July 2 Day 1 Saturday, Nashville
July 2, 2011 3 Comments
Before anyone sets out for Alaska they should read James Michener’s book, Alaska. It is a remarkable introduction to the State. The book covers various periods from the Ice Age to World War II and more. I haven t read the period after the war because Alaska is a very big book with 868 pages and I only made it to page 716 tonight. Why you might ask? I received a Kindle for Father’s Day so I could download a copy of Alaska and read it on the way. Much to my surprise there is no ebook version of the book for any device. Some other Michener books are available but not this one. I’ll read the rest when we return.
I’ll summarize the 716 pages I did read. Alaska was originally populated by the Athabaskans, Aleuts, and Tlingits. Russians and Siberians then moved in and traded guns and liquor for otter and seal skins. Sitka was the major settlement where the Tlingits were forced to move out. In 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the US for $7.5M. This was not a very popular idea in Congress and no form of government was provided for the next 20 years or so. It was a lawless society with no police, no courts, and no lawyers. Gold was discovered in the Klondike around 1899 and thousands came north with dreams of becoming rich. Only a few got claims that produced gold. A few years later more gold was discovered in Nome laying on the beach. After the Gold Rush, the economy was fed by salmon fishing and large canneries. The investors were all in Seattle. , so the Alaska economy was controlled from there. In the early 40’s it was determined that the Japanese were likely to invade Canada and America via Alaska. A road had to be built to move supplies and the 1,400 mile Alcan Highway was built in 6 months. In 1942 the Japanese did land on the islands of Attu and Kiska at the end of the Aleutian chain. A major battle was fought by 16,000 US troops against 2,600 Japanese on Attu in May 1943. The US suffered 550 dead and virtually all of the Japanese died there. Next 35,000 Americans and Canadian troops formed to fight 5,600 Japanese on Kiska Island. The scouts sent out found the Japanese had all left.
Read Alaska with your iPad beside you. The Maps application that comes with the iPad allows you to find the places you will read about and see satellite views as well as maps so long as you have Internet access.