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.