“Romantic, urgent, valuable and appealing as hell.” —Andrew McCarthy, New York Times Book Review
Writer Porter Fox spent three years exploring 4,000 miles of the border between Maine and Washington, traveling by canoe, freighter, car, and foot. In Northland, he blends a deeply reported and beautifully written story of the region’s history with a riveting account of his travels. Setting out from the easternmost point in the mainland United States, Fox follows explorer Samuel de Champlain’s adventures across the Northeast; recounts the rise and fall of the timber, iron, and rail industries; crosses the Great Lakes on a freighter; and traces the forty-ninth parallel from Minnesota to the Pacific Ocean. He weaves in his encounters with residents, border guards, Indian activists, and militia leaders to give a dynamic portrait of the northland today, wracked by climate change, water wars, oil booms, and border security.
About the Author
Porter Fox is the editor of Nowhere and the author of Deep. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Believer, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and The Best American Travel Writing. Raised in Maine, he lives in New York.
Northland… [has] that touch of jump and sparkle that every good travelogue needs.
— Peter Lewis
Part adventure, some history, and a little bit Studs Terkel, filled with encounters with people as diverse as the landscape.
— Jon Foro
Fox is an excellent guide, capturing the majesty of the Northland’s diverse geology, flora, weather and seasons.
— Peter Geye
In a time when no borders should be ignored—when ICE and ice are indifferent to human lives—a travelogue like Fox’s, freighted with history and hope, blood and bone and snow, is all the more important.
— B. David Zarley, Paste magazine
Fox’s borderland journal offers a poignant reminder of the shared history of two nations and the contentious nature of the border line.
— Laurence A. Marschall
Deeply researched [and] beautifully written.… [Fox is] a hell of a writer, and Northland paints a vivid portrait of the Canadian border.
— Tom Bie, Drake magazine
Fox is an amiable, entertaining guide to the past and present of this porous, rugged border with Canada.… [Northland is] an engaging travel memoir that highlights the lives of those who dwell on our northern edge.
— Bruce Jacobs
[Fox is] adept at… capturing the natural beauty and ancient landscapes of the borderlands.… [His] travels uncover a secret: this largely ignored border is key to the U.S. economy… and it will loom large if and when America’s more easily accessible natural resources become depleted.
In this sweeping account of the northern boundary of the U.S., Fox… moves seamlessly between geologic and human time scales.… He narrates his own travels with keen observation, attuned to the special details that set each place apart, and speaks to fascinating people along the way who have shaped their lives, in one way or another, around the border.… Although this boundary line is, for the most part, invisible, Fox finds that it still leaves an indelible mark on the places and people it touches.
Richly populated with fascinating northlanders, Native Americans, and many border patrol agents, this is highly entertaining and informative travel literature.