meticulously researched exploration of the complex man and extraordinary writer whose creative mishmash of joyous incoherence, drug-induced ecstasy, genuine mysticism and constant craving has persuaded so many to take to the road.