William Least Heat-Moon
|William Least Heat-Moon|
William Least Heat-Moon (2008)
|Born||William Lewis Trogdon
August 27, 1939
Kansas City, Missouri
|Occupation||Travel writer, historian|
|Ethnicity||English, Irish and Osage ancestry|
|Education||Bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in English
Bachelor's degree in photojournalism
|Alma mater||University of Missouri|
|Genre||Deep map travel literature|
|Notable works||Blue Highways|
William Least Heat-Moon, also named William Lewis Trogdon (born August 27, 1939), is an American travel writer and historian of English, Irish, and Osage ancestry. He is the author of various bestselling books of topographical U.S. travel writing.
Least Heat-Moon has ancestry of both Native American and Euro-American lineages. His ancestry is reflected in his names: the Trogdon family name comes from his Euro-American lineage, and the Heat-Moon name reflects his Native American lineage. William's father is Heat-Moon, his elder brother is Little Heat-Moon, and he is thus Least Heat-Moon. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Least Heat-Moon grew up in Missouri and attended the University of Missouri, where he earned bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in English as well as a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. He was a member of the Beta-Theta chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, and he also served as a professor of English at the university.
Blue Highways, which spent 42 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1982–83, is a chronicle of a three-month-long road trip that Least Heat-Moon took throughout the United States in 1978 after he had lost his teaching job and been separated from his first wife. He tells how he traveled 13,000 miles, as much as possible on secondary roads (which he points out were often drawn on maps in blue, especially in the old-style Rand McNally road atlas), and tried to avoid cities. Living out of his van, he visited small towns such as Nameless, Tennessee; Hachita, New Mexico; and Bagley, Minnesota to find places in America untouched by fast food chains and interstate highways. The book records memorable encounters in roadside cafés as well as his search for something greater than himself.
River-Horse is Least Heat-Moon's account of a four-month coast-to-coast boat trip across the U.S. in which he traveled almost exclusively on the nation's waterways from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with many of the nearly 5,000 miles following journeys taken by early explorers like Henry Hudson and Lewis and Clark.
Columbus in the Americas (2002) is a brief history of Christopher Columbus's journeys.
Roads to Quoz (2008) is another "road book," but it differs from his previous such works in the sense that it is "not one long road trip, but a series of shorter ones" taken over the years between books. Robert Sullivan of the New York Times Book Review commented that Least Heat-Moon celebrates "serendipity and joyous disorder."
Here, There, Elsewhere (2013) draws together Least Heat-Moon's greatest short-form travel writing.
An Osage Journey to Europe 1827-1830 (2013) contains the accounts of six Osage people who traveled to Europe in 1827, accompanied by three Americans; it was translated into English by Least Heat-Moon and James K. Wallace.
Writing Blue Highways is a follow-up to William Least Heat-Moon’s best-selling Blue Highways. Heat-Moon reflects on the journey and talks about writing, publishing, personal relationships, and many other aspects that went into writing the book.
- Blue Highways: A Journey Into America. Fawcett, 1982. ISBN 0-449-21109-6
- The Red Couch: A Portrait of America. With Kevin Clarke and Horst Wackerbarth. Olympic Marketing Corp, 1984. ISBN 0-912383-05-4
- "A Glass of Handmade." The Atlantic, November 1987.
- PrairyErth (A Deep Map). Houghton Mifflin, 1991. ISBN 0-395-48602-5
- River Horse: The Logbook of a Boat Across America. Houghton Mifflin, 1999. ISBN 0-395-63626-4
- Columbus in the Americas (Turning Points in History). Wiley, 2002. ISBN 0-471-21189-3
- Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey. Little, Brown and Company, October 2008. ISBN 978-0-316-11025-9
- Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road. Little, Brown and Company, January 8, 2013. ISBN 0316110248
- An Osage Journey to Europe 1827-1830: Three French Accounts. University of Oklahoma Press, October 2013. ISBN 0806144033
- Writing Blue Highways: The Story of How a Book Happened. University of Missouri Press, May 2014. Hardcover, 978-0-8262-2026-4 / E-book, 978-0-8262-7325-3.
- Blue Highways, p. 4.
- Sullivan, Robert (December 14, 2008), "On the Road Again, Again", New York Times Book Review, p. 8
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- Works by or about William Least Heat-Moon in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- 1983, 1984, 1991 Real Audio interviews with William Least Heat-Moon at Wired for Books.org by Don Swaim
- 1 January, 2010 interview with William Least Heat-Moon by Tom Ashbrook for National Public Radio, On Point
- Appearances on C-SPAN