The Canoeist 

Published in June, 2007, The Canoeist (Jefferson Press) is a gripping memoir that draws on Manuel’s 50 years canoeing the waters of North America. Each chapter unfolds on a different river and captures a unique time in the author’s life and the life of the nation.

The fire on the Cuyahoga, the anti-war demonstrations on the banks of the Potomac, the resurrection of the Pigeon River in Tennessee all serve as backdrops in this alternately exhilarating, poignant and funny journey to manhood. The Canoeist is also a parable on family and community.

The tensions depicted between father and son, the joys and burdens of being a child, parent, husband and friend, provide emotional depth that complements the exquisite writing and fast-paced action.   

Authors/Editors Praise for The Canoeist:

“This book is a rarity: an excellent memoir by a fresh, new voice.”

Lee Smith, author of Last Girls


“A riveting read. You will love this book, even if you don’t canoe.”

Cliff Jacobson, author of Expedition Canoeing


“After just a few pages, I rediscovered the joy of a well-crafted essay. By the time I’d finished the chapter, I’d already decided I’d find room for it in the magazine.”

Ross Prather, editor Canoe & Kayak


"An honest take on a man's path of self-discovery viewed through the lessons learned from a lifetime of running rivers." Paddler Magazine


"What makes The Canoeist worthy is Manuel's ability to put us in the boat with him, spectating from the stern." The News & Observer (Raleigh North Carolina)


"When Durham author and environmental advocate John Manuel decided to write a book about canoeing, he had a choice to make: write something that would be sold in bait shops, or write literature. The result is The Canoeist, part nature guide, part memoir, a combination that works ..." The Independent Weekly, Durham

Listen to John's interview on Cleveland's public radio show, The Sound of Ideas.