Cover Image: Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail

Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail

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Member Reviews

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this new work!

This was terrific. I have read many AT books and this is now my favorite! The writing was very good. It was a joy to tag along on the personal journey that the writer went through while on this AT hike. Highly recommend this. Many of the AT books get a little stale after a while but not this one. Worth the read!
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As a 2010 AT hiker I really appreciated this book and the excellent writing from the author. So many hiking memoirs do not have good editing and the story can run a bit dry. I was hooked from the start and appreciated the perspectives he offered, both from his years in the military and as a hiker on the trail. An must read for for anyone interested in thru-hiking.
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I've read a number of books about walking the Appalachian trail and other long distance walks and I really enjoy hearing about the experiences of the trips, ups and downs both physically and metaphorically and some of the nitty gritty involved.
This book separates itself from similar walking experience books with the inclusion of the authors experience in Iraq and these sections are excellent, really insightful and fascinating. My only criticism really is that I would have liked more of them. I guess the idea is that he is using his walk to move on/process and perhaps move away from his was experiences so the 'flashbacks' to this time become less as the book progresses but this seems a shame as both aspects are equally interesting to the reader. Whilst he becomes more and more disillusioned by life in the army, this change would be worth exploring further as there must be others out there who had experienced similar rather than just juxtaposing this with his time on the trail lifting his mood and spirit and suggesting this as a solution.
Great to see the brotherly relationship develop throughout and again I would have loved to hear his brother's views on the opposite angle - Iraq etc.
Really enjoyable as a read and overall definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested in walking, challenging yourself or making changes in life.
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A very enjoyable read! I've read some other books about long hikes and it really amazes me what people are capable of, I'm not really an outdoor kind of person, not that kind anyway!, so it's good we have people like N.B. Hankes write about their adventures, so we can enjoy them too!
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Engaging, enlightening and brilliant. It is well written and follows the inner journey of an Iraq war veteran after returning home.
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This is the first time I have to write a very difficult review on NetGalley, so first of all: I'd like to thank NetGalley, N.B. Hankes and BooksGoSocial for providing me with an ARC copy of this book!

Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy (or finish) this book. I requested it because the discription (and gorgeous cover) intruiged me and I don't regret picking it up. However, right when I started reading this I noticed that the writing style was very hard to keep up with (especially as a non-native English reader). The scenes seemed to jump around and the dialogue was so discriptive (and complicated in word-choice), that it was very difficult to keep track of what was happening.

Besides this fact, I can see what this book could mean to somebody (I might even pick it up again in the future) and I feel like I could've learned a lot from this book, if I had been able to get through it. The deeply personal touch of this book is something that makes it very special (nobody can ignore that).

So I hope nobody turns this book down immediately because of my review (and inability to enjoy it), because I do believe it deserves a fair chance. 

I'll end this review with a quote from the book:

"To question the institution of America's military and its geopolitical mission has nothing to do with questioning the valor and heroism of the American soldier." (...) "To criticize a war is to criticize the chess players, not the chess pieces."
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Let me start by saying I have read close to 50 books about thru hikes and this is definitely in the top 3. It goes way beyond a recounting of each mile hiked and explore how two brothers, Nate and Ben and a friend they picked up along the way, Dylan come to grips with questions of life as they hike Southbound on the Appalachian trail. I have always wanted to hike the AT and life got in the way but I can experience the hike through these books. I has some of the day to day grind in the book but the author doesnt give the name brand of each item he hikes with and the specifics that I can do without that are in most thru hiking stories. This book explores the bigger picture of what the author and his brother hoped to gain from this hike and I was glad to be along for the ride.
Thank you Netgalley, N. B. Hankes and BooksGoSocial for the ARC for my honest review.
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This has pretty much everything you would want from a memoir. It’s deeply personal, thought provoking, not overly self-obsessed or indulgent, and has its fair share of comedic moments that got me laughing to myself (quite the feat). For this kind of work, the amount of description was perfect for placing the reader in the moment alongside Hankes without being overly burdened by the details of every leaf and stone. While much of the inner journey revolved around the same few subjects, the content never got stale for me.  I was greatly impressed by the skill to know what to include and exclude and how. My only gripe is at times some editing seemed rushed with minor errors or typos, especially near the end. This is a phenomenal debut published work. Kudos to N.B. Hankes, and I will follow his writing career with great interest.
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I enjoyed Nate's story of his hike along the Appalachian trail with his brother.  Nate, aged 23, has recently returned from a time serving the American army in Iraq and his brother had recently finished college.  I didn't have much in common with the two brothers, apart from the hiking and the need to question my life but it was a lovely refreshing, insight into his life and his journey.
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Thank you netgalley and Booksgosocial for access to this arc. 

Looking for something different, I picked up this memoir of a veteran and his brother hiking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia (SOBOs in trail parlance). Nathan is fresh out of a four year tour in the Army while his older brother finished a college degree he now knows is useless to him. Though it’s supposed to be a bonding experience for the two, it also serves as time for both to figure out what they want in life and (more importantly) for Nathan to try and reconcile his experiences in and reasons for joining the Army. 

Parts of the book I found funny and fascinating. Much of the narrative is spent on the day to day experiences of hiking over 2000 miles in all kinds of weather – both beautiful and dreadful. Ben and Nathan meet with generous and lovely people who give of what they have and offer the blessings of home cooked meals, washing machines, showers, and nights on sofas. They also end up spending over half the trail with Dylan, a counter culture, toking, philosophical hippie who schools Nathan in the horrors of modern American consumerism, privilege, greed, and the military-industrial complex. Nathan’s seeming naivete is at times staggering. 

I would have liked to have learned more about Nathan’s time in the service and spent less time listening to Dylan. I also thought the book shortchanged us in telling one incident that appears to have been the dealbreaker for Nathan staying in the Army. There are hints of how badly this affected him then a little is told only for it to fade to black. Some of the book is profound, some is funny, but a lot strains credulity and it went on too long. C
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Waking Up on The Appalachian Trail: A Story of War, Brotherhood, and The Pursuit of Truth by N.B Hankes is a memoir detailing the intellectual and spiritual awaking of Nate Hankes, a young, bewildered and troubled war veteran as he and his brother hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail over five months. 

Hankes, a drone operator during the Iraq War, chose to hike the trail with his brother after his return and details their trip with writing that belies his youth. Hankes has written a memoir that grows along with his insights as the miles of the trail fall away.  Intermingled with segments of their hiking, Hankes also provides flashback segments of his military experience and time in Iraq.

Along the way, Hankes and his brother encounter a hippie-esque, sage-like figure named Dylan that pushes Hankes to question more and more with gentle, interesting prodding that shows Hankes there is more to life than just the highlights. 

As the memoir unfolds, as Hankes continues to ask questions of himself, his self-inquisitiveness allows him to find his answers and share them with the reader.

Hankes' descriptions of the trail, Iraq, and experiences of two novice trail hikers, later labeled with the honorific title of "thru-hikers" are compelling and captivating.  Insights sprinkled throughout the book by Hankes are poignant and revelatory. 

One thing that would have complimented the digital format of the memoir would have been images of Hankes, his brother, and the trail (I do not know if images are included in the print version of the memoir).  Still, the writing and tale told was interesting and stands on its own.

Waking Up On The Appalachian Trail is highly recommended to those that enjoy adventure type tales with self-discovery and growth.

This memoir was provided by NetGalley upon the promise of a fair review.
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☆REVIEW☆ Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Waking Up on the Appalachian Trail is a travelouge written by young Iraq War veteran Nate Hankes as he and his brother hike 2,190 from Maine to Georgia. Along the way, he grapples with big questions - What is his purpose? How can he be happy? What did his service accomplish, and what was he actually fighting for? How can he make a difference? Where does he go from here?
I really enjoyed Nate's description of the actual thru-hiking, which comprises most of the book. He and his brother meet a lot of funny characters and are helped by so many kind people. I loved the picture he paints of this slice of America and the people who inhabit it. The trail descriptions are really well done; you can almost see it in your mind, and you can feel his love and appreciation for its beauty. You also get a great sense of just how mentally and physically challenging this feat is. Hiking over 2,000 miles sounds hard, but he brought up things I never would have thought of (like basically subsisting on dry ramen and granola bars). Nate also offers a few glimpses into his time in the Army as he muses over his service time while hiking the trail, but they really made me appreciate what exactly those servicemen and servicewomen endured in a new way.
A good chunk of this book is spent on Nate's existential musings. I didn't mind them - I think a lot of us ponder similar questions at some point (although certainly Nate's questions are impacted by his time in the service) - until they got repetitive. This is essentially a record of Nate's process of working through his experiences, and while I respect that, past a certain point, I didn't find it to be very compelling as a reader.
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to memior-enthusiasts, travelogue-lovers, or anyone interested in questioning the status-quo.
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I loved this book!! I live close to the Smoky Mountains, so I have an
interest in hiking, especially when I was younger. The book is interesting
like all the other popular trail hiking books. 
The book was well written by the number of days and their milage tracked. 

Thank you to NetGalley, NB Hanks, and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Loved it!!! I was so impressed with the story telling in this book! Every page was amazing. It’s one you want to read again.
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I chose this book as I am very interested in stories of long distance hiking and wanted to know more about the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed Nate, Ben and Dylan’s journey.  The joy and hardships they faced were well described.

I wasn’t expecting the political angle and a lot of it was unfamiliar to me. However it was very relevant especially during the current unrest and worries about COVID-19 and the economy.
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Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail: A Story of War, Brotherhood, and the Pursuit of Truth by N. B. Hankes is a non-fiction account of the author’s hike on this national scenic landmark, along with his brother. Mr. Hankes is a US Army veteran, who has served overseas, this is his first book.

I enjoy good travelogues, they are difficult to write, and when they’re good, they’re very good. I did not know what to expect from Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail: A Story of War, Brotherhood, and the Pursuit of Truth by N. B. Hankes, but it sounded interesting and I thought I’d give it a shot.

The narrative follows the author and his brother, an Army veteran and a college graduate, who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail from north to south over five months. The pair goes through their own revelations while trudging through physical difficulties which the trail offers.

One of my favorite things about traveling and hiking, especially for long periods of time, is the people you meet. There are people who do not run in the same circles, geographical or social, as you which otherwise you’d never know. These people give you a different perspective on established views, or share their own life experience and how it shaped their opinions. I think there is a missed opportunity with books such as these, especially on an eBook where at no, or little, cost the author can either add or link passages to maps and/or pictures they took.

The author finds this experience of meeting people enlightening as well, especially with another “thru-hiker” who joined the pair of brothers for much of the hike. Having time to reflect, deflect, and the patience to listen to others helped the author deal with the trauma he got during his wartime service, as well as reconcile his spirit.

Mr. Hankes goes into a deep analysis of the “why” behind his service, his upbringing, and his understanding and philosophy of life. He manages to come to terms with his service, and get a better, more profound understanding of geopolitics, and national politics.

The book concentrates more on being an introspective, personal journey of a soldier coming home from war to a peaceful country. It is a daunting experience where everyone seems to be in a dream state, not known they’re dreaming and only you are aware of what’s real. This is where the book shines, as a travelogue it works somewhat, there aren’t many descriptions of the trail – but as I said before the really interesting aspects of every travelogue are personal growth and people you meet on the way.
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Nate Hankes returns home after serving 4 years in the Army, as a drone operator in Iraq. He and his brother Ben, a recent college grad, decide to do a Southbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. This serves both as a great adventure, and as an opportunity for Nate to sort out his thoughts on his time in Iraq, and what kind of future he wants. The book primarily follows the trail, but does include some flashbacks to his time in the war, as well as his inner though process along the way.

I have read quite a few Appalachian Trail memoirs, and this one stands out as a unique, well-written book. The best ones always have some kind of philosophical underpinning, some kind of psychological journey along with the physical one. This one asks if Nate's time in the army had any honor. It asks what an actual just and honorable life looks like. These are questions that I find important, so I was pulled in to the book.

This is not strictly a hiking book about the actual trail, but is more about the inner journey along the trail. It is well-written, and asks big questions. I felt that it contributed something new to the Appalachian Trail books that I have read.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.

 Nate Hankes has returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. He is planning on hiking the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail with his brother Ben. As I was reading this book, my mind kept drifting back to Cheryl Strayed's WILD. While the stories (and locales) are completely different, I couldn't help but feel a pull that the two were looking for the same end---peace. Peace with their decisions in life. 

This book is very well written and draws the reader onto Nate's journey. I found my mind wandering at times though, some scenes seemed to repeat themselves. Overall, it's a moving story that many readers will relate to.
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Having returned from home from a tour of duty in Iraq, Nate Hankes is now embarking on a trek through the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail, with his brother Ben. While enduring the numerous challenges that the infamous trail will throw at them, Hankes is attempting to answer a question that has been plaguing him since he arrived back in the US: Had his mission overseas been honourable?
Hankes carefully interweaves the narrative of their time on the trail with his memories of Iraq and his reflections on the mechanism of war and capitalism, along with the long-term impacts for the US. He does not shy aware from his concerns and the trauma of settling back into life in the ‘real world’. 
Although, I commend Hankes for his honesty, I did find some aspects of his reflections difficult to read of he referred to the dropping of drones and the deaths of civilians and comrades. 
For me, the most noteworthy part of the narrative came as he depicted their time on the Appalachian Trail, attempting to find both peace for himself and develop a deeper relationship with Ben. 
All in all, a worth while and thought-provoking read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review
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This is a book that I would not have necessarily found if it hadn‘t been for the opportunity through Netgallery and the books publisher. They allowed me to read this book in exchange for the an honest review and for this I am hugely grateful. 

I did enjoy it as a read and whilst some sections I found to be page turning and I really got into the story and Nate’s reflections. I did find that I had to be careful where I stopped reading for the night as there were sections that were less captivating and I was not so keen to pick it back up again. That said, despite having a really busy time at work including weekends, it did only take me one week to read it and I didn’t read every night.  

I feel like this book had a huge amount of potential and slightly missed the mark in some places. 

Maybe because my expectations were so high but also because it was tackling some big things and therefore, may have been set up to fail slightly. We have a coming of age story, the hiking of a legendary trail that is the stuff of legend and then the reflections concerning both the Iraq war as well as war in general which becomes a reflection on society itself. These are all big subjects in themselves and if you think about it one of them is enough of a theme for most books. 

I understand that this book is a memoir and who am I to say what someone’s own story should be, however, as a book to read for pleasure I wish that more focus had been given to the themes and if this had meant less focus was given to other sections then so be it - I think I could have lost the coming of age sections for more exploration concerning Nate’s experiences within Iraq, why he made the decision to leave the army and reflection upon the purpose of war. I liked the characters within the book and it was nice to hear briefly about their struggles and motivations but again I would have liked to hear more about them. 

All this being said, this is a book to read- it’s an interesting read and there are some really profound sections in it that really did get me thinking. I can think of people I would recommend it too but it’s not a book I would tell everyone to read. 

The rating
Star rating: 3* (out of 5)
Will I read it again?: Unlikely, on the basis that as I did not fully cover all it’s themes, I feel like there is not anything I have missed. However, I would open it again to get some quotes out from the philosophical sections are profound.
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