Blue Highways: A Journey into America Paperback – Oct 1 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I was first introduced to this book after reading an interview with singer/songwriter Josh Ritter on foundinthemargins.com. Read morePublished on Oct. 15 2007 by foundin
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
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 morePublished on Oct. 22 2002 by Deborah MacGillivray
I just finished this book and it ended exactly as I thought it might and was even better than I had hoped. Read morePublished on April 15 2002 by Ed Hill
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 morePublished on March 31 2002
I first read Least Heat-Moon's book in the mid 1980s after returning from spending two years living in the United States. Read morePublished on March 21 2002 by Andrew Desmond
I expected a vivid travelogue, one with interesting historical asides and recondite facts about the places visited. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2002
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 morePublished on Aug. 14 2001 by Rick
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 morePublished on Aug. 5 2001 by Blair Colquhoun