Set in the remote arctic region of Northern Canada, this book takes readers on a harrowing canoe voyage that results in tragedy, redemption, and, ultimately, transformation. George Grinnell was one of six young men who set off on the 1955 expedition led by experienced wilderness canoeist Art Moffatt. Poorly planned and executed, the journey seemed doomed from the start. Ignoring the approaching winter, the men became entranced with the peace and beauty of the arctic in autumn. As winter closed in, they suddenly faced numbing cold and dwindling food. When the crew is swept over a waterfall, Moffatt is killed and most of the gear and emergency food supplies destroyed. Confronting freezing conditions and near starvation, the remaining crew struggled to make it back to civilization. For Grinnell, the three-month expedition was both a rite of passage and a spiritual odyssey. In the Barrens, he lost his sense of identity and what he had been conditioned to think about society and himself. Forever changed by the experience, he unsparingly describes how the expedition influenced his adult life and what powerful insights he was able to glean from this life-altering experience.
Death on the Barrens is a must read for anyone who has seriously considered entering absolute wilderness, and for those who already know a step off the grid into a place like the Barrens can have a profound impact that reverberates through the rest of ones days.
Cary J. Griffith, author of Lost in the Wild: Danger and Survival in the North Woods
[The] three-month canoe trip across the uninhabited Canadian Barrens takes George Grinnell to the lip of the abyss that separates sanity from insanity and life from death. And it is his firsthand exploration of this uncertain edge that provides the profound insights that makes this a most powerful and unique narrative.
George Luste, from the Introduction
A finely wrought distillation of half of a century spent looking for an explanation where none perhaps exists. Death on the Barrens tells of many deaths in an austere and unforgiving land of imponderable majesty where sentience extends far beyond human kind.
Farley Mowat, legendary author of People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf
A nice combination of struggling against nature and self-realization, this short book was enjoyable and thought-provoking.
The Philbrick-James Forum