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Reading the north

The Long View: Dipatches on Alaska History

By Ross Coen (Ester Republic Press)

The blurb: Ross Coen provides a series of snapshots of events both large and small that have helped shape Alaska over the past 150 years.

Excerpt: "On the morning of January 2, 1959, Bill Egan was awaiting a phone call from Washington, DC. Egan had been elected the state's first governor the previous November. Joining him by the telephone that morning in Juneau were Hugh Wade, the secretary of state-elect (a position we now call lieutenant governor), the families of both men, a few members of the governor-elect's staff, and two representatives from the post office on hand to officially postmark the first day covers. Judge Raymond F. Kelly stood by holding a Bible that had been presented to Egan by the First Baptist Church in Juneau.

"Shortly after 9:00 a.m., the phone rang with news that President Dwight Eisenhower had just signed the official proclamation admitting Alaska as the 49th state. Kelly immediately administered the oath of office to Egan and the State of Alaska had its first governor. (The oath, incidentally, required Egan to swear that he was not a member of the Communist Party or any other subversive group that advocated the overthrow of United States government.)

"Two hours later, Egan delivered his inaugural address before a crowd of eight hundred jubilant Alaskans at a downtown theatre. Two hours after that, Egan was in the hospital being prepped for major surgery."

Midnight Sun, Arctic Moon: Mapping the Wild Heart of Alaska

By Mary Albanese (Epicenter Press, $14.95)

The blurb: In this memoir, a young upstate New York woman becomes a geological explorer in Alaska, where she maps remote wilderness areas.

Excerpt: "On the day of the Brooks Range field trip, I woke up early, eager to be off. My duffel bag was packed with clothes for three days along with two blankets, my make-shift substitute for a sleeping bag. I set off to meet the group, having been told they would be waiting at the parking lot at the 'bottom of the hill.'

"I went to the small parking lot behind the Brooks Building, but it was deserted. I climbed the little hill and noticed another parking lot, and another, and yet another, all next to various hills. All were empty. At this early hour on a weekend, the campus was like a ghost town.

"The campus stretched for almost a mile, with buildings in every direction, each with its own parking lot, each with a hill. From the grassy knolls to the steep cliffs, I had no idea where to go."

-- Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News