A stunningly lyrical firsthand account of a life spent hunting, studying, and living alongside caribou, A Thousand Trails Home encompasses the historical past and present-day, revealing the fragile intertwined lives of people and animals surviving on an uncertain landscape of cultural and climatic change sweeping the Alaskan Arctic. Author Seth Kantner vividly illuminates this critical story about the interconnectedness of the Iñupiat of Northwest Alaska, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, and the larger Arctic region. This story has global relevance as it takes place in one of the largest remaining intact wilderness ecosystems on the planet, ground zero for climate change in the US. This compelling and complex tale revolves around the politics of caribou, race relations, urban vs. rural demands, subsistence vs. sport hunting, and cultural priorities vs. resource extraction – a story that requires a fearless writer with an honest voice and an open heart.
Seth Kantner was born and raised in northern Alaska and has worked as a trapper, wilderness guide, wildlife photographer, gardening teacher, and adjunct professor. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Outside, Orion, and Smithsonian. Kantner is the author of the award-winning novel Ordinary Wolves, memoir Shopping for Porcupine, and collection of essays Swallowed by the Great Land: And Other Dispatches from Alaska's Frontier. He has been a commercial fisherman in Kotzebue Sound for more than four decades and lives in the Northwest Arctic.
"An exceptionally well written, impressively informative, and inherently fascinating read from first page to last."
– Midwest Book Review
"The breathtaking photographs that illustrate this book, in concert with essays that describe all that is happening underfoot and beyond the horizon to unravel this beauty, make A Thousand Trails Home gut-wrenching in its impact."
– Richard Adams Carey, Wall Street Journal
"Beautifully written and deeply introspective, A Thousand Trails Home may be the book Kantner has been aiming his powers at all along, a masterwork only he could deliver."
– Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News
"[...] his own personal story [...] reads as the adventure Jack London and Jon Krakauer wished they had lived"
– Booklist starred review
"A Thousand Trails Home is a labor of love that advocates for more balanced ways of treating caribou and protecting the amazing Alaskan wilderness."
– Foreword Reviews
"Readers will gain a new appreciation of these magnificent ruminants through Kantner's sharply focused eyes."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A Thousand Trails Home is a book of supernal majesty, a book to break and restore your heart. Seth Kantner's devotion to the living pulse and unity of the skein of wonder that is the Alaskan wilderness haunts and inspires me."
– Louise Erdrich, author of The Night Watchman
"A Thousand Trails Home is a literary tour de force that reaffirms Seth Kantner's place as one of Alaska's premier writers. An amalgam of intimate autobiography and impeccable nature writing, Kantner's luminous prose transports the reader to a timeless world, shaped by great waves of hooves and antlers."
– Nick Jans, author of A Wolf Called Romeo
"A Thousand Trails Home is both an intimate memoir of a family who made their home above the Arctic Circle, and a well-observed natural history of the caribou they hunted and consumed. Seth Kantner has become an important Alaskan writer with a singular voice – a humble and exacting observer of a world he is privileged to have experienced. The result is extraordinary."
– John Straley, poet and author of the Cecil Younger Mysteries
"Beloved Alaskan author Seth Kantner has written his magnum opus. A Thousand Trails Home is an inspiring and important book about Alaskan culture, biology, philosophy, history – and love for the creature at the heart of life on the tundra. Through deft storytelling and exquisite, gut-wrenching prose, Kantner shows us how caribou might be the ultimate harbinger of what is to come for humanity if we can't slow down and learn from the land, the elders, and those animals on whom our very existence depends."
– Don Rearden, author of The Raven's Gift
"Seth Kantner is the most interesting person and the finest writer I know. I savor his writing as I have savored the work of Annie Proulx and John McPhee. Nature is not landscape or subject matter for him; it is sustenance, literal and emotional. He doesn't just write what he knows; he writes what he lives and breathes. This book is extraordinary."
– Mary Roach, author of Stiff, Gulp, and Grunt