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Alaska: A Novel Paperback – November 12, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037576142X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375761423
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Another told-from-the-beginning-of-time Michener saga, this one featuring Alaska. The book begins a billion years ago. Its first characters are the mastadon and the woolly mammoth, followed by such other settlers as the Eskimos, Athapaskans, and Russians. Vignettes of characters as varied as the Danish navigator Vitus Bering, who explored Alaska for Russia's Peter the Great, and Kendra Scott, the young Colorado teacher who taught the Eskimo children during the recent Prudhoe Bay oil boom, illustrate the colorful history of this vast and exploited land. Early on the book is vintage Michener, but the momentum encounters an Arctic chill midway. Final sections are trite, uneven, and overloaded with stereotypes. Too cumbersome to be called fiction, but Michener fans will demand it anyway. Joan Hinkemeyer, Englewood P.L., Col.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Praise for Alaska
“Few will escape the allure of the land and people [Michener] describes. . . . Alaska takes the reader on a journey through one of the bleakest, richest, most foreboding, and highly inviting territories in our Republic, if not the world. . . . The characters that Michener creates are bigger than life.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Always the master of exhaustive historical research, Michener tracks the settling of Alaska [in] vividly detailed scenes and well-developed characters.”Boston Herald
“Michener is still, sentence for sentence, writing’s fastest attention grabber.”The New York Times

Customer Reviews

It is very interesting.
J. Johnson
I have read all his books and was greatly saddened by his passing some years ago.
James Michener ... great historical fiction.
joyce gill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 120 people found the following review helpful By kone TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Author James A. Michener has conceived and written an epic novel about the land we now know as Alaska. Using his characteristic writing style of starting at the very beginning (in this case, with native people living on the coastland we now know of as Eastern Russia) and then developing the story generation after generation through his rich and interesting characters, Michener tells the complete story of Alaska. The reader learns how Alaska was first settled, what animals first roamed its lands, what the native Inuit people were like in their unique culture and how they survived in the harsh environment, how the Americans bought the land from Russia, how the gold rush happened and what it was like for gold prospectors in the unforgiving winderness, and finally, it tells the story of the multi-ethnic peoples of Alaska, and this perhaps is Michener's strength in story-telling. Michener, as he has done in other novels, again proves his writing has a prophetic nature to it, as the last chapter details an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean that sends a Tsunami wall of water to assault the shore or Alaska, eerily reminiscient of the tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka recently.

Yes, the novel is long - over 1,000 pages, but it is still an absorbing page-turner. Each chapter is a mini-novel in itself and tells the story of a particular generation of people in Alaska's development. Michener has a knack of creating and developing characters that are both interesting and believable and this is his greatest strength as a writer. The reader comes to care about these fictious charcters as though they are living breathing realities, and in a sense, the charcters are "real", as Michener's painstaking research enabled him to form his charcters based on historical personages.
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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first "thick" book I ever finished. Having put-it-down-itis, I avoided books of great magnitude. Not so in this case. I had attempted to read "Chesapeake" & very much enjoyed the first ten chapters. I liked Michener's style: taking a specific geographic area and tell it's story through individual people occupying it's space, combining fiction with reality. He captured the mystique Alaska holds from the forming of the land masses to the present day.
He writes of woolly mammoths being hunted by early man through the mammoths' eyes, and then the following chapter through the perspective of the hunters. Michener conveys the struggle of survival from both sides with great emotion. He follows the speculative history of early nomadic tribes following their food supply across the Bering Strait.
Mr. Michener then reveals early voyages from people such as Captain Cook and how they survived harsh winters while their ships were frozen in the Alaskan seas.
Then Russian explorers establish military forts and desire to "save the barbaric savages" they discover when they arrive. Following are the bloody battles they fought with them.
The book unfolds further with Seward's Folly and the Gold Rush and of how the United States government persuaded some of its more adventuresome citizens into creating a new life in the last American frontier. This book also reveals the continuing struggle between the "progress" of corporations using Alaska's natural resources such as fish and oil and how it affects the Native inhabitants and how companies in Seattle "the gateway to Alaska" took advantage of it's close proximity at the expense of the Alaskan people.
The late Mr. Michener writes through the unique perspectives of the characters he creates and borrows from history. If I continue, this will be as long as the book!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Hoke on August 4, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read Michener's Alaska while visiting my brother in Alaska in 1989, in all I spent 6 weeks there. I have since read it several more times despite its length. I do this because it is a very good book and because its vivid scenery reminds me of one of the most majestic places I have ever visited.

If you are not familiar with Michener's style he tells the tale of a particular area from its geologic formation up to modern times. In this he starts his tale and weaves it through the lives of subsequent and remotely related characters.

With Alaska, Michener starts with some Mastodans and then works it through the first migrants coming over the ice bridge. From there he covers Russian colonization, the gold rush, and onto modern times.

Each generation has its own intricacies and its own stories. All of these stories are highly interesting and blend well together.

My only problem with Michener is that he is more interested in the story than the history. With this he takes too many liberties in adapting actual events to fit his circumstances. It is fun to read but it ends there. Do not feel you have gained any great historical insights from his readings.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By JACK RIEGLER on August 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I purchased "Alaska" by Michener to gain insight into the history and culture of this land. This was in preparation for my family's Alaksan cruise. The book fulfilled that purpose above and beyond. But, in addition, I found myself immersed in the story of this land and its people which spanned thousands of years up to present day. I have not read a book recently where I found myself attached to the characters as I did in "Alaska". I was truly sorry when the book came to an end.
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