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on January 1, 2017
This is an epic novel/history read. You don't read this in a weekend for sure but it touches facts, has a little fiction and is written only as Michener could write. I'm amazed that almost all Americans I talk to never knew that Alaska was originally owned by Russia, strange??
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on February 22, 2016
Great drama and well researched as detailed and historic accounts of people and nations interact. The author has an easy writing style that captivates the reader
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on November 30, 2017
Great book
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on August 29, 2014
A great book. Carefully crafted to promote one's attentiveness. I loved the story of Nerka, my most favourite part of this novel.
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on November 13, 2015
Loved it as I read it prior to a 14 day land and sea Alaskan Experience!
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on March 8, 2017
Excellent book.
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on March 1, 2016
Met my expectations!
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on January 21, 2014
I ordered 3 of James Michener's books that I had previously read and wanted these for my library. The three books were "Alaska", "Hawaii", and "Centennial". The books were received at my residence in excellent condition and the entire transaction was handled in a timely manner. Well done! Thank you.
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on January 8, 2004
This book is among my favorites. I have read most or many of his books twice and always find them to be entertaining and educational. I keep a copy of Hawaii, Alaska, and Texas near at hand.
This is a nice 850 page historical novel that gives a very detailed picture of the evolution of a great state. Alaska is one of the last places to have a very clean and unspoiled environment where fish can still be seen to just jump out of the ocean.
Michener's books use a common plot formula that starts out by telling a story that in some way reflects and utilizes accurately the actual or known historical developments and time lines and people of a region. The story progresses through the development of the region starting with the very early people that came from Asia, he adds in settlers, bush pilots, fisherman, salmon canning factories, business people, etc. adding in more characters and phasing out others as time moves forward up to current times.
When I decided to review this book I was not certain if people were still interested in buying this book but I was pleased to see that there is still interest at Amazon.com in buying and reading this great story.
After this read this book I visited Alaska. If you have the resources I recommend a fishing trip to Alaska assuming that you like fishing - or just a wilderness trip. Alaska is cool even in the summers, but the clear waters, mountains and all the unspoiled wilderness and animals make it a special place. If you cannot go, then read this book. If you can go, read this first.
Good read and a good gift.
Jack in Toronto
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on June 30, 2002
Mr. Michener is known for his lengthy descriptions, but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded with a great deal of historical knowledge about Alaska. I have also read "Journey" so I know more about Alaska than perhaps I ever cared to know. Michener really brings his writing talents to the table in the final chapter about modern Alaska. The basic issue in the final chapter is the conflict between modern culture and traditional culture. Kendra, a teacher of Eskimos from Utah, ends up having to make a marriage choice between an idealistic lawyer who supports Alaska's traditional or subsistence cultures, Jeb Keeler, and the grandson of a Seattle business executive who works as a scientific worker on an iceberg and ran
in the
Iditarod dogsled race, Rick Venn. Perhaps surprisingly, she chooses Venn, mostly because of his noble behavior in the dogsled race, when he sacrifices his chance to win to aid a fallen comrade.
The third main character in the final chapter is Poley Markham, also a lawyer from Phoenix, who attempts to take advantage of the numerous legal problems that arise in connexion with the Alaska Native Settlements Act,making himself instantly wealthy. He is on the side of modernism,unlike Jeb, and with his rather macho personality has a strong side- interest in hunting which he shares with Jeb, and which is the final chapter's main subplot(hunting the"The Alaskan Big Eight"). There are others --the scientific expert on tsunamis is an important one. The ethical questions Kendra must face in connection with her Eskimo students are touching and are well developed. Michener occasionally uses tragedy if it serves his purposes, as it does here. A suicide and an unexpected death are symptoms revealing many of the problems of traditional cultures.
We are also repeatedly told how and why everything is more expensive in Alaska, due to the Jones Act of 1920. The lawyer Jeb Wheeler is finally killed by a tsunami in the climax of the book, perhaps also revealing Michener's views of liberal lawyers.
All chapters are similarly developed so that by the end one gets a real feeling for Alaska's traditional cultures, and a lot
more too. On the scientific side, we get geology, anthropology, oceanography, biology, including getting inside the minds of mammoths and salmon. We are introduced to a great deal of Russian colonial history in the early chapters as it relates to Alaska;to a great deal of seafaring lore including the hunt for sea otter and seal pelts, and to the destruction of the Eskimo's way of life by alcoholism , courtesy of an unscrupulous sea captain. We go on several whale hunts and are given details about them and the harpoons. By the time the Americans enter the picture, we are ready for the poor management; all the swindlers connected with the Gold Rush, which gets a thorough treatment, focusing on the Klondike and on Nome. Michener carries the characters from this period, and their progeny, through to the end of the book. There is then a long chapter on the salmon industry which tells us how the industry unscrupulously took advantage of the Jones Act of 1920, which puts all economic power in the hands of Seattle businessmen at the expense of native Alaskans. We are introduced to Sam Bigears of the Tlingit tribe, his daughter Nancy, and to Ah Ting, the Chinese worker who can repair machines but who is ultimately replaced by machines. In the next-to-last chapter we learn of the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian islands during World War II and the building of the Alcan Highway, as well as to the adventures of Leroy Flatch, the "bush pilot". There are numerous other sub-plots, and we also get a real feel both for Alaska's oceans, glaciers, icebergs, mountains, vocanoes, and earthquakes.
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