Deep River

Deep River

Karl Marlantes’s debut novel Matterhorn, a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, 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 that is no less rich and honest in its...

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Title:Deep River
Author:Karl Marlantes
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Edition Language:English

Deep River Reviews

  • Bonnye Reed

    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 fo

    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. Based on the stories of his Finnish grandmother, Karl Marlantes tells us a wonderful tale of the spirit and productivity that formed the northwestern US. 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.

    pub date July 2, 2019

    Atlantic Monthly Press

    Reviewed on July 14, 2019, at Goodreads, Netgalley, SmileAmazon, Barnes & Noble, and BookBub. Kobo did not offer a way to review this book.

  • Steven Z.

    In DEEP RIVER, author Karl Marlantes moves on from his description of a company of Marines in Vietnam who tried to recapture a mountain top base that formed the basis of his award-winning book, MATTERHORN and his unique description of combat in his memoir, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR. In his latest effort he takes on a different type of warfare centering around the battle between labor and capitalists in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century through 1932. Focusing on a Finnish i

    In DEEP RIVER, author Karl Marlantes moves on from his description of a company of Marines in Vietnam who tried to recapture a mountain top base that formed the basis of his award-winning book, MATTERHORN and his unique description of combat in his memoir, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR. In his latest effort he takes on a different type of warfare centering around the battle between labor and capitalists in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century through 1932. Focusing on a Finnish immigrant family, the Koskis, Marlantes delves into the problems faced by immigrants as they arrived in Oregon and southern Washington, not far from the Columbia River as they struggled for survival as they are swallowed up by the lumber industry. The result is a family epic that spans an important segment of American history as well as a fascinating read that you will look forward to each time you pick up the book.

    Marlantes employs a literary epic approach to convey his story beginning with the difficulties that the Finnish people faced under Czarist rule in the 1890s. As revolution began to permeate Finnish villages the Koski family found themselves caught up in the whirlwind that surrounded the oppressive rule of the Romanovs and attempts by revolutionaries to free their country and establish some sort of Socialist utopia. Events resulted in the breakup of the Koski family as Taipo, the father is arrested and later dies in captivity, and the children Ilmari, Aino, and Matti immigrate to America. Each chooses their own path, Ilmari leaves first and takes advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act in Knappton, Washington; Aino, who turned to socialism and organizing opposition to the Czarist regime is arrested, tortured, and raped as she is implicated in a plot to assassinate a Czarist bureaucrat and winds up in the same area working in a logging camp near her brother; and the youngest of the three, Matti has visions of creating his own logging business after being exposed to the hard labor of the northwest forests. The Koski family is not the only one fractured by the Czarist regime as the Langstrom brothers are torn from each other; Gunnar a socialist revolutionary facing arrest and his brother Askel, who fears the Okhrana, the Czarist secret police escapes to Sweden and later to America.

    Marlantes develops many important characters to go along with the Koski siblings, including historical ones like the International Workers of the World (IWW) organizer and rabble rouser, Joe Hill and many others. Each character is introduced in the context of the Koski family and how they fit into the growing conflict between labor and lumber management. Aino is haunted by the love she left behind and her increasing radicalization throughout the book that leads her to organizing loggers for the IWW that results in splitting her family. Ilmari is a deeply religious man who organizes a congregation for the church he builds, marries and focuses on family life. Matti and Aksel will come together to try and take advantage of the increasing demand for lumber due to World War I. The trials and tribulations of each gather force and capture the imagination of the reader throughout the over 700-page story.

    Marlantes does a superb job explaining how the lumber industry functioned in the early 20th century and how cruel and dangerous it was for the loggers many of which were Finnish and Swedish immigrants. Wages were low, living conditions appalling as labor exploitation by lumber barons led to strikes and violence created by the IWW as each demand; straw to sleep on or an eight-hour day created greater angst on the part of both sides. Marlantes develops the tension in the narrative very carefully as he introduces the different characters and their families in the context of historical events. The crisis for labor and the IWW is laid out and its impact is presented through strikes in Nordland and other areas and the role of government is explored. Congress first gave the land to the Northern Pacific Railroad to build a transportation network in a rather corrupt bargain. The railroad would sell the excess land for profit to lumber barons, who employed soldiers and police to break up any attempt at strikes or unionization. As law enforcement wished to stifle dissent in the name of national security, it led to the Espionage Act of 1917, which has a certain resonance to arguments made today by certain elements in Washington, DC. Other important historical events are woven into the story including the Spanish flu, the Palmer Raids, and the onset and effect of the Depression.

    Marlantes uses his family epic to convey a microcosm of American labor history focusing on lumber capitalists, loggers, the role of the federal government, the Red Scare that followed World War I, and the impact of the Stock Market crash of 1929. His description of the plight of loggers as they try to better themselves and for some, like the Koskis and Aksel who try to make it on their own, the forces that try and keep them under control, and the wish of loggers and later fishermen to be successful capitalists is heart rendering and very complicated.

    The authors grasp of Finnish culture and traditions is exemplary and adds a great deal to the story line. He offers his own families past and his childhood memories as a motivation for pursuing his chronicle of the Koski family . Marlantes has offered the reader a gift and having completed it I thank him greatly.

  • Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog:

    'Anger at the senseless cruelty of it all kept her awake at night.'

    Escaping Russian rule, siblings Ilmari, Matti, and Aino immigrate to America joining other Finns in the hopes that they will find the perfect place to thrive. Ilmari is the first to leave Finland, to avoid being drafted in the Russian army he flees his homeland. In America, Ilmari is a devout man who builds a farm of his own and a blacksmith shop before his brother Matti follows.

    via my blog:

    'Anger at the senseless cruelty of it all kept her awake at night.'

    Escaping Russian rule, siblings Ilmari, Matti, and Aino immigrate to America joining other Finns in the hopes that they will find the perfect place to thrive. Ilmari is the first to leave Finland, to avoid being drafted in the Russian army he flees his homeland. In America, Ilmari is a devout man who builds a farm of his own and a blacksmith shop before his brother Matti follows. Helping his brother for a time with the running of things, he must make a life for himself. By Christmas finding work with the sole options being fishing or logging, he choses logging. Felling trees, a job that can crush a man, easy. With no idea how, he swears to himself he will one day have his own company! Last is Aino, seventeen- years old and desperate for work. Already having suffered for her revolutionary beliefs back in Finland, the fire burns just as bright now in America. She isn’t happy to settle as some man’s wife and men want a woman to care for their families not a maid. Marriage is still against everything she believes in, and if she ever marries, she has to feel love, hers is a heart that cannot in good conscience settle. There are more important things to her future, and her socialist desires. Life isn’t easier in America, everything is not golden nor as ‘free’ as she imagined. Instead, they meet with backbreaking, deadly work logging in the forrest of Washington, where workers are nothing better than slaves making money for others (capitalism). A staunch socialist, Aino is well read, and desperate to fight for laborers rights often at the risk of her very life. Conflicted by the expectations of women of the times (have a family, settle down) she’d rather take part in activism, even when love comes calling. Is it better to settle down, safer? She is fed up being a live in servant, did enough of that before, and marriage is much the same too. She works for a time cooking for hundreds of men at a logging camp, Reder Logging. It comes to be the hardest work she has ever known. The reality is often disheartening, even later when she is a wife living in cheap lopsided quarters, it isn’t enough to please her. She must occupy herself with a life full of purpose, helping others. Escaping the unrest of their own country only to land in a place where one must continue to fight for human dignity, America isn’t turning out to be the dream Aino envisioned. Women should know their place, and certainly not be slipping off for meetings threatened by raids! A man who works his fingers to the bone relies on his good wife waiting with a meal, the home clean and comfortable. She’s a feminist, a fighter, a woman who won’t be caged but I admit, she could come off as self-righteous and selfish at times too. Could motherhood settle her?

    The men face loggers being killed, the equipment fails, people make mistakes that costs lives and no one is looking out for their safety. It matters to Aino. It is for ‘the common good’ and if she is called a communist, so be it, they must still fight! The powers that be don’t want strikes and of course will threaten those who dare strike with brute force. Naturally she finds herself jailed. The Koski siblings will rage against “slave wages, slave hours, and slave working conditions” and find their future as pioneers logging the vast forest of Washington. They will all search for their identity as they push for early labor rights or material success. From logging camps to fishing for salmon, strikes, Spanish flu, co-ops, the first cars, and captialism. Love and affairs, jail, unrest, starting families, and businesses in the new American dream. There is a lot happening in this novel that because of the historical scope it covers, the stories can sometimes leave the reader meandering. It is a rich, well researched historical fiction about the early days for Finish immigrants in the forrest and mills of Washington. More importantly it is a grim look at the fight for labors rights.

    Publication Date: July 2, 2019

    Grove Atlantic

  • Jessica Sullivan

    I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this 700+ page tome as much as I did. Turns out it was an incredibly fascinating and rewarding read.

    This family epic follows the three Koski siblings (Ilmari, Mattie and Aino) as they make their way from Finland to America's pacific northwest in the early 1900s and begin working in the dangerous, grueling logging industry.

    Aino is the central focal point of the narrative: a feminist heroine radicalized by her associat

    I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this 700+ page tome as much as I did. Turns out it was an incredibly fascinating and rewarding read.

    This family epic follows the three Koski siblings (Ilmari, Mattie and Aino) as they make their way from Finland to America's pacific northwest in the early 1900s and begin working in the dangerous, grueling logging industry.

    Aino is the central focal point of the narrative: a feminist heroine radicalized by her association with revolutionary left-wing political groups back in Finland, she sees an opportunity to organize the logging industry's first unions.

    Over the course of four decades, the Koski siblings struggle to build a life for themselves in early 20th century America--from fighting for a living wage and worker safety to establishing themselves as leaders and business owners.

    Increasingly torn between her dedication to political organizing and commitment to her family, Aino comes to realize that she can find purpose, meaning and solidarity in both.

    I learned so much from this book about the early labor movement, an incredible and essential part of American history. In our current era of late capitalism where movements like Democratic Socialism are gaining more and more ground, it was empowering to read about the initial formation of unions, and I found myself continuously cheering on Aino's impassioned arguments against capitalism.

    If you like immersing yourself in big, epic books, definitely don't miss this.

  • Jypsy

    Deep River is the story of the Koski family. One by one, members of the family flee Finland. They do this for political activism, avoiding army conscription, etc. They go to southern Washington state where there is a Finnish community. The Kolski family joins the logging business because it's the prevailing occupation at the time in this region. As the story unfolds, the terrible living conditions are described. Worse, however, are the dangers associated with logging. I learned so much from read

    Deep River is the story of the Koski family. One by one, members of the family flee Finland. They do this for political activism, avoiding army conscription, etc. They go to southern Washington state where there is a Finnish community. The Kolski family joins the logging business because it's the prevailing occupation at the time in this region. As the story unfolds, the terrible living conditions are described. Worse, however, are the dangers associated with logging. I learned so much from reading this. The workers could do very little to warrant safer conditions. It's well written and researched. They faced a terrible struggle toward demanding changes in their work environment. The Kolski family are embroiled in all of these situations. The characters are strong brave and resilient. Displaying these attributes and surviving the harsh conditions makes them admirable as well. The story is a great read about a part of history many know little about. I recommend for anyone with an interest in historical fiction. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  • Karen

    Another amazing book by former Marine (and Rhodes Scholar) Karl Marlantes. His first was the extraordinary novel about Vietnam, "Matterhorn." Deep River is a long and engaging saga of a group of young people who emigrate over a period of several years from rural Finland in the early 1900s to settle in the Washington/Oregon border area where the Columbia pours into the sea. They find work as loggers and fishermen, cooks and union organizers. They don't emigrate because they want to, but because f

    Another amazing book by former Marine (and Rhodes Scholar) Karl Marlantes. His first was the extraordinary novel about Vietnam, "Matterhorn." Deep River is a long and engaging saga of a group of young people who emigrate over a period of several years from rural Finland in the early 1900s to settle in the Washington/Oregon border area where the Columbia pours into the sea. They find work as loggers and fishermen, cooks and union organizers. They don't emigrate because they want to, but because for one reason or another they've had to leave Finland because they've gotten into trouble with the local authorities or with the Czar's secret police (Finland at this time is a duchy of Russia) or because there's no way for them to earn a living . The story centers around three siblings: the brothers Ilmari and Matti, and their sister Aino. Coming into the story are their friends and loves, their work colleagues, their children and in-laws, and many more characters. There are so many rich themes in this book: loyalty, religion and spirituality, human rights, workers rights, city vs. country, rich vs. poor, workers vs. owners, the Depression and Prohibition, politics, old ways vs. new ways, what it means to be an American, and more. This sounds like a lot, but most of the themes are interconnected and brilliantly interwoven. You don't have to be interested in any of this to really enjoy the book: at its simplest it's a well-crafted tale that will draw you in and keep you engaged. Highly recommend it!

  • Becky Motew

    4.2 stars

    What an achievement! An impressively ambitious work covering the family history of a Finnish family, Aino and her brothers Matti and Ilmari and the history of logging and fishing in the US Pacific Northwest.

    KM takes us inside the logging camps and explains in (sometimes excruciating) detail how the winches work and the cables and the steam donkeys and also how bad the camps smell. It's good to remember that we got here from there.

    Also the sometimes violent history of the Wobblies is tol

    4.2 stars

    What an achievement! An impressively ambitious work covering the family history of a Finnish family, Aino and her brothers Matti and Ilmari and the history of logging and fishing in the US Pacific Northwest.

    KM takes us inside the logging camps and explains in (sometimes excruciating) detail how the winches work and the cables and the steam donkeys and also how bad the camps smell. It's good to remember that we got here from there.

    Also the sometimes violent history of the Wobblies is told. I was a little surprised with Aino being such a strong and bold and inspirational character that nothing was ever said about women's suffrage in that same time period. But of course she was born in Finland and it wouldn't have been part of her "sisu." Also, a small point but why did the children never think of bringing their mother over from Finland?

    Vibrant and rich storytelling and a compelling companion piece to Annie Proulx's Barkskins.

  • Karen Kay

    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review.

    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.

    Good Beginning but overall the book could have been several pages shorter. I lost interest in the minutia, and there was a lot of minutia.

    2☆

  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    The trials and tribulations of the Koski siblings as they flee from Russian-occupied Finland to logging country in Washington state in the early 20th century.

    To be fair, I am

    the target demographic for this book, and it was made

    clear to me the more I read it.

    This is the kind of book that boomer-aged white guys love—that thick, historical fiction tome that is both interesting

    something you can show off.

    Think James Michener or Ken Follett (although I actually kinda l

    The trials and tribulations of the Koski siblings as they flee from Russian-occupied Finland to logging country in Washington state in the early 20th century.

    To be fair, I am

    the target demographic for this book, and it was made

    clear to me the more I read it.

    This is the kind of book that boomer-aged white guys love—that thick, historical fiction tome that is both interesting

    something you can show off.

    Think James Michener or Ken Follett (although I actually kinda like Follett's historical fiction), where men are men and women are...well, they are

    and

    and

    because

    .

    My first clue should have been the blurb, where Aino was touted as one of the book's many "strong, independent women." Remember that Twitter hashtag where people parodied stereotypical male writers writing women?

    These women don't quite breast boobily, but they come close.

    Never have I ever been as preoccupied with my boobs and my ribs as Aino is.

    Not only is this poor writing, but it's really condescending. "Strong in a girl way?" Wtf.

    Plus, there's a lovely "she was curvy in all the right places" description, and I'm not quite sure if he was describing a woman, a bed post or a sine wave because what does "curvy in all the right places" even mean??

    Anywho, I really did enjoy the descriptions of logging—this aspect was precisely why I picked this book up—and that it takes place in southwest Washington, close to the Oregon border. While the descriptions of the Columbia River tended to wax a little too poetic, I had serious nostalgia for home. I also was fascinated by the history of the early labor movement and the various politics of Finland, Russia and the United States.

    But ultimately my enjoyment of the general plot and the setting wasn't enough to pull me into the storyline. Poorly written female characters (there are probably male authors and male readers who will probably contest me—a woman—stating this) sucked my enjoyment from the storyline, along with two out-of-the-blue n-words (seriously white authors, I don't care how "historically accurate" you wish to be, this is not our word to use).

    Honestly, I'm pissed that I didn't enjoy this more and even more pissed that I spent 3 days slogging through it when I have other books to read.

    if you're a white cis male boomer who enjoys long, family-oriented historical tomes that could probably stand to be heavily edited.

    if you're literally anyone else.

    I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

    Hey, I have a blog!

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  • Jeanette

    No rating. Just too long winded. Dire lyrical is just not for me. I was interested but the verbosity and redundant intersects just buried it alive.

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