Book Review: Kings of the Yukon by Adam Weymouth

I bought this book thinking that it was be all about the author canoeing almost 2,000 miles down the length of the mighty Yukon, through Canada and Alaska. The book is more about the greatest salmon of them all, known in Alaska as the King and in Canada as the Chinook.

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The locals say that the king salmon is the finest tasting fish in the world, and Adam is on a journey, maybe a quest, to paddle from far up stream all the way to the ocean. Interacting with the locals and the indigenous people, talking about the old ways, how the salmon were caught, eaten and preserved, and more importantly has the catch changed over the years. The obvious answer to the last question is yes, there are far fewer salmon than there used to be, and they are smaller and younger. The catch for many years was unsustainable, which greatly effects the upstream communities, who are not to blame for the decrease, but who have to ration their fishing.

Adam looks at the history of the area, with it’s cold dark winters, the early settlers and how the indigenous population was badly treated by the Canadian and American governments. Many indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families to go to schools hundreds or thousands of miles away, in an attempt to make them less ‘indigenous’. Obviously this policy has had a profound effect on communities for generations, with alcohol and drug problems rife.

A well written book and deservedly winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2018.