Journey: A Novel

Journey: A Novel


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One of the premier novelists of the twentieth century, James A. Michener captures a frenzied time when sane men and women risked their very lives in a forbidding Arctic land to win a dazzling and elusive prize: Yukon gold. In 1897, gold fever sweeps the world. The promise of untold riches lures thousands of dreamers from all walks of life on a perilous trek toward fortune, failure—or death. Journey is an immersive account of the adventures of four English aristocrats and their Irish servant as they haul across cruel Canadian terrain toward the Klondike gold fields. Vivid and sweeping, featuring Michener’s probing insights into the follies and grandeur of the human spirit, this is the kind of novel only he could write.
Praise for Journey
“Stunning . . . Michener at his best.”Houston Chronicle
“Michener brings sharply into focus the hardships encountered by those who dreamed of striking it rich.”—Associated Press
“Michener has amassed a peerless reputation as the heralded dean of the historical tome. . . . Journey is a book that envelops the reader in an atmosphere of hazardous escapades.”Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Remarkable . . . superb literature.”The Pittsburgh Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812986754
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/09/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 121,819
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.

Date of Birth:

February 3, 1907

Date of Death:

October 16, 1997

Place of Death:

Austin, Texas


B.A. in English and history (summa cum laude), Swarthmore College, 1929; A.M., University of Northern Colorado, 1937.

Read an Excerpt

When on 17 July 1897 the steamship Portland docked at Seattle, bringing belated news and hard evidence that an enormously rich strike of gold had been made the summer before along the Klondike River on the extreme western border of Canada, the world was startled by a felicitous sentence scribbled in haste by an excited reporter who visited the ship. Instead of saying that the miners had reached Seattle with “a huge amount of gold” or “a treasure-trove of gold,” he wrote words that became immortal: “At 3 o’clock this morning the Steamer Portland from St. Michael for Seattle, passed up the Sound with more than a ton of solid gold aboard.
Those sensational words, “a ton of gold,” flashed around the world, evoking wild enthusiasm wherever they appeared. Across the United States and Canada, men who had suffered sore deprivation during the great financial panic of 1893 cried: “Gold to be had for the picking! Fortunes for everyone!” and off they scrambled, with no knowledge at all of mining or metallurgy, and very little sense of how to protect themselves on a frontier. Shifty manipulators, who realized that they would have little chance of finding gold in riverbeds, nevertheless knew that with the proper card game or attractive young woman to lure those who did find nuggets, they might win fortunes by mining the miners. Proper businessmen also smelled opportunities; actors out of work visualized theaters with dancing girls, and a few born explorers of untested regions, like Lord Evelyn Luton and his military cousin Harry Carpenter of London, made immediate preparations to rush to the gold fields for the sheer adventure.
But if the news of the strike could have such electric effect upon so many, why had it taken almost a full year to travel the relatively short distance from the Klondike to Seattle, less than thirteen hundred miles as an eagle would fly? The explanation must be carefully noted, for it explains the tragic events that were about to destroy so many lives.
The Klondike was a pitiful little stream, too small to admit a boat of any serious size and hidden away in one of the most remote areas of the world. It emptied into the great Yukon River, which rose in the high mountains of the northern coastal range and roamed through Canada and Alaska for more than nineteen hundred desolate and uninhabited miles. So if the big river was available, why had not the miners who found the gold taken boats down the Yukon to bring the news to civilization? Unfortunately, the mighty river was frozen almost solid from early in October through to the first weeks in June. The men who had discovered the bonanza and would profit from it had made their strike so late in the summer of 1896 that they could not get down the Yukon until early summer of the next year. For nearly eleven months they had lived with their great wealth and their explosive secret, but now the genie was out of the bottle and chaos was about to ensue.
There were two other awesome facts about the discovery on the Klondike: although the gold fields, and they were unbelievably rich and extensive, lay entirely in Canada, there was no practical way to get from the principal settlements of western Canada to the region; the only feasible route was through Alaska, but anyone who tried that found himself facing one of the most fearsome physical challenges in the world, the dreaded Chilkoot Pass, at places almost straight up and passing through snowfields and mountain defiles. And if he did negotiate Chilkoot or the neighboring and equally formidable White Pass, which many failed to do, he then had to build himself a small boat from felled timber, to negotiate a series of deadly rapids and gorges and make a long, dangerous sail down the Yukon to approach the gold fields from the south. “In from the south, out to the north” was the rule at Dawson City, the Canadian settlement that sprang up near the spot where the little Klondike emptied into the wide Yukon.
It was this land—of frozen rivers, tempestuous gorges, impossible ascents through snow and ice, long sweeps of river through a thousand miles of wilderness—that in the late summer of 1897 attracted adventurers from all parts of the world, and not one of them, when he left Australia, or Indiana, or Ottawa or London, anticipated the hardships he would have to undergo before he reached Golconda.
In London, a few days after the news from Seattle appeared in national newspapers, a rich uncle and his impecunious nephew, members of the English noble family of Bradcombe, read of the “ton of gold” with considerable excitement. The older man, Lord Evelyn Luton, was the younger son of the redoubtable Marquess of Deal, eighth of that line whose Bradcombe ancestors had helped Queen Elizabeth establish a Protestant foothold in Catholic Ireland. Luton was thirty-one, imperially tall and slim, aloof, soft-spoken, unmarried and a man with a sometimes insufferable patrician manner. He despised familiarity, especially from underlings, and whenever a stranger presumed to approach him uninvited he tended to draw back, lift his nose as if he smelled an unpleasant odor undetected by others, and stare at the intruder. A friend at Oxford had termed this “Evelyn’s silent-sneer,” and when a listener had pointed out that all sneers are silent, the first student had replied: “Look to your dictionary. Anyway, when Evelyn hits you with his silent one, it speaks volumes.”
Another friend had argued: “His critics may be right when they call him insufferable, but we suffer him because he’s so…well…correct,” and the first man had agreed: “He is always right, you know.” But even this concession did not satisfy the first man: “Thing I like about him, when he embarks on any project, he’s loyal to all who accompany him.”
As a result of interminable practice when a boy he had, with only meager athletic skills to begin with, converted himself into one of England’s finest cricketers. When not playing for his county team or representing England against Australia, he was an avid explorer, having penetrated to the upper reaches of the Congo, much of the Amazon, and, of course, the Nile to a point well beyond the great temples at Karnak.
Actually, there was a solid reason for his wanting to leap into the middle of what threatened to become a gold rush, since so many wished to join, but he scarcely admitted this to himself and certainly not to strangers. Having already probed both Africa and South America on daring expeditions, he fancied traveling next to the arctic and later to remote corners of Asia with the purpose ultimately of writing a travel book, perhaps to be called An Englishman in the Far Corners, in which he would exhibit, as he explained to himself, “how an ordinary fellow with a bit of determination could follow in the footsteps of the great explorers.” He patterned himself after notable prototypes who had carried the British flag into the most dangerous parts of the world: Sir Richard Burton, who had written about primitive India and Africa, and Charles Doughty with his incredible Travels in Arabia Deserta.
Of all the intrepid explorations that had fired the imagination of an entire generation of Englishmen it was the expeditions to the high arctic in search of the fabled Northwest Passage that had most excited Luton. While up at Oxford he had read as many accounts as he could procure of the brave men who had led these northern explorations: Sir John Ross; Sir William Edward Parry, who had attempted to reach the North Pole; Sir Robert McClure, the first to discover the passage through the arctic waters. But none of these men’s deeds had affected Luton as much as that of the noblest and most tragic explorer of them all: Sir John Franklin, who had perished with his gallant team in 1847 in his bold effort to discover the elusive passage.
Knowing intimately the travails of such Englishmen, Luton felt himself adequately prepared to face whatever challenges a mere gold rush might present. He would be venturing near the lands these men had discovered, perhaps even treading in the path of Sir John Franklin himself, who had once sailed the Mackenzie River in an early commission to map the coastline of the Arctic Ocean.
Luton had no doubt that he could succeed on his far lesser mission. On several occasions he had demonstrated that he was fearless by performing acts of some valor, but when asked about this he rejected that word: “Fearless? Who told you that? Did they also tell you I was so terrified I wet me britches?” To him the fragmentary word that reached London about the extensive dangers accompanying the gold rush presented an inviting challenge, but he would never have admitted that, for he had cloaked his former adventures as a seeking after scholarship, a thirst for knowledge, and this time he was already explaining to himself and others: “What I’d like, you know, is to give me nephew a spot of help.” He pronounced the word nev-ue.

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Journey 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Hardball More than 1 year ago
We were on vacation along the Alaska Highway in 2007 when my wife found a copy of "Journey" at a laundromat while doing laundry. She brought it back to our RV and I began reading it. Our next destination was Inuvik, NWT at the end of the Dempster Highway. It turned out that much of the journey in "Journey" was through this part of Canada so I immediately become captured by the story. I am not an avid reader, but proof that I feel this is the best book I ever read is the fact that I read it a second time about a year or so later. It is the only book that I have ever completely read a second time and I am 67 yr. old.
qarae More than 1 year ago
This was my first James Michener read, and I enjoyed it alright. I will definately give another one of his books a go. Journey was a very easy and quick read, and gave the reader a quick adventure to the arctic circle.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's 1897, and people from all over the world are heading for the Yukon gold fields. Most follow the grueling overland route from Alaska after arriving there by ship. Lord Evelyn Luton, though, wants to prove that it's possible to reach Dawson without straying out of Canada. The 32-year-old younger son of the Marquess of Deal gathers three fellow noblemen (including two members of his own family), plus a trusted Irish servant, and sets out for Canada at mid-summer. Although they're well prepared for their trip down the mighty, wandering Mackenzie River, unlike far too many others making the same perilously late start, they have no chance of reaching their goal without wintering along the way. This they do with remarkable success - the first year, anyway. After that it's another story entirely. What can it cost us humans to cling pigheadedly to our preconceptions, even when those around us know better and try to persuade us of our folly? What can blind loyalty cost those who follow such a leader? JOURNEY addresses these themes with some poignance, although it's hard for a modern reader to avoid wanting to shake Lord Luton silly. What I found most interesting and enjoyable wasn't the novel itself, though. I was intrigued by Michener's 'Reflections' at the book's end, in which the author describes how he conceived the characters of JOURNEY and first told their story as a chapter in his novel ALASKA. When his editors rightly pointed out that it didn't fit well there, and made an already long book longer still, he put the material away. Only to take it out and rework it, even adding scenes that he hadn't bothered to write when he thought it would form one chapter in the longer work, after the characters he'd created refused to leave him alone. 'Reflections' provides a fascinating trip into the creative process of a prolific and highly successful writer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A treasure in Canadian History. The Canadian Gold Rush makes a fascinating study and the research and history tucked into this little volume of fiction compliment fiction writers like Jack London, non-fiction writers like Farley Mowatt, and poets like Robert Service. The rather amusing antipathy for anything American belabored by Lord Evelyn Luton might not have worked coming from a Canadian Author, but Mitchener pulls it off with a unique strange humour that is integral to the characters. The story itself is a brief 200+ pages. Cut from the final manuscript of the best-selling ¿Alaska¿, this small literary gem packs a punch. An added bonus for poetry lovers is the collection of poems at the end of the book, many of which will be familiar, some few readers will have seen before. Told in the context of the gold rush, even the most familiar are somehow new. Also, of special interest to writers is the story behind the story, including the editing decisions that led to this cut from a much larger work becoming a full book of its own. I was fortunate enough to stumble on a copy at a library sale. I truly hope they had multiple copies, for mine is an uncirculated hardcover at a price to make the author weep. For the entertainment value of a well spun tale set in the Canadian north, or for the wealth of history that is anything but dry and dusty, this book is a treasure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A short novel by Micheners' standard. A vivid, action packed novel that is easy to read and difficult to put down. Five men struggle in the Canadian wilderness while enroute to the Klondike gold fields in 1897. Grave misfortunes beset the party with devastating results due to arrogance, poor decisions, tradition, and failure to heed sound advise by knowledgable inhabitants of the Canadian frontier.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In July of 1897 the ship Portland docked at Seattle and set off the great gold rush to the Klondike fields. Many adventures set off from Seattle and made their way up to Alaska and into Canada. This tale is part of the book Alaska by James A. Michener. However, a few decided to bypass America all together and made their way through Canada starting at the eastern seaboard. This book is the tale of five such travellers and their experiences in the vastness of the Canadian Arctic. A good read, with a different take on the tale for those familiar with the Alaskan version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderful novel. Mr Michener is a great story teller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Journey is a story of the dangerous expedition to the gold fields during the Klondike gold rush in 1987. When Lord Evelyn Luton hears of the 'ton of gold,' he gathers four other members to join him on his journey. The team of five goes through many adventures and challenges to reach their goal,reaching the gold. Philip Henslow is the nephew of Luton. On the trip, he encounters and falls in love with a woman from North Dakota, Irina Kozlok. Philip's friend, Trevor Blythe is the poet of the team. He reads and recites poems during the winter and often write about his experience. The cousin of Luton was Harry Carpenter. He was skilled in wilderness survival, and the one that I thought had the most courage to stand up to Lord Luton. I thought the most important man on the trip was Timothy Fogarty. His skill of game catching became very crucial in the end. He was hardworking, and was always there if something had to be done. Finally, Lord Luton was the leader of the team. It was an interesting to see his character change throughout the story. In the beginning until the end, he was very arrogant. After the trip, he listened to other's ideas and was willing to change his mind. The part I liked most about this book was how a goal of obtaining gold transformed into a goal to survive. An expedition for money had converted into a strive to live in the Arctic areas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Different than typical Michener, but captivating nonetheless. Relatively short novel detailing the story of English aristocrats participating in the Alaskan gold rush.
qarae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Michener book, and I enjoyed it very much. I would definately concider this an easy read, but well done. Journey is the story of a too rich and too bored British Lord hearing about the gold strike in the Klondike and deciding to show the Americans up. James Michener captures the cold and fear and excitement of gold fever.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading about the Klondike Gold Rush in the newspapers, Lord Evelyn Luton takes a notion to travel to the gold fields in Canada. He's more interested in the adventure than in striking it rich, and for patriotic reasons he determines to travel within the confines of the British Empire, without straying into the United States. His stubborn refusal to take any of the easier routes that would take his party through Alaska leads to tragic consequences for his traveling party.Since I'm not an outdoorsy person, I don't usually read wilderness adventure stories unless there is some other aspect to the story that appeals to me. In this case, I was drawn to the history of the gold rush and to the characters who formed Lord Luton's party - four men from England's privileged class and an Irish servant. One of the travelers carried Palgrave's Golden Treasury, and the poems or fragments of poems scattered through the novel are some of my favorites from my high school days - Robert Herrick's "The Poetry of Dress" and "Counsel to Girls", Shelley's "Ozymandias", Milton's "On His Blindness".This book would be a good choice for supplemental reading in a course on leadership. It illustrates the folly of refusing to alter one's plans in light of new information or a change in circumstance.
jpsnow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some critics rated this his best. I won't go that far, but I can see why. With a single storyline, it's tighter and allows more development of the characters. Evelyn Luton and 4 companions attempt to journey to the Klondike gold fields while staying on Canadian land. It takes them two years, much longer than necessary. Along the way we meet interesting characters and some stories about character. The man-against-nature theme is strong and, with Michener's approach, informative about that time and place.
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