Reviews

Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Brinkley (Rice Univ.) is one of America's most widely read historians. This handsome book is his third contribution to environmental history, following books on Hurricane Katrina (The Great Deluge, 2006) and Theodore Roosevelt (The Wilderness Warrior, 2009). Brinkley draws upon his research on Roosevelt for three chapters. Other chapters are on well-known figures, including John Muir, Aldo Leopold, William Douglas, and lesser-known worthies, including Sandy Macnab, Frederick Vreeland, Celia Hunter, and Virginia Wood--all of whom celebrated America's once-distant frozen territory. The narrative also includes artist Rockwell Kent and Beat authors such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. The drama in this history is the struggle between those who wanted to extract Alaska's coal, gas, oil, minerals, timber, and fish versus those who wanted to save America's last wilderness for future generations. The culmination of Brinkley's story is statehood for Alaska and creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America's largest. The author's research is thorough, his writing is lucid, his story is compelling, and his illustrations are excellent. Only his map of Alaska is substandard, with tiny print on a dark background. Essential reading for environmental historians and Alaska historians, and a valuable background book for ecology historians. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic, general, and professional audiences. F. N. Egerton emeritus, University of Wisconsin--Parkside


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* When legendary naturalist John Muir began exploring Glacier Bay in 1879, he was unprepared for the sheer poetic depth of the Alaskan wilderness. Twenty years later, Muir joined the Harriman Expedition, which found Alaska to be a unique, untrammeled, sui generis wilderness in need of preservation. Indeed, as soon as the U.S. acquired this magnificent and bountiful land, the war began between those who would recklessly exploit Alaska's natural wealth for profit and those who believed that this was a sacred place to be cherished and protected. Brinkley's scrupulous, dramatic chronicle of the complex struggle to protect Alaska's glorious wilderness and wildlife in the years before it became a state is the second book in what he describes as his lifework, a multivolume history of conservation in America that began with his unique portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Warrior (2009). Here Roosevelt is one of many colorful visionaries Brinkley vividly portrays, from explorers and scientists (Charles Sheldon, William T. Hornaday) to artists and writers (Rockwell Kent, Walt Disney, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder) to heroes Olaus and Mardy Murie, who campaigned tirelessly for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Essential to understanding today's environmental challenges, Brinkley's Alaskan history and pantheon of valiant conservationists is boldly original, enlightening, enthralling, and profoundly moving. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Brinkley is an award-winning, highly visible (frequent TV appearances) public historian, and a robust, multifront publicity campaign is planned for this major work.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist