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Northwest Passage

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,748 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Told through the eyes of primary character Langdon Towne, much of this novel centers around the exploits and character of Robert Rogers, the leader of Rogers' Rangers, who were a colonial force fighting with the British during the French and Indian War.

Structurally, Northwest Passage is divided into halves. The first half is a carefully researched, day-by-day recreation of
Paperback, 709 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Down East Books (first published 1937)
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,748 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Paul Brogan
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-classic
Not being terribly familiar with North America, especially that of the wild days of the late 18th century, just before the American War of Independence, I read this book with an open atlas at my elbow. This enabled me not only to read a ripping and entertaining yarn, or three, of adventures and endurance, but also learn lots about the geography and history of those times. This alone gave me enormous satisfaction.

The title is somewhat deceptive. The Northwest Passage, as I understand it, was the
Ray De
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read Northwest Passage for the first time when I was ten and my mom picked it up at a garage sale. I then proceeded to read everything else by Roberts I could find.
Why do I still believe the books still stack up so well over time? First, Roberts was a historian and a rigorous one. His command of history and detail is immense and complex. Also, he does not present early American history as peopled only by noble settlers and bloodthirsty Indians and selfless leaders. He portrays the good and ba
I was very surprised to learn that the author had been one of the best journalists in America, before retiring in order to become a novelist. The skills of journalism have since clearly changed for the worse. I’ve learnt to be very cautious when picking up a book written by a journalist of our present day.

I found this book to be riveting reading; which given the length of this novel is a good thing!. I was terribly disappointed when I discovered the film of the similar-ish name (dir. Alfred Hitc
Mike (the Paladin)
So long ago I read this book, it was one book that I got as a gift when I was young that I truly enjoyed. The story of Landon Towne and his "little trip" with Major Robert Rogers and the Rangers, would set the imagination of any young man on fire, as it did mine.

It later inspired me to track the story of Robert down and of course it takes a sad down turn as so many did. Still this story of determination, courage, duty not to mention cruelty and madness is still a good one.
Bradley West
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've always been a nut about American Indians, reading almost everything in libraries from elementary school through high school. Northwest Passage was one of my favorites as a teen, but I hadn't give it a thought in more than two-score (!) years until a lapsed friend and I reconnected for a New Year's drink. It turned out he was an Indian aficionado, too, with the French and Indian War (1754-1763) being one of his specialties. I was so stoked after I got home that I bought the book and plunged ...more
Feb 28, 2015 added it
Robert Rogers is not much talked about these days, and so far as I know was never taught in schools. His name is inseparable from that curious time in American history, the mid-1700s, when we, a British colony, made war on France and native populations for possession of the continent.

Despite what the school books imply, it was never a given that Britain would control North America. Until the American Revolution, hegemony on these shores was very much in doubt.

Rogers made it much less so. Roger
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Roberts' writing style immensely: the prose was rich and nuanced, it reminded me of Patrick O'Brian. However, the novel did not sit well with me: it's really two books in one. The first part deals with Robert Rogers' St. Francis raid- our fictional protagonist joins Roger's Rangers on the eve of their raid on St. Francis. This tale is briskly told, conveying the dangers and hardships of the mission, weaving historical figures into the narrative and accurately (as far as I can tell) por ...more
Ian Durham
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best fiction makes us think about ourselves in ways we haven't or ways we simply don't. It is allegorical and turns a mirror onto our human foibles. The best fiction makes us think without realizing that we're doing it.

In finishing Northwest Passage I was struck by a pair of sentences written in the last five pages of the novel that seemed to jump out at me as representative of what this country has become.

In the first, the character Ann Potter rails against King George's England, which she
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book gets very good from page 50. Supposedly the second book is not
close but I heard similar complaints about Oliver Wiswell.The book is less predictable than his other titles but the best thus far is still Rabble in Arms.

Usually, the lead is just a foil for the excellent supporting cast. In this case the lead is his best so far. Cap Huff makes a few cameos along with Benedict Arnold is the only Roberts character in three books.

Heroes rise and fall in this book. The love story is better de
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: dreamers, adventurers, American history
Recommended to Jim by: kismet
Shelves: general-reading
I was lucky enough to read this in my youth, another one of those books that came my way, when I think of it something or somebody must have been passing these along to me, was it my eye or providence that lead me to these books. I know it has left an impression that has been with me all this time, I think I just identified with central character, then to get the chance to go and walk on the the same ground. Life is beautiful don't you just love being alive? Oh and reading books of course.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a historical novel about the French and Indian Wars and Major Robert Roberts and his Rangers in particular. While Rogers has setbacks Roberts introduces Langdon Towne, a Harvard-educated artist who demonstrates the heroism needed for the adversities encountered in the Northwest Territories. Growing up in Wisconsin I found this an exciting part of the history of my home state.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book even though it wasn't quite what I expected. It's called Northwest Passage, but it really has very little to do with the Northwest Passage. Go figure. Other than that small quibble, I really liked the characters and the story kept me turning the pages!
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fabulous! I love historical fiction and this is as accurate, detailed and interesting a read as I have had in a long time. I'm guessing it is still in print . . . mine was printed in 1870s!
Heather Caveney
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by my father. I was doubtful and expected it to be boring. On the contrary, it had a little bit of everything--adventure, romance, history--I loved every minute of it and was sad to see it come to an end. It is an epic, sweeping story. Stellar in every way.
Harry Allagree
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some time ago, I was curious as to the state of things in 1937 when I was born. I wondered what people were reading in those days, & learned that one of the bestsellers was this novel by Kenneth Roberts. Never having heard of Roberts (1885-1957), I "Wikipedia-ed" him only to learn that he graduated from Cornell University, wrote two fight songs for them & was a member of the Quill & Dagger Society; that he was a lieutenant in the intelligence section of the WW I American Expeditionar ...more
Christopher Taylor
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the first Kenneth Roberts book I've read, a historical novel about colonial America shortly before the revolution. It deals with the French and Indian War, in which France using Indian forces and French soldiers attempted to take land from the British, and the British used Indian and regular soldiers to fight back.

In the process some truly ghastly atrocities were committed, and some truly heroic deeds were done. George Washington rose to prominence in these wars, and this book is about a
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I bought this in an op shop. I had seen the movie many years ago starring Spencer Tracy. It is very long. The 1948 hardcover version I have is 709 pages long.
Interesting story based in history of Robert Rogers and his Rangers in pre Revolution USA. Story is told by a first person Langdon Towne who we are to believe is a painter/artist who went with Rogers on many wild adventures and drew pictures of the area and the Indians. Of course tjat character is fictional.
The writing style of kenneth Ro
Patrick Peterson
4 June 2018
I remember reading this book and enjoying it when I was in High School. I think it was on a reading list for college preparation and also an adventure book. I remember liking the adventure part of the book, and the setting, in the old (colonial or early United States) Northwest Territories (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin) and especially appreciating the description of the reality of almost starving to death back then, when things went wrong on a trek, when food and he
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Northwest Passage is an epic story of early North America during the French and Indian War. I’ve never read better historical fiction than that written by Kenneth Roberts. His books exceed expectations. As you join the story of Langdon Towne the research the author has done becomes apparent immediately and forgotten as quick as your taken into an adventure of exploration, the politics behind the shaping of men’s lives in America and England that slowly begin building the causes of the Revolution ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read in quite some time. Roberts did an exemplary job of fleshing out the characters and fine work of bringing even the scenery to life.
I've been intrigued by Major Robert Rogers and his Rangers since watching the series called Turn which is set during the American Revolution. This book gives readers a look at events prior and is really interesting. The author shows the man and his many facets.
I've enjoyed Kenneth Roberts Arundel, but this one surpasses it. I highly
Bill Money
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ending was poor

I enjoyed this book and enjoyed his descriptive style. The ending was poor and written as a series. I would have preferred a single book that Langdon actually made it through to the northwest passage.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite book ever. Maybe it counts that I was a teenager when I first read it... but the magic never worn off. The characters, the strenght, the purity... the beauty, the justice, the will. The belief.
J.D.  Brayton
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Enjoyed it- though many references to other races were indeed, from another less evolved time. A bit long, but the first half is great early American history. I liked Rabble At Arms a bit better.
P.S. Winn
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, that tales readers back into history during a tumultuous time. The author does an amazing job with the feel of this book and taking readers into not only the tragedies but the amazing partnership of those just trying to protect the country.
Sindiso Bhebhe
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent narrative
Brian Zantop
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this originally 20 yrs ago and it was even better this time. In my all time top 5 favorite books!!!!
Mark Lisac
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Northwest Passage remains one of the few American novels one could call an epic. The passage of about 80 years hasn't dimmed it. It's a great character study spanning a frontier wartime adventure in 1759 and then a descent into drink, ambition and other personal dissolution in the second half.
Robert Rogers was one of the most colourful figures in what were then the American colonies — the founder of a specialized military group he called the Rangers, and later one of the most determined of the m
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Tiene 700 páginas y la he dejado en la página 500, que tiene más mérito. La novela no está mal, está bastante bien escrita y resulta entretenida, pero su estructura conduce directamente al desaliento del lector, al menos de este lector. Lo que al parecer quiere contar, si nos guiamos por el título es el descubrimiento por parte del capitán Robert Rogers, fundador de los Rangers, de una ruta hacia el Océano Pacífico por el Noroeste de Norteamérica como una forma rápida de llegar a Japón desde las ...more
Mar 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
I remember my father reading each new Kenneth Roberts book as it was published; the books sat on a bookshelf in my parents’ home and eventually found their way to me. Langdon Towne, a former Harvard student with an aptitude for art, leaves his home town of Portsmouth, NH in a hurry because of some political remarks that he makes which are overheard by the wrong persons. He also has been turned down by the girl he loves because her father feels that being a painter is an unworthy occupation. He j ...more
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Editions 1 9 May 25, 2010 07:23AM  

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Kenneth Lewis Roberts (December 8, 1885 – July 21, 1957) was an American author of historical novels. Roberts worked first as a journalist, becoming nationally known for his work with the Saturday Evening Post from 1919 to 1928, and then as a popular novelist. Born in Kennebunk, Maine, Roberts specialized in Regionalist historical fiction. He often wrote about his native state and its terrain, als ...more