Northland by Porter Fox


A quest to rediscover America’s other border―the fascinating but little-known northern one.America’s northern border is the world’s longest international boundary, yet it remains obscure even to Americans. The northern border was America’s primary border for centuries—much of the early history of the United States took place there—and to the tens of millions who live and work near the line, the region even has its own name: the nort...

Details Northland

Release DateJul 3rd, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreNonfiction, Travel, History, Autobiography, Memoir, Adventure

Reviews Northland

  • Geoffrey
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book from NetGalley) The pages of this travelogue will fly by fast for readers as they follow the author along on an informatively enjoyable journey from Maine to Washington state through the US’s northern border, a fascinating boundary land that has become seemingly forgotten in this day and age.
  • Claudia
    I really enjoyed this adventure with historical info. I read along with my tablet on Google Earth to follow along and get a better feel for the territory being traveled.
  • Vince Tuss
    As someone who has spent time in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Northwest, I find it intriguing to read them all grouped together as the Northland. I learned a lot about the start of the Boundary Waters. Most importantly, the end chapter with more reading intrigues the most, starting with “Champlain’s Dream.” And I am insanely jealous of a freighter ride across the Great Lakes. If you want to learn more about the U.S.-Canada border, how it ...
  • John
    A very interesting read in the travel mode -- taking a journey east to west along the US border with Canada. I found his prose style to be excellent and he does a great job of weaving the actual narrative of the trip to the history of the areas he travels through. There were many things I learned and was not aware of regarding these areas, both current and historically. If you enjoy books that take you on a journey, this is one to try.
  • Robert Bothwell
    This was an easy read, but it was really a quick journey to disappointment. The framework is a series of vignettes as the author alights on various parts of the Canadian-American border -- the Ste Croix river, the Great Lakes (via a Canadian laker), the Grand Portage/Quetico region, central North Dakota (100 miles from the actual border), Glacier National Park, and finally the Peace Arch between Washington state and British Columbia. The vignette...
  • David Dunlap
    Fascinating book, but difficult to classify -- it is part adventure story, part travelogue, part history, part political commentary. The author undertook a voyage of discovery: to trace (most) of the border between the United States and Canada. I was impressed by the vividness of his descriptions, especially of the people and various localized cultures he encountered in his travels. Along the way, there are character studies/mini biographies of s...
  • Janette Mcmahon
    Readable nonfiction on the US's northern border. Perfect blend of history and geography. Highly recommend for readers of travelogues and history.
  • Megargee
    Northland recounts Porter Fox's intermittent east to west three year journey along America's northern border with Canada by foot, canoe, automobile, and Great Lakes freighter. Throughout Fox presents the history of the region dating back to the original Native American tribes, the French and Indian Wars, the several US attempts to invade Canada, the Louisiana Purchase, and the opening of the Far West by wagon train and railroads. Nor does he negl...
  • Ryan Judd
    The books isn't BAD, BUT it could have been so much better. I think the project got away from the author. It became too much for him--understandably so, he's literally trying to "cover" 4,000 miles, countless cultures, sub-cultures, diverse groups of native peoples, 300 years of history including the very strange present day, geography, ecology, etc. When I first heard about this book before it came out I was expecting something similar in length...
  • Kate
    Telling the history from the 1500s to the present of the Native settlements and the U.S., British, and French (not necessarily in that order) occupation and imperialization of North America, including determining the border between the U.S. and Canada, this great read has many more proper nouns than I’ll ever remember. What I will remember is the mood evoked during the good times and the struggles and the bloodshed. Especially tender for me are...
  • Patrick Macke
    The concept is that this guy's gonna travel from east to west along the entire U.S./Candian border and tell us what's on either side as he goes. It is indeed a long, remote and mostly forgotten border and he uncovers many interesting and worthwhile facts and stories along the way, but he gets so sidetracked by history and treaties and land disputes that he seems to forget the "forgotten border" and a great idea finally slides off course short of ...
  • Alaska
    I enjoyed the book especially the history sections. I would have a couple of criticisms. He seems to forget that Alaska is on the same continent as the lower 48 and he doesn’t travel the entire length of the border of the contiguous states. Very readable and interesting.
  • Claudia
    History. Geology. Travelogue.This trip is 'along' the Canadian-United States border in 5 parts. It is not along every mile of the border as I originally thought from the title. Each section - from the Dawnland, through the Sweet Waters, Boundary Waters, Seven Fires and ending at the Medicine Line - is filled with history and beauty. The geology that created such beautiful regions, the Indians that settled there, its history (mostly from the U.S. ...
  • Trudy Preston
    It took Fox 2 years to make the journey he describes in this book; it took me 2 days to read it. Seems kind of unfair but I truly did enjoy the armchair adventure. Having vacationed many times in the far northern reaches of Minnesota and Wisconsin, I loved reading about that territory as well as both the eastern and western reaches of America's Northland. It was sad, however, to realize that the once friendly border between America and Canada has...
  • Chris
    Short and uneven and also one dimensional. If you are a Canadian you will be disappointed and even angry as this is mostly an American perspective. But still worth a read. Fox starts in Maine by canoeing up the St. Clair River. Next we are on a freighter through the Great Lakes. Then the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. Then by car onto North Dakota with Native Americans and others protesting the Keystone Pipeline. A quick visit with an Idaho militi...
  • Sam
    3.5 but I rounded up to four. Full disclosure: I received a copy of this from the publisher in a giveaway. The book was a little bit like the journey itself - intermittent periods of roaring tides and fast motion interspersed with some calm where there was little motion. Especially in the first half of the book I found that there were times with a bit too much historical detail. However, there were enough interesting facts and small humorous poin...
  • Randy
    I expected more present day adventures and less historical background, but this was worthy armchair travel material. Heck, I'd much rather read about somebody paddling frantically and shivering at night and fending off mosquitos than to do any of that myself! Fox traveled from east to west, but somehow the stories thin out after the Great Lakes and I was surprised that the quirky enclave of Point Roberts – a tiny bit of the US that dangles off ...
  • Kasia
    The concept of a border by default is puzzling and fascinating, even when it comes to travel writing. Fox describes the beauty of the lands and waters that make up the longest international border, but also revives the history of the US and Canada, as well as that of the First Nations, which I found the most interesting in the book. There is also a environmentalist undertone to Fox's story and a longing for a had-been time, which the author succe...
  • Hern2000
    There is a lot of interesting information here. It has big digressions into the history of Native Americans and modern issues like DAPL.I expected something more like William Least Heat Moon’s River Horse or even Blue Highways. I wish the book veered more into the lives and encounters with people on his journey and it ends up being a lot more sterile than I had hoped for a travelogue. He deals almost entirely with the US and almost nothing at a...
  • Michelle
    A very interesting read about a very relevant topic in today's world. The forming of borders has always been a contested endeavor, leading to wars, treaties, claims of eminent domain, manipulation, and everything in between. The history of the United States northern border is a long and turbulent one, and Fox does an excellent job of weaving that story in with his own as he travels along one of the longest borders in the world.
  • John Lester
    The story jumps about and historical backgrounds were a bit dry for my tastes. Fox makes use of interesting people in lieu of descriptions of scenery. The segment on the freighter caught my imagination as did the lives and practices of the first people who populated the shores and surface of the sweet waters.Easy and quick to read and now looking for more to read about this year and area.
  • Tara
    A treat to read this during our time on lake Superior. Beautiful descriptions of this land. Loved the hiking pieces and stories of riding a freighter. Hard look at the mistreating of Native Americans in our country.
  • Toby Murphy
    Intrigued by the premise but it was a bit hard to follow for me. It was a bit all over the place and the author jumped around a bit. The author also didn't seem to follow through completely on his intention and ignored certain aspects that would've made this clearer.
  • Amy
    3.5 At a time when we are largely obsessed with our southern border, Fox's book adds a healthy reminder that more is going on in the world. This journey is interesting to go on and the history is just the right touch.
  • Rae
    This took no time to read because there is not much here. I liked what I read, but wanted so much more.
  • Pat
    I enjoyed this book, part travelogue, part history, part current events. It is a quick read and although I enjoyed each section I enjoyed the Boundary Waters and Dakota stories most.
  • Laura
    Most interesting part was about the Dakota Pipeline, and, in general, all the insights to life for American Indians, past and present (but especially present).
  • Jacqueline Boss
    The early history of America made interesting. Was expecting more of an immersed-in-the-wilderness story, but it went in a different, enjoyable direction.