Reading the North

Hard Way Back

By Kent Kaiser (, 18.99)

The blurb: Kent Kaiser's autobiography is described as "one man's true story of political corruption in Alaska and New Zealand," and recounts a series of legal battles and spiritual soul-searching.

Excerpt: "I was snapped out of my daydream by the sound of screeching tires. I looked down through the window of my second-floor home office in southwest Michigan, and saw the four trucks -- two heavy-duty vehicles and two SUV's -- barreling up my U-shaped drive in typical federal motorcade formation.

"Jumping from my chair, I scrutinized the vehicles as they parked in a row just a few feet from each other forming a blockade just outside my front door with 'MICHIGAN DNR' (Department of National Resources) emblazoned on the side of one of the trucks. You've got to be kidding me!

"A flurry of thoughts ricocheted through my brain, foremost of which was: This is the kind of SWAT-type behavior they reserve for serial killers, murderers, and bank robbers. What will the neighbors think? In my 44 years of life, I had compiled a 'criminal record' of a couple of speeding tickets, nothing more.

"I replayed the mental video of the past few weeks in Alaska, and I instantly knew why these federal agents were invading my space: They were coming to raid my house."

In the Valley of the Grizzly

By Ed Ferrell (Alaska Northwest Books, $12.95)

The blurb: This novel is a survival tale about a Tlingit teenager and his grandfather, whose plane is forced to land hundreds of miles from anywhere in the heart of an angry grizzly's territory.

Excerpt: "Lonely and apprehensive about Dan's leaving, Ben walked along the lakeshore, unable to shake his dark feelings. Just my imagination. Dan's been flying this country since the war. He'll be back.

"Suddenly, Ben stopped. Embedded in the sand, large tracks with claw marks led along the lake. Bear! Anxiously, Ben scanned the lake and the edge of the timber. Glancing up, he saw his grandfather approaching.

" 'Saw you looking at the tracks. Just ran across them myself.' He crouched down to study the ground. 'A grizzly. Male. A big one for this country. Weighs maybe 700 to 900 pounds. About eight feet tall, maybe taller. I think he came up from the coast. Bears are a lot bigger there. They feed on salmon."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News