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The Survival of the Bark Canoe Paperback – May 1, 1982
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“In his own beautifully crafted work, McPhee treats both man and boat with all the respect and admiration their precarious presence commands.” ―Time
“Every white water and wilderness buff should rise to it like a trout, but as all followers of Mr. McPhee's work would expect, its appeal and value cannot be so narrowly limited; it's a lively chronicle, rich in character study and observations.” ―The Wall Street Journal
Top Customer Reviews
But this is John McPhee, and he can write about whatever he wants.
This book is about a guy obsessed with building bark canoes like the Indians did, about a camping trip in the Maine woods, and about travelling through the wilderness when the rest of the world's advancing further into civilization.
It's a good book on bark canoes, on canoeing in general, on Maine, on the history of fur trapping, on the idea of wilderness, on obsession, and on Thoreau.
It may make you want to build a canoe, and it will almost certainly make you want to go camping. It's worth it just for that.
The book is written in John McPhee's clear, simplistic prose, and always feels focused and well-paced. It's a good introduction to McPhee, and a good book, period.
You should read it.
That other reviewer found the second half to be parody of Vaillancourt, but I disagree. As in The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, real life sometimes takes a turn that a dreamer would not expect. Like his other non-fiction, I felt that McPhee offered real insights to the peoples' character and doesn't hesitate to sing their praises nor describe their shortcomings.
I enjoy the copious background information that McPhee includes in all of his books. Even more than a Tracy Kidder book, you come away feeling like you have some in-depth understanding of the subject.
I was completely mesmerized by this book. It is beautifully written and packed with details about making a canoe as an American Indian would.
If you have never read anything by this author, I urge you to try this small book. When you are done, you will not be able to wait to get your next McPhee book. Luckily, he has written a bunch of books.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting story of modern replication of Malecite designed canoes built by someone from NH in the 1970's.Published 5 days ago by Scilla
Great, interesting study of bark canoes as well as revealing how to write non fiction, through observation, by a great teacher of writing.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Worth reading for any fan of canoes, history, paddling and the Maine woods. McPhee paints a great portrait of a man obsessed with the birch bark canoe and those who have to suffer... Read morePublished on January 13, 2014 by Dave McDonough
The books use writing technical for story telling that is very appealing for continuous engagement. And new words become clear from the context. Read morePublished on December 7, 2013 by clifford forester
Excellent character study on Henri Valencourt. Eccentrics abound in the world of birchbark canoe building. How could they not. Read morePublished on January 12, 2013 by Michel Francois