Arctic Autumn: A Journey to Season's Edge
By Pete Dunn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24)
The blurb: Traveling from the barren lands of Canada to the edges of Alaska and back, Pete Dunne examines our interactions with the natural world and the importance of the Arctic.
Excerpt: "This is amazing, I thought, and might have said, but it's unlikely anyone aboard our single-engine Otter would have heard it.
"Not our young pilot, who was chatting by radio with the next client on his work sheet. Not Bob Dittrick, who was peering out the copilot's window, trying to juxtapose topographic features one thousand feet below with the ponds and rivers outlined on the deck of downloaded maps sitting on his lap.
"Not Linda, who was busy shooting images of the Arctic Coastal Plain and Beaufort Sea beyond; nor the two young biologists, wedged in with our gear, who had bummed a ride out of Deadhorse to conduct breeding bird surveys at Lonely.
"Lonely, by the way, is a place, not a state of mind."
Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaska
By Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger (Nation Books, $26.99)
The blurb: The book charts Alaska's political history as the Last Frontier and an oil province. It argues that Alaska leaders such as the late Sen. Ted Stevens and oil contractor Bill Allen helped pave the way for Sarah Palin's rise to fame.
Excerpt: "Soon oil would rule Alaska. Soon the sheen of oil would spread through this frontier so widely that without it, Alaska's future would become unimaginable. Crude would make everything that was about to happen to Alaska possible: wealth and corruption, growth and environmental degradation, soaring hopes and fading dreams. Alaska's best known leaders -- Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens -- were born out of oil, as was the lesser known Bill Allen, who was nonetheless as influential as any leader in Alaska. Eventually Alaska's oil would spread throughout the country, helping to fuel America, to supply energy to a growing populace. And it would help energize an emerging party led by a small-town Alaska mayor, who had an Alaska-size confidence in her ability to lead America.
"All of this would have been unimaginable back in the winter of 1955-1956."
-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News