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Going to Extremes by Joe McGinniss

Going to Extremes

by Joe McGinniss

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This book is actually very good. It is about a man who wanted to see what Alaska is really like. It covers his exploits in the capital with the locals and in the frozen small villages. ( )
  HenryGalvan | Mar 21, 2012 |
I tend to read everything I find about Alaska. I've decided that I must have lived there in a previous life, because I am fascinated by this state. I hate the cold, though.

This book was published in 1980, just after the completion of the Pipeline, and much of the focus in the book is directed at the impact that the construction has had. There is a lot of speculation, too, about what it's presence will bring. It's interesting to me that everyone's thinking in social and economic directions -- no one ever dreamed of other repercussions, though, like the Exxon Valdez. In a place known for it's unspoiled beauty and wildlife, I'm surprised. Hindsight really is 20/20, isn't it?

Joe McGinness spent a year (I think) travelling all over this large, strange state. He visited all of the major cities, many of the small towns, and even took a good long hike through the Brooks Range. What I really liked about this book was that he took on everything -- this wasn't about just the Pipeline, or about how cold it is, or how beautiful --he spent time in so many different places, finding all of their individual quirks. It's the first book I've read that manages to get so in depth about so many different aspects of life in Alaska.

I was bothered by the not-always-so-subtle Us and Them attitude when it came to the native people (still lumped into a single group called Eskimos at that time). While Mr McGinness described overt racial tension in Barrow, his own impressions were apparent in his descriptions of bars full of drunken Eskimos and troublemakers, and about their inability to handle their new-found Pipeline wealth. This book is clearly about the White Man's Alaska. I'm troubled by this.

All in all I found this to be a well-written and never boring travelogue -- better than average, actually. The historical perspective adds not just a little interest to the whole. I recommend this book to any fellow Alaskaphile. ( )
5 vote ireed110 | Nov 21, 2008 |
A little dated now this is one of the most interesting and readable books about Alaska around. Not a travel book so don't read it for tips on where to go or how to tie the bells to your backpack. ( )
  groendog | Nov 21, 2005 |
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"Going to Extremes is about what happens when a lot of folks from the lower 48 and a lot of money are thrown into Alaska at the same time--the late 1970s, when the pipeline was being built. McGinniss casts an urban reporter's jaundiced eye, for example, toward the drinking and drugs that seem like an inevitable consequence of people in the cold wilderness with nothing to do and some money"--Reader review (amazon.com).… (more)

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