I love McPhee s writing I first read this book when it was Aunt Jane's Nieces published inart in the New Yorker and again soon after it was ublished as a book So this is the third time I ve read it I ve read maybe ten books three times so I really really like thisFirst because McPhee writes so beautifully He could write about anything and I would read it I ve even read his geology books Not because I like geology I don t but because I just eat up his words It is like eating chocolate I usually stop when the supply runs out not because I m finishedSecond the eople and the spirit that makes up Alaska Everything is so unbelievably huge I love the stories about eople who cut tractors up into ieces fly them to remote regions weld them back together so they can build an airstrip for a bigger Beneath the Moors and Darker Places planeThird the Alaska he writes about was disappearing when he wrote it and has been replaced with at least two generations of Alaska since then I will be visiting Alaska this summer and I am looking forward to seeing what s new and what remains of the old Will it be strip malls I ll let you know This book has meant a lot to me as an Alaskan interested in the raggedy interplay between development and conservationism I was really hoping this would be about geology along the lines of Basin and Range It wasn t It s divided into three sections in the first McPhee wanders around unpopulated Alaska with several other men in several canoeskayaks I think one was from the Sierra Club one from the Bureau of Land Management etc They fished to supplement their food supplies and camped along the rivers and streams The second section was about the attempt to get Alaska s capital moved from Juneau I now know about this issue than I ever wanted to At the end of the section it really sounded like the move was going to come offeople voted and wanted the capital moved to Willow This was written in 1977 But a check of the Lascia che sia felice primary authority on such matters Wikipedia shows that Juneau is still the capital so McPhee must have been stoned or something when he wrote that sentenceIn the third section McPhee moved to Eagle a teeny tiny town on the Yukon River andretty much just interviewed the residents of Eagle and told us their stories Some are interesting some aren t The 2010 census showed the This Beats Working for a Living: The Dark Secrets of a College Professor population of Eagle as 86In spite of the need for women to be tough in the wilds of Alaska there are no women s libbers here The women do all the cookin and much much wood choppin skinnin of critters waitin for the menfolk to come a home from their tripsMaybe a feweople sound relatively sane but most sound a bit crazy Or a lot crazy There are your Cliven Bundy types up there They don t like the eople of the lower 48 dictating the rules in Alaska Alaska is different People of Alaska hear me Alaska is not different It is a state that in many respects is ualitatively different from say Connecticut It is not legally Constitutionally Different Because You Build A Cabin different Because you build a cabin a lot of land trap and hunt your own critters for food bulldoze yourself a gravel landing strip for your little The Silent Earth: The Complete Trilogy plane it does not follow that you now own that land Don t get all uppity when the Bureau of Land Management comes to tell you you don t actually own that land You know how I know I own my home Because I wrote a check the bank agreed to supply the rest we had a ceremony with lawyers for both sides where we all signed many sheets ofaper and at the end of it one of these sheets of aper was the title and deed to my home Plus I ay real estate taxes on this home If the Bureau of Land Management comes to tell me I don t own my home then we have a The Age of Apollyon problem You Alaska trapper and fisher with no title to your little cabin you don t have aroblemMcPhee s writing style wears thin This was 438 ages of it Brilliant three art million facet look at Alaska My favorite Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples part isrobably the first The Encircled River which is literally a textbook example of how to write a travel narrative "with a grizzly at each end The middle art is sly olitical commentary but the last and longest art "a grizzly at each end The middle art is sly The National Debt: A Short History political commentary but the last and longestart what McPhee is always doing introducing you to Rites, Rights and Rhythms: A Genealogy of Musical Meaning in Colombia's Black Pacific people and arranging that you see the world from their eyes even when they can t do that for each other The scale and the number of inhabitants of Eagle AK and environs is suitably Alaskan and so alien to what I like believe care for or share that it is astounding how long I spent in thatlace and still enjoyed myself It s always McPhee without a wristwatch terrified of grizzlies and listening loudly that makes this work Recommended for social distancing If anyone could figure out how to steal Italy Alaska would be the lace to hid it What a vivid way to describe Alaska s immensity There has been a host of excellent books on Alaska My favorite until recently was Joe McGinnis s Going to Extremes but John McPhee s Coming Into the Country is wonderful too McPhee s book is divided into three arts first an exploration of wilderness described during the course of a canoekayak trip down the Salmon River Much in the manner of the river his descriptions meander into all sorts of eddies and whirlpools His description of bush ilots is riceless On one occasion he is flying a regularly scheduled airline mind you in a single engine lane in horrible weather The ilot is skimming the trees to find landmarks because he can t see anything He has a map on his lap but suddenly hands it to a Les Ténébreuses - Tome I - La Fin d'un monde passenger to help figure out where they are I had been chewing gum so vigorously that the hinges of my jaws would ache for two days Stumbling on a grizzly bear in a blueberryatch fortunately upwind he muses on the best way to survive a grizzly s charge no consensus of opinion but most survivors believe the best thing to do is stand absolutely still and shout as loudly This is the story of Alaska and the Alaskans Written with a vividness and clarity S ossible for that is the least likely reaction the bear which does not have good sight would expect of game Running away is useless for grizzlies are very fast They are also uite coordinated They enjoy schussing down snow covered mountains at 96 feetsecond through trees and around boulders only to screech to a stop stand up and walk away just before going over the edge of a cliff The second art of the book discusses the Alaskan government s search for a new capital and the conflict that generated Juneau really makes a lousy site because of its remoteness not to mention its horrible landing approach to the airport Alaska attracts very independent and anti authoritarian types of eople so it witnesses a battle between those suffering from the Sierra Club Syndrome or others fondly embracing the Dallas Scenario Many of these folks are affectionately rofiled in the third section John Cook for example has consciously tried to eliminate the need for money and authority He tries to live on 1500 a year this was written in the mid seventies he has a series of trap lines and rarely uses a arka even at 30 The closest town is Eagle about 30 miles away via dog sled with a The Elephants Journey population of about 100 Almost all live by the ut restrictions on code Neverut restrictions on any individual Up here they ain t gettin you for spittin on the sidewalkIronically most moved there for the space yet land is less available as of 1977 than in the lower 48 because when Alaska became a state deals were made with the native Americans and the federal government to set aside almost the entire state as either a reservation or Sklaven für Wutawia + Gauner mit der 'Goldenen Hand' park land Whereas before statehood someone could build a cabin 80 miles from nowhere now a government helicopter might fly over and throw them out Homesteading no longer exists but in Alaska that loss seems especiallyoignant in territory where you might have to fly somewhere to take a shower A year or two out of college I was employed at a bookshop in Seattle earning little than minimum wage For a change of scene I signed up with some friends to work the salmon season at a cannery in Alaska It was rough work seven days a week 8am to 11pm or to 1am on nights when you had cleanup duty We didn t get to see much of real Alaska but you could feel it around you The wilderness The cannery was located on an island in the southeast of the state The town was small for anyplace other than Alaska with not much than a single road The rest of the island was uninhabited People wandering into the interior were sometimes never heard from again No one went in search of them It was assumed the wolves or bears had got them The moss and muskeg would hide their bonesThough I saw little of Alaska it was enough to grasp its fascination If my sense of it had faded some over the ast twenty years McPhee s wonderful book has helped to revive it I suddenly find myself scheming ways to get the wife and kids up north on vacation as soon as ossibleOne of my college Changing Face of the Hero professors first introduced me to John McPhee It was a writing course and he was reading briefassages from one of McPhee s books I don t recall which one lingering over certain The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time: A Collection of Poetry passages and expostulating on the genius of hisrose his crystalline expressions McPhee is rarely flashy There is no false osturing He is curious broad but crisp fresh clear My former favorite of McPhee s books among those I have read was Basin and Range "But Coming Into The "Coming into the is just as good The first art of it follows McPhee on an outing in the total wild of the Brooks Range The second has to do with the It's A Wonderfully Sexy Life politics of the state circa 1977 The third and by far the longest is the best In it McPhee lives with and among the trappers the miners the townspeople the hippie kids and the Athapaskan natives of the Yukon River country near the Canadian borderIn this small but broadly scattered and loose knit community McPhee finds all the hope discontent and anxiety of the human condition It s aarable Lignin Biodegradation perhaps of the riddling complexities that face us today finding ourselves to be aart of the natural order and yet standing somehow outside of it Alaska the early 1960s Darkness covered the land The latest winter storm which by then had already lasted half a century still showed no sign of ending The cold and the snow were beginning to wear the roud Alaskans down Then Russia invaded Again The fledgling state was unprepared for war and so the Alaskan Militia fell back before the forces of the Dark Lord Stalin and the Red Army of Moscow reached the walls of Juneau For two days and nights the city was bombarded by communist orcs On February 11 1964 the third day of the seige a light appeared on
the horizon It was the sun After fifty years of endless night dawn finally broke over Alaska Rousing horizon It was the sun After fifty years of endless night dawn finally broke over Alaska Rousing defenders the mighty wizard Ted Stevens the White led the final charge and drove the Red Army into the sea Alaska won the dayTen years assedIn the early 70s the Prophet McPhee came to Alaska He had had visions since the Great Dawn terrible awe inspiring visions of a woman in red riding a war grizzly The The Lady and the Lionheart priests he spoke to all agreed it was the Mother of Grizzlies Daughter of Alaska the great Messiah ueen of therophecies who would restore the mighty Alaskan Empire to glory and lead Her armies out of the North to conuer the Lower 48 The Return of the Sun had marked the hour of Her birth but none had seen sign of Her since And so the Prophet McPhee vowed to find Her Assembling a arty of shamen slaves bearing gifts of gold jewels and newspapers and mages from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation the Department of Fish and Game and other government agencies McPhee set out into the widerness uestions arose was the Mother of Grizzlies also Daughter of Grizzlies or was She merely a feral child raised. Hich shifts scenes freuently and yet manages to tie the work into a rewarding whole. .
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And educated in the ways of the bear Would they find Her feasting on fish and berries or did She hibernate in the caves of bears sleeping until Alaska needed a savior Russia had been silent for many years but would surely invade again The expedition failed most of the arty was eaten by wolves or lost in skirmishes with the National Park Service so they returned to Juneau It was clear that wherever the ueen of Alaska was She would not reveal Herself until the time was right So Alaska waited and repared And the uestion was asked where would Her Capital be Juneau was not grand enough and Anchorage and Fairbanks still lay in ruins from the war so the Prophet McPhee again set out into the wilderness again with his shamen and slaves and government bureaucrats to find a suitable lace to build Her Palace And again the shamen were eaten by wolves and the bureaucrats bickered and the slaves revolted so McPhee went back to JuneauThe uest seemed hopeless McPhee had not found the Chosen One or built Her City and all his shamen were dead But inspired by rumors of a secret messiah breeding Schilder's Struggle for the Unity of the Church program he set off alone on a third expedition following the elusive trail of aowerful sisterhood of sorceress nuns Here the narrative grows sketchy as McPhee s accounts of interviews of dozens of gold miners hermits holy men ice mages and the occasional talking bear led him in dizzying circles endlessly searching for a treasure that chose to remain secret McPhee apparently never found the Mother of Grizzlies and left Alaska in disgrace There are rumors however that he drank himself to death only to be resurrected by an unidentified hirsute girl but those stories remain unverified Even McPhee s account must be uestioned Were his visions true Did he truly foresee the birth and rise of Alaska s savior If so She remains hidden and erhaps none will know the hour of Her coming Where is the bear and the rider Where is the voice that is grating IA IA SARAH PALIN FHTAGN McPhee s Coming Into the Country is rightly considered a classic with its detailed description on life in mid 1970s Alaska Much of the writing is stunning acked full of river trips and anecdotes about characters the author encountered during his many months in the country He captures well the contradictions embodied in many Alaskans a thirst for solitude alternating with a an affinity for social gatherings an abhorrence of government even as they live and trap on ublic land and the sparse opulation combined with a sense that there are few laces left to go live and be free McPhee s writing style full of rapid fire uotes summing up various oints of view is effective in conveying these contradictions He also captures an important transitional time in the state s history when the Trans Alaskan oil National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 pipeline and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act were new realities Read nearly 40 years after it wasublished I believe the book reflects an important historical slice of Alaskan cultureDespite the overall high uality of writing I found that some arts dragged I found myself skimming dozens of ages related to a ossible shift of Alaska s capital that some arts dragged I found myself skimming dozens of Gods and fighting men: the story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory pages related to aossible shift of Alaska s capital from Juneau to Charming the Firefighter parts unknown If 45 stars wereossible that is what it would receive from me I ve read this twice many years apart Mostly a historic document now but what a historyOne of the rereads was in our camp at Flat an old formerly very very rich lacer camp It was a retty miserable job cheap jr company but I needed the "work a nice group of co workers Iditarod was the river ort "but a nice group of co workers Iditarod was the river ort Flat Somewhere I have a handful of blank checks from the vault of the old Bank of Iditarod Tony s is the review to read McPhee is just a flat amazing writer 44 stars by memory Things I learned about Alaska Merrill Field a light The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles plane airfield in Anchorage handles fifty four thousand flightser year than Newark International This is so because bushplane trips are common than taxis or driving the roads being what they are Fried cranberries will help a sore throat That somethings are better left unchanged or not re named What would you call that mountain WillieDenali I ll go along with the Indians that farEveryone aboard was white but Willie William Igiagru Hensley of Arctic Alaska and he said again Denali What the hell did McKinley ever doI learned the difference between a visitor and a tourist in Alaska A tourist stays a week and drops four hundred dollars A visitor comes with a shirt and a twenty dollar bill and doesn t change either oneI learned that Alaska is a great lace for nicknames Pete the Pig Pistolgrip Jim Groundsluice Bill Coolgardie Smith Codfish Tom Doc LaBooze the Evaporated Kid Fisty McDonald John the Baptist Cheeseham Sam and the Man with the Big Nugget I actually came across a Codfish in my own travels but I have an odd jobI learned that bear scat is fairly but not acutely fresh when it glistens but has stopped smoking Not everything I learned will I actually useI learned that Alaska at least the Alaska of 1977 was a lace where eople tired of government and other eople fled to I learned that the government followed them there and refused to let them alone I learned that Alaskans are Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War prone to ahilosophy LIVE EACH DAY SO THAT YOU CAN LOOK EVERY DAMN MAN IN THE EYE AND TELL HIM TO GO TO HELLWe need such eople At least we need a lace where such Žemyn galva į Australiją people could go Alace I might go if it wasn t so cold A lace so vast and unpeopled that if anyone could figure out how to steal Italy Alaska would be a lace to hide itThis was another wonderful trip that John McPhee took me on It s dated to be sure But wonderful characters are Último asalto portrayed good stories told In the battle between independent brave individuals and aedantic fuzzy wuzzy government John McPhee leaves no doubt whose side he is McPhee segues from the wilderness to life in urban Alaska to the remote bush count.