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Bibliophile reviews Going to Extremes by Joe McGinniss

Year published: 1980
Genre: Non-fiction, travel
Setting & time: Alaska, USA, late 1970s

McGinniss wanted to experience Alaska in all it's guises and seasons and went to live there for a year. The outcome was this report, often funny, sometimes sad or poignant, about a land and society during a period of rapid change. He takes a look at the problems facing the native communities, many of which were caused by the social-upheaval brought on by the arrival of the white man, and also at pioneers, oilmen, opportunists, politicians, scholars and ordinary people, all of them trying to make a living in the harsh environment of the USA's biggest state.

McGinniss does his best to avoid criticising the less savoury aspects of what he saw by trying to describe without judging, but one can not avoid noticing the subtle sarcasm that creeps into his prose whenever he mentions the oil pipeline, oilmen or oil-supporters and oil-supporting politicians, so his stance on that subject is rather obvious, but it is subtle enough that it will not overly bother anyone but the most militant pipeline supporter.

Rating: An interesting look at Alaska, both land and people. 4 stars.

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