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Looking for Alaska Paperback – September 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312302894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312302894
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1999, Peter Jenkins and his family left their farm in Tennessee to live in Alaska for a few seasons, eventually renting a house in Seward, Alaska (pop. 2,830) on the Kenai Peninsula. The principal aim of the trip was for Jenkins to write a travelogue, but he also saw it as an opportunity to end a period of personal stagnation. It appears to have worked, for Looking for Alaska is filled with a vibrancy that can only come from one with a fully charged battery. Recognizing that "This giant place is filled with people determined to live as free as possible of others' intervention," he employed the same low-key approach to research that made his bestselling book A Walk Across America (1979) so engaging--he made friends wherever he went and allowed people to share their stories in their own way and in their own time. Part of Jenkins's charm is that he never pretends that he's figured the place out; he readily cops to his outsider status and invites readers to experience his sense of awe and surprise with him. During his 18-month stay in the Last Frontier, Jenkins spent time with wildlife rangers, recreation guides, native whalers, fishermen, and dogsled mushers, all of whom showed Jenkins and his family glimpses of their own private Alaska. (They also shared their bear stories; it seems nearly everyone in the state has had at least one run-in with the giant predator). "No one is ever the same after coming back from Alaska," he writes and after reading his book, it's easy to believe him. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The footloose Jenkins (A Walk Across America; The Walk West; etc.) hits the road again if not actually the blacktop. Jenkins's 18-month sojourn in Alaska involves more unconventional modes of travel: a nervy float-plane trip through the fog with a passenger who knows the route better than the pilot, for instance, or a wild ride across a frozen river on a sled attached to 13 surging huskies. For all its moments of adventure, though, this book feels more deliberate than Jenkins's earlier journeys. The people he meets seem to have been selected in advance by a booking agent. But that doesn't take away from their stories or from Jenkins's ability to draw them out. He is no poet, but maybe that's why he fits so easily into the company of a people with a natural distrust of outsiders, and why he can bond with a fisherman who "would feel much more at home at the dinner-table with ex-football coaches John Madden and Mike Ditka." Even if Jenkins comes across as more settled and his need for self-discovery a quest that added a spark to his previous works has lessened, the author's ability to inspire confidence in others is a quality that hasn't changed. Nor has his courage to even undertake such a trek. And whether it's the crepuscular sunlight ricocheting off a glacier, a massive brown bear rooting through his garbage or a grizzled mountain man named Wild Gene, Jenkins convinces readers that there is much to look at and to look for in Alaska.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

LOOKING FOR ALASKA by Peter Jenkins in an Alaska lover's book.
Mary Greiner
Frankly I think that Mr. Barlow should refrain from criticizing a published writer until he can at least write a few paragraphs without misspelling every other word!
Corinne Macomber
We needed this kind of work here and I want to thank him for hearing my people, the Native Alaskans and all the rest of us, showing us as the alive and vivid world.
t.s.kookam

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
When Peter shares this quote, heard by Alaskan women referring to the choice of available males, he encapsulates so much of the Alaskan spirit found within his book. From the humorous segments of "The Police Log" to the gripping drama of the 1200 mile Iditarod race, Peter Jenkins helps us find Alaska. In his easygoing style, he takes us behind the doors of everyday Alaskans, as well as some very influential ones, and lets us taste, smell, and feel the adventure of northern life. He also reveals the tedium, the loneliness, and the dangers.
At moments, I found myself awed by the grandeur and scope of this great state; at other times, I laughed out loud--in public, I might add--at Peter's candid storytelling. Who, after reading this, could forget the bachelor auction? Or the toe-numbing descriptions of the winter trail? Or the sorrowful Tina, as she struggles with her heritage and her future?
This is what Peter does so well: he tells great stories. I can almost imagine, as I read his books (all of which I've enjoyed), that he's telling me the accounts over a campfire. He comes across in an honest and unaffected manner. He wears his heart and his spirituality on his sleeve. He lets us see behind the facades of capitalistic life in America.
On the other hand, his writing is downright clunky at times. I have to force myself to "hear" him tell the story, as opposed to editing the numerous odd sentences and wasted words. In fact, I wish a thoughtful editor had waded through here sentence by sentence. At certain points, Peter jumps from past to past perfect tense to present perfect all in one paragraph. It's the way people talk, yes; however, for me, it was a constant distraction.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By t.s.kookam on December 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am a Native Alaskan. My people have been in Alaska before it was called ALASKA. I was given Peter Jenkins book as an early holiday gift from my Uncle and wondered if he captured my people and all our people, of all groups, because almost no writers/travelers ever have.
He even found things I did not know about, like `mouse trading', from his Deering, Alaska chapter. Lines like this from the book lift me and illustrate his acute powers of perception, "Millie's voice is like a whisper but has incredible strength. I think the Eskimo way of speaking, soft, slow, focused, and songlike, comes from being listened to and from living surrounded by so much beautiful silence and life."
Actually he has been to many more places in this 590,000 square mile place than almost any Alaskan I have known. There is hilarious, witty stuff,, like this section title: "These Athletes Eat Raw Meat, Run Naked and Sleep in the Snow."
This is one white man that has a caring and discerning heart, this is by far, one of the best books on ALASKA I have ever read. We needed this kind of work here and I want to thank him for hearing my people, the Native Alaskans and all the rest of us, showing us as the alive and vivid world. Since graduating from UCLA I have yearned to be back in my homeland, for a few days reading LOOKING FOR ALASKA I have been.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Frady on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I first became acquainted with Peter Jenkins when I read "A Walk Across America" in 1991 while I was in graduate school. I quickly bought and read "The Walk West," "The Road Unseen," "Across China," and "Close Friends." These books inspired me to seek out new relationships and new experiences as I moved to Kazakhstan to teach tri-lingual students.
"Looking For Alaska" is a book that fits in well with Peter Jenkins former books. His style reflects a more mature and reflective Peter, but one that loves to relate to new people and places just as much as in "A Walk Across America."
This is not a book that you will want to read fast, but one that you want to hold on to for as long as you can. I highly recommend this book. Peter Jenkins has allowed himself to live the adventures that we all secretly wish we could.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on November 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1973, Peter Jenkins set off with a backpack and his dog Cooper looking for America. He lived with and listened to people from every kind of life, learning much along the way. From his five-year adventure, he wrote two books: A Walk Across America and The Walk West.
Jenkins now enjoys living on his 150-acre farm in Spring Hill, Tenn. Whenever his sedentary life becomes boring, however, he knows it's time to satisfy his wanderlust; otherwise, as he puts it, he would having nothing to write about.
Stepping to the sound of a different drummer, Jenkins, accompanied by his wife Rita and daughters Rebekah and Julianne, trek northward to Alaska, "the Last Frontier," an austere land that does not suffer fools gladly.
Alaskan winters are not for the faint of heart or tender of foot. In this land of snow, ice, and bitter cold, temperatures drop to sixty, eighty, or a hundred degrees below zero. True, it is a land where one can live one's dreams--even surpass one's dreams--but where dreams may turn into nightmares.
"Alaska makes people hallucinate," writes Jenkins. "It takes hold of you, it makes some believe there is no gravity. They can enter the power and purity of it and be uninjured, jump from a mountaintop and not land on the rocks below."
From his "home base" of Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula, Jenkins travels to Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island, and on to Tok, not far from the border of Yukon Territory, where he stays at a B&B named WinterCabin: "Where the Stars Sleep Beneath the Northern Lights."
WinterCabin is owned and operated by Donna Blasor-Bernhardt, who has her annual "Before Winter List" of things to do (that must be done).
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