River-Horse by William Least Heat-Moon
A Voyage Across America

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In RIVER-HORSE, the preeminent chronicler of American back roads -- who has given us the classics BLUE HIGHWAYS and PRAIRYERTH -- recounts his singular voyage on American waters from sea to sea. Along the route, he offers a lyrical and ceaselessly fascinating shipboard perspective on the country's rivers, lakes, canals, and towns. Brimming with history, drama, humor, and wisdom, RIVER-HORSE belongs in the pantheon of American travel literature. In his most ambitious journey ever, Heat-Moon sets off aboard a small boat he named Nikawa ("river horse" in Osage) from the Atlantic at New York Harbor in hopes of entering the Pacific near Astoria, Oregon. He and his companion, Pilotis, struggle to cover some five thousand watery miles -- more than any other cross-country river traveler has ever managed -- often following in the wakes of our most famous explorers, from Henry Hudson to Lewis and Clark. En route, the voyagers confront massive floods, submerged rocks, dangerous weather, and their own doubts about whether they can complete the trip. But the hard days yield up incomparable pleasures: strangers generous with help and eccentric tales, landscapes unchanged since Sacagawea saw them, riverscapes flowing with a lively past, and the growing belief that efforts to protect our lands and waters are beginning to pay off. And, throughout its course, the expedition enjoys coincidences so breathtaking as to suggest the intervention of a divine and witty Providence. Teeming with humanity and high adventure, Heat-Moon's account is an unsentimental and original arteriogram of our nation at the edge of the millennium. Masterly in its own right, RIVER-HORSE, when taken with BLUE HIGHWAYS and PRAIRYERTH, forms the capstone of a peerless and timeless trilogy.

About William Least Heat-Moon

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WILLIAM LEAST HEAT-MOON is the New York Times bestselling author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and River-Horse. Born of English-Irish-Osage ancestry, he holds a doctorate in English and a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. Heat-Moon lives in Columbia, Missouri.
Published October 15, 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 540 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Action & Adventure, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for River-Horse

Publishers Weekly

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The book, though largely engaging, is not without its slow spots, which Heat-Moon avers are true to the trip's nature: ""the river is no blue highway because the river removes reverie."" Heat-Moon has written a rich chronicle of a massive and meaningful undertaking.

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His copilot, Pilotis (one of seven people who accompanied the author throughout the trip and whom Heat-Moon grouped under the one name), records the occasion and the author responds: "'And that's how it begins,' said my friend, a blue-water sailor, one whom I shall call Pilotis (rhymes with 'my l...

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On the other hand, the river provides Nikawa's crew with terrifying storms, risky rapids and dismayingly polluted waters as well as magically preserved, remote byways that are little changed since Lewis and Clark passed along them.

Jan 17 2000 | Read Full Review of River-Horse: A Voyage Across...

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to want to read list