Acclaimed travel writer Jonathan Raban invites us aboard his boat, a floating cottage cluttered with books, curling manuscripts, and dead ballpoint pens. He's 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.
"A compelling meditation courses beneath the surface commotion of the book as Raban seeks solace (and himself) in the movement of the sea with its deadheads, whirlpools, unpredictable tides, submerged mountains, and stony shores capped with evergreen wool." (Publishers Weekly)
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Jonathan Raban attempts to follow the same route than Captain George Vancouver weaving his own adventures in with the rich history of that expedition and area. I had no idea and therefore taken for granted, how Vancouver Canada got its name. I learned a lot listening to this book.
The personification of Captain Vancouver. Though not the most popular or charismatic, I really got a sense of the man and it made me curious to find out more about him.
Where Raban comes across a breaching Killer Whale while alone at sea. Paraphrasing; He says something along the lines like "When you're on a tour it's exciting. When you're alone it's terrifying"
The only "extreme" reaction is that it made me more curious about the region. I had picked this up just after a week long cruise of the inside passage and now I can't wait to go back armed with what I know from this book.
It's really a shame that this is the only book by Jonathan Raban on audible. And abridged at that. His rich British baritone and his use of voices makes him one of the better author-narrators.
- Tyler Tanner