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Alone Against the North

An Expedition into the Unknown
Written by: Adam Shoalts
Narrated by: Adam Shoalts
Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's 2016 Young Authors Award
Winner of the 2017 Louise de Kiriline Award for Nonfiction

The age of exploration is not over.

When Adam Shoalts ventured into the largest unexplored wilderness on the planet, he hoped to set foot where no one had ever gone before. What he discovered surprised even him.

Shoalts was no stranger to the wilderness. He had hacked his way through jungles and swamp, had stared down polar bears and climbed mountains. But one spot on the map called out to him irresistibly: the Hudson Bay Lowlands, a trackless expanse of muskeg and lonely rivers, caribou and wolf - an Amazon of the north, parts of which to this day remain unexplored.

Cutting through this forbidding landscape is a river no explorer, trapper, or canoeist had left any record of paddling. It was this river that Shoalts was obsessively determined to explore.

It took him several attempts, and years of research. But finally, alone, he found the headwaters of the mysterious river. He believed he had discovered what he had set out to find. But the adventure had just begun. Unexpected dangers awaited him downstream.

Gripping and often poetic, Alone Against the North is a classic adventure story of single-minded obsession, physical hardship, and the restless sense of wonder that every explorer has in common.

But what does exploration mean in an age when satellite imagery of even the remotest corner of the planet is available to anyone with a phone? Is there anything left to explore?

What Shoalts discovered as he paddled downriver was a series of unmapped waterfalls that could easily have killed him. Just as astonishing was the media reaction when he got back to civilization. He was crowned “Canada’s Indiana Jones” and appeared on morning television. He was feted by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and congratulated by the Governor General. People were enthralled by Shoalts’s proof that the world is bigger than we think.

Shoalts’s story makes it clear that the world can become known only by getting out of our cars and armchairs, and setting out into the unknown, where every step is different from the one before, and something you may never have imagined lies around the next curve in the river.

©2016 Adam Shoalts (P)2019 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

“Rare insight into the heart and mind of an explorer, and the insatiable hunger for the unknown that both inspires and drives one to the edge. Adam Shoalts, twenty-first-century explorer, calmly describes the things he has endured that would drive most people to despair, or even madness.” (Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut, author, space station commander)

"Explorer Adam Shoalts's remarkable solo foray into the quietly dangerous and mysterious Hudson Bay Lowlands is the kind of incredible effort that fosters legends." (The Winnipeg Free Press)

“Move over Jacques Cartier, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake - Adam Shoalts is this century’s explorer.” (The Hamilton Spectator)

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Not quite Shackleton

Written in the style of modern day reality TV series hosts. Everything seem exaggerated .
Not quite Shackleton

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    3 out of 5 stars
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egotistical

he thinks that what he does is highly important and that he is doing a service. he's just having a good time and stroking his ego

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Something to aspire to.

I, like many of us, had always been told the map was complete. There was nothing left to explore but the ocean floor and the stars. That each of the mountains I've climbed and valleys I've passed through are mapped, charted and photographed. There was nothing new to explore in this age of google earth... until I listened to Adam Shoalts books Alone against the North and Beyond the Trees.
After so many years of melancholy I feel that drive to explore rising once again. Thank you Adam for opening the eyes of those of us who didn't know there are still corners undiscovered. Maybe one day we'll cross paths and I'll congratulate you personally. Until then I have some serious exploring to plan out.

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Loved every moment

if you love outdoor adventure, Adam Shoalts' exploits are sure to inspire. You can feel his unadulterated passion for exploration and sincere admiration for the natural world. By the end of the book, I wanted to grab my pack and launch my canoe into the nearest river and never look back.

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  • Steve
  • 2020-02-12

Great story.

Mr. Shoalts is a man with the soul of the men who explored the new world so long ago. A very old soul.
I truly hope that his interactions with the young canoers inspired at least one of them to explore, something or someplace. To not be afraid and to want to know.
Thanks for telling me your story.