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Two in the Far North Paperback – June 1, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Simply put, Mardy Murie is a national treasure. Her life has made a certain kind of life possible for the rest of us. Generations to come will feel her imprint, though they may not know it was how she lived her life that allowed them to witness some of the last wild places on Earth. They may not know that it is because of her life that their souls and spirits can be fed by what is natural and wild. I hope those who come long after us will have TWO IN THE FAR NORTH in their satchels as they gaze upon these natural wonders and that they, too, will come away with same resolve she ad to protect these incredible gifts."      ---Robert Redford

About the Author

She is the award-winning author of Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, Refuge & most recently Red - A Desert Reader. She lives in Castle Valley, Utah.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books; 35th edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088240489X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882404899
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many of the best-known books about Alaska, its people and wilderness, have been written from an outsider's perspective (John McPhee, for example, or Joe McGinniss), with an outsider's sense of detachment and strangeness, as though what they were commenting on were just slightly odd on some level.
Margaret Murie (known as "Mardy"), gives as Alaska from a true insider's perspective, as one who grew up with it, knows it in her bones, and loves it the way we love our closest family.
Born in 1902, Mardy moved to Fairbanks at age 9, where kids went to school in -50F temperatures and where the only way in or out of Alaska in winter was on the back of a mail sled propelled by sled dogs. One of the first grads of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, she married the naturalist Olaus Murie and honeymooned in the Arctic. Over the years, fearless Mardy even took her infant children on expeditions into the wild.
The book is an indivisible combination of autobiography and nature writing. Murie has a remarkable eye; her descriptive powers rival McPhee's but her tone is more one of powerful affection rather than awe. My favorite story was of a young teenage Mardy, on her way to the Lower 48 to go to high school, catching the last mail sled out of town in the spring of 1918. This spring trip took many days; at each river crossing there was a possibility of not making it over the thinning ice.
What an adventure! Combined with that adventure is a powerful romance, the lifelong relationship between Olaus, a professional naturalist; Mardy, the fearless and intrepid companion; and Alaska herself.
Mardy Murie died only last year, at age 101. If you read this book, you will regret having just missed her; she deserves to be missed.
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I, first, heard of Mardy Murie and her husband, Olaus, while watching John Denver's The Wildlife Concert. He wrote A Song For All Lovers for their deep and abiding love for each other and for the state of Alaska. The song's beauty gave rise to my curiousity. And, recently, while watching a documentary of Mardy's life, I became determined to read this book about her life.
This book is a must have. Mrs. Murie paints with words, a picture so vivid of Alaska's tundras and plains, that I felt as if I were part of it. The lifestyle was hard, but satisfying, and this woman's life was nothing short of fascinating. Mardy Murie is a living testament to the strength and beauty of women, and she leaves a shining example of what a woman can do. In her assistance in Olaus' work for the ANWR and other Alaskan Land Conservancies, to her carrying on of that work, she is a beacon to us all of what we can do.
Buy it...read it. You will fall in love with Alaska and with Mardy.
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Format: Paperback
Mardy Murie is often referred to as "The Grandmother of American Conservation" and "The Grand Dame of the American Conservation movement, but somehow after reading her story, these titles barely seem adequate to describe such an incredible and personal woman. While we may liken Murie to women like Rachel Carson or Anna Botsford Comstock, Murie's journey is singular. We follow her from her childhood in Wyoming to graduation at the University of Alaska, through love, into the far reaches of the Alaskan North.
Murie successfully bridges the personal and the political, her own life and her life's work, her love for one man and her love for their work together. You will laugh with her, you will cry with her, feel scared for her, and come to love her. She will become your hero.
We must recognize Murie as an American treasure, but we must also recognize that Murie's inspiration is perhaps more important now than it ever was. The most obvious reason for this statement is the continuing struggle to preserve the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from growing oil interests. We must also recognize, however, that Murie could be the inspiration for the young generation of leaders in conservation-- a group of leaders that undoubtedly must include women. That there are very so few women leaders in conservation has caused the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women to recognize the struggle of women in their efforts to achieve leadership positions in the conservation movement. Other organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation have launched campaigns to attract more women into leadership roles. The lack of women in environmental leadership reflects America's view of rugged individualism in our collective imagination...
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Format: Paperback
Margaret (Mardy) Murie (née Thomas) was a truly extraordinary person who lived for 101 years. This book is not really an autobiography although it is autobiographical, recounting her adventures in Alaska before she met Olaus, mainly with him, and then visits after his death. Anyone who has been to Alaska, is going to go, or has an interest in wilderness should read this book. Murie was a talented writer, leaving us an enjoyable legacy of vivid descriptions and, at the end, thoughtful reflections. Hang in there: this is a long review because the book is so worthy.

The Murie and Thomas families represent a one-two punch that must be highly unusual if not truly unique. Both Olaus and Mardy had sibs ten years their junior, brother Adolph Murie marrying sister Louise (Wheezy) Thomas, born 1912 and still living last I heard. Both wives were devoted outdoor enthusiasts who accompanied their eventually famous, field biologist husbands into the wilds of Alaska and elsewhere.

There are four major parts to Mardy's book, the first being when she came to Fairbanks at age nine. (At least one web site claims she was five, but that's not what she herself says.) Even today, one can get a sense of the town she describes for 1911. The streets are the same, the city having resisted tearing up downtown and instead forcing the shopping centers and other sprawl north of the Cheny River or south of the old town. Yes, there are now large hotels and an incredibly beautiful and absorbing visitor's center, but by and large the buildings remain modest. Some of the old cabins have been moved downtown and are occupied (with modern conveniences to be sure). The Masonic Lodge is still as Murie mentioned it, if a bit decrepit.
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