In a Far Country
The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898
At the heart of the rescue expedition lies another, in some ways more compelling, journey. In a Far Country is the personal odyssey of Tom and Ellen Lopp - their commitment to the natives and the rugged but happy life they built for themselves amid a treeless tundra at the top of the world. The Lopps pulled through on grit and wits, on humility and humor, on trust and love, and by the grace of God. Their accomplishment would surely have received broader acclaim had it not been eclipsed by two simultaneous events: the Spanish-American War and the Alaska gold rush. The United States and its territories were transformed abruptly and irrevocably by these fits of expansionist fever, and despite the thoughtful, determined guidance of the Lopps, the natives of the North were soon overwhelmed by a force mightier than the fiercest Arctic winter: the twentieth century.
“It is hard to believe that the epic adventures of Tom and Ellen Lopp have remained largely undiscovered until now. In a Far Country is a gripping and inspiring true story that combines all the best elements of a touching love poem, a deep and resounding history lesson, and a pulse-quickening action-adventure tale. John Taliaferro’s research is impressive and thorough, and his writing is crisp and vivid. He does not impose himself on the story, but rather lets his remarkable characters and their actions breathe and live on the page. Riveting.”
author of "The Ice Master" and "Ada Blackjack"
“Here is the perfect Arctic adventure – smart, exciting, and all true. A hard one to put down. If you want more ice cold courage and endurance on land and sea than John Taliaferro has woven out of history, you’re not getting enough frostbite lately.”
author of "Ordinary Wolves"
“[Taliaferro’s] well-written account focuses on the trials and triumphs of the Lopps, their family life, and their American Missionary Association work in frontier Alaska prior to and immediately after the rescue expedition…. [A] vivid, thoughtful, and often heartbreaking portrait of a brutal yet fragile wilderness, threatened by the destabilizing encroachment of modernity into native communities.”
“In 1898, [Tom] Lopp was called upon to lead a winter-relief expedition 700 miles north to Barrow to bring reindeer to feed 200 whalers whose ships had become trapped in the ice. Although Taliaferro uses this exciting tale to frame his book, it’s only part of the story…. We catch glimpse of the Alaskan frontier at a time of enormous change.”
“Rich in detail … a thorough account of a long-forgotten adventure.”
“A rip-snorting yarn of man pitted against the elements….”
“[A]n adventure tale in the grand tradition….”
“A superb against-the-odds tale…”
“[F]or all the excitement Jack London brought to a story, it hardly compares to the real deal as brought to life by John Taliaferro.”