Book reviewer puzzles

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, July 07, 2004

In her review ("Book explores oil industry's impact on Alaska" on June 13 ) of my book, "Alaska Agonistes: The Age of Petroleum," Ann Chandonnet wrote that the chapter entitled "Other Scriveners" included Alaska authors Dermot Cole of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and John Strohmeyer of Anchorage among the "Hit and Run Literati" whose work I generally disparaged. In fact, in an aside, I expressly excluded Cole and Strohmeyer, among others, from that dubious company.

In another minor indiscretion, Ms. Chandonnet enclosed the term "fighting words" in quotations, from which readers might reasonably but erroneously infer that those are my words. They may be part of the reviewer's "charged vocabulary," but they are not mine.

The reviewer ended the largely favorable review with this puzzling paragraph: "It (LaRocca's book) would have more credibility if he had included footnotes to his own articles on oil and politics and to sources he cites, such as Alyeska's 29-volume "Project Description," the Tussing/Barlow report and President Jimmy Carter's 1977 "Decision and Report to Congress."

Since I identified these sources in the text (as I explain in the forward), it would have been redundant to include them in foot or chapter notes as well. The reviewer is the only reader I know who wishes my book were longer rather than shorter.

Joe LaRocca

North East (Erie County), Pa.

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