BORN: August 27, 1939, Kansas City, Missouri IDENTIFICATION: Travel writer known throughout and beyond the United States for his explorations of American byways and rural culture.
SIGNIFICANCE: William Least Heat-Moon has become one of America's most admired travel writers and environmentalists. His first book, Blue Highways, which launched his career in 1982, chronicles a road trip around the United States, a journey that became both a vehicle for self-healing and a loving evocation of Americana. In PrairyErth the author turned his attention to a [vertical journey]: the book is an exhaustive study of Chase County, Kansas, situated among the Flint Hills, and its patches of remaining tallgrass prairie. River-Horse recounts a water journey across the United States that begins off New York City and ends near Astoria, Oregon. These books have won Heat-Moon a permanent and respected place in contemporary American nonfiction.