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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Skeleton in the Zahara, Astoria is the thrilling, true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire on the Pacific Coast. Peter Stark offers a harrowing saga in which a band of explorers battled nature, starvation, and madness to establish the first American settlement in the Pacific N…

Overall Book Review:

Take a trip to the Pacific Northwest in Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival. This little known story follows two groups during the early nineteenth century — one traveling by land, the other by sea — as they attempt to colonize what is now the coast of Washington state. Drawing mostly from the explorers’ journals and letters, author Peter Stark uses astute detail to take readers on this epic journey west. Stark skillfully introduces multiple individuals while keeping the plot moving, explaining the adventurers’ difficult physical journey, as well as the heavy psychological toll and clash of cultures with the Indians tribes. The book’s epilogue also provides interesting author commentary on what might have caused the explorers’ hardships. A fantastic read!


Content Analysis:

Language/Profanity:  3 religious exclamations, 1 mild obscenity, 2 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  Several verbal threats from local Indian tribes; several secondhand reports of violence involving shipwreck, torture, Indian attacks, beatings and ransacking an Indian village and suspicions of cannibalism; several brief scenes of violence involving Indian attacks, attempted suicide, a boating accident; several non-detailed scenes of violent death including suicide, hangings, explosions and characters shot with arrows; a few scenes of blood and gore involving torture and scalping; a brief scene of intense violence regarding the death of Captain Cook; an extended scene of violence involving an Indian massacre. 

Sex/Nudity: A brief, non-sexual depiction of nudity; a few sexual references; reported sexual activity through the Indian’s sexual bartering.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of family members, war, suicide and attempted suicide, racial tensions, massacre, hangings, torture, physical and emotional hardships due to starvation, isolation and trauma.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Individuals frequently smoke and drink.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
3
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
6
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
3
10

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.