The Alaskan is a typical Curwood tale, with wonderful descriptions of the Alaskan landscape, the wildlife, vegetation and local populations. The plot is studded with exciting twists and turns, memorable characters and is indeed a great read for young and old alike. Recent film adaptations of his 1916 book The Grizzly King and titled The Bear have led to a renewed interest in the work of this writer who was famous in his day, but is little known to modern readers.
This story opens with a young woman who voyages alone into the wilds of Alaska to escape her tragic past. It then continues on to a young man who passionately protects the pristine environment, people and way of life in this snowbound country. Finally, a greedy profiteer arrives in the narrative whose only aim is to fill his pockets. When these three characters encounter each other on the stark and snowy plains, it's a clash of ideals and the sparks begin to fly.
The Alaskan by James Oliver Curwood is one of his very engaging adventure romance conservationist stories and was an instant bestseller, like most of his books, when it was first published in 1923. Curwood was a highly successful writer in the early part of the twentieth century and was in fact, the best paid writer in the world at his time. His books were wildly popular and have been adapted for screen, stage, television and radio. Though he was a high school dropout, he wrote and passed a university entrance exam that gave him entry into the University of Michigan's English department. He studied journalism and discovered his writing talents when he worked on a Detroit newspaper.
He fell in love with Alaska when he traveled there on a story and decided that he would settle there once he'd saved enough. He continued to write and travel often to his dream destination. His books proved extremely successful and allowed him to retire early to devote himself to his writing. From 1903 until his death in 1927, he produced novels, essays, short stories and articles dealing mainly with his favorite subjects: Alaska and adventure. Though he was fond of hunting in his early years, he soon became a conservationist like many before him and died at the young age of 49. His former studio in Ossowo, Michigan is now a museum. Curwood's writing style follows the great adventure story tradition of writers like Jack London who also used the Arctic and Arctic animals as heroes of their tales. His books have been translated into many world languages, including Swedish and Polish.
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