Graveyard of the Pacific: Shipwreck and Survival on America’s Deadliest Waterway

Dreamscape Media. Jun. 2023. 9:12 hrs. ISBN 9781666635232. $17.99. HIST
The Columbia River Bar, where the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean, has been dubbed the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” as thousands of ships and many lives have been lost to its treacherous waters. Journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Sullivan (The Curse of Oak Island) recounts the tales of many of these wrecks, illuminating the stories of the people involved. Sullivan is something of a daredevil himself. When he and his friend Ray were both in their late 60s, they attempted to cross the Columbia River Bar in kayaks; their story forms the framework of this book. Sullivan intersperses riveting historical accounts with memories from his and Ray’s pasts, detailing the abuse and dysfunctional relationships that shaped both of their lives. Sullivan’s examination of how toxic masculinity affected generations of family members is entirely affecting. Lynch Travis narrates in a heartfelt and somber way, but his inconsistent pronunciations of well-known place names might take listeners out of the story. While Travis’s pacing is also occasionally awkward, he successfully conveys Sullivan’s sincerity.
VERDICT A fascinating examination of nautical history and poisonous masculinity that would have benefited from a more practiced narrator.
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