29 June 2014

The Wind Is Not A River by Brian Payton, Book review

3D Bookshot - Wind is Not a River
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 7, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062279972


The Wind Is Not a River is Brian Payton's gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife—separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil—fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.
Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, he heads north to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government. 
While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as “the birthplace of winds.” There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese. 
Alone at home, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is—and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows

(Aleutian Islands - Photo source HERE)

My thoughts:

A fictional narrative of survival in one of the harshest environment on earth, The WIND IS NOT A RIVER is a story of a love so strong, nothing seems impossible and of those unforgettable friendships forged in the darkest of times.

In June 1942 the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor located in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Days later their infantry seized the islands of Attu and Kiska.

Military censorship made it mandatory that no reporters were allowed in the Alaskan territory and little information were released to US civilians despite the fact the Aleutian Islands would become in the following months the stage for the only battle to be fought on American soil.
This little known event of WW 2 front line is the backdrop for this stunning story of one man's survival in the Alaskan wilderness and of the woman who never gave up hope to see him again.

A free lance reporter known for his articles on avian migration, John Easley is one of two journalists banned from Alaska when rumours of war reaching American soil becomes known.  Not long after, he is shot down whilst traveling undercover as part of RCAF aboard a PBY Catalina flying boat and finds himself marooned on Attu Island. No one knows of his whereabouts least of all his wife Helen in Seattle.

Determined to live, John finds his survival the ultimate test of his abilities. Without food or supplies, he is struggling to remain inconspicuous on an island held by the enemy. As days and weeks goes by, he faces the eventuality of discovery, imprisonment or even being shot as a spy. Hope is almost lost until one day he uncovers a little tin containing a small picture.

Helen in the meantime refuses to give up hope and is determined to find the truth of his disappearance. In a desperate attempt to locate her husband, she joins a USO group and finds herself in the stark Alaskan landscape.

Brian Payton's astounding tale of a love that would not die and Easley' struggle for survival is one of those stories guaranteed to raise questions. How could we have forgotten this strategic part of the war and the effect on both bystanders (Aleuts) and the helpless GI's sent to regain this little known part of American soil?

Ill equipped, with little (or none) adequate understanding of the terrain and facing a desperate enemy pushed to suicidal extremes, five hundred thousand people participated in this conflict, including dozens of ships, hundreds of planes, ultimately loosing an estimated ten thousand lives.

Through Payton's first rate writing, we not only discover all this but also the power of love in a time when courage was needed and faith remains the only thing left!

Stunning in details, graphic at times and a novel not soon forgotten!
Absolutely 5 stars!!

A P-38 Lightning above the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1943

(Source here)

Meet the Author:

Image of Brian Payton
(Author photo by Alison Rosa)

From Amazon:

Brian Payton has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. 
He is the author of Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness, which was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Book Club pick, a Pearl's Pick on NPR, and a National Outdoor Book Awards Book of the Year. 
The Ice Passage: A True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness and his novel Hail Mary Corner were published to acclaim in Canada.

Visit his website (HERE)

Note: This was a library loan and reflects only my opinion!


  1. Here's a difficult question for you (I think). Have you thought of putting together a list of the top 10 best books you have read and reviewed. You've reviewed so many on this Blog. Which ones are your top favourites?

    God bless.

    1. Not difficult at all Victor but here is my thoughts on the subject: if I was to make such a list and publish it, it would inevitably upset someone.
      It's also a very personal thing: I like certain books for entirely private reasons which I do not wish to share.
      I also read (entirely for my own pleasure) others books (than those listed) and do not share my findings for one reason or another. (i.e. The Rape of Belgium by Larry Zuckerman).
      Historical fiction is by far my favourite genre and I will leave it at that.
      Blessings Friend,


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