“Alaska” by James A. Michener
In addition to the above reasons, it simply took me a long time to finish James A. Michener’s “Alaska,” and I’m not quite sure why. I like Michener – his “Hawaii” was a seriously great read – and I’ve always had an interest in Alaska, so this book seemed like it’d be a no-brainer.
“Alaska” is Michener’s telling of the creation of the 49th state, from the very beginnings of the wilderness of the area through Eisenhower’s signing the statehood act that made it part of the United States. It’s a massive undertaking for a book, but Michener has done this before many times – “Hawaii,” “Chesapeake,” “Texas,” and, I mean, “Space.”
From the get-go, I was excited. It started off as a pretty good read, but then I found myself trudging through pages and chapters without really caring.
Also, if I’m being totally honest I have to admit that I eventually just skipped over the remainder of the section revolving around Vitus Bering (of the Bering Straits.) Bad BookNerd. Whatever.
This is not to say this book isn’t worth a read. Michener is the very best at crafting historical epics to tell the entire tale of a place’s history. I was originally captivated by the opening sections of “Alaska,” particularly the very beginning where he talks about the tectonic plates shifting to form the land mass that would become Alaska — which is actually way more interesting than I just made it sound, I swear. Also, the first five sections which deal with the native people and mastodons were quite engaging. I guess I just slowed down as the book entered more modern times, and never recovered.
I’m certainly not going to stop reading Michener’s work, and I still want to visit Alaska. I just didn’t fall head over heels for this book.
Win some, lose some.