Alaska: where dreams and reality often clashed
Alaska became a state in 1959 after nearly a century of federal rule and domination by powerful mining, timber, and canned-salmon interests. At last, the people of America’s former territory could direct their own destiny. But would they? In its first fifty years, Alaska’s fate continued to be influenced by outsiders and unexpected events:
Recognition of Alaska’s strategic importance inspired a Cold War military buildup that shaped the early economy;
Discovery of the largest oil field in North America lent urgency to proposals to settle Alaska’s Native land claims and build the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, events that transformed Alaska;
A growing environmental movement persuaded Congress to set aside 100 million acres of national park lands, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges, leaving a residue of unresolved land-use issues.
With clarity, wit, and appreciation for the contributions of everyday people, author Dermot Cole tells how Alaskans rolled up their sleeves to organize their new state government and how their dreams and reality often clashed in the decades to come.