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Book 20: Alaska

February 28, 2010

This book took me almost a year to read.  I guess the reason for this is that the sections of the book can easily stand on their own.  The book was written by James Michener and it is about 1300 pages.

I love this book.  I can’t tell you how much.  It’s so perfectly put together, it could be 2600 pages and I still would have finished it.  I love reading long books  like this because it is not written in a textbook style and isn’t so descriptive it takes forever to read one page.  The story just keeps going and going and going.  It took me a year so let’s see if I can remember everything:

What I mean is that the book begins with volcanos and tectonic plates creating the Alaskan land mass.  Then it talks about the humans that came out of africa into asia, some staying and some continuing across the Bering straight, which was a land bridge, and then populating North and South America.  As he describes the lives of these people, he inserts characters and chronicles their lives.  For instance, the life of a mammoth herd is told and when he is done with that, he ties in the life of one of the beasts to the life of an indigenous tribe and their search for sustenance.

Then the book moves on to the Russian influence on the native people and how trade and exploration made the place known to the outside world, continuing with this until American interest, the gold rush, population rise, resource discovery, governing theory, statehood, and support for the native community become the rest of the book.  All this is told through the eyes of the regions most influential people, some of which I know to be real and some of which I believe are real but am not sure.  The amount of research put into this book must have been staggering.

It is constantly entertaining as the stories of the region’s progenitors are told only to be followed by the influence of their offspring because the hard work put into the creation of the icy mountainous region makes them so spectacular.

The book is historical fiction and I believe much of the fiction comes from the familial relationships, but I prefer to keep my knowledge of Alaskan history where it is instead of questioning the book’s validity because I learned so much in such a grandiose way that I now need to go there or avoid it entirely so I don’t spoil such a lovely picture in my mind.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 12:16 am

    I love James Michener. Whether or not it’s completely historically accurate – and it seems to me his books are well researched and make an effort to be so – he paints such a rich picture of life in a particular time and place. I couldn’t get into Mexico, but all the others I’ve read, I’ve loved. (Alaska, Hawaii, Centennial, The Source, The Drifters… I can’t remember which others…)

  2. gayle permalink
    March 1, 2010 6:00 pm

    i never read this book. now i think i’ll get it on audible and listen. thanks!!

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