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Two Coots in a Canoe: An Unusual Story Of Friendship Paperback – May 3, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A great story about the mystery of friends and comfort of strangers. . . . John McPhee’s birchbark canoe has nothing over the two coots’ canoe.”
—Spencer B Beebe, President, Ecotrust

 

Two Coots In a Canoe, is—nearly to the end—a book of laughter, an account of the comic misadventures of two old friends as they float down the sunlit Connecticut River. And then come the final pages: The two friends’ dark destination will surprise and shock all readers, even those with the wits of a wood tick. This remarkable book should be bought and read. Those who do will remember it for a long time.”
—Bil Gilbert, author of God Gave Us This Country

 

“Dave ‘Bugsy’ Morine has once again given us a great book.”
—Bill Garrett, former editor, National Geographic Magazine

 

“When you finish this book, you’ll want to drop everything, grab a canoe, and explore your own river.”
—George H. Fenwick, President, American Bird Conservancy

 

 “[Two Coots in a Canoe] is less about the people whom the canoers meet along the way (although they do encounter a colorful assortment) and the communities they discover than it is about the relationship between the two men and the startling, tragic turn it will take. A book that will entertain you and make you laugh until, at the end, it makes you want to cry.”
—Booklist

From the Inside Flap

In January 2003, retired CEO Ramsay Peard asked longtime conservationist and friend David “Bugsy” Morine if he wanted to canoe the four-hundred-mile-long Connecticut River. These old buddies hadn’t seen each other in twenty years, but they had shared a few previous adventures so Morine readily agreed―under one condition: No camping. “I’m too old to be sleeping on the ground, cooking over an open fire, and crapping in the woods,” Morine told Peard, “and so are you.”

“Where will we stay?” Peard asked.

“We’ll rely on the kindness of strangers.”

And that’s what they did. Mooching their way downriver enabled these vintage voyagers to get an insider’s feel for the area and a firsthand look at many of the issues confronting the people who live along the Connecticut: the demise of farming, the growth of the health care industry, the loss of manufacturing, the boom in higher education, gay rights, Native American rights, Wal-Mart versus Main Street, and the issue closest to home―the river and the conservation efforts to protect it.

They were also able to delve deep into the lives of complete strangers. But sadly for Morine, he eventually realized that the one life he never dug into was Peard’s. After spending a month with him in a canoe, he had no idea that his friend’s innermost thoughts were on a dark and disturbing course.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762770368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762770366
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #644,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Siegel on September 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who's spent time in a canoe will love this book. Anyone who loves nature will love this book. And anyone who's taken (or dreamed of taking) a road trip will love this book. It's a solid "on the road" tale with lots of adventure, but because of the undercurrent of the death of the author's paddling partner, the great humor and cheer are often reined in with a pinch of sadness. Just like life.

And just like life, this month on the river is littered with colorful characters. Like Huck and Jim, Dave and Ramsay (or is it Ramsay and Dave?) find the river is their third traveling companion, unfolding a varied array of stories. As the current carries them downstream, they spend the night with a sequence of like-minded if sometimes eccentric conservationists (any of whom seemed easier to get along with than Ramsay, if you ask me!) who were intrigued with their journey and offered to open their homes for a night to the pair.

And what a pair they are! Some of my favorite parts of the book are Dave's descriptions of his time -- and relationship -- with Ramsay. Dave Morine is one of the funniest story-tellers writing today, and the reader is well advised not to read this book while drinking any beverage that will stain his or her trousers. And he's a born diplomat, a gift that he needed numerous times in dealing with his sometimes unbelievably difficult stern paddler. The Connecticut River must have been howling as they rolled along.

And as a paddler, the river sequences were particularly fun for me. It all made me want to pull out one of my Old Town canoes (I sold my Mad River) and head out to my own local river. If you love a river, and that river runs past a city or two, you will love this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I attended the author's discussion of his book recently, and I expected the story to be humorous in spots, but I never expected it to be a page turner.

The book's title (cleverly and effectively titled by its editor) accurately depicts what the reader expects - two older gentlemen with New England roots (Morine's from birth, Ramsay's from his school days) travel the Connecticut River and depend on the kindness of strangers for food, drink (too much beer, too much rum!) and respite. Both coots have personality to spare, but the helpers-along-the-way are also funny, as well as interesting, people; these New Englanders share their interesting stories (the murder of a daughter) and lifestyles (Morine tours a dairy farm) with the coots, and Morine takes us along for the journey.

Morine is an active conservationist, so environmental issues (dead rivers, industry, dams) are inevitably discussed in the book. He is also an excellent writer. Several LOL moments help to keep this moving. Fully enjoyable read. Great gift, too.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I spent years living in New Hampshire on the Connecticut River. Years canoeing rivers and lakes. Years making films on conservation. This book brought all these experiences back - and more. Why people are important. Why the natural world is worth preserving and worth exploring. Why life is both a joy and a mystery. Rivers have a source, a journey, and an end. And this tale, woven so well, is a delightful, amusing, and thoughtful journey. Dave Morine is a no-nonsense story-teller and always has been. And beneath the straight talk is the importance of lives that intertwine and influence each other. A mighty pleasurable read that carries us along, engages the mind, and moves the soul. Read it.
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By Maggie on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I recently finished reading Two Coots in a Canoe on the advice of a friend.

Since the book opens with an obituary that says something about "unexpected death" of one of the characters, you know right away he's gone. This colors the reading experience because I kept looking for and finding hints that all was not well.

All that aside, the book is well written and I enjoyed very much the journey the two men took paddling down the river. I liked best all the interesting people they met and the descriptions of overnight accomodations where they stayed.

I got an education about the Connecticut river and it's care and the value of the many small groups who are looking out for it's environmental health.

Maggie in Ohio
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Format: Hardcover
Dave Morine's adventure of two well weathered friends paddling from source to sound on the Connecticut River melds human comedy, wry observation of human impact on a majestic river, and the generosity of "strangers" who feed and house the two canoeists along the way. It is filled with colorful anecdotes which illuminate the great circus of life. Yet there is a haunting poignancy which arises from the bonds of friendship. A poignancy which causes the reader to ponder and savor what the call of friendship really means. At the end of the book one feels glad that Dave Morine has reminded us of the slim but plentiful joys of being alive on this planet.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this almost 5 years ago for husband. He enjoys canoeing so I thought this might be interesting for him. We both read the book and passed it on to a friend that does canoeing. The book was good and very detail about all the stops and experiences along the river. It did get a bit boring in a couple of areas but for people that enjoy canoeing there is value in every story. The bonding and relationship between the two men was
insightful and all the people along the river that they stayed with made this heart warming.
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