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Blue Highways: A Journey into America [Paperback]

William Least Heat-Moon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book by Heat-Moon, William Least, Moon, William Least Heat

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing and Brilliant reading! Oct. 22 2002
Format:Audio Cassette
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another smug outsider writing about the inside April 16 2002
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "On The Road", again? Nov. 14 2001
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moon nails it Feb. 16 2001
My copy sat, almost untouched for 17 years. Was it just a poor man's Travels With Charlie? A guy with a penchant for towns with cool names? I started in the middle "West by Northwest", Oregon to Montana. Wouldn't put it down. Found out how good this book really is.
Least Heat Moon is pretty consistent in avoiding commercial establishments. Instead he gets into the heads and stories of special people: There is Holliston the hang glider. The evangelist hitchhiker. The runaway girl. Moon's friend Chisholm, with whom he builds a stone retaining wall, "the wall would be there until other men came, and, with effort, moved it".
By the time he recounts the fishing craft wherein he joins 3 men who fish the Atlantic, it is clear this is a book about an increasingly ethereal aspect of America. The parts that take guts and sweat to make happen. That might have just years before they disappear. Or are gone.
There is the Italian family who no longer farm specialty foods. The maple syrup tapper family, geneology recounted. How long will their work continue? I think of National Geographic. Miz Alice, retired teacher on a Maryland island, points to an island that "has a couple hundred years before it disappears". Not all is corporate vs family, red vs blue. It is history (Lewis and Clark Expeditions, etc.) and what others here said.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Blue Highways"- to blow away your blues. Dec 12 2000
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended by Josh Ritter
I was first introduced to this book after reading an interview with singer/songwriter Josh Ritter on Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2007 by foundin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my 5 favorite books
This is a great travalogue of personal discovery. By far his best work. I feel it is one of the best travelogues out there.
Published on June 21 2003 by Julian C. Westerhout
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writer - Brilliant Reader!!
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... Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2002 by Deborah MacGillivray
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!
I just finished this book and it ended exactly as I thought it might and was even better than I had hoped. Read more
Published on April 15 2002 by Ed Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly transparent narrative
While the text of this book was well written, perhaps poetic at times, the reader is likely to become bored by the "plot" after 100 pages. Read more
Published on March 31 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue Highways is America
I first read Least Heat-Moon's book in the mid 1980s after returning from spending two years living in the United States. Read more
Published on March 21 2002 by Andrew Desmond
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a Masterpiece
I expected a vivid travelogue, one with interesting historical asides and recondite facts about the places visited. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Old America
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!! Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2001 by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Traveler's tale for your library
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... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2001 by Blair Colquhoun
5.0 out of 5 stars Get off the Interstate...
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)... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by Puncturevine
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