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Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart Hardcover – May 11, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Having lived in Alaska for 40 years, working as a commercial fisherman, shipwright, wilderness guide and wildlife photographer, Juneau resident Schooler (The Blue Bear) set out in 2007 on a solo trip through his adopted state, in part to get away from his failing marriage. Jettisoning the pontification and redundancy that can weigh down man-against-nature stories, Schooler's account boils over with adventure and exploration: there are rivers to cross, glaciers to maneuver, a trek through "boulder hell," eerie mountainscapes, and a panoply of spooky histories to recount. An escape of sorts, Schooler's journey proves a harrowing diversion, related with nail-biting immediacy: "the current heaving against my legs was getting stronger with every step... What at first might seem manageable becomes suddenly and startlingly on the verge of taking control, like the slow, easy coils of an anaconda becoming a muscular squeeze." A bear encounter is so frightening as to be exhausting, culminating in his decision to sleep outside with an escape route already carved out: "There was no way I was going to spend the night in the tent... wrapped in a sleeping bag like a burrito." Armchair adventurers will be captivated.

From Booklist

Alaskan Schooler, a prizewinning wildlife photographer and author, reclaims the state’s true wilderness aesthetic in his chronicle of a solo trip along the southeast coastal region. He infuses his personal story with astute observations about the area’s history, from a Russian landing in the mid-eighteenth century to the impact of the greatest recorded tsunami ever (over 1,700 feet) in Lituya Bay in 1958. Their relevance to his own travels is clear as he reflects upon those who suffered years before, friends in Juneau, and his own deteriorating marriage. A frightening episode with a disturbed bear will remind readers that this is no programmed nature special. Instead, Schooler shares his hiking experiences in a style reminiscent of Richard Nelson and Barry Lopez. It is in the artful blend of the intimate and the historical that Schooler’s prose truly sings, and his resistance to hyperbole should appeal to fans of natural history. Schooler is the real deal and he proves it on every gorgeous page. --Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596916737
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596916739
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Larson on January 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love a good self reflecting, sould searching journey, walk in the woods book. This isnt it. Yes, he is a good writer, yes, very descriptive. Bottom line, if you are looking for a descriptive book on Mr. Schoolers' epic walk through the Alaskan wilds, then its in there but dont get your hopes up. This is what I was looking for, this is what all the other reviews on this book that I read exclaimed it was. There are 260 pages to this story, and by 115, he hasnt even started the walk. What you do get is a LOT of history. Almost everytime he starts talking about his journey, he takes you back into time and tells you in detail, about what French captain landed here back in the 1700's an this goes on for about 3 pages. The whole book is like this. It actually got quite frustrating. He gets to the shore of where he is going to start this epic journey, and you wait 3 chapters for him to get off the boat and stop talking about the first people to discover the cove.

Ill admit, im not one for history and you can fault me if you want. I like a good true account story of someones adventures in a time that I can relate too, thats just me. Take "Planet Walker" by John Francis. Now there is a story! He had the reason, he had the motivation, he walked. And thats the story, all of his adventures and the amazing things he accomplished while he did.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh on Mr. Schooler, it was a pretty good book. But I am writing this to warn those of us that are looking for what we are led to believe this book is, a good journey. If you like history, and learning about the discovery of Alaska in detail, and some of a mans chosen struggle through the wilds of Alaska, then this is for you. My advice if you dont want to take my word for it, by it used at half price.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all three of Schooler's books. And, of the three, this one is my favorite. Schooler has already proven to be a descriptive and effective storyteller, yet in this book, he shows the reader more of himself, his motivations, and his human side. His story is one of how a man can cope with loss and transition. And, Schooler is a man's man who has depth, insight and humility.

I recommend "Walking Home" to any man who is in transition; who is moving into that real or metaphorical wilderness of the soul. Who becomes aware of the unknown parts of the world, and of himself. I recommend Schooler's book to any woman who wants to better understand a man's journey of moving "into" a heavy heart, walking "through" the heaviness, and, ultimately, getting "beyond" the old story and accepting "the next" one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm in the camp that there was far too little about the "walk" and too much detail about wood grains, early people exploring the coast, ship wrecks, birds, bird eyes compared to human eyes, etc. Schooler's description of his terror when stalked by a preditor bear was excellent, but it was too long in coming.
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Format: Paperback
There's a review in here that says precisely what I would say, but I won't reiterate. This book isn't about walking anywhere. It's a great book but all about Alaskan history and Schooler's personal life and feelings. I have to say I'm disappointed. I'm on page 105, where Schooler's talking about the construction of gardens and buildings. I wish he'd start walking.

I posted this review last year (2011) but hadn't finished the book yet. Towards the end of the book Schooler did do some walking and had the very scary encounter with a bear. Schooler described the encounter with the bear so that I could feel his sheer terror and the rate of his heartbeat. Those few pages MADE the book for me. I upped it one star.
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By Nora M on January 20, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great story. Sometimes you just need to get away and think, so life's perspective will return to you. That's what happened to the author in this story. He throws in a lot of Alaskan history, but it was interesting (not boring history).
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amazing book. exceptionally well written. perhaps reveals more about myself than Mr. Schooler, but I loved that a prototypical Alaskan everyman -- builder, guide, fisher -- could and did write such a compelling and sensitive account of his journey. it's true, he doesn't start the walk until late. but just getting to the start of his walk is worth the read. i love his interweave with natural history. like many other reviewers, i was expecting more pure adventure. but this was even better. for all you manly men out there: This is the guy that at least this woman wants.
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Format: Paperback
In walking home Schooler writes a fascinating narrative weaving together the story of his own journey and search for wholeness with the stories of the places through which he is traveling against the back drop of his marriage which is on the rocks. It is a story about mid-life crisis and questing in search of meaning and understanding. It is a very well written and thoroughly researched book, a fascinating read throughout, but it left me wanting something more pithy from the ending.
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Very self absorbed.Didnt get on with the main story.To much history on birds and a Buddist flag.In his spare time one would hope he would see a Creator in all this.Aside from the money he makes on this he probably blames God on a bad marriage he had!!
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