A 4,000-mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border

Large Print - 2018
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America's northern border is the world's longest international boundary, yet it remains obscure even to Americans. The northern border was America's primary border for centuries -- much of the early history of the United States took place there -- and to the tens of millions who live and work near the line, the region even has its own name: the northland. Travel writer Porter Fox spent three years exploring 4,000 miles of the border between Maine and Washington, traveling by canoe, freighter, car, and foot. Here he blends the region's history with an account of his travels. Setting out from the easternmost point in the mainland United States, Fox follows explorer Samuel de Champlain's adventures across the Northeast; recounts the rise and fall of the timber, iron, and rail industries; crosses the Great Lakes on a freighter; tracks America's fur traders through the Boundary Waters; and traces the forty-ninth parallel from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean. Fox, who grew up the son of a boat-builder in Maine's northland, packs his narrative with colorful characters (Captain Meriwether Lewis, railroad tycoon James J. Hill, Chief Red Cloud of the Lakota Sioux) and extraordinary landscapes (Glacier National Park, the Northwest Angle, Washington's North Cascades). He weaves in his encounters with residents, border guards, Indian activists, and militia leaders to give a dynamic portrait of the northland today, wracked by climate change, water wars, oil booms, and concerns over border security.
Publisher: Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2018
Branch Call Number: LP 917.3 F793n
Characteristics: 411 p. (large print) : maps ; 23 cm


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Mar 23, 2019

Thank you Porter Fox for the history lesson. I'm 81 years old and so excited to learn more about the great lakes region. I grew up in Detroit and always wondered about the French names. I copied the source materials you provided and will read as much as I can.

My daughter and I had a nice conversation this morning about the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Which is longer? Thank you again. Time well spent.

Dec 19, 2018

Priority many holds

SPL_Shauna Dec 14, 2018

It is heading into the dead of winter! Want to read a book that will make you want to camp with every fibre of your being? What if that book also gave you a history lesson using beautiful language? Yes?

*Northland* follows Porter Fox's journey along the border separating Canada and the US, from Maine to Washington, by foot, canoe, and car, camping throughout. It's a love song to the landscapes and cultures he encounters alone the way. The book has a decidedly American slant, but much of the history applies to Canada as well. Fox also includes some Indigenous histories as well, though not as much as I'd hoped, and with a decidedly rosey take on interactions between early European explorers and fur traders, and the many Indigenous cultures they encountered. Fox is stronger when discussing pipelines and other current affairs issues affecting Indigenous lives along the border.

On the whole, the book is a love song to the land more than anything else, and will appeal to anyone who loves outdoors memoirs, especially those that frame their narratives with cultural and historical context.

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