Download Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival Audiobook

Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jeffersons Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival Audiobook, by Peter Stark Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Peter Stark Narrator: Michael Kramer Publisher: HarperAudio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2014 ISBN: 9780062308771
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In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Skeletons in the Zahara, Astoria is the thrilling, true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire on the Pacific Coast. Peter Stark offers a harrowing saga in which a band of explorers battled nature, starvation, and madness to establish the first American settlement in the Pacific Northwest and opened up what would become the Oregon trail, permanently altering the nation's landscape and its global standing.

Six years after Lewis and Clark's began their journey to the Pacific Northwest, two of the Eastern establishment's leading figures, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson, turned their sights to founding a colony akin to Jamestown on the West Coast and transforming the nation into a Pacific trading power. Author and correspondent for Outside magazine Peter Stark recreates this pivotal moment in American history for the first time for modern readers, drawing on original source material to tell the amazing true story of the Astor Expedition.

Unfolding over the course of three years, from 1810 to 1813, Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship in the wilderness and at sea. Of the more than one hundred-forty members of the two advance parties that reached the West Coast—one crossing the Rockies, the other rounding Cape Horn—nearly half perished by violence. Others went mad. Within one year, the expedition successfully established Fort Astoria, a trading post on the Columbia River. Though the colony would be short-lived, it opened provincial American eyes to the potential of the Western coast and its founders helped blaze the Oregon Trail.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Peter Stark’s Astoria picks up where the Lewis and Clark Expedition leaves off, providing a fascinating and sometimes terrifying window into the brutal and acquisitive essence of not only America but of the human condition. It’s also a great and…an ennobling tale of survival. Highly recommended.”

    Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times bestselling author of Bunker Hill

  • “[A] harrowing historical tale of adventure and hardship.”


  • “In Astoria, Peter Stark recounts the colony’s history as a fast-paced, enjoyable adventure tale.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Stark’s delightful narrative is proof that even though Astor didn’t leave the legacy he intended, his grand failure certainly deserves its own place in history.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Stark moves skillfully back and forth from one segment of the splintered expedition to another. He also raises a tantalizing question about the enterprise as a whole.”

    Washington Post

  • “[Descriptive] passages…make Stark’s fine book truly distinctive. They raise Astoria above the level of a well-done historical adventure and help the reader get into a scene and understand the context or see relationships between participants and between then and now.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Peter Stark’s Astoria is a vivid recreation of an era when the Pacific Northwest was a vast unexploited wilderness, with Astoria as its main American colony…Stark is particularly strong in describing the wilderness and its effects on human psychology.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Stark tells their grim story well…a well-written . . . account of John Jacob Astor’s attempt to found a commercial empire in the Pacific Northwest. It illuminates the cultural limits of the American approach to frontier expansion.”


  • “The story of its founders is harshly inspiring, a deeply researched look into the irresistible drive to explore the unknown and the capacity of people to survive not only the elements but one another.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “A valuable book…but more importantly for my perspective, it’s really good reading.”

    NPR’s “Morning Edition”

  • “A fast-paced, riveting account of exploration and settlement, suffering and survival, treachery and death. [Stark] recovers a remarkable piece of history: the story of America’s first colony on the continent’s West coast.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A page-turning tale of ambition, greed, politics, survival, and loss.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Stark vividly writes of fur trader John Jacob Astor’s capitalist quest…[a] fascinating account…that never loses its focus.”

    Library Journal

  • “Author Peter Stark retraces the journey in spellbinding detail, making use of journals to get inside the minds of these explorers who set out just two years after Lewis and Clark successfully crossed the continent…Astoria brings to life a harrowing era of American exploration.”


  • “A thrilling true-adventure tale filled with unforgettable characters, clashes of culture, ambition, and physical hardships from starvation to Indian attacks to cruel weather. A breathtaking account of an expedition that changed the geography of a young nation and its place in global commerce and politics.”


  • “Michael Kramer narrates Stark’s superb account at a crisp pace. Through Kramer’s voice, the listener can imagine bawdy Scottish fur trappers negotiating with Native American leaders and the lively songs of the French-Canadian canoe masters who were capable of paddling for fifteen hours straight. Kramer gravely describes the incomprehensible horrors of being lost in a mountain snowstorm for a month and the anxiety of sailors trapped on a capsizing ship controlled by a madman. An epic chronicle.


  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
  • A New York Times bestseller

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About the Author

Peter Stark is the author of The Last Empty Spaces, Last Breath, At the Mercy of the River, and the essay collection Driving to Greenland. He is the editor of the anthology Ring of Ice. A correspondent for Outside, he has written for Smithsonian and the New Yorker, among other publications, and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. He lives in Montana.

About the Narrator

Michael Kramer is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration, and recipient of a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award. He is also an actor and director in the Washington, DC, area, where he is active in the area’s theater scene and has appeared in productions at the Shakespeare Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and Theater J.