Alaska Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 28 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Alaska.
This section contains 419 words
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Alaska Summary & Study Guide Description

Alaska Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Alaska by James A. Michener.

Approximately a billion years ago there was a protuberance in the northwest corner of what was to become North America. This landmass would become the future Alaska. A half billion years ago, this landmass had no mountains or trees or other growth. In winter, the sun remained low in the sky for six months while summer temperatures could reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Some sea life was moving onto land at this time.

Thus begins the novel, Alaska, by James Michener. Written in the typical Michener style, the book begins with the geological formation of the Alaskan land mass. Michener describes how animal and plant life occurred in the area and how the three basic groups of natives arrived. Conditions were harsh but the people survived, as did the animals.

Michener examines how the Russians expanded into Alaska in response to the lucrative fur trade. The Russians imposed harsh conditions on the natives, often slaughtering many of them in order to obtain the expensive pelts. Ships from other nations began to arrive and trade with the natives as the Russians began to establish cities on Alaska. The ships visited the various native settlements.

In 1867, the Russians sold Alaska to the United States for over seven million dollars. The discovery of gold in the Yukon resulted in an influx of people, among them, young Tom Venn and his foster mother, Missy Peckham. They had to survive, and teenage Tom negotiated a deal with a Seattle general store, Ross and Raglan, to open a branch in Alaska. This was the beginning of a business empire which Tom would inherit through his marriage to Lydia Ross.

The establishment of the store branches followed the gold rush, and Venn eventually established the first salmon cannery at Pleisaides Glaciers. The growth of business clashed with the culture of the natives, as there were limitations on hunting and fishing, which was the native way of life. After Alaska became a state, thirteen native corporations were established with the shares distributed to the natives. Other events affecting the natives was the discovery at Prudhoe Bay. All of these events had economic and social consequences, as the corporations were grossly mismanaged and eventually under investigation by the federal government.

The story of Alaska is basically the result of the greed of businessmen and those who had a genuine love for the land and wanted what was best for the Alaskans, including allowing them to preserve their culture. This is the exciting story, told in true Michener style.

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This section contains 419 words
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