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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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207 news items


Thu, 27 Aug 2015 00:30:00 -0700

... British novelist C.S. Forester in 1899; Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States, in 1908; singer/actor Martha Raye in 1916; writer Ira Levin in 1929; writer William Least Heat-Moon in 1939 (age 76); singer/actor Tommy Sands in ...
Sat, 15 Aug 2015 23:56:15 -0700

In early 1978, William Least Heat-Moon was separated from his wife and had his job teaching in Missouri disappear, so he did the only sensible thing. He took off on a months-long road tour around the country, a complicated round trip from Columbia, ...

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 ...

Washington Post (blog)

Washington Post (blog)
Sat, 08 Aug 2015 00:05:05 -0700

In the back of my mind was William Least Heat-Moon's wonderful book “Blue Highways,” a chronicle of his travels across the back roads of the country, which were printed in blue on old highway maps. Heat-Moon set out to discover America and, in a way, ...

STLtoday.com (blog)

STLtoday.com (blog)
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 03:01:43 -0700

Over the past decades, some famous people have signed books there, such as British director Richard Attenborough, “Blue Highways” author William Least Heat-Moon, and bird guide celebrity Roger Tory Peterson. Browsers still find comfort in the homey ...


Wed, 12 Aug 2015 18:18:48 -0700

And we found the secret to longevity, prosperity and happiness. Years ago, I read “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat-Moon, who traveled the circumference of the United States in a van he named “Ghost Dancing.” I thought of Prince's “Little Red ...
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:47:36 -0700

... Highways: A Journey into America, William Least Heat Moon; On the Road, Jack Kerouac; Roughing It, Mark Twain; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig; Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck; The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe.

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:51:13 -0700

He particularly likes the three varying descriptions of Crater Lake in Oregon, where Cheryl Strayed, William Least Heat-Moon and Robert Pirsig “all address the contrast between the site's sacredness to Native Americans and its status as just another ...

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