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ALASKA: Saga of a Bold Land Hardcover – 2003


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Hardcover, 2003
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; BOMC edition (2003)
  • ASIN: B003MOBQAE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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It is an easy to read book, and took me about two weeks to go through.
SMT2024
Though the book could have used more illustrations and perhaps some photographs to assist the reader, Borneman is a good enough storyteller to keep things interesting.
Brian D. Rubendall
They contain a great deal of interesting information but are a slow read compared to the rest of the book.)
FMA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on March 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Walter R. Borneman's "Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land" delivers exactly what it promises to deliver from its subtitle. The book is a complete history of the 49th State, from prehistoric times until the dawn of the 21st Century. Checking in at 540 pages of narrative, it is as big and daunting as Alaska itself. Though the book could have used more illustrations and perhaps some photographs to assist the reader, Borneman is a good enough storyteller to keep things interesting.
The story begins with a discussion of the migration of native tribes from Siberia during the last ice age. Borneman then flashes forward to Vitus Bering and the first Russian explorations and colonization of the territory. This is then followed by "Seward's Folly," the American purchase of Alaska, which, surprisingly, as Borneman demonstrates was much more widely supported than many historical accounts would indicate. At two cents an acres, it was certainly one of the great bargains of the 19th Century.
Moving into the 20th Century, the story focuses on the Alaskan Gold Rushes and American settlement, the Japanese invasion during World War II, the 1964 earthquake, and finally the production of oil and the resulting envioronmental controversies. Borneman's scope is expansive, and any reader of his book will come away with a very complete knowledge of the history of what remains the last American frontier.
Overall, a comprehensive and well-written account that will be particularly appreciated by history buffs.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on June 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I thought this book does an excellent job of relating Alaskan history prior to statehood. The impact of Russian America and World War II proves to be well written. After statehood, it seem like only thing that went on in Alaska were related to oil, native land claims and 1964 Earthquake. There were whole lot more that took place in this state during the last 45 years that the book covered. Unfortunately, the author seem to be enamoured with the big headlines subjects in the post statehood period.

A thick book but its quite readable. For people living outside Alaska, this would be an excellent introduction to the Alaska's history. For the local folks like me, first half of the book remains interesting while the latter half appears to be rehashed of newspaper material. It may have been wise if the author stop at statehood and then wrote a second volume since he seem to have a decent flair for writing.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By nto62 on September 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alaska, Saga of a Bold Land, is an archetype for North American regional history. In an entirely commendable fashion, Walter Borneman has provided the captivating details of a frontier state which remarkably remains so into the 21st century. Plotting the economic victories and upheavals, the natural disasters and wonders, Borneman deftly communicates the intimate details rarely found in such a readable history.
Borneman's view is a balanced one where competing interests are at play. In the ever divisive fight over land use and conservation, Borneman admirably selects the middle ground while patiently explaining the potential impacts upon Alaska's future. Such an objective and, yet, compelling achievement is highly appreciated as was Borneman's excellent asides into local characters and customs. Alaska has been pushed and pulled by outside interests since it's inception as an economic engine. From early Russian fur exploitation to contemporary cruise ship tourism, Alaska, Saga of a Bold Land, is a gem.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on September 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Before there was Seward's Folly, there were the Russian fur traders, and before them were the native tribes. Borneman takes you on an exhaustive trip through our 49th state from its geological formation and the land bridge with Asia to the dawn of the twenty-first century. Along the way we are introduced to explorers, natives, conservationists, trappers, fishermen, prospectors, politicians and oil men, among a slew of others. He shows how Alaska has been misunderstood, misrepresented and exploited all through history. The history he presents is very thorough - almost too thorough. He speaks of many peoples and locations as Alaska was explored and the great blank on the map became filled in with details. But this is the weakness of the book. For such a vast land (superimposed over the lower 48 states, Alaska would stretch from the southeast, to California, and up to the Dakotas), the maps in the book, while helpful, do not adequately help the reader. There needed to be more - many of the places are introduced to us as the explorers come, yet pinpointing them on the map could be difficult without a guide. By necessity, many maps of Alaska need to be large scale; unfortunately a lot of this large scale is taken up by wilderness. Borneman needed to give us more blow up sections of the coast to illustrate what he was talking about. It was not until 100 pages after it was first talked about did I understand where a location really was. Despite this flaw, you can't quibble with the author's passion for the subject and the time he has spent putting together the story of this fairly unknown land. And with its role in various empires, exploration and expansions, the history is a fascinating tapestry of kingdoms and explorers. It is not a difficult read, just one with lots of details, but one that can transport you to our northernmost state, seeing where it is and where it is still trying to fit into our United States. A book worth the investment of time.
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More About the Author

Walter R. Borneman writes about American military and political history. His latest book, THE ADMIRALS: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea (Little, Brown, 2012), is the story of the only four men in American history to achieve the rank of fleet admiral. Together they transformed the American navy with aircraft carriers and submarines and won World War II.

Recent titles include POLK: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (Random House, 2008), which won the Tennessee History Book Award and the Colorado Book Award for Biography, and 1812: The War That Forged a Nation (HarperCollins, 2004). He lives in Colorado and has spent many days climbing its mountains.

QUOTE: My overriding goal in writing history has been to get the facts straight and then present them in a readable fashion. I am convinced that knowing history is not just about appreciating the past, but also about understanding the present and planning for the future.

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