George James Grinnell
In 1955, six young men set off with Art Moffatt, an experienced wilderness canoeist, on a daring canoe expedition through the remote Arctic region of Northern Canada. With youthful energy and a naive sense of adventure, the group was not prepared for what they would encounter in this forbidden landscape. When the crew is swept over a waterfall, Moffatt is killed and most of the gear and emergency food supplies destroyed. Facing freezing conditions and starvation, the remaining crew barely manages to make it out of the Barrens alive. Grinnell present an insightful, personal account of the harrowing voyage that changed his life and chronicles his lifelong struggle to find meaning in the midst of tragedy and despair.
Death on the Barrens is not a light read by any means. It is wrought with sadness, frustration, and despair. Although strangely enough, despite all of the obstacles in the book, the absolute honesty of the author shines through providing a tiny little ray of hope in his bleak world. We follow him on his ill fated trip in the Canadian far north, and through his ill fated life afterward. As we follow him on these journeys, we are given a glimpse into the life of a man who may not be the most likable person, but certainly relatable. His absolute honesty struck me so hard. He wasn't afraid to tell it like it was, about himself, and his expedition mates. As a rebellious, and self righteous youth, he figured this expedition would bring him fame, and bring out the best of him. As the going got tough, he was 100% honest about his failed courage. Here is an excerpt from Death on the Barrens, which I think properly illustrates the author's insight.
"The heroic acts of courage we had imagined were not proving to be the reality. Instead, we discovered clouds of black flies on the portages, irritation with one another, and pettiness in ourselves. This was not the stuff of epic poems to be sung through the ages, celebrating our everlasting glory. Better to write nothing at all than to tell the truth about this expedition."
Aside from the appeal of the brutal honestly contained within the pages, the book was filled with beautiful watercolors, and vivid descriptions of the haunting beauty of the barrens. Death on the Barrens is beautifully written, and aside from a few places which I felt dragged a bit, this book will keep you interested until the very end. Because of this, I rate this book a 2, Borders with a Coupon.
Do you agree with my review? Do you think I'm totally off base? Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!
**FTC Disclosure: The publisher of Death on the Barrens provided me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, all opinions are my own**
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