Alaska books roundup 2013



This Alaska books roundup, the Empire’s fourth annual, highlights books written by or focusing on Alaska and Alaskans. It is limited to books published in the past year, and is not intended to be exhaustive.

This year’s local titles include selections from 50 years of poetry by Richard Dauenhauer, a pictorial history of Juneau by Ernestine Hayes, a practical guide to water travel in Southeast by Dick Callahan, and a husband-and-wife children’s book collaboration from Susi and Jim Fowler.




“Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska” by Sherry Simpson. Simpson’s latest collection of essays centers on Alaskan bears, incorporating scientific research, interviews and personal insights. (University Press of Kansas, October 2013)

“Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home” by Leigh Newman. Newman’s memoir describes a childhood split between two coasts, two lives and two identities, and the challenges she faced in bringing them together as an adult. (The Dial Press, March 2013)

“Gaining Daylight: Life On Two Islands” by Sara Loewen. Loewen’s personal essays describe the author’s attempts to find a balance between ancient and modern ways of living. (University of Alaska Press, February 2013)

“Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear” by Dan Bigley with Debra McKinney. Bigley’s story describes his physical and psychological recovery after being mauled by a grizzly, and how he learned to thrive despite major changes. (Lyons Press, April 2013)

“Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods” by Christine Byl. Byl first came to Alaska as a seasonal “traildog” in Glacier National Park, and grew to love the work. Here, she explores mental vs. physical work, the division of the sexes and other topics based on her experiences. (Beacon Press, April 2013)

“Chasing Alaska: A Portrait of the Last Frontier Then and Now” by CB Bernard. Upon arriving in Alaska in 1999, Bernard discovered that one of his distant relatives was also an Alaskan, one with an interesting history. This book tells both their stories, a century apart. (Lyons Press, May 2013)

North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey” by Shannon Polson. Born in Alaska, Polson lost both her parents to a grizzly attack. In this narrative she traces her inner and outer journey through the Alaskan Arctic as she deals with these terrible losses. Zondervan/Harper Collins, April 2013.

“Toucan Nest” by Peggy Shumaker. Former Alaska State Writer Laureate Shumaker describes her reactions to the rainforests of Costa Rica and its inhabitants. (Red Hen Press, March 2013)

“Small Feet, Big Land: Adventure, Home and Family on the Edge of Alaska” by Erin McKittrick. Adventurer McKittrick, author of “A Long Trek Home,” describes her and her husband Hig’s latest adventure in the Alaska wilderness, this time with their two young children. (Mountaineers Books, October 2013)



“The Raven’s Gift” by Don Rearden. Rearden’s critically acclaimed novel interweaves three timelines in a story that is part thriller, part allegory. A teacher living in a Yup’ik Eskimo village tries to stay alive — and hold on to his humanity — in the wake of a deadly epidemic that’s killed off most of the people around him. This book recently landed on the Washington Post’s 2013 Notable Fiction List (see brief in this week’s Arts). (Pintail, June 2013)

“Oil And Water: A Novel” by Mei Mei Evans. Drawing on the real-life events of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Anchorage-based writer Evans traces the lives of four characters dealing with environmental catastrophe. (University of Alaska Press, February 2013)

“The Shadows of Owls: A Novel” by John Keeble. This literary thriller, which interweaves fiction and science, centers on a marine biologist who angers Big Oil through her research in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. (University of Washington Press, September 2013)

“Goat Mountain: A Novel” by David Vann. Vann’s latest novel describes through flashback the unexpected and brutal outcome of an 11-year-old boy’s first deer hunt. (Harper, September 2013)

“The Blind Man and the Loon: The Story of a Tale” by Craig Mishler. This Native folktale, shared in cultures from the Northwest Coast to Greenland, tells of a blind man betrayed by his mother (or wife) who receives an unexpected gift from a loon. Mishler is an affiliate research professor with the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. (University of Nebraska Press, May 2013)

“Weathered Edge: three Alaskan novellas” by Kris Farmen, Martha Amore and Buffy McKay. A collection of three Alaskan short novels by three emerging voices, released by Anchorage-based publisher VP & D House. (VP&D House, Inc., June 2013)



“Benchmarks: New and Selected Poems 1963–2013” by Richard Dauenhauer. Former poet laureate of Alaska, Dauenhauer here presents selected poems from a span of 50 years. (University of Alaska Press, November 2013)

“Hyperboreal” by Joan Kane. Kane’s new collection centers on King Island, the poet’s ancestral home, and on themes of dislocation and identity. (University of Pittsburgh Press, October 2013)

“Pause, Traveler” by Erin Coughlin Hollowell. Hollowell, of Homer, is adjunct professor at the University of Alaska. (Boreal Books, June 2013)

Upriver: Poems” by Carolyn Kremers. Kremers, a former teacher in Tununak, now lives in Fairbanks. (University of Alaska Press, February 2013)



“Robert Davidson: Abstract Impulse” by Barbara Brotherton, Sheila Farr and John Haworth. This book focused on well-known Haida artist Robert Davidson highlights his less traditional works, including abstract paintings and sculpture. (University of Washington Press, November 2013)

“Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012” by Barbara C. Matilsky. The work of a variety of artists in many media is explored through their interpretations of the polar landscape. (University of Washington Press, October 2013)

“In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum” edited by Robin K. Wright And Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse. This books showcases objects from the Burke Museum’s collection of Pacific Northwest Coast art works, focusing on the late 20th and early 21st century. (University of Washington Press, June 2013)



“Black Wolf of the Glacier: Alaska’s Romeo” by Deb Vanasse, illustrated by Nancy Slagle. Juneau’s famous wolf is the focus of this kids’ book, told through the perspective of a dog owner whose pet befriends him. (University of Alaska Press, March 2013)

“Arctic Aesop’s Fables: Twelve Retold Tales” by Susi Gregg Fowler illustrated by Jim Fowler. Local husband and wife team the Fowlers teamed up to present this Alaskan take on classic children’s stories. (Sasquatch Books, February 2013)

“Gone Again Ptarmigan” by Jonathan London, illustrated by Jon Van Zyle. Kids can trace these Alaskan birds over the course of the year as they change their plumage and interact with other creatures. (University of Alaska Press, August 2013)

“Deep in Alaska” by Christine Johnson, illustrated by Gary Johnson. This kids’ story about a boy out in the woods is rendered in three colors (black, white and red) and told through a series of haiku. It also incorporates real photos of Eagle River. (University of Alaska press, September 2013)

“Bo at Ballard Creek” by Kirkpatrick Hill. Fairbanks author Hill, a great-grandmother, tells the story of an orphan adopted by two tough gold miners. (Henry Holt and Co., June 2013)

“Lone Wolves” by John Smelcer. This young adult book describes a 16-year-old girl’s challenges in holding on to her traditional Native Alaskan culture as she trains for a 1,000-mile dog race. (Leapfrog Press, October 2013)



“Juneau” by Ernestine Hayes. This pictorial history of Juneau, part of the Images of America series, centers on the industries, people, cultures and politics that shaped the city’s formation. (Arcadia Publishing, December 2013)

“Skagway: City of the New Century” by Jeff Brady. Brady, editor of the “The Skagway News,” has compiled and written a huge selection of articles on his community, dating from its early days to the present. (Lynn Canal Publishing, June 2013)

“Canyons and Ice: the Wilderness travels of Dick Griffith” by Kaylene Johnson. A biography of Dick Griffith, a quiet Alaskan wilderness explorer whose adventures include hiking across the Brooks Range in 1959. (Ember Press, March 2013)

“Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier” by Tom Kizzia. Kizzia, a reporter with the Anchorage Daily News, uncovers the real story behind this dark figure who settled near McCarthy with his wife and 15 children. (Crown Publishing, July 2013)

“The Flying North” by Jean Potter. Originally published in 1945, “The Flying North” focuses on Alaska’s early aviation days, based on personal interviews with pilots. (Shorefast Editions, November 2013)

“The Long View: Dispatches on Alaska History” by Ross Coen. A collection of Coen’s columns from the Ester Republic focusing on everyday moments in Alaska’s past. (Ester Republic Press, March 2013)

“Bad Friday, The Great & Terrible 1964 Alaska Earthquake” by Lew Freedman. Stories from southcentral Alaskans who survived the 9.2 earthquake of March 27, 1964. (Epicenter Press, July 2013)

“In Pursuit of Alaska: An Anthology of Travelers’ Tales, 1879-1909” by Jean Morgan Meaux. Former Alaskan Meaux has collected first person narratives from adventurers including Field and Stream’s Charles Hallock, society woman Mary Hitchcock, and explorer Henry Allen. (University of Washington Press, April 2013)

“The Fires of Patriotism Alaskans in the Days of the First World War, 1910–1920” by Preston Jones. This book focuses on Alaskans’ contributions to the country during WWI, through stories and photos. (University of Alaska Press, November 2013)

“Windows to the Land, Volume One: Alaska Native Land Claims Trailblazers” by Judy Ferguson. First-person narratives and interviews conducted by Ferguson highlight key Alaska Natives involved with Alaska Native land claims movement, including chapters on Richard Stitt and William Paul, and on Elizabeth, Roy and Frank Peratrovich. (Voice of Alaska Press, May 2013)

“Yupik Transitions: Change and Survival at Bering Strait, 1900–1960” by Igor Krupnik and Michael Chlenov. Krupnik, a cultural anthropologist with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and Chlenov, of Moscow, share the results of more than 30 years of research and fieldwork, presenting a portrait of a culture in transition. (University of Alaska Press, November 2013)

“Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi: The Dena’ina Way of Living” edited by Suzi Jones, Aaron Leggett and James Fall. This 350-page catalog of Dena’ina materials was designed in conjunction with a large-scale Anchorage Museum exhibit, which runs through January 2014, and includes more than 600 photographs, Jones is deputy director of the Anchorage Museum and Leggett is special exhibitions curator. (University of Alaska Press, September 2013)

“Iñupiaq Ethnohistory: selected essays” by Ernest S. Burch Jr., edited by Erica Hill. This collection of essays written by social anthropologist Ernest S. “Tiger” Burch Jr. presents information based on his extensive research of Iñupiaq culture. Editor Hill, an archaeologist, teaches at the University of Alaska Southeast. (University of Alaska Press, November 2013)

“The Tlingit Indians (new edition)” by Aurel Krause and Erna Gunther, with a new foreword by Dee Longenbaugh. Aurel Krause and his brother’s in-depth study of Tlingit culture was conducted in the 1880s. This new edition includes a foreword by Juneau’s Dee Longenbaugh, owner of the Observatory bookstore. (Epicenter Press, April 2013)

“Unlikely Liberal: Sarah Palin’s Curious Record as Alaska’s Governor” by Matthew Zencey. Zencey, former editor at the Anchorage Daily News, explores the often unexpected political decisions made by Sarah Palin during her time as Alaska’s leader. (Potomac Books Inc., September 2012)

“Beyond Ophir: Confessions of an Iditarod Musher, An Alaska Odyssey” by Jim Lanier. Lanier, who ran his first Iditarod in 1979 — and competed in 15 more thereafter — writes about his experiences with Alaska’s most famous race. (Publication Consultants, August 2013)



“Northern Exposures: An Adventuring Career in Stories and Images” by Jonathan Waterman. Waterman’s latest book includes 23 essays and 96 photographs that track his career as Alaskan adventurer. (University of Alaska Press, June 2013)

“Nuvuk, the Northernmost: Altered land, Altered lives in Barrow, Alaska” by Daniel James Inulak Lum. Lum shares personal photographs and essays about life in Nuvuk and Barrow based on his experiences as a resident and tour guide. University of Alaska press, June 2013

“I Am Alaskan” by Brian Adams. Anchorage photographer Adams’ portraits of Alaskans includes famous faces such as Sarah Palin and Vic Fischer, as well as everyday Alaskans in urban and rural settings. (University of Alaska Press, October 2013)

“Portrait Alaska” by Clark James Mishler. This 128-page book features personal and professional portraits of Alaskans across a wide spectrum, and includes an essay by anthropologist, Stephen Haycox. (Yes Alaska Press, January 2013)

“A Russian American Photographer in Tlingit Country: Vincent Soboleff in Alaska” by Sergei Kan. Through Soboleff’s photographs, this book showcases Alaska in the late 1800s and early 1900. (University of Oklahoma Press, July 2013)



“Gear List of the Golden Moon” by Dick Callahan. Callahan’s book is a practical resource -- and inspiration -- for anyone wanting to embark on a long water voyage in Southeast, based on his own experience. (Harbor Seal Press, August 2013)

“Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss among Vanishing Orcas” by Eva Saulitis. Whale researcher Saulitis explores the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on a particular group of orca whales, sharing personal reflections as well as scientific data gained from her time onboard research vessels in the Prince William Sound. (Beacon Press, January 2013)

“Billion-Dollar Fish: The Untold Story of Alaska Pollock” by Kevin M. Bailey. Bailey is a former senior scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center of NOAA. His book on Alaska pollock includes discussions on science, politics, economics and natural history, as he traces the factors that have led to current management policies and the fish’s declining stocks. (University Of Chicago Press, May 2013)

“Among Wolves: Gordon Haber’s insights into Alaska’s Most Misunderstood Animal” by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman. This book about wolf researcher Gordon Haber, who died in a plane crash in Denali National Park in 2009, includes information from Haber’s field notes and journals, including observations about wolves’ family interactions and hunting behavior. (University of Alaska Press, October 2013)

“Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska, fourth ed.,” by Kate Wynne, illustrations by Pieter Folkens. This edition has been revised with current information on the status of Alaska’s 29 marine mammal species, including whales, dolphins, seals and polar bears. (Alaska Sea Grant, March 2013)

“Common Edible Seaweeds in the Gulf of Alaska, second ed.” by Dolly Garza. Garza, former professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has updated this edition of her book with personal accounts about collecting and preparing seaweed with her family. Alaska Sea Grant, March 2013

“There’s a moose in my Garden: Designing Gardens for Alaska and the Far North” by Brenda Adams. This guide offers practical advice about gardening in the far north from Homer-based gardener Adams. (University of Alaska Press, August 2013)

“Encounters in Avalanche Country: A History of Survival in the Mountain West, 1820-1920” by Diana L. Di Stefano. Di Stefano, assistant professor of history at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, examines history through an unusual lens, natural disaster, and how avalanche danger and management shaped emerging communities in the West. (University of Washington Press, October 2013)



Tidal echoes, UAS’ literary and arts journal

“Permafrost,” published annually by graduate students in the UAF Department of English

“Ice Box,” published annually by undergraduate students of UAF

“Cirque,” a regional journal founded by Anchorage poet Mike Burwell

Alaska Quarterly Review, biannual journal published by UAA

F magazine, based in Anchorage



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