Kings of the Yukon: One Summer Paddling Across the Far North. By Adam Weymouth

‘There’s a salmon colored girl

Who’s set my heart awhirl…’

Adam Weymouth’s Kings of the Yukon combines parts travelogue, science journal, history, and serious warning in the compelling story of his canoe trip down the Yukon River in the summer of 2016. Weymouth presents a startling case for the protection of the king salmon in a well-balance argument. He enlightens the audience to the complexities of the issue through the science, the Native American cultural bonds, and the globalization of the industry. The lure of the fish is expertly contrasted with the problems a of shrinking population and the cost overfishing and climate change has wrought on their habitat.

Weymouth weaves all this through the story of his float from top of the salmon run at the headwaters of the Yukon to their habitat in the Bering Sea. He describes the animals and scenery with jealousy-inducing detail. As a side note: My classes (high school English teacher) are currently reading Krakauer’s Into the Wild. I told them about this book today and we had a good time mapping out Weymouth’s journey.

From reality stars to scientists to Native elders, each of the the book’s cast of characters provides a unique voice that provides necessary knowledge of The Last Frontier. The life cycle of the salmoninae, living above the Arctic Circle, the cost of substance abuse, the Gold Rush, farmed salmon, the net, the spear, the fish wheel. Much like Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail, Weymouth describes a time that has past and the costs of that change.

The travelogue is a type of writing that attracts the fellow adventurer and the envious spectator. My hope is that this book will create awareness of this cause and commit both parties to action. Kings of the Yukon serves as a homage to the animals, the people, the land, and the journey. The paddle is the only way this story could have been written. Excellent job Mr. Weymouth.

5 out of 5 stars

Releases on May 15th.

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown, and Co., and Adam Weymouth for the advanced copy for review.

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