By James A. Michener
Fawcett Crest, 1,073 pp, 1988
You know you're reading a Michener
when you're at page 500 and still not halfway through the book.
But that's okay, because his books are
so good you don't want it to end. Alaska is no exception.
I've read several other Michener books
(Chesapeake, Space, Texas, Poland, Caravans, The Bridges at Toko-Ri,
Legacy) and Alaska fits the same mold. It's a sweeping, dramatic
retelling of Alaska's past, with a hint of its future.
As always, Michener blends fact and
fiction, and explains which is which in the front of the book. His
fictional characters are compelling and at times heroic. The setting
runs the gamut from the Aleutian Islands, down the panhandle around
Juneau, and north of the Arctic Circle, in places like Barrow and
Desolation. He covers some prehistoric history, Russian settlement, the
gold rush, salmon industry, and World War II.
As with some of his other books, he
subtly condemns American settlement and management of the natural
environment and native citizens. But he doesn't let that get in the way
of the story.
If you like broad, historical fiction,
pick up a Michener. Alaska would do nicely.