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William Least Heat-Moon
William Least Heat-Moon 04B.jpg
William Least Heat-Moon (2008)
Born William Lewis Trogdon
(1939-08-27) August 27, 1939 (age 76)
Kansas City, Missouri
Occupation Travel writer, historian
Language English
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 and is derived from his family's experience in the pseudo-Native American Tribe of Mic-O-Say. William's father is Heat-Moon, his elder brother is Little Heat-Moon, and he is thus Least Heat-Moon.[1] 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.

He currently resides in Rocheport, Missouri, a small town in Boone County, Missouri, along the Missouri River about 10 miles west of Columbia.


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.

PrairyErth is a deep map account of the history and people of Chase County, Kansas.

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"[2] 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."[2]

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.


  1. ^ Blue Highways, p. 4.
  2. ^ a b Sullivan, Robert (December 14, 2008), "On the Road Again, Again", New York Times Book Review: 8 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Least_Heat-Moon — Please support Wikipedia.
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281 videos foundNext > 

Writing Blue Highways: William Least Heat-Moon - May 28, 2014

In 1982-83, William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, a chronicle of traveling America's back roads, spent 42 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.

William Least Heat-Moon on Telling the Truth part 1

William Least Heat-Moon, of English, Irish and Osage ancestry, is one of America's masters of travel writing. His three best selling books explore the "blue ...

Film extra from "Return to PrairyErth" : William Least Heat-Moon - "Blue Highways to PrairyErth"

Author William Least Heat-Moon on the transition from traveling, country-wide for his book "Blue Highways" to staying put in one area to write "PrairyErth" ...

Film extra from "Return to PrairyErth" : William Least Heat-Moon on American Travel

Footage shot during production of "Return to PrairyErth" on location at Pioneer Bluffs in Chase County, Kansas. Heat-Moon talks about why Americans seem to ...

William Least Heat-Moon on First Drafts

William Least Heat-Moon, of English, Irish and Osage ancestry, is one of America's masters of travel writing. His three best selling books explore the "blue ...

Book TV: William Least Heat-Moon, "Writing Blue Highways"

William Least Heat-Moon talks about creating his 1982 book, "Blue Highways," a depiction of the United States and its people as seen from the country's ...

William Least Heat-Moon on Publishers

William Least Heat-Moon, of English, Irish and Osage ancestry, is one of America's masters of travel writing. His three best selling books explore the "blue ...

William Least Heat-Moon on Survival

William Least Heat-Moon, of English, Irish and Osage ancestry, is one of America's masters of travel writing. His three best selling books explore the "blue ...

William Least Heat - Moon on Corporations.mov

Author of " Blue Highways" speaks at Pepperdine University.

William Least Heat-Moon on Telling the Truth part 2

William Least Heat-Moon, of English, Irish and Osage ancestry, is one of America's masters of travel writing. His three best selling books explore the "blue ...

281 videos foundNext > 

209 news items

eWeek (blog)

eWeek (blog)
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 09:37:30 -0800

And when I do both, I always take along my dog-eared paperback copy of "Blue Highways: A Journey into America," the 1982 book written by William Least Heat Moon, which describes his year-long adventures driving his Ford Econline van around the United ...

Columbia Daily Tribune

Columbia Daily Tribune
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0800

Mark Twain comes to mind, of course, as does Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Robert Heinlein; and contemporaries such as William Least-Heat Moon or New Yorker features writer Peter Hessler, whose keen cultural observations illuminate various ...
New York Times
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 11:17:27 -0800

... “Why I Love Comics,” appears on the facing page), and “PrairyErth,” by William Least Heat-Moon. Heat-Moon's book examines one corner of a Kansas county and finds oodles of history, biography and geography in a seemingly ordinary locale, suggesting ...

Physics Today

Physics Today
Wed, 11 Nov 2015 10:45:00 -0800

PT: What books are you currently reading? BROWN: I'm reading three works of nonfiction. Blue Highways: A Journey into America (Little, Brown and Co, 1982) by William Least Heat-Moon is an incredible time capsule of pre-cellular, pre-internet America.


Tue, 17 Nov 2015 06:01:17 -0800

You've probably seen some variation of the #vanlife story over the past few years. People living in cars, crossing the globe on a quest for something real. It's not a new concept — William Least Heat Moon wrote Blue Highways back in '78 — but the ...

STLtoday.com (blog)

STLtoday.com (blog)
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:01:19 -0800

At the time, Columbia author William Least Heat-Moon said: "From the beginning, the decision came from people with corporate and bureaucratic backgrounds, nowhere among them anyone remotely considered to be knowledgeable about books and ...

Memphis Business Journal (blog)

Memphis Business Journal (blog)
Mon, 13 Jul 2015 14:16:10 -0700

I love to read — it's arguably my only hobby — and I married a librarian — we met as coworkers at a bookstore in the 1990s. I edit and write for a living. Of all my pet causes, the most important to me is probably literacy. A few years ago, I got ...

Brooklyn Rail

Brooklyn Rail
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 09:21:18 -0800

William Least Heat-Moon called the prairie “a paradigm of infinity.” The Houston MFA wanted to acquire this painting, so they asked the company that owned the plant to buy the painting and donate it to the museum. In due course some company suits ...

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