Tip of the iceberg My 3,000-mile journey around wild Alaska, the last great American frontier

Mark Adams, 1967-

Book - 2018

"In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer voyage to the wilds of Alaska: He converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university," populated by some of America's best and brightest scientists and writers, including the anti-capitalist eco-prophet John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity. More than a hundred years later, Alaska is still America's most sublime wilderness, ...both the lure that draws a million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and a natural resources larder waiting to be raided. As ever, it remains a magnet for weirdos and dreamers. Armed with Dramamine and an industrial-strength mosquito net, Mark Adams sets out to retrace the 1899 expedition. Using the state's intricate public ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Adams travels three thousand miles, following the George W. Elder's itinerary north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continuing west into the colder and stranger regions of the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, he encounters dozens of unusual characters (and a couple of very hungry bears) and investigates how lessons learned in 1899 might relate to Alaska's current struggles in adapting to the pressures of a changing climate and world." -- Amazon.com.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 917.9804/Adams Checked In
New York, New York : Dutton, An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2018]
Physical Description
xi, 323 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Mark Adams, 1967- (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Travel writer Adams (Meet Me in Atlantis, 2015) turns his attention to Alaska and recreates the 1899 Harriman expedition on a 3,000-mile journey, mostly across the state's southern regions. Drawing on published reports and diaries of participants in the railroad magnate's nineteenth-century exploration, especially those of John Muir, Adams returns to the same locations, documents changes (especially in the glaciers), and muses on what it is that still makes Alaska the Last Frontier. Readers who know Alaska may cringe at how bears, bush pilots, political conservatives, and wacky rural residents appear with timeworn predictability, but Adams does spend time with Kim Heacox (Rhythm of the Wild, 2015), one of the state's most highly regarded authors, as well as scientists and various capable guides. There are few Alaska Native voices represented, but Adams does focus on how the once pristine wilderness has been transformed into a cruise ship megadestination. Tourists will certainly enjoy reading about both the past and the present, and the breezy, self-deprecating tone makes for an obvious vacation diversion.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Travel writer Adams (Meet Me in Atlantis) wonderfully recounts, and emulates, the 1899 voyage organized by railroad tycoon Edward Harriman to survey the coast of Alaska. Using the writings of Harriman and his team of natural scientists-including John Muir, at that time the leading writer on the "relatively new" subject of wilderness protection-Adams follows along the Harriman expedition's trail to compare what it found during its two-month, 3,000-mile adventure to present-day Alaska. Making "every important stop" that the Harriman team did, Adams details the state's natural beauty, as well as the changes that have taken place since. For example, the town of Ketchikan, which in 1899 consisted only of a salmon cannery and a few buildings, is now Alaska's sixth-largest city, and Yakutat, whose "total isolation" had made it known for "attracting the most extreme dropouts," is now Alaska's "unlikely surf capital." He also gives an excellent account of the history and impact of the oil industry and climate change on Alaska: "The thinning ice that promises a potential boom for Nome's economy and global shipping companies dooms Shismaref [an Inupiat fishing village] to near-certain disaster." Adams gives readers an eye-opening look at the past and present history of a fascinating region. Agent: Daniel Greenberg: Levine, Greenberg, Rostan Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. -Harriman organized a summer voyage into wild Alaska. He converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university," sailing north with some of America's best-known scientists and writers, including Sierra Club founder John Muir, who'd visited Alaska several times before and was considered an expert on its glaciers but was initially uncertain about joining Harriman owing to their political differences. Travel writer Adams (Meet Me in Atlantis) retraces the Harriman expedition via the state's intricate public ferry system and the Alaska Marine Highway. More than 100 years later, Alaska maintains its sublime wilderness, attracting millions of tourists yearly, who take Inside Passage cruises, docking in remote, picturesque Alaskan towns flanked by snow-capped peaks. Adams travels 3,000 miles, following the Harriman itinerary through the Inside Passage and continuing into the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. He compares the accounts of the Harriman expedition to what he uncovers on his own journey. Along the way, he encounters the state's eclectic population, including its well-known bears. VERDICT Recommended for general readers interested in Alaska's environment and history. [See Prepub Alert, 12/4/17.]-Gary Medina, El Camino Coll., Torrance, CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

An entertaining and informative trip around Alaska's coastline, one man's "event of a lifetime."Adventure writer and journalist Adams (Meet Me in Atlantis: My Quest to Find the Sunken City, 2015, etc.) returns to the successful narrative strategy he employed in his previous books, melding history and travel writing in a winning combination. Here, he follows in the footsteps of Edward H. Harriman's 1899 expedition to northern Alaska. The Union Pacific tycoon refitted a steamship and invited a who's who of "extraordinary gentlemen" to accompany him, including John Muir, John Burroughs, George Bird Grinnell, C. Hart Merriam, and a young photographer, Edward Curtis, "who had guided Merriam and Grinnell to safety after they'd gotten lost while hiking on Mount Rainier in 1898." Adams journeyed alone, making his way to Bellingham, Washington, to board the Kennicott, setting out by sea, air, and land on Alaska's 3,000-mile Marine Highway. The author is a terrific guide and an even better historian. Chapters juxtapose his and the 1899 expedition members' experiences at each stop, from Anchorage and Haines to Nome and "Land's End," remote Shishmaref, located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle on "a long sandbar, an elongated peanut two and a half miles long and less than a half mile wide at its narrow waist." There, a resident told Adams that the "seasons have changed" and that "it's taking longer for the ocean to freeze. Traditionally, it freezes in October. Last year it froze in January." This environmental theme runs throughout the narrative. Alaska's "frozen kingdom," writes the author, is "dissolving like a popsicle in the sun." In Gustavus (pop. 434), a golf course is "on land that had been underwater during the Harriman Expedition." Because of "isostatic rebound," the melting ice in Glacier Bay makes formerly depressed land rise up. Adams populates his story with hilarious tales and revealing encounters with guides, scientists, and a couple frisky brown bears.Simultaneously uplifting, inspiring, and dispiriting.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.