Down the Wild Cape Fear

A River Journey through the Heart of North Carolina

By Philip Gerard

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 40 halftones, 5 maps, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6940-3
    Published: February 2022
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0812-9
    Published: March 2013
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4055-4
    Published: March 2013

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In Down the Wild Cape Fear, novelist and nonfiction writer Philip Gerard invites readers onto the fabled waters of the Cape Fear River and guides them on the 200-mile voyage from the confluence of the Deep and Haw Rivers at Mermaid Point all the way to the Cape of Fear on Bald Head Island. Accompanying the author by canoe and powerboat are a cadre of people passionate about the river, among them a river guide, a photographer, a biologist, a river keeper, and a boat captain. Historical voices also lend their wisdom to our understanding of this river, which has been a main artery of commerce, culture, settlement, and war for the entire region since it was first discovered by Verrazzano in 1524.

Gerard explores the myriad environmental and political issues being played out along the waters of the Cape Fear. These include commerce and environmental stewardship, wilderness and development, suburban sprawl and the decline and renaissance of inner cities, and private rights versus the public good.

About the Author

Philip Gerard is the author of three novels and five books of nonfiction including The Patron Saint of Dreams. He lives on Whiskey Creek near the Intracoastal Waterway and sails his sloop Suspense on the Atlantic Ocean.
For more information about Philip Gerard, visit the Author Page.


“Like a river itself, winding its way through history and biology, politics, and preservation, this book will appeal to both nature lovers and those living in and near the Cape Fear watershed.”--Library Journal

"An adventure story paired with a view of the ecology, history, development, and industry along a vital river that runs from the core of North Carolina to the coast. Gerard uses glittering, evocative prose to recount his travels by canoe and powerboat down the Wild Cape Fear River with a guide, biologist, photographer, and others. . . . This is a compelling story that offers a striking and thoughtful look at the many environmental, political, and commercial issues affecting this region and the waterway that feeds it."--ForeWord Reviews

“Equal parts historical survey, river adventure and nature walk, it’s a fascinating trip down North Carolina’s most storied river.”--Raleigh News and Observer

“Gerard takes readers with him on a 200-mile trip down the Cape Fear River. . . [and] it’s obvious that his book was labor of love.”--Southern Pines Pilot

“A reading journey that no one who loves North Carolina should pass by.”--D.G. Martin One on One

“This is simply the best piece of writing about [the Cape Fear] river that I've read.”--Fayetteville Observer