A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon (1991-10-23)

By William Least Heat-Moon

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I didn't know what I was biting off when I opened this, but in the end I really enjoyed it. Longer than I hoped, shorter than I'd like, and about nothing in particular yet everything around. He manages to write fantastically well, without doing anything in particular to make it happen.

Come for the stories, but stay for the writing, and the curiosity.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melody condron
The observations and pesonal interactions with a wide variety of American cultures has insight and reflections for all of us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
clarissa dyer
A benchmark book
Blues Highway Blues (A Crossroads Thriller Book 1) :: River-Horse: The Logbook of a Boat Across America :: A Journal of Memories From the Proposal to I Do - The Bride-to-Be Book :: Parts (Picture Puffin Books) :: Highland Champion (The Murrays Book 11)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ian pirrie
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
heather petsche
Well written prose with no obvious typos or grammar errors to distract you from the story. Does not immerse the reader as well as other travel stories I have read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
havent read it yet, have read his other books and liked them
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book came fast as said.
Condition was great.
Looked like a New Book.
So far this book reads really great.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
roberto cacho
If you really want to learn about the real America
Read all of Moon's books
They will be the journy of a life time

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
doug wilson
A little dated in 2016...some of the roads don't exist anymore.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
luisa murray
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Just as represented and quick shipping time!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Not much to say here. Like to cook, get a cooking book. You like to travel, get a travel book. This device works as designed.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
al huntley
Great story but its a bit hard to get through. Kept getting the feeling that I had heard the story before.....
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Took a tour of America with a chip on his shoulder. Guess it gives you a different perspective.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I gave it a 4 star for shipping on time and also for the great condition it was in. However, I have only just began to read it. So if your basing the reading I would rate it a 4 and if not rating the reading than a 5.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Blue Highways. I loved this book. A journey around the small town's in America.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
vivian horvath
I actually didn't finish the book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kevin auman
Only problem with this book: it's boring, hard to keep reading.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I would have given Blue Highways five stars as a 100% success except that it disappeared from my Kindle when I had read only 60% of William Least Heat Moon's journey; therefore, I can judge 60% of the memoir.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I learned about this book after reading Ian Frazier's "Great Plains" and "Travels In Siberia," both which are similar to Blue Highways. Blue Highways is a brilliant read. Excellent story telling, observation and research of the places along his route. The book flows. His writings about some places could have been a bit shorter, but the length didn't lower the quality of the book. I hope there are still people in this country who are willing to find the people like Heat-Moon did. And I hope there are still the kind of people who interacted with him.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
author cari
It said it was acceptable" it was-- but I had wanted one in a little better condition for a gift. I will give it but not as a Christmas gift. .
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This might be the best American travel book of our times (published 1983). The traveller and writer, Wm Least Heat-Moon, did a wonderful job of describing his 1978 circular drive across America. A job well done. Broken-hearted (a dissolving marriage) and out of a job he made the best of his situation. He set out on the road with not much to lose. The book was a big success in my view because Least Heat-Moon was the right person "for the job." He sought people out and he listened to them. He was open to their thoughts and ideas about America. He saw the good (and sometimes the bad) in people. The adventure was a great learning experience for Least Heat-Moon. On the first day of spring in 1978 the 38 yr old left home in Missouri in his '75 Econoline van. He only had a few hundred bucks with him and the van had a "shaky" water pump. The van had a built-in bunk in the back and the small van became his home on wheels several months. At times he had to battle to continue with his travels. I think some of the people he met inspired him to keep a-going. You will meet some real characters in this book. One of my favorites was Thurmond Watts of Nameless, TN. (TN is my home.) You just can't help but laugh, not at him, but with him. There are some "great" Americans across our land. Hard-working people who get up in the morning and do their duties, independent minded people with their own points of view. People who live their lives their own ways. Least Heat-Moon tried to travel the "back roads", the blue highways to meet these people and he steered clear of the interstates. He is a fan of Whitman and Black Elk and quotes them quite often. Least Heat-Moon is a person of mixed blood, part Osage. He is a thoughtful man and it took him a few years to put his book together. I'm sure it has been an inspiration to many travellers over the years. I am not aware of a better American "travel book". It works now as well as it did in 1983. Highly recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anirudh gupta
This book is a must read. It was written before cell phones and GPS, at a time when people didn't bury their faces in their smartphones and actually talked to each other. The author, going through a profound mid-life crisis, takes to the back roads of America to see what there is to see. And in the journey, finds his faith in himself and his fellow man.

I first read the book when I was in college and I find that the book still resonates with me today. I'd rather travel the "blue highways" and meet real people and talk honestly with them, then live superficially in the material world (a Madonna reference from an Eighties girl!).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended...listening to it was as pleasant as floating down a river....having traveled on some of the same roads it was fascinating to hear the perspectives of the author. His choice of wording not only tells the facts of a story but also articulates how he feels in the moment. Not long after reading the book I actually saw a banana slug....I appreciated that experience more because of this book. I look forward to listening to the author’s other work!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I got a different book cover than depicted
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Any seasoned traveler knows seeking the road less traveled can make all the difference, and William Least Heat-Moon does just that in his bestselling travel memoir from the early 1980s. He avoids the red main roads of maps and travels the lesser blue highways instead to towns with off-the-wall names. He expertly captures the cadence and rhythm necessitated by such writing as he weaves the narrative to reflect the marriage of person and place. The prose paints and intimate portrait of those he encounters on his journey. Yet, those character sketches add up to a larger commentary on who we are as a nation. It's amazing what a person will tell a stranger when they strike up a conversation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cindy bean
When Least Heat-Moon lost his job shortly after losing his wife, he hit the road in a truck, modified to have basic space for sleeping and cooking. He decided to travel around the United States while staying off the interstate highways (the "red highways"). Instead, he would explore the blue highways on the map, without a definite plan but looking for odd place names and interesting people.

Least Heat-Moon has a great nose for the pockets of America left behind by "progress," and a real fondness for the people who live there. Whether in rural Kentucky, a black neighborhood in Birmingham, an island in Chesapeake Bay or a middle-of-nowhere town in West Texas, he makes friends and gets people talking.

Sociologically, he gives us a wonderful snapshot of America in the 1970s. As a denizen of these forgotten corners myself, I can say that many of them are now gone - but not all, thank goodness. As a writer he is an insightful observer of character, but one who lets each character speak for herself.

Least Heat-Moon does not quite turn his observational powers on himself and his journey. He tosses a few breadcrumbs, and he finds some meaning for himself that gets revealed at the end - though there were enough clues that I got it in New Mexico. His unwillingness to do too much self-revelation makes this book more sociological and not enough of a memoir. The journey does not quite transform the traveler. As the subtitle suggests, it's a journey into America but not into himself.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"A rule of the blue road: Be careful going in search of an adventure - it's ridiculously easy to find."

And so William Least Heat-Moon's travels across America begin. When his wife leaves him, the professor from Columbia, Missouri decides to pack his van Ghost Dancing, and make a trek across the United States. His rule is to travel the back roads and avoid highways. He searches out to find the true America, but in the process also finds himself. It's a thrilling ride through the forgotten states, woods, and rivers and into the beating heart of America. In a time of so much political rhetoric about what the "true America" represents, Heat-Moon finds a group of people who are strong, resilient, and fiercely independent.

At times the prose becomes a bit dull with pages of historical references and religious tie-ins, but then there are gems such as this that leap from the page. This description is about a mother in Texas:

"She longed for the true journey of an Odysseus or Ishmael or Gulliver or even a Dorothy of Kansas, wherein passage through space and time becomes only a metaphor of a movement through the interior of being. A true journey, no matter how long the travel takes, has no end."

When Heat-Moon travels from the rural Midwest, to the slums of Louisiana, and then up to the East Coast elite, the journey becomes a gospel of America, and its writer, a prophet. There have been other books from de Tocquevile to Kerouac that have gone searching for America, but this one is done with such finesse, and provides profound insights into America and the writer. It's fitting that Heat-Moon decided to pack Whitman's Leaves of Grass in toe. They both sing America.

Highly recommended for those interested in the off the beaten path America. As Heat-Moon says, "What is the blue highway anyway but an opportunity to poke at the unseen and a hoping the unseen will poke back?"
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
In summary this book goes as follows:

Miserable middle age guy gets in his van ad decides to drive around the country to find himself through talking with weirdos and people that no one else will listen to. I can't believe anyone besides himself would be interested in reading this book. He describes nearly every person he comes in contact with offensively by calling them fat, ugly or stupid with more uppity verbs. It's tough to drudge through all 420 pages of an old guy feeling sorry for himself looking for the meaning of life by engaging with every barfly he comes across.

Don't waste your time. Read on the road.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Disappointed with the book-NO maps! Was looking for more of an atlas-type book with short descriptions of various places of interest! However, the local library profited because I donated it to them!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shawnte orion
I bought this book out of despair for the current state of the USA, in this election year. I wanted something to remind me of the good that I know exists here. In that way, the book delivers (even if it was right 15 years ago.) My favorite parts were his conversations with the different people he encountered along the way. But the rest of it...I don't know. It was just way. too. long. I just wanted it to END. I read the Kindle version and for once found myself hoping this was an abridged version. In the 'Afterword', as the author discussed his many drafts, he said he went from 800 pages to 400. I cannot believe how long it took me to finish this book and that was with me skimming pages (page after page after page) until I saw quotation marks. Looking at the reviews it's obvious a lot of people feel differently but I am with the 3 star and below crowd with the same comments.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"When the mystical young Black Elk went to the summit of Harney Peak to see the shape of things, he looked down on the great unifying hoop of peoples," William Least Heat-Moon writes during the Southern leg of his road trip around the United States described in "Blue Highways". "I looked down and saw fragments."

Readers of "Blue Highways" see fragments, too. Fragments of land; Heat-Moon recounting details from his trek across the United States and back again, first from down south, then from up north. Fragments of prose, small chapters being the rule. Fragments of style, him alternating between Walt Whitman and Walter Cronkite in singing the land and then reporting on it. And fragments of people, those he meets and those he finds inside himself, the latter being an array of white and Indian ancestors who collectively make him something of the loyal outsider, expecting the worst in others yet quick to seek and report on their inner light.

"Blue Highways" casts a sometimes sad eye on the American experience, circa 1977, when Heat-Moon made his circuit. Some reviewers here call it dour, and it is in parts, but what struck me about the book again and again was the tensile strength of people Heat-Moon came across throughout the country.

"American history is parking lots," he is told. By staying off the main roads and traveling the byways, Heat-Moon tries to disprove this, and succeeds by discovering and documenting how our history lives on, in old people with surprisingly young ideas, poor people who are unreservedly generous, and a half-deranged hitchhiking evangelist who clues Heat-Moon on a vision of greater happiness through service to others.

It's only natural there was a gap of five years between the time Heat-Moon made his trip and the book's 1982 publication. The depth of detail offered here, of the ecospheres of everything from a Louisiana bayou to a New Mexican desert, and the rich, individualized histories of so many towns, suggest less a human narrator than a vacuum cleaner of knowledge unless one allows for the fact Heat-Moon buttressed up his initial notes with long supplemental research. But, oh, the majesty of the end result.

I really liked the glimpses Heat-Moon gives of himself, unhappily trying to shake off the end of an unstable marriage by pushing himself away from home, coming to doubt time and again the wisdom of his rash action. But, after much soul-searching and a few blind alleys, he comes to find solace in the people he meets.

"Some people sit around and wait for the world to poke them," notes an old Maryland woman. "Well, you have to keep the challenges coming on. Make them up if necessary."

The reader finds something, too, a realization America still can renew the human spirit, by reminding us, in the beauty of her land, the freedom of her ways, and the endurance of her people, that life while not easy offers great things in the littlest moments.

The denseness of Heat-Moon's prose almost demands repeat readings, but the richness and variety of his style amply rewards them. "Blue Highways" is an American journey worth taking again and again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways is referred to by many as a "cult classic". If so, it's a shame this book is not better known. It is 1978 and William Least Heat-Moon is 38 years old. Upon the near-simultaneous loss of his college teaching job and his marriage, he needs to get out of town, to leave places of sadness, futility and routine, to clear his mind and renew his soul. William leaves Missouri driving a '75 Econoline that he also intends to live in for the next several months; the truck has been named "Ghost Dancing". He has determined that he will drive only the blue highways, the old map color for single-lane rural highways and county roads, the roads that lead to all the small places in America, lost and forgotten by time, faded in economic or historic significance. He will travel and look around and listen, meet new people and learn new things and new ways of thinking. Most of all he will think, taking an inward journey as well.

Born of English-Irish and Osage ancestry, William Least Heat-Moon also has an Anglo name. He writes, "I have other names: Buck, once a slur...also Bill Trogdon." He explains his Osage identity humbly: "My father calls himself Heat Moon, my elder brother Little Heat-Moon. I, coming last, am therefore Least. It has been a long lesson of a name to learn." With that we begin.

Experts categorize this book as "travel literature". It is a travel book, for William does travel 13,000 miles across the United States and briefly through Ontario. He describes places, converses with people, learns or reviews history. As may be expected, the places are common and strange, mundane and magical. Some are pleasing and peaceful; others evoke indignance in William, unpleasantness and judgment. Most of the people are kind, some of them are wise. Some are alive with vitality and hope, others ghosts or near ghosts. But they are all human still, and in some way each is a gift. And that's what makes Blue Highways worthwhile: it is also a philosophy book, filled with the humanity of the author and the people to whom he gives voice. He is old enough to understand and appreciate the people and places he encounters, young enough to feel wonder and room to grow.

Two special voices live within William Least Heat-Moon's head and heart: Walt Whitman and Black Elk. Whitman, the poet traveler who has seen it all before, rides along to chuckle occasionally or illuminate an experience or thought. Black Elk offers gentle guidance and comfort; he is a steady hand.

It is inevitable that William Least Heat-Moon makes his way home. And it is not surprising that along the way he discovers that he can - that he has - "remade" himself. Blue Highways is a beautiful book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mandy brocklehurst
This book had been on my "to read" list for some time--fairly low, because travelogues are not usually my cup of tea. But after seeing the very excellent interview with the engaging Mr. Least Heat-Moon on BookTV last weekend, it hurtled to the top. Having just finished it, I can do nothing but give the author props for a very funny, insightful (and at times, even moving) chronicle of modern America, as seen from the backroads.

What is most astonishing about this book is that every observation, every encounter, every description rings honest. Any number of writers could have tackled this assignment, using it as an opportunity for silly or sentimental navel-gazing. Mr. LH-M keeps it real. He lets the people speak for themselves. He provides enough details about his own life and personal crises to establish himself as an interesting (and interested) narrator, but he never loses sight of the country around him. He provides vivid descriptions of the ever-changing scenery but does not get bogged down in adjective-overdrive. Those he interviews are a fascinating mix of the poor and middle and upper-middle class: thinkers and philosophers and laborers and "just plain folks" who live in places most of us will never visit. Though Mr. LH-M is a restless wanderer and does not remain in any locale long, he does not miss interesting side-opportunities that present themselves. He learns about hang-gliding in Washington, syruping in New Hampshire, joins a fishing crew for a day off the coast of Maine, and along the way hears tales of small-town America and of the gradual movement (which has grown only faster in the last 25 years) towards sweeping most of America into the net of suburban sprawl. This book provides good evidence why the trend should be resisted.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Calling it a "travelogue" is an injustice in many ways, because it fails to capture the deeply human aspect of the author's chronicle. Buy and read this book. You will be glad you did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Blue Highways is as much an introspective study as it is a road book. Least Heat-Moon takes the reader across country as he tries to figure out his life and where it's going. The people he encounters and the places he eats and even the weather he drives through can make many of us recall moments and places in our own lives, especially for those of us who are older. The nostalgia for the past is especially strong when comparing towns that still had no fast food restaurants. Local cafes and diners lend a uniqueness to a place and help keep all towns from seeming the same.

While reading the book, I felt as if I was returning to a time I experienced. Although there was an overlying sense of loss, it was still fun to visit the older times and places, and I looked forward to picking up the story each time. However, after finishing the book, I did experience a greater sense of sadness and loss. Still there is joy in many of the encounters, and curiosity about the differences among places and people.

In the end, this is not the most joyous read, but it is a pleasure to read. I recommend Least Heat-Moon's tale of travels, especially to those who remember.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily gill
This past spring I took a circular, nationwide roadtrip of my own very similar to the one William Least Heat-Moon takes in this great book. Though my trip was a little shorter in length and a lot shorter in duration, I can definitely identify with Heat-Moon's efforts at self-discovery on the back roads of America. The most interesting aspect of this book is Heat-Moon's use of his Indian heritage and frame of mind while interpreting the various persons and regional cultures he comes across. Christians may object to his criticisms of certain religious tenets, especially when he freeloads off some devout Christians for food and lodging a few times during the trip. Also beware of Heat-Moon's habit of quoting Walt Whitman practically every five pages, while he spends far too much space on certain people and places. But otherwise we have a highly compelling travelogue of the backwaters and isolated small town denizens of unknown America, as well as many insights into the soul of the writer, and possibly the reader if he/she is so inclined. Also, the journey described took place back in 1978, and while certain descriptions and narratives are outdated, Heat-Moon was already lamenting the disintegration of America's small town charm by the fast-food/convenience subculture, which was just getting started at that time. Little did he know how much worse it would get! This book, along with the works of Kerouac and Steinbeck, belongs with the great American roadtrip classics.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
In Blue Highways, we get to share in William Least Heat-Moon's journey across America in a trip taken about 20 years ago. The trip was brought about by the demise of his marriage and the loss of his job. In an effort to reconnect with himself and his fellow Americans, Heat-Moon embarks on a journey without a schedule or destination. He seeks to just go, meet people, and see what happens. And here is the real strength of this book: Heat-Moon does an incredible job of capturing the essence of the people he encounters along the way. By sticking to the back roads (blue highways), he meets average, ordinary people and isn't shy about striking up conversations with them. As he discovers, people are pretty much the same anywhere: most like to talk about themselves, many have an interesting story or two, and everyone's looking to connect with someone/something.

I found this book to be quite an enjoyable journey. Even though sections of it are somewhat dated, the essence of the trip still rings true. For someone looking for a humorous travel narrative similar to Bill Bryson, you may need to keep looking. While there are humorous sections to this story, this tends to be much more introspective than anything Bryson writes.

I guess ultimately this book will appeal to those of us who would love to be able just to pack up the car, fill the gas tank, and take off wherever the road may lead. I know I had my atlas next to me as I read this and traced virtually his entire journey on my map. What I wouldn't give to be able to do a 25-year follow-up and see what has changed (or what hasn't!). This is a great book to get your imagination going!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
To label the book is to dilute the experience. This is direct experience without the overlay of being something else. I'll tell you this -- I turn to the book every night. There are only two other authors, and one's specific book that compare in terms of genuine 'road' experience: All of Carl Carmer's nonfiction, (I have not read his novels), and Alex Shoumatoff's, "Florida Ramble," (I am devoted to the latter book, and I have not given his other work a chance).

I find it erroneous to compare Blue Highways to Kerouac's "On the Road." It is far truer than a "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

Perhaps it is simply that my own experience on the blue roads - I should say - the voice of the author and the voices he reports are what I experienced - and that, 20 years past. But, that, too, seems to add a layer of pretentiousness that neither exists in the author's experience, nor in my own.

Ending this with the most altruistic and cliche truth: the writing teaches how to live where you are. I am grateful.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My copy sat, almost untouched for 17 years. I asked myself, Was it just a poor man's Travels With Charlie? A penchant for cute town names? I started in the middle "West by Northwest" Oregon to Montana. Couldn't put it down. Found out how good this book really is, and then read the beginning, which is even better because it covers racism in the deep south and, earlier, Moon's honoring a long lost (grand)father's grave.

Least Heat Moon is pretty consistent in avoiding the more commercial establishments when he sets down to eat or drink. He is more interested in getting to know and writing about unique and special people along the way: Holliston, a hang glider in the west. An evangelist hitchhiker across Montana. A runaway girl in Wisconsin.

Moon's friend Chisholm, with whom he builds a stone retaining wall, stating "the wall would be there until other men came, and, with effort, moved it," is metaphoric for the theme of the trip. Moon sees walls that don't last and walls moved by men.

As Moon recounts joining three men who fish the Atlantic, it becomes clear his is a book about a time gone by, or about to. Moon captures an increasingly ethereal aspect of America that many of us will never see or know. Aspects of America that took guts and sweat to make happen, others that put us through the wringer. There will be years before they disappear, but only.

An Italian family in Michigan who no longer can make a living farming specialty foods. A family of maple syrup tappers whose geneology is recounted. I think of old National Geographics. Then there's Miz Alice, retired teacher, living on a Maryland island who points to another island and says it "has a couple hundred years before it disappears." Much but not all is corporate vs family, red highways (interstates and the like) vs. blue highways (the roads Moon takes). It is also history, like what Lewis and Clark saw, only more recent (but now long ago).
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
christine gerber
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
meghan lang
Critics have called it "a trip that must be taken", "a splendid book", and "a true delight on every page". Adjectives, verbs, nouns: these are the parts of speech and the speech of parts that Least Heat-Moon has shaped into the most exciting and widely read travel log of our time: Blue Highways. What are blue highways exactly? As explained on page one of the book that bears their name, blue highways are those little roads on a map, colored in blue, that are only there "because some cartographer had a blank space to fill". You can find them all over America, each one more interesting than the next, each one with its own little story to tell.

The fact that Least Heat-Moon has done this: completed a whole year of adventure traveling these roads, roads forgotten by everyone else in the known universe except by those who live there, is in itself a remarkable thing. The wonder goes further, however, because not only did Least Heat-Moon travel these roads, he wrote about them, and more specifically, he wrote about the people who lived on them. The idea of grabbing at the wind like this, and allowing it and your instinct alone to tell you where to go is a somehow satisfying concept. Isn't it though? Don't all humans, at some point in their lives, have the urge to get up and get away; to travel; to let the road less traveled pull them into the distance; to seek out the blue highways of the world? I think so, which is what makes Blue Highways such an intriguing book.

People are always hungry for new ideas, new observations, a new sense of direction in our sometimes senseless and oftentimes rather directionless society. They want to read about how people live in Nameless, Tennessee, what they do for a living in Whynot, Mississippi, and how the folks in Why, Arizona ever got the notion to name their town "Why". The allure of Blue Highways is strong, and the highways themselves will never lose their enchantment as long as there are people like William Least Heat-Moon who care enough to go looking for them.

Why I dropped a star: The best parts of the novel are when Least Heat-Moon is coversing with and meeting new people in his travels. He is always searching for cafes, bars, taverns: whatever he can find where the natives might hang out. But in the sometimes long stretches between towns and accquantainces, the story's tone takes on a very lonely edge to it. Not that it's depressing, just slightly slow as far as "plot" goes. I loved the book; it was interesting- every bit- but some of those transition chapters were a bit difficult to traverse.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I have mixed feelings about this book. It has taken me forever to read, and not because I was just savoring it. It's not a particularly long book, I could just only stand to read so much of it at a time. Least Heat Moon tells interesting stories and meets some fabulous people in this journey, but he tends to be long-winded.

After losing his wife and his job, and figuring he has nothing holding him back, William Least Heat Moon turns his van into a somewhat camper and decides to just drive. As a unique point of his roadtrip, he doesn't take the more common roads and highways, but instead what he calls the "Blue Highways". Those roads that are in an old atlas marked in blue and not commonly used for travel anymore. He starts out in MO and makes a trek to the eastern shore, from there he heads south, and then West, eventually making a complete circle around the United States and ending back in MO. He enjoys most of his travels, although, like some of the other travel books I've read, he didn't have all pleasant experiences in the South. While he encounters racism in different parts of the United States, most of the ones he writes about are in this region.

He meets some very interesting people and his stories of them were some of my favorite parts of the book. The shipbuilder, who over the years has been building his own boat for him and his wife to live on once its complete. The barber who gave him one of the best haircuts of his life. The traveling "missionary" who liked to hitchhike and was headed towards South America by way of Montana. There are several other characters, but these were the main ones that stood out to me. He also, thoughtfully, includes pictures of these individuals so we can picture who he's talking to.

The other parts of the book are more of a "poetic" description of his feelings and what he is learning from this trip. This isn't a bad thing to have in a book really. But he tends to ramble on a bit in these sections and to me they weren't as relevant at times as I would have liked. I found myself losing interest when confronted with several of these chapters at a time and it probably explains why it took me so long to read this book.

Least Heat Moon is a good writer. Everything is clear and richly descriptive. He just seems to like his words so much that he can't be as concise as most writers. When he's writing about other people he's excellent. Writing about himself is just a whole different style for him.

I liked a good half of the book I would say. It's always interesting to read travelogues and I especially like it when author's focus on what they are seeing and who they are meeting, rather than their thoughts on how the trip is changing their life. In this book, I got half of each. I would recommend reading it, as he does have some interesting accounts in the book.

Blue Highways
Copyright 1983
411 pages + map and afterword

Review by M. Reynard 2010
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
una tiers
William Least-Heat Moon, in an extraordinary first published book, reveals a journey taken far away from the "interstates" of the human experience. In the near-forgotten places and continental corners he passes through, life manages to persist in ways that it does not in the change-racked "fast lane" so many of us are swept into. Nearly two decades have passed and the book is no less relevant in what it says about modernity: In the chain-store franchise 90s, places increasingly appear like every other place, and local color and richness fades--or is bulldozed--into history.
Artistically, BLUE HIGHWAYS is a feast. Least-Heat Moon's poetic descriptions of landscape and mindscape are equalled only by his marvelous ability to capture the varied dialects of America. When reading some of the language aloud, I actually succeeded in sounding like a Texan or coast fisherman . . . much more so than if I had ever made the attempt on my own.
Like any good travelogue, BLUE HIGHWAYS endures, not only for the above reasons, but also for the honest look the author takes at himself and where his life is going--universal questions. And though there are no universal answers, I think this journey deserves the large audience that has embraced it and, by so doing, perhaps have asked themselves the same questions.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book of travels is fascinating because the author takes his subject from an angle that we are not used to. He decides to tour America using only the blue highways, those highways that are not Interstates nor even US highways. So he gets away from the motoring crowd and discovers another America, an America that lives in some tradition, in some order that is based on stable connections with nature and with social communities. He also tries to discover America and its history by meeting people and exploring local history, the history of small villages or cities and their citizens. His history is more story than history but it is very human and deeply fed with a culture that the franchised facade we know everyday may us think it has completely disappeared, or even that it has never existed. This constant delving into the deeper layers of our reality is giving us some energy to resist the franchising process and to look for men and women who have made this country and are still giving this country some tasty flesh and thrilling energy. We are glad to understand that America really is what we hope it is, a deeply human and humane culture and not only the fast-running and media-superficial Internet glasswindow that hides the back-shop and the men who work behind the wings.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University of Perpignan.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
daniel mongeluzi
Like many I first read this work over twenty years ago. I admit that I reread if every few years. Not only is it a wonderful travel book, which at first glance, it is just that, a travel book, but it is much more. It is a search for a missing part of a man's life, one, I truely hope the author found. It is very well written. The author has a wonderful command of the language, and is a wonderful story teller. This is truely one of the few classics which came out of that era. I had to laugh, and sort of cry at the same time when I read a recent, previous review here were the young man claimed he was apprently forced (good for his teacher) to read this book for a English Gifted and Talented Class in High School. He hated it. I guess everone has their own cup of tea, but in my work I do run into a number of contemporary (gifted High School English children who pretty well know it all) folks in these classes...that is where the crying part comes in...I truely am worried about us. Be that as it may, if you want to bite into a great read, a timeless read, and come away,I think, a better person, then I highly recommend this one..Warning though..you will actually be forced to think while reading this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hank waddles
I ended up buying 17 copies of Blue Highways before I finally got all the way to the end of it, because I kept giving the one I was reading to friends that I knew would enjoy it as much as I did. Each year since, re-reading Blue Highways melts away the hibernation chill of winter by rekindled the fire of wanderlust and the need to eat some "ho-made pie" at a four-calendar cafe. My own "blue highway" pinacle was a memorable lunch with my college roommate during a two-lane cross-country trip where we found ourselves in a booth in a diner named Grandma's where the menu was what Grandma told us she had cooked for the day and we knew we had hit blue highway heaven when she scolded my friend, smacked his hand with a big wooden spoon and told him he couldn't have both potatoes and macaroni and cheese, that he had to eat a vegetable or she wouldn't let him have any pie for dessert. I caught her winking at the trucker at the counter, and he said that even though he hated vegetables himself, he had eaten them there every day for 20 years because Grandma's pies were worth it. He was right.
Here's how Blue Highways reveals the secret to eating well on the road: "There is one almost infallible way to find honest food at just prices in blue-highway America: count the wall calendars in a cafe.
No calendar: Same as an interstate pit stop. One Calendar: Preprocessed food assembled in New Jersey. Two calendars: Only if fish trophies present. Three calendars: Can't miss on the farm-boy breakfasts. Four calendars: Try the ho-made pie too. Five calendars: Keep it under your hat, or they'll franchise.
One time I found a six-calendar cafe in the Ozarks, which served fried chicken, peach pie, and chocolate malts, that left me searching for another ever since. I've never seen a seven-calendar place. But old-time travelers - road men in a day when cars had running boards and lunchroom windows said AIR COOLED in blue letters with icicles dripping from the tops - those travelers have told me the golden legends of seven-calendar cafes."
No maps are needed to travel Blue Highways. Just make sure you eat your veggies and don't make Grandma smack you with that big wooden spoon of hers and enjoy your pie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Could not set this down - William has a way to really make each of his daily adventures leaving the reader not wanting to lay the book down. Shares each days experiences as though you were right there encouraging the next adventure and not wishing to put the book down. As a former truck driver, I couldn't wait to get the miles needed for the day done safely so I could get back to where I left off. Each of his daily adventures are shared with enthusiasm, humor and he always included a real sense of humor. Always open to sharing his adventures with those met along the trails, taking in adventures of others making his days not only interesting but exciting. Loved so many of his daily experiences, and found it very hard to put it down to travel the miles I needed to cover each day. Always on the lookout for areas he describes as I go through the areas he is mentioning, like the house with five kitchens. It's been a long time since I read this book and have just started reading it for the third time, always picking up on something I missed the time before. Excellent reading, down to earth person that saw all aspects of life in spite of the experiences he shared in his travels. Have read and enjoyed every one of his books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patrick harding
A generation ago writer William Least Heat-Moon, getting away from the tangles of his own changing life, bravely undertook a road trip that crossed the quiet places of the American landscape, and on his journey he met a number of wonderfully unique men and women, all people of depth and individuality, and he learned their stories. Describing in this slow-paced, pure-spirited book a disappearing aspect of (rural) America most of us will never know or even be aware of, this writer crafted a non-fiction classic that is both a time capsule and a recounting of a modern-day human-centered pilgrimage of growth. The lesson Least Heat-Moon learned that sticks out above all in my mind is how he found time and again that it is the people who possess the least in their lives who are also the most generous and welcoming. An inspiring, interesting, moving sort of book about a time much longer ago than a mere quarter-century, and about places that most likely have already given way to change. I read this book in college and have found it unforgettable.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Really did not like this as much as I thought I would. It is very outdated information and using it as a traveling book is not good as it is more history that reality.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
From Walk Across America, to Travels With Charley to Worldwalk I'm always drawn to the loner out on the open road kind of stories. This one comes down somewhere between walk across america and zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. It's definitely the lazy man's way to see america, but it still has the angle in the title of "blue highways". That is to say he focuses on the pre-interstate routes for getting around. It allows for a little more depth than oh say, flying over, but certainly nothing like Peter Jenkins got from walking across the country, or even Steinbeck staying in trailer parks. Heat-Moon is more introverted and introspective than the above authors, so the strength of the book comes more from his quiet philosophical observations about off the beaten path America. I just give it 4 stars, but it either would need to be a little better literature or failing that, to have a little more vibrant human interaction to capture 5 stars for me. Still, it's an easy read, and more than worth the effort.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina jones
One of the top US road-trip books ever written, Blue Highways can now be read for its nostalgia value too. It was published 30+ years ago in 1982 and documents the author's trip around the "blue highways" or backroads of America in his van.

Ever since I first listened to the book on audio-tape in the 1990s I've enjoyed it. I picked up a copy of the book to add to complete my collection of Least Heat-Moon books and enjoyed the rereading of it.

Moon's prose makes it an easy read or an easy listen. You'll enjoy finding the differences between 1980s America and today also I believe.

I also want to read Blue Highways Revisited which documents the changes from the time of publication until now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hayley poynton
I didn't read the whole book when it first came out (some passages were familiar from, I think, Atlantic Monthly) which was 1982. I picked it up recently and got hooked by the magical prose. This man can write. I turned down pages and marked passages at first but then it became all turned down pages and marked passages. It describes a jouney around the United States, sticking to back roads and small towns. He emphasizes his native American Osage heritage and the has an anti-materialist philosophy full of yearning for older simpler times. Sometimes his antipathy to people who commit the crimes of being middle-aged or well-dressed or living in new houses seems overdone.(I wear a necktie myself sometimes and live in a New York suburb). He likes people to be old and poor and deeprooted in their environment, slightly eccentric, and passionately following some craft or traditional trade.
On the whole his nostalgia for the good old days of 20 years previously has worn quite well. It's odd to realize that the book itself is now 20 years old.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tracy collier
I have written many reviews for the store.com. Blue Highways is the only book to which I've given five stars. I would recommend it to anyone.

Blue Highways is William Least Heat-Moon's account of his 1978 low-budget car ride across America. Heat-Moon's reporting reminds me a lot of Charles Kuralt's On the Road reports for CBS News. Heat-Moon has a talent for engaging strangers on the road and bringing out the best in them.

What separates Blue Highways from so many other travel books? There are a variety of factors. Heat-Moon is a good writer. He understands pacing - and does not allow the story to bog down. He is, overwhelmingly, positive about the people and places that he encounters. Heat-Moon took pictures of many of the people he met and I think that those pictures add much to the book.

More so than the above factors, however, I think that Heat-Moon's philosophical bent adds a lot to the book. Blue Highways is not just an account of a trip; in meeting these people and engaging them, Heat-Moon wants to help answer some of the big questions about why we are here and what it means to live a good life. While no one can answer those questions once and for all, Heat-Moon provides some great food for thought.

As several reviewers have pointed out, Heat-Moon's 1978 descriptions of the USA are now poignant due to the changes in our society. Sadly, many of the older people he encountered must now be dead. Many of Heat-Moon's other observations are just as valid today as they were in 1978. Specifically, he laments the increasingly-homogeneous American culture, materialism, careerism, and many other problems.

I first read Blue Highways in 1993. I reread it this summer (2008). It lost nothing on the second reading. If you like travel writing and are at all philosophical, this book will "speak" to you on so many different levels. Don't pass this one up; it's that rare, wonderful book that makes reading all of the mediocre books worthwhile.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Having come from Heat-Moon's neck of the woods (Columbia, Mo.), I find it interesting that the best work of journalism to come from my alma mater is not from the much-prided "J" school, but from an English department faculty member.
Heat-Moon takes an "On The Road" idea and turns it into something completely fresh and throroughly enjoyable. He has poured countless hours of research about where his travels took him, so ultimately, a reader can feel like he or she's been to the same place. That's power in writing.
The journey was a noble one, and Heat-Moon blends politics, journalism, theology and history into a narrative that is at times touching, other times poignant, but always interesting. Reading this book 20 pages at a time during lunch breaks made for a great trip in my mind. And though now 20 years old, many of the things Heat-Moon touched upon are ever-pressing issues in our society today. If it's not timeless, the book is darn close.
It much deserves the five stars I gave it, and it's a book I'll read again next year, this time armed with a pen so I can underline passages and make notes in the margins -- it's that useful and enjoyable!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
moudi oy
I first listened to this book (unabridged with Frank Mueller) several years ago, enjoying it thoroughly then on cassettes. This title was available as a one-file download for mp3 players from my library, so I re-read it. This time, I appreciated Mr. LHM's way with words even more. The writing is downright brilliant.

Others have complained that he is depressing, gloomy, etc. It's a 10,000 mile trip - if you want someone who's consistently upbeat, go read "Pollyanna"! For the most part, the author seems to like the folks he meets, appreciates the scenery, and gives interesting historical asides to the places along his route. A negative? All that detail makes a long book seem even longer. At Portland, OR he makes his one stopover in a city; it's also the point where he starts heading back east again. One might consider putting the book aside there, and picking up a short read of a totally different nature, before coming back for the return journey.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa sherrill
I've never been crazy about travel books, so I ignored this one for years. When I finally started to read it, I was only a few chapters in when I realized I had been a fool to wait.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A friend who is a long distance hiker recommended this book because it influenced him to the rambling but mindful life. I picked it up expecting a good travelogue read. The first chapter floored me - I have never heard a voice like that of Least Heat Moon. The writing is prose, non-fiction and poetry all mixed together. He switches artfully between macro and micro - for example from describing the human and natural history of a place to recounting an intimate, insightful conversation of one of its residents. My next road trip will be greatly benefited by the insights in this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
baraa ahmed
A man in search of himself aka "the Rand McNally approach to self-discovery" (T. McGuane). After he loses his job and his marriage falls apart, Least Heat-Moon hits the road for a 3 month odyssey around the country (makes sense to me!). He equips his van for sleeping and cooking, takes 400 bucks and two books (Leaves of Grass & Black Elk Speaks) with him, and heads out for some clarity. His only agenda is to stay off the Interstates and seek out an America that is/has rapidly faded away.

This book has some faint echoes of "Travels with Charley" and "On the Road"; yet the philosophical musings and colorful character profiles in these pages sets it far apart from any other similar travel book.

Least Heat-Moon's wit is lean and engaging; his honest depictions of the people & places he encounters; and the manifold keen observations as he's driving down the back roads of this country, are the meat & potatoes of this wonderful book. He writes well and metaphorically; this is a good mix of the poetic & the philosophical.

The voice of the storyteller is this man's gift to the rest of us. This is one of those first books that blows out of nowhere, grabbing you and not letting go until the last page has been digested. Least Heat-Moon's poetic descriptions of the landscapes he drives through mixed with the interior terrain he muses his way through blend together very well.

This book registers very high on the reading enjoyment meter.

Extracts: A Field Guide for Iconoclasts
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alex dern
Heat-Moon lost his job in the late 70's while already separated from his wife. He had hit something close to rock bottom, and so immediately took off from the school that let him go and started on his journey of `blue highways'. He just seemed to fall into the idea that it would be neat to travel around the country and see what is going on. I'm sure he was looking to find himself in the process.

Blue highways are back-roads that used to be represented on maps as blue. He would go into towns like Why, Why Not, No Name, and talk to the folks there to see what was going on, what their lives were like, what they thought, and see what they were about. He was surprisingly able to get people to reveal themselves and to open up to him. I saw him interviewed about the book recently on the book channel, and saw him as unassuming, and a good listener. I doubt if he could have done this book otherwise.

The book turned out to be very interesting at times, and a bit dragged-out at other times. I enjoyed the interviews more than anything else, but he often went into too much detail for me in describing the places he went to, the history, and the journey there.

Some of the stories could be a modern paraphrasing of the Old Testament book of Ecclesiaties, where Solomon poetically describes the futility of life without God. No matter how great the pleasures or accomplishments, Solomon found that "all is vanity", and this book had some of that tone. There was that kind of undertone of loss in a lot of the interviews. People were disappointed that things in their community or personal lives had not turned out better. At the same time, it impressed me how specialized people are according to the region they live in, and simply according to themselves. (He must have had a recorder for some of the longer conversations that went on for several pages.) Peoples' personalities differed a lot depending on whether they were from a fishing area, a farm, a small city, the "pines", or wherever.

He made it clear early on that he hated Christianity, partly because of the way Native Americans were treated by people calling themselves Christians. Nonetheless, the only person he `liked very much' was a Seventh Day Adventist that he picked up as a hitchhiker in the last quarter of the book. He was a very interesting and upbeat character who had some very strange ideas, even for those of us who are Christian. He was my favorite character in the book.

All in all, it was a good book that could have been just a little more concise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
A little over twenty-five years ago William Trogden, who took the name of his Native American ancestors and called himself William Least Heat Moon, set out on a journey across America in what was basically the ancestor of the modern SUV, a small truck which he named Ghost Dancing.

Initially he did this because he had lost his job and his wife in the space of a month, but his journey turned into much more than just an attempt to forget. It became a classic search for and journey into the heart of the country.

This is not a trip into the weirdness of America, although Least Heat Moon encounters plenty of strange sites and people on his journey. It is more of a trip into the heart and soul of the country - figuratively as well as literally. There have been many books written over the years about people leaving home to find America, but even after twenty-five years this is still one of the best such books ever written.

My only complaint is that he quotes Walt Whitman a little too much. I can understand his references to Black Elk, given his background and ancestry, but his overuse of Whitman is a bit jarring at times. But if you work around the Whitman quotes you will love your journey across America's blue highways with William Least Heat Moon.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
anne lawyer
As a whole, I did not enjoy this book. I found it to be tedious, labored, and generally uninteresting. I felt like the author went through the entire journey with a bemused condescending smile aimed at the rural cultures he encountered and their primitive characteristics. This pretentiousness was rampant throughout. The author actually expressed incredulity that people in small towns might be wary of an unwashed stranger living in a van asking them questions. At the end, I expected a great deal more philosophical reflection on the journey. What were the lessons learned? How did it change the author's worldview? After the last page, I asked "Okay, so what?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Heat Moon lost his wife and his job, and his reaction was to go for a drive around America. His intent was not to search for meaning in time of personal crisis but to see what was out there. Blue Highways is his document of his three month journey. Writing in clear and powerful prose, Heat Moon has managed to present the individual character of the varied regions of the United States, as well as the personalities of the men and women he encountered. Through them, and sometimes through their interactions with their environment, he shows an imbalance between being modern and being human. I've read this book three times, and I am set to read it again. The power of the prose to reveal character brings me back to it time after time. I've always been struck by the author's ability to get so many strangers to tell him their hopes and dreams. This is an engaging and a great book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marylee vetrano
I just finished for the second time Blue Highways, and as I was after the first reading, I am a bit overwhelmed with just how good this book is. But, be forewarned . If you have a latent case of wanderlust, or a curiosity to see what's around the bned, you read this book at your peril. Before you know it, you may be on your way around the country to see if those many towns the author visited are still there ( I know Whynot, MS is still there becuase it is near where I grew up ). The book is so much more than a travelogue. It gets you to reflecting on a bunch of life experiences. Five stars all the way.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
bradley hansen
I was expecting a more detailed account of highways to travel and places to visit? Many places weren't even named?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
elizabeth evans
I like both travel books and memoirs, well-written ones at least. Furthermore, I love long-distance driving (I find it therapeutic), and for years I have fantasized about taking an extended road trip around the United States. Thus, I am predisposed to liking BLUE HIGHWAYS. Alas, actually reading it proved to be somewhat of a slog. And this was my second attempt. My first was 25 years ago, shortly after buying the book (third printing of the hardback first edition); I managed to read only half of it back then. I now have more time for reading, so this time I made it through the book from cover to cover, although it took me two months of off-and-on reading.

To my mind, BLUE HIGHWAYS is an okay but not special book. Hence, I am mildly puzzled that so many people have regarded it to be some sort of classic. The book does contain many vignettes or verbal snapshots of interesting out-of-the-way places and people, the sorts almost never spot-lighted by the mainstream media. Moreover, nostalgia for a simpler, less crowded, and perhaps more honorable America certainly is operative. And there are a few truly lyrical passages. But at other times, too many times, the book becomes tedious; occasionally Least-Heat Moon is a tad mean-spirited; often his philosophy is somewhat too sophomoric or New Age, at least for my taste; and in the main the writing itself is not especially inspired or distinguished. My guess is that what really moves many of those who profess to love it is the underlying context of the book -- being able to walk away from an unsatisfactory relationship, put conventional life on hold, and aimlessly roam about the U.S. with complete freedom to respond affirmatively to and explore further those people, places, and situations one likes, while quickly and easily leaving behind, without explanations or recriminations, those one doesn't like or has become tired of.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Those who enjoy travel, either for pleasure or at work (probably both), will likely appreciate what's presented in this book. Many who travel ceaselessly are troubled, and Mr. Moon addresses that, in a most thoughtful fashion, as well as presenting excellent descriptions of specific places. How he manages to meet so many interesting people on a single journey amazes, but I'm an engineer.

This book is best appreciated while driving through one of the described areas and listening to an audio version. I've become accustomed to listening to the book every year as I drive around the West. Mr. Moon's politics tend left (which mine don't), but it's easy to overlook while his excellent prose is digested.


May 2007 Addendum: Since I wrote the review I've listened to the book a couple more times, the unabridged version, which I've since learned is no longer available. My local library has (or had last summer) the full multi-cassette deal, but it's apparently now a collector's item.

While the prose is well done (IMHO), the person who reads it is at least as good. Listening to this unabridged book read in a wonderfully mellifluous voice has become a rite of summer for me. I don't know if anyone else reading this has access to those old cassettes, but if you do, listen.

I think I need to copy the library's copy this year. I tried to buy one here, but it wasn't available (months on a wait list) & now isn't even offered.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Although this was written more than 30 years ago it is a timeless piece. It is interesting to see how parts of our country have changed in that short period of time and I wonder what the author would come up with if he were to retrace his route.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura kinch
I first read this book in 1984 and found it "slowly captivating". It is not a book that will suck you in with wild wit, amazing narrative, or dramatic prose. Its beauty is kind of an everyman's beauty.

It is a likeable book because so many of us have thought about just pulling out of the driveway and never looking back. Finding those backroads and driving 'til they end - just to see what's out there. Well the author did that and I think many readers are a little envious that he did it, and curious about what he found.

And what he found was as much about himself as the rest of America. I re-read the book in 2004 as sort of a 20th anniversary tribute of my first reading. The book still speaks to me. It still tells a quietly great story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
It took me two and half months two finish, but I enjoyed reading Blue Highways (for the most part). William Least Heat-Moon has a strong storyteller's voice (sometimes a little too strong) and his experiences in small town, backroad, no-name America are foreign enough to be interesting. I have a better idea of the history and the diversity of America from his regurgitation of local anecdotes, but I think if I lived in a blue-highways small town, I would be bored reading. In places, the narrative is self-concious and over-dramatic, like he's trying to describe a bowl of spaghetti to someone who has never tasted it -- spaghetti's my favorite food, but I have to be sitting over a bowl to appreciate it's greatness. Plus, I would have liked him to describe more of his feelings and talked less about road conditions. The feelings he did describe were so grounded in anti-urban ideology and strong I AM MAN convictions that I didn't relate to half of the book. Blue Highways alienated me as a city-dweller and as a woman, but I did enjoy the Whitman quotes and the parts about the monk, the hitchhiker evangelist, Selma Alabama, and the towns I've driven through myself (SHELBY, MT!).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brian lueck
I absolutely love William's account if his travels on the back roads of America! His travels are a part of America's past, before cell phones, GPS, and when people were generally more kind towards each other. Allows a mature generation to reminisce, and gives beautiful insight of how life used to be too the younger generation. Should be a must read by school students these days, it would empower them to fear not leaving the nest. I'm a truck driver, so it was a special bonus for me to drive past places he'd have been, like the little Texas town with the big tree next to the barber shop.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A brilliant piece. The author has a way of letting the people's voices simmer through in his text. Their sentiments ring true and clear. A big volume, but well worth the effort.

The author circumnavigates the U.S.A. (clockwise, or to the right) in a 1975 boogie van Ghost Dancing (2 legs; 4 wheels). I had one just like it in the 70s and 80s. From the publication date, I guess his trip took place 'round about late 70s or so. Especially good reading given the political situation today. Moon is deferential, interesting, and writes engaging prose.

My wife and I did a similar but more modest trip in the millennium year, with our 90s van version (Route 66 to California; return via Wyoming/Dakotas). But I am really partial to two wheels for that kind of journey (2 legs; 2 wheels).

A two-wheeled version of this ("Musing with Blue" by Harv Damschen) has been done (counter clockwise, or to the left ;-). Sadly, it is a starkly contrasting text. If you want to know what's wrong in America, introduce yourself briefly to the immense misplaced ego of Damschen (don't ever buy it tho' cause it's wretched-see my review). It takes guts to be humble.

Moon made the journey in tin box but for my money, he captured the motorcycle sage voice elegantly. Damschen on the other hand couldn't make me like his personal story or find it interesting, even with his Glock, which he clearly needs to support his obvious inferiority complex.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One of my most favorite books! When I downsized I got rid of hundreds of books, but not this one. It is a comfort to reread now and then! I traveled by RV for 22 years and this book was always on my mind, always made me realize we could follow our dreams. In my travels I found that we are all different and we are all the same - you need to get out of a cocoon and explore your mind and your world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Blue Highways is proof that innocence can still be found within the borders of America, and its path is streaked in blue lines on your maps. Next time the nightly news gets you down, read an excerpt or two from this book, and you will be reassured that not only did a better time exist in America, but can perhaps still be found in the places to which Least-Heat Moon ventured. In Blue Highways, you will meet people who offer their beds, dinner tables and wisdom without expecting anything in return, you will meet Least-heat Moon's desire to find himself through the benevolence and experiences of other people, you will meet life in America they way it really was, the way it really is. Open this book, take the trip Least-heat moon took, you won't just meet other people, you will meet yourself.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
lindsay coppens
In search of the real America, or in need of escape, the author sets out to circle the country in a van, staying only on the state and local roads - the one's that appear blue on his maps. This is the record of what he saw on his trip, from the deep South to the Pacific Northwest, fishermen to farmers, through forests, snowstorms, deserts, and beaches.
This novel was deeply personal, and it reflected a feeling I have had in my life to explore the world by experiencing it first hand, not by reading about it in the book. However, sometimes the author seems overly sentimental, bemoaning the loss of regional distinctiveness and lambasting the homogenization of America while not always acknowledging that sometimes changes happen for the better. America has always been a country of change, and he realizes that change is always accompanied by a little bit of pain.
As he travels, the philosophizing is not overly explicit. Neither are his personal problems, which are alluded to but not expounded upon. Instead, he lets the people he meets and his experiences with them speak for themselves. Unfortunately, there is nothing very cohesive about the stories, no incentive to get to the end except to see the author's cycle completed. Perhaps a second reading would allow me to pay more attention to the author's personal struggle, but even so, the stories are basically independent, with only the underlying theme of coping with change to tie them together. Perhaps that was the authors' struggle all along.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yuan ming
After Alexis De Tocqueville's nineteenth century portrait of America and before the many blogs of the twenty-first century, there stands William Least Heat Moon's unique travelogue of small-town America in 1982.

This work ages well with time. The 7,000 mile backroads journey tells us about economic changes, working class views, regional character and culture, placenames, cafes, bars, geology, native American history and views, American history and one individual's level-headed view of life and people.

The book is well-researched and well-written. It provides a sense of movement without being formulaic or boring. It shifts across many perspectives and topics. It is diverse without being random. The author is self-aware and exploring without being self-absorbed. He shares and comments but lets the reader draw his or her own conclusions.

The book is engaging and colorful, but raises serious questions about how we live our lives. More than a travel guide or autobiography, it is a rare work of art delivering value on many levels.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deshbandhu sinha
I paid full price for "Blue Highways" at Harvard Book Store and I don't regret it for one minute.

I picked it up based on reviews I had read elsewhere. I didn't even think of the store when I went to look at it at the bookstore. I was just curious. It intrigued me immediately.

This simply may be one of the best books (of any genre) I have read in a very long time.

I'm not going to ramble on; there are 127 other reviews that you can read, but if you are thinking about this book -- and I suppose that's why you are here -- I would buy this book. It is simply outstanding.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
naomi rawlings
I read Blue Highways while traveling on a month-long journey through many states. It is well-considered and colorfully written, and the characters are interesting and portrayed authentically. I found myself reading paragraphs out loud to my husband, who enjoyed listening. An altogether delightful read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kim olson
I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. Least Heat-Moon took all the backroads (except for a short distance on the interstate) around the country and spent many a page writing about the small-town diners along the way and the people inside them. The graphic descriptions of the landscape and the people combined make this book not just a travelogue but a piece of Americana of the late 1970s. This is one of my top-ten books of American travel.

Least Heat-Moon is very descriptive of his characters. You can close your eyes and have a vision of the person described in the book, from the color of the shirt to the way the hair lies on the head. I'm sure the late-night note-taking every night was exhausting to write such a detailed journey of himself, his countryfolk and the countryside.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sindhuja sagar
I heard Least Heat-Moon on NPR pitching River-Horse. To be honest, his name stuck in my head more than the interview. I ran across Blue Highways in a discount book store and said "What the hey, for $4.00..."
The $4.00 was definitly well spent. I liked this book much more than I thought I would. Look, John Steinbeck is my favorite author but I remember trudging through Travels With Charlie back in high school. I was expecting the same reaction to Blue Highways. Nope, I enjoyed it much more. I suspect it's because I'm 20, no, make that 24 years older and the slower, insightful pace is more to my liking now. Maybe not. I guess I'll have to make another trip with John and the dog to find out.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melody radford
This story elucidates what it would be like to have things fall apart and go on an epic journey in one of the most cherished corners of the US, blue highways. I found it to be an enjoyable read.

I would recommend this product along with Eighteen In Cross-country Odyssey by Benjamin Anderson, a tale about an eighteen-year-old’s journey across the United States between his high school and college careers, fraught with quirky encounters and beautiful scenery. Make sure not to miss either book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric higginbotham
Heat-Moon has done what many of us have only thought of doing--travel a large portion of the USA by road with no set agenda or time pressure. He shows a knack for seeking out interesting people who *are* the United States; many colours, many religions, many interests. Having lived for seven years in one of the towns he passed through and knowing the people he spoke with--and his account of them is quite believable--I'm inclined to believe as well that he represented the rest of the people and places honestly.
I send copies of this book to penpals in other countries, as one of the easiest ways to explain my country's character.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
milad ghezellu
After reading this book about a man's journey across our country, my husband and I were inspired to set out on our own across the U.S. journey and had only two rules: 1) No main highways and 2) we could see anything within a fifty mile radius of whichever "blue" highway we chose. It is in large part due to William least Heat-Moon that we were able to make our journey so memorable. We, too, wanted to pleasure in the people of this great country; the ordinary folks who are the heart of the nation and the reason for this nation. Mr. Heat-Moon is truly a writer of what really is and his humor and soft style make the reading so easy. How could I not journey on to PrarieEryth and River Horse and anything else he will share with me....and you. A fine writer with a fine sense of the real heart of the earth and its people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I just finished this book today, this was probably the longest book I've ever read, but never difficult to read. It cruised along like a sailboat hopping from isolated island to isolated island lost in this sea of commercialism we call America. William Least Heat-Moon has a way of writing that puts the reader right in the action. I've read plenty of travelogues before, but this one is special, As a road-tripper myself, this was a treasure to read as it gave innumerable ideas to my ever-expanding library of destinations. If you love backroads, forgotten towns, and overlooked places, this book will scratch the itch.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pam vanmeter huschle
This book ranks among some of my all time favorites. William Least Heat-Moon writes as though he is speaking directly to your conscience. You'll find yourself agreeing with him and getting excited by the journey. You'll want to pack up your car and kids and follow the same blue highways. So many people to meet, so many things to learn. One thing's for certain you'll enjoy every moment of the journey in reading Blue Highways. I highly recommend it."
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
William Least Heat-Moon takes his wonderful prose on a slow trip across the back roads of America, and along the way we get to meet folks in small-town America. Heat-Moon's journey was precipitated by the double whammy of learning he'd lost both his job and his wife at just about the same time, and he figured, as he felt he'd also lost a sense of direction for his life, that perhaps travel, reflection, and writing might cure what ailed him.
Some have said the book, now almost 30 years old, is dated - and of course it is. But what makes it even more interesting nowadays is, reading it, you can kind of track the process of how America got from what it was then to what it is now. It's a bit scary.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenny adkins
I first read Least Heat-Moon's book in the mid 1980s after returning from spending two years living in the United States. There is no other book that more evokes a conception of America than this work. It is America!
Since reading Least Heat-Moon, I have delved into Kerouac (On the Road) and Steinbeck (Travels with Charley) but none of these books remotely compares with the imagery of Blue Highways. Indeed, just tapping the keys for this review makes me unsettled, wishing that I too could just travel those back roads soon along America's blue highways.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I'm rereading the 2013 Back Bay paperback edition for the second time and appreciating it much more. Trogdon is an amazing guy, and his book is a historical document as well as exceptional travel writing.

I was surprised to see "sonny-jim" on page 95. Jeez! Dozens and dozens of industry people have read the book; have none of them ever heard of Sunny Jim? Wiki it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shannon reed
Although I'm only about half-way through this book, I doubt I'll ever finish it. As with some of the other Least Heat Moon books, he jumps between a wonderful ability to describe places, historic settings, and living people with what comes across has an almost immature political view that somehow all economic developement is tinged with evil and ugliness, although he has no problem with cruising the country over roads in an automobile, and through canals in a motorized boat. While I can't quite get a handle on it, there is something missing in his hand-wringing, that smacks more of someone who will forever only see what he wants to see, and of huge ego. If you're leanings are green party and whiny, you'll love this book. For others, it may prove just a bit too much like reading a college newpaper editorial.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
phil rosati
This is one of my all-time favorite books, and one of the few I've read more than once. It not only captures a midlife "crisis"-inspired journey (inwardly and physically) of one man wandering across the blue highways of America, it guides us through an America not many get to see. Certainly, few have (or take) the time the author had to wander the back roads leisurely because interstates lure us in with the promise to, ostensibly, make the most of our cherished American road trips by getting "there" as fast as we can to maximize our thin slivers of vacation.

Moon eschews speed for experience, and his willingness to engage locals is refreshing, as is his courage to stand firm in the face of some not-so-friendly folks he meets. He is endlessly curious and not afraid to head down a back road, even if he doesn't know where it leads. In the age of GPS-equipped phones and in-car navigation systems, it's hard to imagine many make trips like this anymore.

Finally, as it is set in the late 1970's, post-Watergate, pre-Reagan revolution, and long before deep societal fear of the "other" spawned by 9/11, as well as the large-scale divisiveness and misery of the Great Recession, the book has the feel of an America that seems even farther away than the three decades that have passed since its publishing. It truly has the taste, look and feel of a completely different place, and perhaps that's part of the reason for its appeal.

This book is a highly intriguing and well-written personal and historical journey that is truly a joy to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melissa kim
Spare writing about a complicated and goreously wide subject; life. For anyone who accidentally found another path, this is jam-packed with enriching, surprising, funny and dangerous chance experiences along the two-lanes of the U.S. by an unlikely writer who never indended to tell about it. He simply did what seemed to be the next right thing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
grant barrett
William Least Heat Moon lost his wife and lost his job, so he packed what was left of his life into a minivan, and drove rural America searching for stability. Though he does not mention the name, in essence he tried to find Mayberry, the mythical small town where nothing seems to change, the people are happy, and any strife is superficial enough to be resolved by the end of a half-hour TV episode.

He didn't find it. Like Miniver Cheevy, he was born too late.

In small town after small town, he was told that he had arrived a couple of decades too late. Half the time, the old timers would tell him that the town had grown too big, and had lost its former charm. The other half of the time, they would tell him that the town had shrunk too small, and lost its former vitality. No place had stayed the same. There was no Mayberry.

We can only hope that Least Heat Moon eventually found his Mayberry, at least in his own mind, if not in some small town.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer mullins
Wonderful book. William Least Moon visited Melvin Village the year before we moved
here and everyone has a wonderful story to tell about him. I asked one of the families that he interviewed if they were pleased with what he wrote. They were pleased. My husband's favorite book and he loaned it to someone and never got it back despite several pleas. So I am getting him another copy for Father's Day and I am sure this copy is going nowhere except on our library shelf.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kanags surendran
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon is a wonderfully written recollection of a cross-country adventure taken by the author. Armed only with his van (ghost dancing), his "desperate sense of isolation" and longing to leave his present situation, he sets out across the country traveling only on rural state and county roads, which are marked in blue on his old atlas (5). Heat-Moon describes an America, which travelers rarely see from the many interstates that now crisscross the country. His detailed account of the journey, and the many people he interacts with gives the reader insight into the character of the American people. He meets people of various backgrounds and culture, learning something from each, and describes the passing landscape painting a picture as clear as if the reader was sitting in the passengers seat. His journey begins and ends in his home state of Missouri, taking him in a circular path around the country. This circular journey "represents the direction of natural forces", according to the Plains Indians (418). With each new route, and each new town Heat-Moon is able to capture the essence of the America not yet commercialized. He meets Bob Androit, who is restoring a nineteenth century log cabin. Heat-Moon envied the fact that Androit was "rebuilding a past he could see and smell, one he could shape with his hands" (14). He also meets Bill Hammond and his wife Rosemary, who are building a boat the author spied from the road. "You'll walk off before I get tired of talking boats" was Hammond's response once he realized Heat-Moon wanted to talk about the boat. Through the people he meets, the author gets a feel for the changes in character, attitude, and dialect, as he moves across the country and is able to present this well on paper. When asked where he is headed next by storeowner J.T. Watts, the author responds, "I don't know" to which Watts adds, "cain't get lost then" (35). This book is loaded with dialogue, which is the fabric of the journey, for without the stories of the characters he meets the book is simply a description of the changing landscape and the roads he travels. Heat-Moon's conversations with the many people he interacted with were not degrading and pompous, but were informative and witty. The author's ability to weave comedy and light hearted jabs into conversation with locals added a great deal to the readability of the book. He describes a gas station attendant as "a surly fellow who could have raised mushrooms in the organic decay of his front teeth" (243). Humorous reoccurring themes carry throughout the novel such as his rating system for diners in which the number of calendars hanging about determines the quality of the diner, and the newspaper headlines he envisions when in certain situations such as "Drifter Blown Away In Bar" during an evening spent in a Dime box, Texas bar (267). Heat-Moon is mostly a listener and an observer who lets the people tell their stories. Throughout the book are photographs of the people who Heat-Moon has had the most engaging conversations with. This adds reality to the journey, and is a reminder that these are real people, with true stories. Recounting his journey Heat-Moon says " In my own country, I had gone out, had met, had shared. I had stood witness" (406). Heat-Moon is able to recount his journey in such a creative way and take the reader with him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
eugene haston
I enjoyed this book immensely. I often harbor the fantasy of taking off, no plans, no real goals, just the American expanse to explore. I think it takes a lot of courage to actually do it. Heat-Moon's story is beautiful. It is simple and real. He shares his feelings as his journey progresses. He also meets some real characters! I think every person is unique and eccentric in there own way and Heat-Moon recreates these people extremely well. If you are a closet wanderer... read this book, it will not disappoint you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
suzanne hughes
I have read this at least four times over the many years since its first printing. A great tour of the American back roads. A classic for sure.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
can e ridere
I've been traveling off and on for the past 33 years. I've been from Regina, Saskatchewan, to Lake Powell, Utah, and from California to Casco Bay, with stops in Illinois, the San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, Colorado, and Mitchell, South Dakota. The first time I read this book, it took me places I've never been before. It's a well-written traveler's tale. William Least Heat Moon's book about his travels on the blue highways, (back roads), of the United States in the 1980s, was and still is
the ultimate.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joanna taylor stone
I just want to say that this is my favorite book of all time. The writing of William Least-Heat Moon is filled with wonder. I give it a 10 out of 10!!!

However this is 2010 and I still find it strange that Audiobooks; for the most part are only available on Cassette. Heck, I don't even own a cassette machine anymore. I wish the companies would start putting these out on CD.

Steinbeck's Travels with Charley is available on CD. My second favorite book.

Again the book is one that HAS to be in your collection. I have probably read it over a dozen times and I always find something new.

CD version please.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Over a decade ago, I read this book in college. The other day, while cleaning out the cellar, I stumbled upon this book, and guess what? I'm reading it again!! William Least Heat Moon does what every person only dreams. He sees America. Not the America filled with tourist traps, but the America filled with heart. Moon weaves through morals and realities now lost in modern America through the wide variety of likeable characters he meets along his journey. This true tale is like a window to "Old America."
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon is a marvellous book about his "journey into America" in search of his identity. He travels on small byways (marked in blue on the maps)which manifest the true spirit of America, rather than the bleak outlook presented by unbroken interstate highways. Consequently, the reader experiences a spark of wanderlust, and wants to meet that innocent America which never distrusts strangers.
Starting out on a low key (after he loses both his wife and his job) in his van named "Ghost Dancing," Heat-Moon begins to enjoy his journey from the South to the Pacific North-West when he talks to numerous people about their lives. His knack to make others talk to him is worth noting.
The colorful use of language and parallel structures makes the reader feel as though he/she was sitting beside Heat-Moon and having fun. I likened it to a Star Wars ride I had at Disneyland. The reader relishes the wonderful flavor of the book when we meet enigmatic people such as Bob Androit who is building a log cabin and Bill Hammond who is building a boat. The spirit of Individualism stands out as we note numerous things which are characteristic of a particular state such as the blue grass of Kentucky and its well-bred horses.
The book is astonishing due to the fact that we don't read about "created characters." Genuine people living in rural locales talk to us through Heat-Moon. The inclusion of their photographs makes it even more interesting.
This journey through America reminded me of my journey on life's highways and brought back many memories. I hope it does for everyone else too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nathan timmel
These are the 1st words of the book. And they are granted one whole page.
"On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk - times neither day nor night - the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and that's the time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself."
I bought BH as quickly as I could after having read its review in NYT Book Review back in 1982. I bought a cofee, sat in a plush chair, cracked the binding and opened the book to this page. I read these words. I stopped, but my eyes remained fixed. I read these words again. Again. And, again. I could not turn the page.
Suddenly, I was back in the early 60's when I was an engineering student with an Austin Healy. I remembered sitting at the top of a hill somewhere in the country just as the night's darkness was forced aside by the morning's early light.
I read the opening paragraph again. Again. And, again. I could not turn the page. That was all I could read. It took years before I could read the book.
I attempted to explain this experience to my friends but received little more than a supportive and patronizing smile. I bought copies of BH for a half-dozen friends and asked them to read the book and tell me what happened to them. Only one guy, a bother under the skin, seemed to 'understand.'
I have read BH since . . . at least a half-dozen times. It pulls me back still like a . . . well, a Blue Highway.
If the words in the 1st paragraph make your eyes grow glassy, silence your world, and stir your heart then buy Blue Highways. If the words didn't, then, uh . . ..
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica karr
Uneven but intriguing. As I read it I was on a cross-country train journey so it was particularly timely. The states he traversed in the southeast were not areas I was interested in at the time but I'm sure for those who do travel there, his ramblings will be more meaningful. I found the writing uneven - at times brilliant.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dushyant shetty
This is a brilliantly funny book, but frankly I recommend the reading on audio tape because Keith Szarabajka (the gruffly stick-his-finger-in-the-fan Mickey Kostmayer of The Equalizer) makes it even better. His sexy, gravelly voice, is the perfect foil for Least Heath-Moon's utterly droll stroll through the forgotten highways across the US. The wit is incisive, about his personal life and the small towns and villages the blue highways(the roads mark in blue on US maps). These were once the main arteries of the US highways system, but are the 'Norman Bates' now forgotten restaurants, motels and quirky little people that refuse to give up their way of life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
muhammad usman
i finished reading this book last night,after taking it little by little, the past month...some books are not easy, this one is a labyrith and like a woman demands your complete attention...when i finished, i felt as if i had finished the journey with Moon, met the characters and saw the wide open spaces, and walked away knowing that there was more to america than atm machines, golden arches, and cell phones... although this book was written almost twenty years ago, it would not feel out of place in 2000; so much of this country has become skyscrapered, MTV'd and dot-commed...i smiled everytime Moon talked about looking for a Resteraunt with 5 calenders because you knew he was going to get a great meal...he uses pop culture references for clever, even comic effect, it is through his words, that he's telling us that he is taking more than a journey, that he has become don quixote, trying perhaps to bring back the lost america that can only be found in small towns... the fact that he made this trip in a van with very little money and sheer guts tells you about the wonder of the human spirit...this book is unsentimental...many times throughout the story, Moon himself wondered if the journey was worth continuing, and yet he continued, knowing that by travelling on the roads he would discover his true self... a traveller carries no compass; the only direction he follows is the one that lies within his heart...the traveller knows that its not about reaching the destination, its the journey
the journey is everything...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lenny husen
I finished Blue Highways approximately 2 weeks ago.
Never having even heard of William Least Heat-Moon before, I purchased this book based on the store recommendations. My only reference point was that I enjoy travel books.
Initially I was a little backed off by the sheer length, and I wondered if the author would be able to hold my attention. It was, therefore, with trepidation that I dipped into Blue Highways.
I needn't have been concerned. Yes, the book was long (and occasionally I had to re-read a handful of really detailed paragraphs), but William Least Heat-Moon was able to transport me to many of the tiny towns he visited, and I could feel the often intense discomfort of living for a season in his trusted Goast Dancing. I have true respect for this gentleman! The photographs were a wonderful addition and it was nice to put faces to names.
I agree that on occasion he was maybe a little overly critical of "modern" life, as some other reviewers have noted, but his opinion is simply own. I didn't feel he was trying to sway the reader; he was stating facts that he felt were significant, and let the reader digest them and form an opinion of his/her own.
In short, I would thoroughly recommend this book. The writing is clever, witty and detailed, and reading Blue Highways will take you on a fascinating journey. I have River Horse ready and waiting as well as PrairyErth!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie ohare
I read this book several years ago and It was the first time that I had ever written to an author. at that time I was in my 60's and it was a remarkable journey across America. with Willia Least least Moon . I have just ordered iit again for my daughter to enjoy . wonderful Journey
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Read it years ago. Loved it. One of my favorite books of all time. He took a journey so many of us would like to take.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yousra gawad hegazy
William Least Heat Moon may be one of the greatest writers of our time. First encountered his work in the New Yorker, which excerpted chapters from Blue Highways. I then (of course) had to read the book, which is an account of his journey in an old van, outfitted for sleeping/living, to see the real United States using only the small roads (which are marked on the map in blue -- hence the title). The events that caused him to put his usual life on hold, and take up this oddyssey, will strike a responsive chord for many readers who have ever wanted to stop the world and step back in time.
His experiences, the people he meets, the conversations they enjoy, make for an extraordinary insight into America.
His writing sings in the way that the old story tellers did...weaving a web that captures and captivates you until you finish the book. And then you don't stop until you've read all of his books! (Wish he'd write some more). I recommend this book highly for personal reading and for gifts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arthur edelstein
Just finished this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.Have read several others by E.W.Teale,Steinbeck,Twain,R.T.Peterson,L.McMurtry,P.Dunne,K.Kaufmann and in my opinion this was up there with the best of them.Although I must admit, I found the first half of the book more interesting than the second.This may have been because the people in the areas were more colorful or perhaps the author was tiring a bit.Recommend it as a good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
patrick o casey
This book was the best present my grandmother ever gave me. I read Blue Highways years ago, when I was still an impressionable youth. The story and Moon's incredible gift for imagery still resonate in my mind. I've spent the last decade or so hoping that some day I'll get the chance to take a trip as incredible as Moon's. This book made me want to soak up all that is great about America. Read it, you won't regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
candy kiss
In William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, he tells his personal experience of his travels across the country. He feels his life is turned upside down and he needs to escape it. Taking his van, Ghost Dancing, for the ride, he has the adventure of a lifetime. He comes to points in his journey where life is more exciting than others, and places where the wind never blows. Overall, he meets several people on his way across the country and stays in several towns. He learns the variety of ways god is believed in, the history of flying, and the way that's several of the towns he visits was started. If you like to read about other peoples travels, than I suggest this book to you. It will be hard to find at a local library, but it can be found. The author goes into detail on several different points and is very organized. He tells the story just as it seemed to happen and doesn't confuse the reader one bit. This story is very educational and leaves the reader with the want to travel the country, as did the author of this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
my fav. book and glade to have another copy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
William Least Heat-Moon captures in this book the essence of life, to live it fully. Heat-Moon is a spirit, free of society's constraints, and able to test the boundaries of sense. He learns from the people he meets along his journey, "...I can't say that I learned what I wanted to know because I hadn't known what I wanted to know. but I did learn what I hadn't known I wanted to know..."(p411)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hannah grover
"Blue Highways" is one of my favorite books of all time. My father gave it to me years ago after he'd read it, and he read very little non-fiction. He too, loved it. I re- read it about every othe year. It's introspective, it's delightful, and it makes you feel as though you're traveling with him, HIGHLY recommended!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jim heivilin
A journey into an America even more lost now than when he first made this trip in the late 70's (it was published in '82). I've driven some of those blue highways, but I never could have driven them as deeply as William Least Heat-Moon. Highly recommended for a trip in the sorta-way-back machine.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book entered my life in 1988 when I happened to mention to a literate friend that I planned to quit my job and tour America. She recommended this book as good reading and sure enough I found Blue Highways to be the perfect outline for my own journey.
I hit the road in the spring of 1989 in a '69 VW Camper and followed Bill's philosophy to take the smallest roads possible. My God! I can still remember poking along the Louisiana Bayou's on Hwy 82 like it was yesterday. Traveling along the backroads at a slow and easy pace is the only real way to see America.
Whenever I need to reconnect with what was the best two months of my life I pull out Blue Highways and my own trip journal. While I agree with the author that much has changed, and not for the better, even more of what is best of America is still waiting to be discovered.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this book 20 years ago and I still have the original copy that I read back then. I just loved this book. In fact, I did a similar trip to Moon's, on a much smaller scale, and I even named my van "Ghostdancing" after his. It is a fun book and one in which the reader feels privileged to get a peek inside his spiritual journey. It is deeper than it first appears. I was touched by it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melvs camasis
Very interesing read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dana d
Reading this book, made me want to get out and travel the Blue Highways myself, and I did. The book talks of traveling along unremarkable highways to unremarkable places, yet meeting remarkable Americans. The man found himself without a job, and other calamities in his life, yet decided to take a remarkable journey by himself. It's a good book to read and if you have the least liking to travel, you'll enjoy it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this book many years ago for the first time and have read it many times since. The journey taken spoke to me in many ways; to this day, I enjoy a road trip, especially taking the back roads. My first copy fell apart :) Great read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
malahat hasanzade
This is one of my favorite books. William Least Heat Moon tells stories of the people he meets on his trip through America traveling the "blue roads," the small back roads. It's easy to fall in love with this nation and its people by reading the little vignettes put forth by Least Heat Moon. I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david chotin
I was given this book by a friend several years ago as I was imparting on a new phase in my life. I loved it! I've never forgotten it and have told so many people about it over the years. I'm so glad he's getting the recognition he deserves for this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maria maniaci
Although William Least Heat-Moon's book does contain a few interesting pictures of American life, and his run-ins with such characters as farmers, diner-owners and a shipbuilder are sort of folksy and wonderful, they are so buried in the minor, uninteresting details of the trip as to make the reader wish that Least Heat-Moon had written a magazine article instead of a 412-page tome.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
martin hamilton
I just finished this book and it ended exactly as I thought it might and was even better than I had hoped. This book I think is for the drifter, dreamer, and story-teller in all of us. I really felt like I was in Bill's shoes and that I could envision many of the situations/scenarios that he was in. At first I thought it was going to be too drawn out. But Moon does a wonderful job of carrying you from place to place on his journey and each stop is new and exciting. If you traveled any of the places he visits, it makes it even more compelling. I love his mix of Native American insight and down to earth vision. It's the part of America you don't read about in the morning paper. I give this journey 5+ stars! Thanks Bill for taking the time to share a memorable adventure.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mel siew
My husband always wants to arrive fast so we always take the super highways. I felt like there was someone else out there who is bored with the super highways. I appreciated what the author discovered along the way. Not everyone thought there was a new south. I enjoyed his experience in the backwoods area of Tennesee. Progress was coming even if they didn't want it. I especially loved the author's descriptive phrases-his crowning glory. He compared driving his car on super highways liked being powered by gerbils in an exercise wheel. If you are interested in reading some anecdotes about everyday people, you'll enjoy this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
aaron clair
I tried to like this book, I really did. I started to read it when it first came out, in the 80s, and again recently, and I just didn't enjoy it. It reminds me of PBS specials where some Harvard-educated musicologist ventures into the swamplands to interview old bluesmen, and tell us all the deep socio-economic underpinnings of the lyrics. Forget it. It's just the blues - it's meant to be felt in your bones, not theorized about. "Blue Highways" gave me the same feeling. W.L.H.Moon comes off as self-centered and condescending; he seems to secretly pity those he meets, even as he wants us to chuckle knowingly at them. There are plenty of American travelogues written by people who actually live there. Don't waste your time on this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david grabowski
I read this book in the fall of my senior year in high school. To put it simply, it changed my life. William Least Heat Moon's outlook on life, his curiousity about everyday folk, it just blew me away. When my father and I went to visit colleges, we'd stop at restaurants and see how many wall calendars they had. The book showed how life isn't about rushing the whole time, making a ton of money, success in life is not dictated by these things. On the contrary, appreciate what's right in front of you. I'm a sophomore in college now, I still don't have the answers to the world, nobody really does, but I thank Blue Highways for instilling in me a curiousity and drive to enjoy the finer, simpler things in life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
le chuck
If you stop to think about it, this book and those like it really aren't about anything - just a person driving around the country because his relationship wasn't going well and he didn't have anything else to do. But for those of us who love to travel, doing it in person or vicariously through the words of a good travel writer is equally enjoyable, and Moon's anecdotes and experiences - the take he has on humanity - is ample reward for accompanying him on his wanderings.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chien chung
I can't add much to the well-deserved heap of glowing reviews for this American classic, except to say I had forgotten how great a book this is (I had first read it during college) until I listened to the unabridged "book on tape" version of it during a recent road trip. A wonderful series of observational vignettes of the rich human theater that is America.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I'm a wanderlusting kind of person, but by halfway through this book, I found myself yawning. It's well written, but not interesting enough to keep my attention. While many stories within the book are interesting, there's too much down time. Of course, I can recognize that this is the truth about journeys, but this book isn't an attention grabber.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I've travelled many parts of this country with and without money. I enjoyed many parts of this book and I recommend it to fellow adventurers.However, I kept getting the feeling that Mr. Heat-Moon was condescending.His snide remarks about religion and faith made me wonder what he was doing freeloading off of a monastery.It seems pointless to me to try to understand people without understanding their personal beliefs and how central they are to these "colorful"characters. He doesn't seem to GET what several of the people are saying, and does cringe-worthy things like telling people in an old southern white saloon in Selma Alabama, he's here to "See how the Blacks are doing."All in all though, everybody should do something like discovering your own backyard, and keep off the beaten track.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rodney conley
Like any good tale, this one kept me wondering what would be around the next bend in the road,, and I was never disappointed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leslie brownlee nelson
I was so sorry when I finished this book. At times I felt I was riding alongside the author on his trip.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bonnie liefer
A fantastic book in which the author presents his tour through america via the "Blue Highways".
An impressive cast of characters, which could only come from real life, are met along the way inside each greasy spoon and small town filling station.
With keen insight and a wonderful sense of humor, Moon takes us along inside Ghost Dancing (his Ford van-bed-study) equipped only with $400 and copies of Whitman and "Black Elk Speaks". Highly recommended for anyone who has ever hit-the-road or has ever wanted to...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
misbah waghoo
This is literally my favorite road book ever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nimish neha
I only wish that I could travel around the country as Heat-Moon did. While reading this book, I kept having to resist the urge to pack some clothes, forget about work and just hit the road.......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One of my all time favorite books, it provided the inspiration for a number of my western trips. This copy I bought for my daughter, to pass on the magic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I love the stories, the writing, learning about so many little-known places in our great country and the good people who inhabit those places. The book has re-ignited my passion for driving those Blue Highways.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carolina wang
Wonderful Travel Novel. Well Written and a enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
joe pierce
After seeing Mr. Least Heat Moon on Book TV, I was anxious to continue experiencing America with this very interesting man. "Blue Highways" starts out as a wonderful adventure of travel and meeting interesting people, but I think the author should have confined his travels to the South. After some delightful tales of characters he met while traveling through the southern states, Mr. Least Heat Moon then begins to relate his rather depressing personal philosophy about the degradation of American culture. The personal encounters that make the beginning of the book so interesting seem to fade away in his despair. They pick up again when he finally returns to the east coast, but by then his personal philosophy is so heavy in his writing that it is no longer enjoyable. I realize he was going through some tough personal challenges, but he didn't seem to recover. I would expect after rewriting his manuscript some nine times he would have found more hope. Or was his purpose to bring us down to his level of hopelessness? It is surprising to me that this book has been so popular through the years; I guess people want to feel bad.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Take this book on your next long road trip. One of my college professors suggested it and I finally got around to it. I laughed. I thought about and I felt justice and injustice, ancestry and isolation, tolerance and intolerance, naive and wise. You know you have a great book when you share it with others and that's what I did with this book. I felt a connection with the rest of America in our search for the answers to the troubles of our hearts, lives, and communities.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
delara emami
This was a fun read. The author's introspective take on his journey was interesting and fun.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
drew koenig
More important words have been said by more important people about this author and this book but none of them more heartfelt than mine. I don't believe the rating system has enough stars to rate Blue Highways. I've read many stories that I enjoyed but none of them touched me in such a real way as this one did. This wonderful author made you feel like a passenger on his journey and I laughed and cried right along with him. Without leaving my chair, I discovered things about America and its people that both delighted and shamed me. My hardcover edition will always hold the proudest spot on my bookshelf and its message will live inside me everyday of my life. How lucky we are that this author wrote this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nils geylen
Great travel book that really tells a story about the people and places visited. Very Interesting...transports you! I also recommend the photo guide Blue Highways revisited for anyone who has this book!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sean collins
Forty years ago William Lewis Trogdon (aka Heat-Moon) jumped in his pickup and circumnavigated the US (clockwise) driving mostly on back roads over three to four months. Four years after his return he completed "Blue Highways", a book that I found to be incredibly over-rated with too much bar-room dialog, poetry, history, and personal philosophy; this is supposed to be a travel book and what do I care about an unemployed English professor's view of life). One example - he seemed to avoid National Parks and Monuments, with a minor exception or two, and I find this to be one of the more disappointing flaws of the book. I don't see how a road book (the author says this is not a memoir, ha!) through the USA, particularly one inclusive of so many western states, can exclude our country's greatest treasures. I would guess that Trogdon would argue that "The People" are our greatest treasures. Fine, but then he could have very easily have gotten far more interesting stories by camping out in the middle of Times Square and grabbing random passersby - after all, there are now far more than eight million stories....

At page ten of the book I had high hopes - the author had just described a little town in Kentucky, LaGrange, where seven freight trains ran down Main Street each day. I immediately grabbed a notecard and referenced LaGrange KY, and slipped it in my file for my own next road trip (#6). I thought it would be cool to sit in a small town diner and watch a freight ramblin' by as I ate breakfast. I continued reading with the expectation of adding many more gems from the remaining 400 pages. But there weren't any. There were many mentions of small towns, with oral history from many senior locals, but in the rest of "Blue Highways" I did not encounter another place that I would want to visit. I checked out several on Google Maps, and most had seen better days. Many appeared to be little more than gas stations at crossroads, perhaps with a mini-mart nearby; many seemed to be run by folks hanging on thanks only to their social security checks.

At the three quarter point of the book, just as the author was entering the north east, he seemed to me to be getting increasingly testy and irritable. Maybe living for several weeks in the back of a truck will do that to you. Throughout the book, the author constantly made critical comments about change in general, and seemed to really relish the good old days (and he only in his upper 30s when he wrote this). He was very critical of the NE and found trash and concrete everywhere, and he was particularly harsh in his comments about West Virginia. Interesting, since I found more trash at the foothills of the Rockies, especially in Colorado, than I did in most of the 47 states that I have visited. (Texas would come a close second).

Now in all fairness to the writer, I note that there are many people who like this book very much. If you are giving consideration to reading it, I would suggest that you stop at your local bookstore (or the store if there is a "Look Inside" feature for this), and read a few pages. I do not recommend it, nor will I read other Least-Moon books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kv ta kv t kov
Heat Moon was one of the first to do it... and his journal-like style gives a real sense of authenticity to his work. It's the details that make this book - the strange, average yet unique people he meets, the descriptions of the little roads, the tiny towns, the underwhelming meals. That's what life is, after all...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alexandra marietti
This book is nothing short of outstanding. Every high school in America should make reading this book a requirement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am a travel geek and really enjoyed this book!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outstanding book. But pass on this version of the audiobook, which is terribly narrated. Instead, find the old audiobook version, narrated by the wonderful Frank Muller.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deb king
I have read this book twice and each time I have been carried away by the power of the writing. Heat Moon's detailed descriptions of small town America are absolutely riveting. I loaned this book to a Chinese friend and told her that it is the single best introduction to America and Americans that I have ever read. What more can be said?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Enjoyed the book and the americana it uncovered. I sensed an underlying political current that seemed to run throughout the book, surfacing if and when the author felt inclined to have it revealed. I have no problem with hearing his perspective, as I realize that his opinions are just that....his opinions, and he is entitled to them. Just don't want to think they are facts just because he chose to write them down.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
elizabeth connelly
I have mixed emotions on this one.
The reason I gave 3 stars was that it was the average
of the lovers and haters.
Try reading these two books for a comparison.
1) Home Country by Ernie Pyle
2) Gasoline Gypsy by Irene Thomas
Remember: Opinions are like elbows. Almost everybody has at least one!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tala mhni
Thank you, William Least Heat Moon, for this book. I am American, but grew up and live in Germany. This book taought me more about the country of my birth than anything else. A tender, caring, beautiful tale of travel, of people, life and land.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
A guide to more than America. Always a great read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alexandra saldivar
Good trips along the roads that are sometimes neglected or forgotten - but where many of us still live.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a classic in travel essays. Awesome stories, but a bit long-winded.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If you enjoy Blue Highways, you will enjoy Searching For My Sanity. http://www.the store.com/dp/B00PKW2BG4
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Blue Highways, a book that sends you to an America that you rarely hear about, uncovering its natural beauty in the places he visits and people he meets. An unforgettable escape into the heart of America that makes you look back and realize what a great nation this is. A definite desert island book
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
candace madera
One of the classic travel boos of all time. Up there with Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charlie'. I've read it ten times over the past twenty years.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
When I first started to read Blue Highways, I was expecting a travelogue but quickly realized that it was the story of man in search of what life is all about and how different people see and cope with life. The travel was interesting and so were the people he met along the way. However he wishes to give the impression that he is of the people but writes like he is way above them. At times I felt that I needed to read the book with a dictionary beside me. I would have liked him to come to some conclusions about his life by the end of the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
garry rogers
This is the best book I have read which searches for the true America. Rural American values are what this country was founded upon. The book is interesting as it explores each region of America and shows us its differences and simalarites of the uniqueness of this great country.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Haven't purchased anything yet from the store that has not met my expectations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mohit sharma
This is an excellent journal of a troubled man's attempt to try to figure out who he is by taking a solitary journey to meet real people and see real places in this country. For all the loners and independent thinkers out there this is our "magic bus".
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
becky cummings
A good story told of a journey to interesting places, highlighting interesting people he met on the trip. Great appeal to anyone who has travelled on the nation's back roads. Weighed down by an all too common lament of wishing things as they once were.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I've read a lot of travel and "road" books over the last two years, after having completed my own "cross country" road trip one summer... So not only do I have personal experience out there on this kind of trip, but I've read pretty extensively on the subject (fiction and non-fiction). And, this book came highly recommended (???) on here and I had heard about it several places, so I REALLY wanted to like it! But unfortunately, this book does NOT measure up to all the other "road" books and travelogues. I found myself skipping/skimming VERY quickly through many, many sections (especially many of the conversations and his own brooding). I found several interesting stories, road/place descriptions, and insights - but I only made it about 1/2 through this book until I just couldn't keep going anymore. I am a person who truly appreciates the road and good writing about the road, but this is not it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but some of the stories were just plain boring and some too long-winded... and except for a few notable conversations/people, I was not interested in the people he met... This "journey into America" does not measure up to other books in this category. I have no idea if the last half of the book is better than the first, maybe it is but I doubt it after reading some other reviews. I give it two stars for some interesting insights and descriptions but don't waste your time. Find some better road books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
quick quotes quill
Great Hardback copy
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tonya white
I hated to turn to the last page. I have since dreamed of following his footsteps. One of the best books I've ever read.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
dan matso
There needed to be some sort of map or drawing to show where he was traveling. I couldn't even finish it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
WLHM, although a decent writer, attempts to cross the brooding beat writers of a generation ago with Charles Kuralt. Moon fails miserably. There are some some passages of note, but mostly this work is brooding and pseudo-introspective and at times unfairly insulting to the people of whom he writes. As an English major and English teacher and a teacher of Appalachian literature, culture, history and traditions, I cannot recommend this work with any enthusiasm at all.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Book is one of the most boring I have ever tried to read. I read many travel books but this one is awful.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Not at all as interesting as I hoped it would be. The back roads of USA should be able to offer a much more colourful and interesting web than this.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kacy faulconer
I was forced to read this book as part of my english gifted and talented class. It was the slowest, longest, worst written book ever! The best part of the book was the end. It ended! Finally, a long book about nothing. I will NEVER read this book again and I DON'T encourage anyone else to read this. PLEASE save yourselves the boredom and stupidity that comes from this book. This guy has nothing better to do than go around in little boondocks in the US and force people to have conversations with him. It's irritating. It's boring. Please do yourselves some good and read cool books like Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A tale of Two Cities, and other classics.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is just a terrible book.

I can't understanding the enthusiam of some of the other reviewers. The book is a boring downer, and he seems like a nasty piece of work.

Stay away.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
So this guy takes a drive in his car and writes a book about it. I don't get it. I could not finish this snoozer. What an over-rated piece of boring trash. If you want REAL adventure, read THE WALK WEST or PADDLING THE the store, travel journals of real adventurers who risked death and terror, not some hack with a Native-American name who because of it everyone thinks it's such a hip read. It isn't. As a bar singer, I do this year round for a living; drive around the country singing in bars, sleeping in my car, just barely keeping the bills paid. All this nothing-read is is about a hippie drop-out who wastes gas driving around the country. What is new and adventurous about that? What a total waste of dead trees.
Please Rate A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon (1991-10-23)
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