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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by [Stark, Peter]
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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 787 customer reviews

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Length: 403 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1810, two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition crossed the American continent, wealthy fur merchant John Jacob Astor financed an overland and overseas expedition to build the equivalent of a Jamestown settlement on the Pacific Coast. Over a three-year period, separate groups, comprising a hodgepodge of Americans, French, and Scottish Canadians, set out for the coast. The Tonquin sailed for six months from Boston to the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest to create an outpost from which to circumnavigate between China, the eastern U.S., and Europe, to take advantage of the rage for otter pelts. At the same time, 140 adventurers and investors set off in two parties, one crossing the treacherous Rockies; nearly half of them died. Stark, author of Last Breath (2001) and The Last Empty Spaces (2010), offers a thrilling true-adventure tale filled with unforgettable characters, clashes of culture, ambition, and physical hardships from starvation to Indian attacks to cruel weather. A breathtaking account of an expedition that changed the geography of a young nation and its place in global commerce and politics. --Vanessa Bush

Review

“Stark’s delightful narrative is proof that even though Astor didn’t leave the legacy he intended, his grand failure certainly deserves its own place in history.” (New York Times Book Review)

“In Astoria, Peter Stark recounts the colony’s history as a fast-paced, enjoyable adventure tale.” (Wall Street Journal)

“In his new book, Astoria ... Stark moves skillfully back and forth from one segment of the splintered expedition to another. He also raises a tantalizing question about the enterprise as a whole.” (Washington Post)

“[Descriptive] passages . . . make Stark’s fine book truly distinctive. They raise Astoria above the level of a well-done historical adventure and help the reader get into a scene and understand the context or see relationships between participants and between then and now.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Peter Stark’s Astoria is a vivid recreation of an era when the Pacific Northwest was a vast unexploited wilderness, with Astoria as its main American colony. . . . Stark is particularly strong in describing the wilderness and its effects on human psychology.” (Seattle Times)

“Stark tells their grim story well . . . ‘Astoria’ is a well-written . . . account of John Jacob Astor’s attempt to found a commercial empire in the Pacific Northwest. It illuminates the cultural limits of the American approach to frontier expansion.” (Portland Oregonian)

“In this harrowing historical tale of adventure and hardship, journalist Peter Stark re-creates a largely forgotten 19th-century expedition-during which one group crossed the Rockies and another sailed around Cape Horn-to establish America’s first colony on the Pacific Northwest coast.” (Parade Magazine)

“A fast-paced, riveting account of exploration and settlement, suffering and survival, treachery and death. [Stark] recovers a remarkable piece of history: the story of America’s first colony on the continent’s West coast.” (Kirkus (Starred Review))

“A page-turning tale of ambition, greed, politics, survival, and loss.” (Publishers Weekly)

“New York businessman Astor, with support from President Jefferson, launched two expeditions in 1810 - overland and by ship ... and Stark recounts the perilous journeys.” (New York Post)

“The story of its founders is harshly inspiring, a deeply researched look into the irresistible drive to explore the unknown and the capacity of people to survive, not only the elements, but one another.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“... a thrilling true-adventure tale ... A breathtaking account of an expedition that changed the geography of a young nation and its place in global commerce and politics.” (Booklist)

“Author Peter Stark retraces the journey in spellbinding detail, making use of journals to get inside the minds of these explorers who set out just two years after Lewis and Clark successfully crossed the continent. . . . Astoria brings to life a harrowing era of American exploration.” (Bookpage)

“Stark’s compelling, contextual account of Astoria’s founding—at one time documented by none other than author Washington Irving - casts this early venture as a pivotal point in the development of the Pacific Northwest and the nation.” (Crosscut (Seattle))

“For better or worse, the precedents set by Astor and his expeditions created a tangible American legacy of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, and manifest destiny. Carefully researched and splendidly written—an utterly spellbinding account.” (Bellingham Herald)

“A great yarn set in our own corner of the continent.” (Inlander)

“A valuable book . . .but more importantly for my perspective, it’s really good reading.” (Nancy Pearl on NPR's "Morning Edition")

“Astoria is ultimately worth reading not just because it’s about Oregon history, but because it contextualizes Oregon’s past within American history. . . . The book is a welcome departure from romanticized tales of Lewis and Clark or of later pioneers.” (Portland Mercury)

“Stark vividly writes of fur trader John Jacob Astor’s capitalist quest … [a] fascinating account… that never loses its focus.” (Library Journal)

“Well researched and historically accurate, [Astoria] reads much like an adventure novel, engaging you from start to finish.” (Coast Weekend)

“Peter Stark does readers a very large service in reminding us about this extraordinary and important piece of North American history. I can’t recommend Astoria highly enough for anyone interested in the colonization of the American West.” (BookBrowse.com)

“A truly great adventure story, filled with high drama and hardship that would put ‘Survivor’ cast members into a tailspin of humility.” (BookReporter.com)

“Peter Stark’s Astoria picks up where the Lewis and Clark Expedition leaves off, providing a fascinating and sometimes terrifying window into the brutal and acquisitive essence of not only America but of the human condition. It’s also a great and ... an ennobling tale of survival. Highly recommended.” (Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Bunker Hill, and In the Heart of the Sea)

“Peter Stark weaves a spellbinding tale from this lost chapter of American history. Astoria gave me the sense all readers long for: that nothing exists but the riveting narrative unfolding in your head.” (Albany Times Union)

“A splendid account of the man and men who had the audacity, passion, and courage to dream of an American Empire. Peter Stark’s Astoria is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the power of leadership in its purest form.” (Stephenie Ambrose-Tubbs, author of The Lewis and Clark Companion)

“Peter Stark leaps aboard at the very beginning of John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Northwest enterprise, then clings tenaciously to witness every twist, by land and by sea, along the entire desperate ride.” (Jack Nisbet, author of Sources of the River and The Collector)

“This saga of ambition and adventure and courage is vividly told and thoroughly researched, a not very well known story of ambition confounded. Shipwrecks, bloodiness, and starve-to-death treks through drifted snow in the Rockies-Astoria is a hard-edged beauty.” (William Kittredge, author of A Hole in the Sky)

Astoria is a scintillating corrective to the “guts and glory” school of American history and economics. [...] Grandiose visions ... have consequences, and Peter Stark’s depiction of the body count that results from this one unfolds with the inevitability of a fine tragedy and comedic zing of a good action flick. (David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why)

Product details

  • File Size: 4874 KB
  • Print Length: 403 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062218301
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2014
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DB361N8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,945 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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