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on July 16, 2004
James Campbell reports the life of Heimo Korth and the family he has raised, the last family of trappers to remain in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Although this book has one foot in the "wilderness adventure can you believe anyone can survive this" genre (Heimo regularly traps in -50 weather and even jogs in -20 weather), it is also a kind of domestic family saga, almost a "Little House on the Prairie" but the prairie is the Arctic.
Heimo, his wife Edna, and daughters Rhonda and Krin, face near tragedies and real tragedies lost in blizzards, or facing a broken-down snow machine miles from home, or jumping from ice flow to ice flow in desparate hope of making it back to shore, or falling through overflow ice on the river. Remarkably though, the main thing I'll remember about this book is the sense it conveys of Heimo's redemption (lost and alcoholic, he came to Alaska to trap in the 70s, but dried up and built a family there), and of the love and affection of a family who have no one but each other for months on end. This is a real testament to Campbell's skill as a journalist and author.
The adventure and drama of the Arctic keep the reader turning pages like a good mystery but the after-effect is one of love and integrity.
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on June 18, 2004
What would you do if it were 40 below and your snowmobile conked out 15 miles from your cabin?
After reading this book you will understand that the answer is simple. You'd die. End of story.
This is the tale of a real world tough guy who at a young age gave himself over to the pursuit of wilderness survival and is about the only one left out there with survival skills of this level.
The author is no wimp either, spending considerable time with Mr. Korth plus doing mega-research on the history of the Alaskan wilderness, which he weaves into the story in an informing, non-boring way.
When I read Into The Wild I somehow thought that the fellow that died just had a few unlucky breaks-like the river rising which trapped him out in that old bus. Wrong. That guy never stood a chance from day one, and this book shows you why.
Like a lot of guys I have always had two fantasies - living in the backwoods of Alaska or living on a remote tropical island. I heartily thank the author for paring my fantasy list down to one - the island.
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on May 31, 2004
For those of you who enjoy the outdoors, this is a well-written story about what may be the last pure subsistence family in North America. Ten thousand years ago we were all this way; now we are down to one man, his wife, and two daughters living in the remote bush of Alaska, eating mostly meat and surviving in a shack too small for most lawn tractors in the lower 48. While this may sound grim, it is usually not. It isn't paranoia but rather a pioneering spirit and awe for the natural world that compels this lifestyle (if "lifestyle" doesn't overly trivialize three decades in the bush living mostly on wild game and facing environmental extremes usually associated with other planets). The author is a good writer, the subjects of the story remarkable and sympathetic, and the pace of the narrative usually brisk. Definitely worth reading.
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on June 16, 2004
Comparisons will be drawn between this book and Krakauer's excellent Into the Wild based on the common themes of living off the land and the unforgivingness of the Alaskan wilderness. Where Krakauer's book is a meditation on the romanticism and perils of self-reliance, The Final Frontiersman is an unsentimental and penetrating look at the physical, emotional and psychological challenges of making a living in this remote and and unforgiving environment.

Heimo Korth, his wife and two daughters and the life they lead is fascinating. Campbell's well-constructed narrative makes exciting and evocative reading.

If Chris McCandless, the subject of Krakauer's book, had had the chance to read this book, he might still be alive today.
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on December 13, 2010
If you're drawn to tales of the lonely north, you must include this title in your collection. My rating is based less on the story/style than on how thought-provoking and worrisome are the activities of man in the wilderness as demonstrated by this man and his family. Make no mistake, this is the story of folks who survive in the wilderness through trapping animals.

Kleenex Alert: While it is true that Heimo Korth's family suffers a terrible human tragedy, the tragic account of the (cruel)death of a fox at Korth's hands (early in the book) may leave you unable to resume reading.
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on June 1, 2004
This isn't really my genre but when i started reading this story I couldn't put it down. It is incredibly inspiring and touching. It will touch your life and influence you in a positive way: a little like the book, Seabiscuit. It was educational too. It would be wonderful for children in difficult financial or familial situations to read. I can't stop talking about it and I can't put it down.
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on July 19, 2004
I second the positive comments to what has been said earlier in these reviews. This man and his family were included in a National Geographic documentary titled "Braving Alaska". I originally read the review of this book featured in Outside magazine and thought the storyline sounded familiar.
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on May 23, 2015
Being an outdoors man and a wilderness enthusiast this book is very well written. A good mix of adventure, humanity, and danger to keep me reading it right through! Awesome. Two thumbs up!
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on January 9, 2014
Very good, this man and his family have done something that is amazing, living of the land and living with nature is a thing of the past
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2008
This book was a major disappointment. It had all the ingredients to make a great "tale" (I say "tale", although it is a true story), but lacks a satisfactory delivery to the reader - it simply wasn't nearly as interesting as it could have been.
Heimo Korth and his family live an incredible life in the Alaskan wilderness, and one may think "How could an author worth his/her salt mess this up?" Unfortunately, though, I often found myself struggling to continue reading. The entire book was dragged out, with boring detail of Alaskan politics and other trivial minutia that really didn't suit the story at all.
The book could have been edited down to a much shorter, to the point and adventurous read.
I could only give this one star (I don't know why one, even), as I believe it was a terrible injustice in the telling to the fantastic life the Korth's live, and that it deserves a retelling by a more articulate and captivating author.
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