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!