Saturday, 21 August 2010

BOOK: Alaska by Bern Keating (1969)

 My mum, sister and her boyfriend were recently over visiting and I took them on a day trip to Lund. Lund's full of great second hand book shops and I found this beauty whilst browsing in a shop and had to have it! On the inside of the book there's a hand written note that says "Thore, Though you might like this. Kevin. 17/1/77." The book is called 'Alaska' and was released in 1969. The one thing that struck me whilst reading the book was how refreshing it was to read about the people of Alaska. I love Alaska's wildness and the natural beauty, and don't get me wrong, the book covers plenty of it, but it was so nice to read about the people that live there, from Fairbanks, to the Eskimos and Aleuts. It was especially interesting also, to read about Alaska at the end of the 60s. So many things have changed since it was written, but Alaska's beauty and it's wild ruggedness still remain, which in this day and age is quite an achievement.

"On a recent visit to Alaska I discovered theat the 49th State is both an enchanting and a frustrating land. Enchanting in its immense beauty, size and variety, and frustrating for much the same reasons - the average visitor, with only a few days or weeks to spend, sees only a tiny portion of its 586,400 square miles. Whatever the portion, it is likely to be memorable. Mine included a solitary evening beside a small lake in the southeastern, or panhandle, region and a five-pound rainow trout that arched from the still water to take a fly.
 There are other memories, but far too few of them; I want a great deal more of Alaska. So, too, do thousands of members of the Society, judging by their letters urging publication of this book on our largest state. In response, the Society has produced this richly illustrated volume that to me presents the enchantment without the frustration - its 208 colorful pages ARE Alaska.
 To capture Alaska in all its breadth and detail, the Society commissioned a gifted free-lance author, Bern Keatin, to roam the 49th State with George Mobley, one of the National Geographic's ablest staff photographers. Four months and 11,000 miles of travel produced some startling discoveries on Mr. Keating's part, at least one of them a source of modest profit back home in Mississippi. Since his return he has won a number of bets as to the easternmost point in the United States - not Eastport, Maine, but Pochnoi Point on Semisopochnoi Island in the Aleutians, which lies just beyond the 180th meridian and thus in the Eastern Hemisphere.
 Mr. Keating found that Alaska today reflects many chapters from the Nation's past. Homesteading that stimulated settlement of the early West continues in the 49th State. Railroads and highways have barely penetrated the vast interior. An industrial revolution threatens to trap native populations - Indian, Aleut, and Eskimo - in a cultural squeeze between the proud past and an uncertain future. The historic lure of gold has given way to a rush for oil on Alaska's rich north slope.
 During my visit I flew by floatplane north from Ketchikan in the panhandle into the vastness of Tongass National Forest. My companion was Pete Cessnun, a veteran bush pilot with a consuming urge to share the grandeur of his state. Within an hour we landed on the edge of a small lake, 100 miles from the nearest traffic jam, shopping-center, neon sign, and - for all I know - fellow human being. Only the rustle of the woodlands sounds and the lap of water against the shore disturbed a peace that I have come to think of as distinctly Alaskan.
 Alaska is the only state in the Union without an official nickname, But I can understand the dilemma of the phrasemakers - what catchy saying or slogan could capture the majesty of Alaska?Gilbert M. Grosvenor

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails