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Hardcover River-Horse: A Voyage Across America Book

ISBN: 0395636264

ISBN13: 9780395636268

River-Horse: A Voyage Across America

(Book #3 in the The Travel Trilogy Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Great book

Well written, interesting read

Great Arm-Chair Adventure

"River Horse, The Logbook of a Boat Across America" by William Least Heat-Moon. 1995. MA. Houghton Mifflin Co. 506 pp Exploration seems to be coded into human DNA, some more than others. Most of us only able to experience exciting travel adventures by reading about the journeys of others who are fortunate enough to make exploring a way of life. William Least Heat-Moon is just such a man and his book `River Horse" is an excellent adventure that allows the reader to imagine being along for the over 5,000 mile ride on "Nikawa" (Osage "Ni" is River and "Kawa" is horse), a 22 foot C-Dory with no kitchen or head, across America from the Hudson Bay to the Pacific Ocean by way of a dozen beautiful rivers and a couple of awesome lakes, from New York to the State of Washington. William Least Heat-Moon author of the New York Times best-seller "Blue Highways" has gone from the highways to the waterways with his travelogue "River Horse, The Logbook of a Boat Across America". "Nikawa" begins her journey from a dock in Newark Bay on Earth Day, April 22, 1995, with a proper send off from the mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Just ten minutes out and the tiny boat is nearly capped-sized in the wake of a freighter. Off to a shaky start, but supported or rather scolded by his first mate Pilotis, who is really the only one with actual boating experience, Heat-Moon bravely carries on undaunted, as only one ignorant of his fate can be, looking for traces of a vanishing America. As his journey takes him through New York, past the rusted relics of factories along the various rivers wasting away he reflects on the environmental impact of society upon the rivers. As he pounds across Lake Erie with 7-foot swells, he reflects on the wisdom of the journey. As he floats gently down the Allegheny, he appreciates his fortune. And on his journey goes full of highs and lows, pleasure and pain. Nothing is sugar coated and at times there are a few off-color anecdotes, but that is to be expected from sailors. What is not expected, but pleasantly surprising, is that William Least Heat-Moon is also a very literary man. His chapters are full of literary references and various quotes from great literary works. His descriptions are vivid and at times almost poetic. He has been influenced by John Steinbeck and his work "Travels with Charley" and Mark Twain with his adventures on the Mighty Mississippi River. Philosopher and writer, the book is filled with reflections on the progress of man and whether it be progress or not. As in "Blue Highways", Heat-Moon is still looking "for an America stripped of the commercial fog and tabloid mentality that often masks the great strengths of her people". Some may find offence with his sometimes blunt appraisal of the human race, but it isn't telling us anything we don't already know, he is just a little more upfront about it than most. In addition to Heat-Moon's well-written philosophical narrative, each "waterway" section of the

The real Blue Highways of America come to life

As a Kansan, rivers have played relatively little role in my life, although I have enjoyed the occasional canoe trip down the Cottonwood and the K-State/KU canoe race on the Kaw. However, William Least Heat-Moon's earlier books fascinated me with their combination of travelogue, social history and natural history, and I expected the same from "River Horse." I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I enjoyed this book much more than "PrairyErth" even though I grew up only a few miles north of Chase County, KS, the subject of the earlier book. Although he is constantly impelled to move onward and westward for fear (unfounded mostly) of having too little water in the West, Heat-Moon still takes plenty of time to learn and relate the histories of many of the small river towns he finds along the way. This is the sort of personal, anecdotal history at which he excels and which I enjoy. Unlike "Blue Highways," this book did not necessarily make me want to attempt the trip myself--my lack of familiarity with boats and rivers would be a major hurdle! However, it did send me looking for more information on many of the sites and I have my own list of places I now hope to visit as a result of reading this book. In a way, I feel some of the same need for hurry as Heat-Moon did, though, thanks to the insane amount of control large farming and corporate America have over what are supposed to be public lands and waterways. Who knows but that by the time I can visit some of these areas, they may be flooded by a new dam or eroded to nothingness by thousands of cattle hooves? Some may not appreciate the political bent of this book, but I find it understandable that if a person loves an area enough to row, push and carry a canoe through it, then he should speak up for it in every way possible. Get in touch with the America too few of us appreciate by reading "River Horse"!

A Worthy Adventure

What was more difficult: completing the trip or keeping the log? That's what I wondered as WLHM traversed the country with few moments to spare for recording thoughts, let alone thinking them. I see this book as anything but commercial tripe. If that was Heat Moon's purpose, he would have chosen Pokemon, not Pilotis, as his helmsman. The book is about self-reliance, about reliance on others, about confronting our fears of failure. It's about attempting to patch together a broken life and reads at times like an elegy for a wilderness that is no more. I found bits of folklore, superstition, anecodote, certainly geography and natural history, woven into a narrative that works. Best of all, WLHM avoids the cliches that immediately come to mind when reading about such a trip. The book is as courageous as the trip, and I have nothing but praise for both efforts (my only qualification is a diction that sent me running to the dictionary, sometimes unnecessarily). Quo vadis, two nuts? (I first thought of Clueless on a Lark, but thought that too disrespectful to all parties.)

A must for the "heart of america" junkie.

As one who loves to read/hear of travels thru the heart of this great country, I found River-Horse to be a great "vacation book." As soon as I saw it , I had to have it to read on my week at the beach. I was not disappointed. Least Heat-Moon rewards the reader with great sentences of descriptive musings of his travels by water from coast-to-coast. Those who have read Blue Highways won't be disappointed.

another major success; classic Heatmoon

_River Horse_ is a treatment of a journey across the USA. By boat. With minimal portage. Got to be pretty determined to pull such a thing off.To our good fortune, Heatmoon is a determined man. In this book he does the thing that no other does as well: creative descriptiveness. That expression sounds as though I'm suggesting he makes stuff up; on the contrary, I tend to believe just about every word he says. What it means is that he uses the cleverest ways I've ever seen to paint the picture. Heatmoon is excellent with the language, but does not limit himself to it. Most books include too many photos; the way Heatmoon writes, fewer is better, because he tends to reduce the need for them. He'll draw diagrams, use metaphors, just about anything you weren't expecting.He can also be counted upon for a creative and interesting structure to his work, and he does so here, breaking the journey up into perhaps twelve sections of travel, each with a photograph. The interplay between characters is interesting and amusing, and thus his book includes not just the rivers but the river people.Nothing Heatmoon does is designed for those with minimal attention spans, and _River Horse_ is no exception. However, everything he does is designed for anyone who wants a view of the subject that is at once wide-angle and high-magnification. Highly recommended.
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