Goodreads Review: Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark

Four star review, originally posted here on December 31, 2017.

** spoiler alert ** For me, this was basically the book version of The Revenant, meaning it makes me realize what a total pansy I am, complaining about the cold on my 30 minute evening dog walk when these 19th century badasses were off trudging through chest-high snow for months and eating moccasins to survive. This is a fantastic adventure tale, with super crazy stuff happening in every chapter. Some of it you see coming before you even pick up the book (for example, gee, I wonder if they might have some trouble crossing the Rockies?), but there are still plenty of surprises, for example…

THESE ARE SPOILERS: stumbling upon a random American teenager in the middle of nowhere, cartoonishly evil sea captains who abandon and/or kills his men for no reason, hundreds of people getting blown up Ridley Scotts style, and a pregnant lady with her knee-high children who are 8 million times tougher and more badass than the supposed rugged mountain men they are accompanying.
/end spoilers

My only real issue with the book is that it was nearly impossible to keep track of the 8 gajillion characters, and all of the stories got jumbled and ran together for me. The author tries to help this by reestablishing the scene every time we return to a character/story, but for me this just came off as tediously repetitive and not particularly effective of helpful.

Still, a truly fascinating story about a piece of history with which I was previously completely unfamiliar. Educational, engaging, and makes me so happy I live in a world where I can do things like “go inside and order delivery” when I am cold and hungry.


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