New Release Books by Rinker Buck

Rinker Buck is the author of Life on the Mississippi (2022), First Job (2021), The Oregon Trail (2015), Flight of Passage (2013), Shane Comes Home (2009) and , If We Had Wings (2001).

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Life on the Mississippi

release date: Aug 09, 2022
Life on the Mississippi
The eagerly awaited return of master American storyteller Rinker Buck, whose last book The Oregon Trail was a triumphant New York Times bestseller, Life on the Mississippi is another epic, enchanting blend of history and adventure in which Buck builds an authentic wooden flatboat from the early 1800s and pilots it down the Mississippi River, illuminating the forgotten past of the river and its grand “flatboat era” that dramatically expanded the country in the decades before Western expansion. In 2015, readers, critics, and booksellers across the country fell in love with a singular American voice: Rinker Buck, whose infectious curiosity about history launched him across the West in a covered wagon and propelled his book, The Oregon Trail, to ten weeks on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. The Oregon Trail was hailed as a “real nonfiction thriller” (The New York Review of Books), a “quintessential American story” (The Christian Science Monitor) that “so ensnares the emotions it becomes a tear-jerker at its close” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and “will leave you daydreaming and hungry to see this land” (The Boston Globe). The New York Times’s Dwight Garner said that Buck’s voice “is alert and unpretentious in a manner that put me in mind of Bill Bryson’s comic tone in A Walk in the Woods.” Now, in his highly anticipated new book, Life on the Mississippi, Buck chronicles his latest grand adventure: building an authentic wooden flatboat from the bygone flatboat era of the early 1800s and journeying down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. A modern-day Huck Finn, Buck casts off down the river accompanied by an eccentric crew of daring shipmates. Over the course of his voyage, Buck steers his fragile wooden craft through narrow channels dominated by massive cargo barges, rescues his first mate gone overboard, sails blindly through fog, clashes with overzealous period reenactors, and much more. In addition, he charts his own geographical and emotional journey while also delivering a richly satisfying work of history that brings to life a lost era. The role of the flatboat in our country’s evolution is far more significant than most Americans realize. Decades before we struck out for the Western territories, we migrated Southwest en masse. Between 1800 and 1840, millions of farmers, merchants, and hopeful pioneers embarked from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia on wooden flatboats headed beyond the Appalachians to places like Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The mighty river currents carried waves of settlers and tons of cargo from farms to ports, populating new territories and revolutionizing the American landscape. As Buck points out, the inland rivers of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys were in fact America’s first western frontier. With a rare and captivating narrative power that blends armchair adventure with absorbing untold history, Life on the Mississippi is a muscular and majestic feat of storytelling from a writer who may be the closest to Twain that we have today.

First Job

release date: May 01, 2021
First Job
The classic coming-of-age memoir from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Oregon Trail, about a special time in every young adult’s life—the first “real” job out of college. Ask Rinker Buck about his first job, and you’ll get the enchanting and engaging account that not only captures the experience of being a “twenty-two-year-old with the maxed-out brain,” but also evokes a special time and place: the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts in the early 1970s. As a recent grad, Buck was determined to find his voice as a writer and every moment felt like a new world opening wide. His memoir First Job is, on its most basic level, the story of Buck’s years as a cub reporter at The Berkshire Eagle, a great country newspaper in its glory years. But on a deeper level, it is a story that serves as a paradigm for everyone’s first job. Buck’s tale introduces the mentors who guided him through a raw and anxious time, lovers who exposed him to new levels of intimacy, and adventures that could only have happened to a young man who didn’t know any better. From Buck’s impromptu job interview with the Eagle’s venerable and eccentric publisher, Pete Miller—who quizzed him on Civil War history—to his picaresque adventures on the front lines of the sexual revolution, to his exhilarating hikes along the purple-black Berkshire peaks with Roger Linscott, he reconstructs a magical time in his life, a time when nothing seemed impossible or out of reach. The first job experience and its meaning may be vastly underrated and misunderstood, but Buck shows that it is as timely and important as any other life passage. First jobs are our baptism into the real world, our immersion in to the real “stuff” of life. Everyone has a first job, and with rare storytelling power and emotions laid bare, Rinker Buck brings back just how it felt.

The Oregon Trail

release date: Jun 30, 2015
The Oregon Trail
In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck''s The Oregon Trail is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules—which hasn''t been done in a century—that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country. Spanning 2,000 miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used it to emigrate West—historians still regard this as the largest land migration of all time—the trail united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. The trail years also solidified the American character: our plucky determination in the face of adversity, our impetuous cycle of financial bubbles and busts, the fractious clash of ethnic populations competing for the same jobs and space. Today, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten. Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. The New Yorker described his first travel narrative,Flight of Passage, as “a funny, cocky gem of a book,” and with The Oregon Trailhe seeks to bring the most important road in American history back to life. At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of bestsellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck''s 2,000-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. He was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an “incurably filthy” Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, Buck dodges thunderstorms in Nebraska, chases his runaway mules across miles of Wyoming plains, scouts more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, crosses the Rockies, makes desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water, and repairs so many broken wheels and axels that he nearly reinvents the art of wagon travel itself. Apart from charting his own geographical and emotional adventure, Buck introduces readers to the evangelists, shysters, natives, trailblazers, and everyday dreamers who were among the first of the pioneers to make the journey west. With a rare narrative power, a refreshing candor about his own weakness and mistakes, and an extremely attractive obsession for history and travel,The Oregon Trail draws readers into the journey of a lifetime.

Flight of Passage

release date: Mar 05, 2013
Flight of Passage
Writer Rinker Buck looks back more than 30 years to a summer when he and his brother, at ages 15 and 17 respectively, became the youngest duo to fly across America, from New Jersey to California. Having grown up in an aviation family, the two boys bought an old Piper Cub, restored it themselves, and set out on the grand journey. Buck is a great storyteller, and once you get airborne with the boys you find yourself absorbed in a story of adventure and family drama. And Flight of Passage is also an affecting look back to the summer of 1966, when the times seemed much less cynical and adventures much more enjoyable.

Shane Comes Home

release date: Oct 13, 2009
Shane Comes Home
On March 21, 2003, while leading a rifle platoon into combat, Marine Lieutenant Shane Childers became the first combat fatality of the Iraq War. In this gripping, beautifully written personal history, award-winning writer Rinker Buck chronicles Shane''s death and his life, exploring its meaning for his family, his fellow soldiers, and the country itself. It is the story of an intelligent, gifted soldier who embodied the soul of today''s all-volunteer warrior class; of the town of Powell, Wyoming, which had taken Shane into its heart; and of the Marine detail sent to deliver the news to the Childers family and the extraordinary connection that formed between them. At once an inspiring account of commitment to the military and a moving story of family and devotion, Shane Comes Home rises above politics to capture the life of a remarkable young man who came to symbolize the heart of America during a difficult time.

If We Had Wings

release date: Jan 01, 2001
If We Had Wings
An account of humankind''s fascination with flight ranges from the early dreamers of the Renaissance to the moon landing and features photographs, documents, and other artifacts that provide a hands-on look at the history of aviation.
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