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Passage to Juneau (1999)

by Jonathan Raban

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7371921,851 (4.01)31
Jonathan Raban is about to sail alone from Seattle to the Alaskan Panhandle, following an ancient sea route rich in history, riddles, and whirlpools. It's the perfect setting for Raban's prodigious intellect, eloquence, and eye for detail. Passage to Juneau is not a travel thriller; the trip is hazardous, but that's not the point. Instead, Raban takes us on a journey of contemplation, literature, lore, mythology, and science. We learn about the canoe culture of the Northwest Indians; the British ship Discovery, which traveled the same route in 1792; and the physics of waves and turbulence, to name just a few of his far-ranging topics. And, as Raban finds himself in ominously personal waters (his father's illness, his own marriage, the daughter he left behind) it's also a journey of the heart.… (more)
  1. 10
    Coasting by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: It is difficult to choose between these marvellous travel narratives but Coasting (an earlier work) is full of the humanity of Raban's writing. Passage is more scholarly, containing deep history, but has a theme of loss. Coasting celebrates both the travel and the country.… (more)
  2. 10
    High endeavours : the life and endeavours of Miles and Beryl Smeeton by Miles Clark (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Raban encompasses the spirit of the Smeetons and pays a respectful visit to their memory during his passage.
  3. 00
    Hatteras Blues: A Story from the Edge of America by Tom Carlson (kenno82)
  4. 00
    Omeros by Derek Walcott (thorold)
    thorold: Raban does in prose what Walcott does in verse for the diagonally-opposite corner of the continent.
  5. 00
    Old Glory : A Voyage Down the Mississippi by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
  6. 00
    Driving Home: An American Journey by Jonathan Raban (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The author's own passage to 'home' in the NW.
  7. 00
    A Whale Hunt: How a Native-American Village Did What No One Thought It Could by Robert Sullivan (kenno82)
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» See also 31 mentions

English (18)  Dutch (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Read, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 8, 2020 |
Loved this book. Sailing with Mr. Raban is an adventure in history, natural history, philosophy and it is amusing as well. Even though his adventure had a rather bitter ending, it was good to be along on the cruise. His humor is threaded throughout the story. Not obtrusive, but quiet and natural. He shared some very interesting perspectives on the native arts and ways of looking at the world around them. Whether he is right or not, I don't know, but the musings were eye-opening to me. I always enjoy when I am presented with a new perspective on the world. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 26, 2020 |
I want to like Arabian, but find that he often goes on for too long. The history of the initial British exploration of the Inside Passage while interesting and integral, could have been shorter by two or three chapter (at least). I did manage to finish this one, but it was a slog. ( )
  Grace.Van.Moer | Jun 15, 2019 |
Reminds me of Travels With Charley, but on a boat and with books instead of a dog. Lots on the PNW native tribes. ( )
  pizzadj2 | May 27, 2019 |
A wonderful addition to any nautical/maritime/fishing library. ( )
  dele2451 | May 23, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
''Passage to Juneau'' shows that the sea isn't only the antonym of land, that wilderness is something other than civilization's absence. For like beauty -- or like the sublime, to which Raban devotes some of his best pages -- the wilderness has its being in the beholder's eye.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Michael Gorra (Jul 14, 1999)
 
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Epigraph
Je sens vibrer en moi toutes les passions
D'un vaisseau qui souffre:
Le bon vent, la tempete et ses convulsions

Sur l'immense gouffre
Me bercent. D'autres fois, calme plat, grand miroir
De mon desespoir!

- Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal
'That's a funny piece of water,' said Captain Hamilton
- Joseph Conrad, The Shadow Line
Dedication
For Julia
First words
He was walking the dock; a big lummox, yellow hair tied back in a ponytail with a red bandanna, bedroll strapped to his shoulders.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Jonathan Raban is about to sail alone from Seattle to the Alaskan Panhandle, following an ancient sea route rich in history, riddles, and whirlpools. It's the perfect setting for Raban's prodigious intellect, eloquence, and eye for detail. Passage to Juneau is not a travel thriller; the trip is hazardous, but that's not the point. Instead, Raban takes us on a journey of contemplation, literature, lore, mythology, and science. We learn about the canoe culture of the Northwest Indians; the British ship Discovery, which traveled the same route in 1792; and the physics of waves and turbulence, to name just a few of his far-ranging topics. And, as Raban finds himself in ominously personal waters (his father's illness, his own marriage, the daughter he left behind) it's also a journey of the heart.

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