Book Review of
Graveyard of the Pacific
Graveyard of the Pacific by Randall Sullivan was published in 2023. It is a nonfiction book about shipwrecks.
I love to visit bookstores when we travel. Every bookstore is unique in what it carries. Yes, they will all have the same new releases as you walk in the door, but as you explore the shelves a little deeper, you will find that every bookstore had its own personality.
Independent bookstores are also a great way to find books that are set in or about the area. This book is a great example of that.
I picked up Graveyard of the Pacific at Cannon Beach Books when we visited Cannon Beach, Oregon, in June. I love Cannon Beach Books. Partly because I grew up about an hour from Cannon Beach and it is my favorite beach town, but also because it is a great bookstore.
This is not a book I would have read if I had not seen it at Cannon Beach Books. As soon as I saw the topic though I knew that I would be buying it.
Graveyard of the Pacific is about the area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful place to visit and to live. But it can be harsh too. The weather and the currents where the river meets the ocean are unlike any other place.
For generations only the toughest and the bravest have navigated the passage from the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. Many have not survived it.
This book covers many of those shipwrecks, but it is also part memoir. As part of writing this book the author and a friend tried crossing the stretch of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, in a two-man Kayak. That is something few people would try to do.
At first, I was not sure about the memoir part of the book, but by the end I really enjoyed it.
I grew up not far from the area this book talks about. My parents are both lifelong Oregonians. I know the type of men that live and work in the rural parts of Oregon and that live and work at the mouth of the Columbia River.
It is a rough and tough world that many don’t last in. It takes tough men to work and live there. And tough strong women as well.
The memoir part of this book helps you understand the type of men that are tough enough to work the ships, docks, etc. at the mouth of the Columbia River. Many of these men lived through difficult childhoods and those difficulties shaped them in both good and bad ways. In many cases, what they endured gave them the strength and fearlessness to do the work they did.
Will this be a book that everyone will enjoy? Probably not. But if you have lived in or spent much time in the area near Astoria, Oregon, I think this will be a book you find interesting.
You will recognize the places. You will understand a lot about the history of the people who have worked and lived there over the last several hundred years. And you will probably be reminded of what makes the far northwest corner of Oregon and the southwest corner of Washington State so unique.
Thank you Cannon Beach for once again helping me pick a book that reminds me so much of home.