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Publisher's Summary

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads. William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi." His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation of the true American experience.

©1982 William Least Heat-Moon (P)2013 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Mr.
  • Panama City, FL, United States
  • 01-25-13

A new Mark Twain... this is a great book

I loved this book. The title intrigued me but with a new author you never know, especially with no ratings. The book grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go. It is very well written. It is funny, interesting, quirky, just an overall good experience. If you want to go on a road adventure through the back roads of America and into local peoples homes and lives try this book. I do not think you will be disappointed.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe Bloggs
  • WASHINGTON, IL, United States
  • 03-03-13

A Journey into the Heart of America

What did you love best about Blue Highways?

The people William Least Heat Moon met. They made this book, without them the book would be lacking.

What did you like best about this story?

A man sets out across America with a few gas cards, little money and a van to live in. He's searching for something, maybe himself, what America is to him, history, peace of mind, adventure? He doesn't fully understand it himself. Recently divorced, out of work and generally down on his luck, Least Heat Moon is taking a stab at a long time dream to drive across America on the back roads, avoiding mainstream everything. He does it and this book documents his journey.

Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but the performance is excellent. The voice changes and inflection capture the essence of the words and make you feel as if you are there.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The encounter with the guy in the desert. The guy is depressed and a bit strange. I can't really describe it here, but somehow the whole incident becomes a metaphor for two different ways to solve your problems or to look at the world.

Any additional comments?

What is this book? It's part local lore and history of various places in America, part travel adventure, part introspective and all excellent writing. America is a different place than it was in 1978 when the journey was made, but I think the basic fabric of America that Least Heat Moon discovered is still there.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A wonderful book made better by Joe Barrett

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I read the book years ago, and Joe Barrett's narration brought it back to life for me.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Blue Highways?

I can't say; everything about this book is memorable.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His voice with its gruff edge brings forth the writer's sense of humor along with his respect for people of all walks and means.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Vast and Sweet

The audio version of Blue Highways has one perk not available in the text version and that is the wonderfully performed, but not over done, variety of accents from across the country.
The story is compassionate and insightful and inspirational.
A nostalgic look back that would be easily translated into a PBS tv series of "where are they now" type shows on the many town and people William introduces us to. If someone could make that happen, it's a free idea for you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Quiet but beautiful journey

This is a quiet journey that is best with full attention rather than multitasking but the lyrical descriptions will reward your focus . I took breaks at times for something faster paced but came back. My favorite parts are his conversations with folks on the East Coast near the end. If you are looking for a story of everyday people from across the country mixed with poetic descriptions of geography, listen to this book. Oh and the reader did a fantastic job, changing voices, tone and cadence to fit the region and gender and age.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Extraordinary Narration

Would you consider the audio edition of Blue Highways to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version.

What other book might you compare Blue Highways to and why?

The only thing I have read that is remotely similar is On the Road.

Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the fist time I heard Joe Barret. It is an extraordinary performance. I think he is the most talented narrator I have heard so far. His narration is extremely versatile with great accents for the huge number of people encountered in this book from all across the United States.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The afterward where he talks about getting this published. Also, the desription of his day on the fishing boat was particularly vivid.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Book - Amazing Narration

If you could sum up Blue Highways in three words, what would they be?

Fun. Motivating. Insightful.

What other book might you compare Blue Highways to and why?

Travels with Charly.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

So many different characters. So many different, seemingly excellent, accents. I'm not an expert.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Motivation to go out and explore.

Any additional comments?

If you've read this book before, the narration makes listening well worth your while!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • girorv
  • montreal, QC, Canada
  • 03-08-16

You don't read this one for the excitement !

We listened to this as we drove ourselves from eastern Canada to southern Texas. Very often we listened with the map open to give ourselves a sense of place. We don't know many of the places William Least-Moon visited . This was an introduction. Least-Moon is a very lyrical writer. Using Joe Barrett's voice to hear his writing was a wonderful experience. Long parts of the narrative were boring, but we kept listening because every once in a while he would paint a picture or give us quote that made it all worth while. We , as well as he, enjoy our "wheel estate".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic book for anyone seeking to fulfill an American wanderlust.

Loved the story and prose. The subtle sense of humor and sly wit gave this book a lift that kept it aloft from the get go.

It's like travels with Charlie - but better (and seemingly genuine).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best backroad journey

Would you listen to Blue Highways again? Why?

I love the wisdom and self reflection, always seeing things in detail.

What other book might you compare Blue Highways to and why?

similar in a sense to A Walk In The Woods by Bryson

Which scene was your favorite?

All of the little back road adventures highlight how kind Americans are!

Any additional comments?

Best book for folks thinking of driving around America!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr M Goldberg
  • 12-12-16

A beautiful book, beautifully narrated

A deep and very thought provoking story describing the journey of a highly intelligent man as he journeys through some really fascinating and diverse parts of the US. His fusion of native American and European ancestry makes for a refreshing and entertaining perspective on what makes those remote and sometimes isolated communities tick. I loved following William Least Heat Moon's journey on Google Earth or Google Maps as I commute to work on the train.