Kindle Coming into the Country
Brilliant three part million facet look at Alaska My favorite part is probably 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 Part Is "The middle part is political commentary but the last and longest part is what McPhee is always doing introducing you to 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 that place 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 place 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 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 past twenty years McPhee s wonderful book has helped to revive it I suddenly find myself scheming ways to get the wife and ids up north on vacation as soon as possibleOne of my college professors first introduced me to John McPhee It was a writing course and he was reading brief passages from one of McPhee s books I don t recall which one lingering over certain passages and expostulating on the genius of his prose his crystalline expressions McPhee is rarely flashy There is no false posturing 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 Country is just as good The first part of it follows McPhee on an outing in the total wild of the Brooks Range The second has to do with the 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 Arabian Challenge kids and the Athapaskan natives of the Yukon River country near the Canadian borderIn this small but broadly scattered and loosenit community McPhee finds all the hope discontent and anxiety of the human condition It s a parable perhaps of the riddling complexities that face us today finding ourselves to be a part 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 PROUD ALASKANS DOWN THEN RUSSIA INVADED *wear the proud Alaskans down Then Russia invaded 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 the defenders the mighty wizard Ted Stevens the White led the final charge an. This is the story of Alaska and the Alaskans Written with a vividness and clarity E 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 suppleme 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 packed 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 public land and the sparse population combined with a sense that there are few places left to go live and be free McPhee s writing style full of rapid fire uotes summing up various points 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 pipeline and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act were new realities Read nearly 40 years after it was published I believe the book reflects an important historical slice of Alaskan cultureDespite the overall high uality of writing I found that some parts dragged I found myself skimming dozens of pages related to a possible shift of Alaska s capital city from Juneau to parts unknown If 45 stars were possible 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 and formerly very very rich placer camp It was a pretty miserable job cheap jr company but I needed the work but a nice group of co workers Iditarod was the river port for 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 plane airfield in Anchorage handles fifty four thousand flights per 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 "named What would you 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 place 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 place where people tired of government and other people fled to I learned that the government followed them there and refused to let them alone I learned that Alaskans are prone to a philosophy LIVE EACH DAY SO THAT YOU CAN LOOK EVERY DAMN MAN IN THE EYE AND TELL HIM TO GO TO HELLWe need such people At least *WE NEED A PLACE WHERE SUCH PEOPLE COULD GO *need a place where such people could go place I might go if it wasn t so cold A place so vast and unpeopled that if anyone could figure out how to steal Italy Alaska would be a place to hide itThis was another wonderful trip that John McPhee took me on It s dated to be sure But wonderful characters are portrayed good stories told In the battle between independent brave individuals and a pedantic fuzzy wuzzy government John McPhee leaves no doubt whose side he is on. McPhee segues from the wilderness to life in urban Alaska to the remote bush count. .
D drove the Red Army into the sea Alaska won the dayTen years passedIn 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 priests he spoke to all agreed it was the Mother of Grizzlies Daughter of Alaska the great Messiah ueen of the prophecies who would restore the *Mighty Alaskan Empire To Glory And Lead Her Armies Out *Alaskan Empire to glory and lead Her armies out 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 party 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 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 party 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 prepared 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 place 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 program he set off alone on a third expedition following the elusive trail of a powerful 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 perhaps none will now the hour of Her coming Where is the bear and the rider Where is the voice that is grating IA IA SARAH PALIN FHTAGN I love McPhee s writing I first read this book when it was published in part in the New Yorker and again soon after it was published 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 a This book has meant a lot to me as an Alaskan interested in the raggedy interplay between development and conservationism although I had never read it in its entirety Now I have I would say this book at best offers a ind sympathetic view of all sorts of Alaskans circa 1977 a period which I just
BARELY REMEMBER FROM GRADE SCHOOL I STILL RECALL THEremember from grade school I still recall the debate on whether to give Mount McKinley the newold name of Denali as part of ANILCA then called the D 2 Lands Bill which was a hot button topic ie federal take over for Alaskans such as my parents I remember the debate to move the capital to Willow I remember John Denver s goodwill trip to Alaska to promote conservation and the passage of ANILCA It was all HIGHLY charged politics in whic I was really hoping this would be about geology along the lines of Basin and Rang. Hich shifts scenes freuently and yet manages to tie the work into a rewarding whole. .