Deep River

Deep River

by Karl Marlantes


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Karl Marlantes’s debut novel Matterhorn has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River , Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling—the family epic—to craft a stunningly expansive narrative of human suffering, courage, and reinvention.

In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia’s imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings—Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino—are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. The brothers face the excitement and danger of pioneering this frontier wilderness—climbing and felling trees one-hundred meters high—while Aino, foremost of the books many strong, independent women, devotes herself to organizing the industry’s first unions. As the Koski siblings strive to rebuild lives and families in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind.

Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802125385
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Pages: 725
Sales rank: 17,295
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Karl Marlantes graduated from Yale University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, before serving as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals. He is the bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War. He lives in rural Washington.

Read an Excerpt

Aino focused on one steam donkey. The cable came up off the ground as the tension increased. She couldn’t follow the entire line of it, because the terrain was so rugged, but could see its end where it wound around an anchoring block that must have weighed a thousand pounds. The block was cinched with a smaller cable to a stump that was at least fourteen feet in diameter. She marveled at the sight. How could men, weighing 150 pounds, have hauled all this dead weight of steel and cable across that terrain?

Those men were now scrambling for safety, ducking behind stumps, finding shelter in the torn ground, as more steam poured into the donkey’s pistons. The massive cable drums whirred, jerking a log weighing several tons from where it laid, bringing it bucking and slamming through the slash like a runaway railroad car to the landing as fast as the massive cable drums could turn.

Ilmari told her that just one of these Douglas firs could produce enough lumber to build three or four houses. She hadn’t believed him. With each splintering, anguished crackle, when fibers that had held for centuries first started to part, with each moaning, creaking groan as the tree leaned and tore loose from its stump, with each shouted whisper of air rushing through the limbs of a rapidly accelerating top, with each ground-shaking crash signaling a tree’s death, she believed. Everything about the place spoke danger and filled her withrespect for these men.

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Deep River 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Excellent and satisfying story! I loved this book not the least of which is because of my Finnish relatives.
susan568SW 10 months ago
Deep River is an informative and compelling saga of the three Koski siblings Ilmari, Aino and Matti who flee Finland to escape the Russian authorities. They settle in Washington state and become part of the logging community where the work is hazardous the hours are long and the pay is shameful. This book is full of history of the timber industry and trying to organize the workers to form a union for better pay and hours. Aino is at the center of this story because it is her guts and her unwillingness to concede defeat trying to organize the men that is truly an inspiration. The short chapters and the fast pace made this 724 page book an effortless and enjoyable read. Highly recommend for any fan of historical fiction and the family saga.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Aqswr 12 months ago
Historical fiction with arelatively short timeline but unusual focus, namely Finnish immigrants in Washington State at the turn of the 20th Century. Author Karl Marlantes had the opportunity to dive deep into political waters of early Socialism in Europe, beginnings of union organization in the USA, the challenges for immigrants escaping feudalism and hoping for success in capitalism. One constant handicap in the book, for me as a novice to the culture and community, were the names. I had so much difficulty following characters at various points in this book. The sheer numbers of them just dwarfed my abilities to follow the plot. I acknowledge my limitations. I had hoped this book would follow multiple generations but it did not. I found that disappointing and yearned for it. I also felt the author juggled the point of view and then left readers hanging at the end by not offering good closure all around. So, while this is a mixed treat, it is unique and a juicy read. I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Clarita More than 1 year ago
An amazing family saga set in the early 1900’s and beginning in Finland where the Koski father was taken by the Russians. He had two sons and a daughter, Ilmari, Matt and daughter Aino. The sons emigrated to Washington to homestead, using the timber around them to begin a new life. They needed to avoid conscription into the Army. Aino was forced to follow shortly after due to her being sent to prison for her political beliefs and betrayal of others through torture. The story follows the family through extremely tough times, and prosperous times in their logging and farming years. Aino’s strong willed political beliefs led her to sacrifice even her family and put her into many dangerous situations. A historical story that gives the reader insights to the hardships immigrants had to face to make it in the ‘new world’. Excellently written, and well worth the 700 pages!
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
Deep River is a marathon of a historical novel, one you cannot bear to put aside. We follow the children of Maijaliisa and Tapio Koski from Kokkola, Finland as they immigrated to the communities of the Columbia River basin (known then as the Deep River) between Washington and Oregon, USA, and became an important element in the timber industry and the Colombia River basin, as the family spread out and grew. The Koski family were hard working, a credit to their community, a settlement comprised for the most part of Finnish and Swedish immigrants. Ilmari, the first of the children to come over in 1897, welcomed his younger siblings as tension and persecution in Russian-ruled Finland increased and the young men of the community faced being drafted into the Russian army, young women a life of servitude and fear. Life in the northwest USA was not easy or simple at the turn of the 20th century. It was a new day for the Toski children, however, as they grew to fit in and appreciate their new home. We follow their progress from the death of three of the siblings in Finland from cholera in 1891 through March of 1969. This is a saga you will not want to miss. The influence of the immigrants from Finland and Sweden are still apparent in the communities today that cradle the mouth of Deep River. I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Karl Marlantes, and Atlantic Monthly Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.
CLynnT More than 1 year ago
We agree to be unbiased in our book reviews, but what are you to do when given the opportunity to review one of your favorite authors? Karl Marlantes of “Matterhorn” and “What It Is Like to Go to War” fame has taken the about-face with the subject of his new novel, but his talent and lyrical writing talent maintains its strong presence in this epic tale spanning over 80 years about immigrants surviving in the logging trade in Northwest America, early 1900s. Finns and Swedes are thrown together, coming to a better world but realizing everything has a steep price. The story revolves around three of the Koski siblings, beginning in Finland and detailing why they’re not given much of choice: die in their homeland for what they believe or go to America to begin a new life. Each step of the way is beautifully and historically detailed through the brothers’ Ilmari and Matti’s demanding and extremely dangerous jobs as loggers in Washington state to their sister Aino’s strength to rise above the mold she is expected to take to become a vocal and leading cause for workers rights. This is a beautifully written epic, deeply detailing the struggles and trials that were faced by the siblings, their children, their friends, and neighbors. Detailed with labor strikes, rifts between various factions of immigrants fighting over the same piece of respect, struggles with alcohol, American ways, shamans of American Indian descendants and the cruel effects of nature’s harsh disregard for life, the portrait of their lives is beautifully painted. After completing the book I was pleasantly surprised to read in the author’s comments that he based the characters on the Kalevala, a 19th-century work of poetry based on Finnish folklore. I researched more about the Kalevala and became even more enchanted with the characters. Their strengths and weaknesses took on a new dimension, including the strong connection between Ilmari and his Indian shaman Vasutati. I can easily see this becoming a mini-series; a movie wouldn’t do it justice. You can’t fit all this emotion, sacrifice, and love and loss into a 2-hour plot. I strongly recommend you take this journey. It’s well worth it. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for making it available.)