Books: River-Horse

By William Least Heat-Moon

In his latest travelogue, the best-selling author abandons the blue highways and turns to the water in an attempt to traverse America by small boat. The pace of the trip is leisurely, but Heat-Moon's exuberant erudition propels the reader with historical vignettes, ecological and geological detail, and often hilarious encounters with local eccentrics. The net effect is akin to Willard Scott channeling both Alexis de Tocqueville and John McPhee. The hearty, quote-laden banter between Heat-Moon and his mates sometimes sounds forced, but the author's wit and energy ultimately quell any cavils.

--By Eugene Linden

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