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Up To Date

William Least Heat-Moon on 20 Years of "PrairyErth"

"It is history, travel, anthropology, geography, journalism, confession, memoir, natural history and autobiography. It is the life and times of Chase County, and incidentally everything you need to know about Kansas."  So wrote Paul Theroux in his New York Times review of PrairyErth (A Deep Map) when it was published in 1991.  The second in a trilogy of travel narratives by Missouri native William Least Heat-Moon, PrairyErth went on to spend three months on the Times bestseller list.

Now, to mark the 20th anniversary of its publication, Steve Kraske is joined by Heat-Moon for a conversation that revisits Chase County, Kansas.  They discuss the author's journey in creating a work The Chicago Sun-Times called "our modern day Walden" and talk about the changes that have come to that area of tall grass prairie in the two decades since.

William Trogdon, who writes under the name of William Least Heat-Moon, was born of English-Irish-Osage ancestry in Kansas City, Missouri.  Heat-Moon attended the University of Missouri where he earned bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. degrees in English, as well as a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. He also served as a professor of English at the university.  He is the author of Blue Highways; PrairyEerth, an epic evocation of the American tallgrass prairie country; River-Horse, an account of his travels along America's interior waterways; and Roads to Quoz, his account of a series of American journeys into small-town America.

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Stephen Steigman is director of Classical KC and chief of broadcast operations for KCUR 89.3 and 91.9 Classical KC. You can email him at stephen@kcur.org.