• Alone Against the North

  • An Expedition into the Unknown
  • By: Adam Shoalts
  • Narrated by: Adam Shoalts
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (103 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario's 2016 Young Authors Award
Winner of the 2017 Louise de Kiriline Award for Nonfiction

The age of exploration is not over.

When Adam Shoalts ventured into the largest unexplored wilderness on the planet, he hoped to set foot where no one had ever gone before. What he discovered surprised even him.

Shoalts was no stranger to the wilderness. He had hacked his way through jungles and swamp, had stared down polar bears and climbed mountains. But one spot on the map called out to him irresistibly: the Hudson Bay Lowlands, a trackless expanse of muskeg and lonely rivers, caribou and wolf - an Amazon of the north, parts of which to this day remain unexplored.

Cutting through this forbidding landscape is a river no explorer, trapper, or canoeist had left any record of paddling. It was this river that Shoalts was obsessively determined to explore.

It took him several attempts, and years of research. But finally, alone, he found the headwaters of the mysterious river. He believed he had discovered what he had set out to find. But the adventure had just begun. Unexpected dangers awaited him downstream.

Gripping and often poetic, Alone Against the North is a classic adventure story of single-minded obsession, physical hardship, and the restless sense of wonder that every explorer has in common.

But what does exploration mean in an age when satellite imagery of even the remotest corner of the planet is available to anyone with a phone? Is there anything left to explore?

What Shoalts discovered as he paddled downriver was a series of unmapped waterfalls that could easily have killed him. Just as astonishing was the media reaction when he got back to civilization. He was crowned “Canada’s Indiana Jones” and appeared on morning television. He was feted by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and congratulated by the Governor General. People were enthralled by Shoalts’s proof that the world is bigger than we think.

Shoalts’s story makes it clear that the world can become known only by getting out of our cars and armchairs, and setting out into the unknown, where every step is different from the one before, and something you may never have imagined lies around the next curve in the river.

©2016 Adam Shoalts (P)2019 Penguin Random House Canada

Critic Reviews

“Rare insight into the heart and mind of an explorer, and the insatiable hunger for the unknown that both inspires and drives one to the edge. Adam Shoalts, twenty-first-century explorer, calmly describes the things he has endured that would drive most people to despair, or even madness.” (Col. Chris Hadfield, astronaut, author, space station commander)

"Explorer Adam Shoalts's remarkable solo foray into the quietly dangerous and mysterious Hudson Bay Lowlands is the kind of incredible effort that fosters legends." (The Winnipeg Free Press)

“Move over Jacques Cartier, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake - Adam Shoalts is this century’s explorer.” (The Hamilton Spectator)

What listeners say about Alone Against the North

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great story – dissed tasteful ego

Overall this is a great story. Just your average citizen dreaming of an documented, uncharted adventure. That’ll get me every time. However, the author does not make himself out to be just your average citizen.

The story is littered with pride filled remarks about their abilities, experience, knowledge and skills. He makes remarks about two of his partners that either bail before or during the expedition, how he wowed a group of fellow canoeists about his adventures.

His aspirations in journey, are absolutely remarkable. Really cool to read about and the thought of seeking an Adventure purely on a place that has never been explored, really cool though.

Part of what people like me love about stories like this is how nature and the adventure humbled the optimistic adventurist, but even with some life-threatening situations involving an unexpected waterfall, and a polar bear, the author makes himself out to be fearless. That’s what was dis tasteful about it.

1 person found this helpful

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A enjoyable listen, look last the braggy

A great story of a couple of very impressive solo adventures. The string lights of the book are the fantastic historical ancendotes, quotes and other info about the history of Canadian exploration. there are also several sections that create good suspense as Adam ventures solo into the unknown. Also great narration.

The only trouble I had with the book was that often the writing comes off as very self serving any braggy. If Adam could tone this down in other books, they would be much better and accessible.

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Not worth a credit

Author is very fond of himself and throws everyone around him under the bus at every opportunity. Slow, boring story. Made it through 3 painful chapters and returned.

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Borrring

I looked forward to reading this because I've ventured into snowbound areas. I was cautionary enough to use a guide in my explorations.
This book put me to sleep (several times) before I gave up.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story.

Mr. Shoalts is a man with the soul of the men who explored the new world so long ago. A very old soul.
I truly hope that his interactions with the young canoers inspired at least one of them to explore, something or someplace. To not be afraid and to want to know.
Thanks for telling me your story.

1 person found this helpful

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The book was really more about himself

I was looking for something with a lot of adventure and excitement this book could have had it if he hadn’t talked so much about himself

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Excellent

It is a real attention grabber. It is as if I was along on the adventure. Loved it and wanted it to even last longer.

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Great explorer story

I enjoyed the story. fun to listen to an explorer story in which the expedition was done on little to no budget.

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this book will entertain and cause wonder

Adam is amazing, he lives a life I wish I could and his books have inspired me to spend as much time away from city's and technology as I can in the nice weather.

the adventures in this book alone will have you waiting to find out not just how he gets out of this jam but what the next one will be.

Adam should be knighted!

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Adventure

I love adventure books and this one did not disappoint. It had enough detail and enough adventure to keep me interested. Look forward to reading more by Adam.