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On the Edge of Nowhere

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  349 ratings  ·  43 reviews
His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Thus, Jimmy Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. Huntington is only seven when his mother dies, and he must care for his younger siblings. A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls t ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Epicenter Press (first published 1992)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  349 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Mike Nemeth
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm walking with my 23-year-old son to the movie theater. It' s winter but still pretty warm. We're headed to "The Revenant" at Edwards Theater complex in Fresno's River Park shopping center. Thinking about the film made me remember "Man in the Wilderness," which I saw at Schiable Hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. In winter. Me and Torg thought it was awesome. I believe we saw it again. But I'd already been thinking of the original film. It had been mentioned in reviews. But I'd ...more
Cary Griffith
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Today’s confession; I have a genuine weakness for wilderness survival stories. When I was a boy I seldom read. My summers were spent in the woods, down by Indian Creek, wading through emerald waters and angling for creek chubs and smallmouth bass. One of the few books that lured me away from my sacred jaunts was The Raft, a true life tale of three WW II Naval airmen who went down in the Pacific and were set adrift. So when my son Noah bought me On the Edge of Nowhere for Christmas, I suspended m ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it

I really enjoyed this simple memoir about hard luck, hard living, and hardwork. This is a great book that describes living in Alaska during the early to mid 20th century. Anyone who feels as if life has dealt them a bad hand or that they are overwhelmed could learn a lot from this book.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an engaging memoir of a life lived in the wilderness of Alaska. Jim Huntington was a true outdoorsman, an Alaskan. His story is a story of triumph over challenges, and making the best of what life has to offer. I enjoyed this story very much, and read it cover to cover in two sittings.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing memoir and first-person chronicle of life in the interior of Alaska. It is by turns funny, scary and heartbreaking. There are some flaws, especially where some threads of the story are left to dangle but overall, fascinating.
Rob Shurmer
This has to be one of the better accounts of bush living in Alaska to make it to print. James Hunnington, half white half Athabaska straddles several worlds and in rather matter-of-fact prose (unlike many of his contemporaries, Harrington spent several years at a mission school in Anvik - between age seven and twelve- and so could read and write) reveals the stark realities of life along the Yukon in the 1920s and 30s. However, his appreciation for physical labor and for the and wisdom developed ...more
Ben Perley
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Started and finished in one day. It's the simple and haunting memoir of James Huntington, an Alaskan man who seemingly defines the word "outdoorsman". I couldn't put it down.
Fantastic! Simple, straightforward, fantastic storytelling. It's a can't-put-down book, and a really quick read about what some might call pretty typical Alaskan living in his time. But the story of his simple, backcountry, subsistence life to a modern audience is astounding. It took me a few evenings of reading and I had to force myself to put it down every time. He wraps it up nicely, too, and makes the reader want to share it with others who need a little perspective on life, and what one vie ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Autobiographies of people living out in wild Alaska are fast becoming one of my favorite genres, and this book is one of the reasons why (the other is "North of the Sun" by Fred Hatfield which is even better, in my opinion). It's amazing to think that people can live and even thrive in such harsh, simple environments. Living in today's technology-crazed world, where everything is at the touch of our fingertips, it's so refreshing and inspiring to remember that people can survive with only the ba ...more
John Weibull
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: outdoors
Arguably the best book written about Alaska, a true outdoors classic.


"His father is a white trapper, his mother an Athabascan Indian who walks a thousand miles in winter to reunite with her family. Thus, Jimmy Huntington learns early how to survive on the land. When his mother dies, Huntington -- at age seven -- must care for his younger siblings.
A courageous and inspiring man, Huntington hunts wolves, fights bears, survives close calls too numerous to mention, and becomes a cha
Melissa Fischer
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We loved this book! It is a great read-aloud book that gives a vivid picture of what life was like living in the bush in Alaska in the first half of the 20th century. James Huntington exemplifies the character traits of resourcefulness and perseverance through various kinds of difficulties and hard times. Sometimes the book made us cry, more often it made us laugh, and it always painted unforgettable pictures on our minds of what life in Alaska was like then. It's full of adventure, courage, sle ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This memoir about James Huntington showed how he lived in the bush but was educated and a very hard worker. His father was a white trapper and her mother was an Indian. James' survival in the Alaska territory was illustrated by his ways of being a trapper, dog sled racer, store owner and finally a state legislator! He survived 3 marriages and had seven children. This book showed that you have to fight for whatever is important to you. What a wonderful read!
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
such an adventure to read this book. sometimes I caught myself feeling like I was back in my grandpa's old house and listening to their stories.. definitely one of the most vivid and beautiful books I've read so far. it is the book about the relationship between humankind and nature. survival instincts and a life full of trial and errors, victories and defeats, happiness and sorrow.. all together, told in the most warm-hearted and yet down to the bone fantastic!
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My husband and I read this together and we loved it - James Huntington's Alaskan memoir defines the importance of living off the land and knowing your people and neighbors no matter where you are - and it resonates with those who see this way of life's value in the past as well in our survival in the future. Highly recommend to anyone!
Tiffany Skinner
Mar 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robyn Obermeyer
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is exactly the kind of book I most love to read in winter! It brought me out of my own gloom and filled my mind with adventure! A very hard life Meat for the pot and all, the stories were fantastic and I am very glad to have found this book at library. Right on to those who write books like this and keep the lust for reading alive!
Feb 16, 2010 rated it liked it
SUch an interesting read. Wonderful to learn about living off of the land in Alaska. James was such a man of strength, bravery and integrity. I still can't get over the man fighting 3 bears story!!
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really wish I had started this book earlier in my visit to Alaska so that I could've finished it. But I really enjoyed it. I think I liked it better than his brother's book. But both were fascinating looks at a "real Alaska".
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! A peek at life in teh far northern parts of our globe! James Huntington was quite a guy & had quite a life! Some good, some not-so-good. I couldn't wait to finish this book so my husband could read it - definitely an interesting book for anyone who loves the outdoors! ...more
Sheryl Tennent
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite book of all and I have read a little of just about everything. It's the true story of a boy who grows up under the most difficult circumstances. It's survival that you can hardly imagine. Amazing book!
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Quite a story. That a child of five could take care of younger siblings in the bush is impressive in and of itself. I read this before I went into the bush. One finishes this book with a tremendous respect and appreciation for Athabascan culture and lifeways.
Jason Slemons
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A good book in its own right, and not just for the crazy upbringing but because these early arctic trappers had pretty interesting lives. Yes you should also read his famous brothers book; Shadows on the Koyukuk.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction-read
This is a simple well told story about a man's life and upbringing in the most remote areas of Alaska from about the 1920's into the 1960's.. I picked it up one afternoon and couldn't put it down until I finished it.
Carol Cambell
Overall enjoyed the book. Need to know what happened to his mother's first two children, Fred and Edith? They would have been 6 or 7 yrs old when she (Anna) married his father. Odd that mom walked a thousand miles to get back to them and then you never hear them mentioned again.
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A life lived fully.

As someone who used to live in Alaska, this makes me homesick. He was an amazing story teller and really captures how the land takes hold of a person, and teaches you what it means to truly live.
Sarita Harbour
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Very entertaining narrative style. The fascinating life of Jimmy Huntington, a hunter, trapper, and musher in the Alaskan interior. Covers the years spanning about 1920 through the 1960s. I'm going to recommend this one to my dad!
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Short, interesting read about Jim Huntington, Alaskan trapper turned dog sled racer. Lots of good information about life in the wilderness in the early 1900's.
Wow! This guy led an amazing life. It was interesting to read about the difficulties of his life. In his case, the truth truly is stranger than fiction.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: north
Simple, humorous, honest writing. Great stories, although I'd have liked to have heard a bit more reflection about how Alaska was changing, since he doesn't go into that in depth
Alicia Kittrell
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love reading real-life stories of human survival in the wilderness. This guy was one tough cookie!
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