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Alaska [Kindle Edition]

Walter R. Borneman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The history of Alaska is filled with stories of new land and new riches -- and ever present are new people with competing views over how the valuable resources should be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion call of "Gold!"; soldiers battling out a decisive chapter in world war; oil wildcatters looking for a different kind of mineral wealth; and always at the core of these disputes is the question of how the land is to be used and by whom.

While some want Alaska to remain static, others are in the vanguard of change. Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land shows that there are no easy answers on either side and that Alaska will always be crossing the next frontier.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The last American frontier, Alaska packs into 615,230 square miles the American saga of explorers and hunters, followed first by miners and soldiers, then homesteaders and tourists making their way into the wilderness. Borneman, a historian and lawyer who has produced multimedia programs for National Geographic, is at his best when he writes about these heroes who battled treacherous weather and terrain. At the same time, he stages their adventures against the backdrop of military and political events. Though some newspapers derided Lincoln's secretary of state, William Seward, for purchasing the territory as a strategic outpost in 1867, his decision proved prescient during WWII, when Alaska proved useful in patrolling the northern Pacific, and especially during the Cold War, when it allowed us to keep watch over communist countries in Asia. Until it obtained statehood in 1959, however, Alaska remained a colonial possession where the U.S. government controlled access to natural resources on the land, in the water and under the surface. Even now, 41% of the state belongs to national reserves; and the controversies continue among conservationists, fisheries, and timber and oil companies. The chapters on Alaska's environment demonstrate the balance of textbook history and storytelling that makes this informative book so readable. On occasion, Borneman becomes mired in local history, such as the quarrel over the state capital, when he might have instead devoted these pages to the Natives, whom he leaves hovering in the background until they suddenly leap forward as activists in the 1960s. He might also have included illustrations. Mirroring the Alaskan landscape, the book's scale and blocks of unbroken text can be daunting. 10 maps.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Walter R. Borneman is the author of Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land, 1812: The War That Forged a Nation, and several books on the history of the western United States. He lives in Colorado.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1110 KB
  • Print Length: 644 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060503076
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OI0E0O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,484 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(19)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Exhaustive History 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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get weaker as the history moves 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Well told.... September 16, 2003
By nto62
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A competant history of the frozen frontier 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read and reread it
I bought this book before our first summer in Alaska. I've read it cover to cover twice and will likely do so again. I've also given it as a gift several times. Recommend.
Published 4 months ago by The Traveler
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent History of The Great Land that needs an update
Written ten years ago this history of Alaska is excellent, especially with regard to the period prior to the modern day as it is a story not often told. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Phil Degnan
3.0 out of 5 stars Very thorough read on Alaska
This book was an extremely thorough survey of Alaskan history from Pre-Russian settlement through to the modern era of oil. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Chris Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Alaska history is a keeper
This book is packed with great information, nicely told. It will definitely stay on our bookshelf - a real keeper.
Published 9 months ago by Martha Folsom
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Detail Without Unnecessary Minutiae
Let's face it; Alaska is a big state in which quite a lot has happened over the centuries. If you are looking to learn a little about many aspects of Alaska's history: political,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mark Mangicaro
5.0 out of 5 stars engaging history
It took me a long time to read this book. I own a hardback copy, and with 608 pages it lacks the portability of my Kindle, so I often left it at home when my reading time would be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. Zartman
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Alaska
Long but well written and with a welcome wit not often found in a history. Wanted to read it before a trip to Alaska and by the time the book was finished was convinced that one... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Annie Bannannie
5.0 out of 5 stars ALASKA
THIS BOOK IS SO INFORMATIVE AND INSIGHTFUL! IT HAS EVERYTHING YOU WOULD EVER NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALASKA I WILL REREAD THIS BOOK!!
Published 17 months ago by wendy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction to Alaska
This is a very well written and interesting introduction to Alaska and its history. I would recommend it highly to anyone planning to visit Alaska. Read more
Published on April 21, 2011 by FMA
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent History of Alaska
I read this book shortly after returning from a trip to Alaska and after reading Mitchner's Alaska which it parallels. Read more
Published on November 1, 2008 by Alan
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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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