Tuesday, October 31, 2017

River Master by Cecil Kuhne

book cover
River Master
by Cecil Kuhne

ISBN-13: 9781682680742
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Countryman Press
Released: Oct. 31, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
In 1869, Civil War veteran and amputee Major John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the uncharted Colorado River through the then-nameless Grand Canyon. This is the story of what started as a geological survey, but ended in danger, chaos, and blood.

The men were inexperienced and ill-equipped, and they faced unimaginable peril. Along the way there was death, mutiny, and abject terror, but Powell persevered and produced a masterwork of adventure writing still held in the highest regard by the boatmen who follow his course today.

With never-before-used primary sources and firsthand experience navigating Powell’s legendary route, Cecil Kuhne brings this remarkable chapter of frontier history to life.

My Review:
River Master describes the 97-day 1869 Powell expedition down the uncharted Colorado River. They went into the unknown with the intent to map and do a geological survey of the Colorado River. These ten men had never been on a river, let alone handled whitewater. Their boats were less than ideal for this trip. Yet not a single one drowned, despite many dangerous mishaps.

The author quoted from or summarized the information in the journals written by the men during the trip and records of later interviews with them about the trip. He describe what the trip was like, including the friction caused by running out of food, the danger, and personality conflicts. He also talked about James White's earlier trip on the Colorado River and some later expeditions, including one in 18871/72 led by Major Powell. He talked about Powell's official report, which was written like a journal but was much more colorful than the terse entries made during the actual trip.

The intent of this book was to accurately portray what happened on the trip, so the description was interesting and exciting but didn't include the questionable stories from the later official report. While I enjoyed this amazing story, I think whitewater rafters could better appreciate just what these men went through since much of what was recorded talked about the rapids they encountered. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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