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The Final Frontiersman


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About the Author

James Campbell has written for National Geographic Adventure, Outside, and Men's Journal, among other publications. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters.


Reading this remarkable book serves as a reminder that most of us wouldn't last a week in a true frontier wilderness. We may bemoan a lack of things to do or places to go, but take away our creature comforts and we're dead on the spot. Campbell introduces us to his cousin, Heimo Korth, who lives with his family in Alaska about as far from civilization as anyone can-without regrets. We learn of his love of the land, constant respect for the weather, and concern that the federal government is turning Alaska into one huge national park. We also learn of a youth spent in an abusive home in Wisconsin and of Korth's determination to seek out a place where he is beholden to no one. This is a magical book in many ways; it tells of a land that most of us will never see and can't imagine exists in today's material world. Korth may be the last of the true frontiersmen, but Campbell has made certain that he will never be forgotten. Essential for Alaska libraries and highly recommended elsewhere.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"What makes this more than just a profile of a fascinating personality is Campbell's deft weaving of Alaskan history into Korth's tale."
-- Publishers Weekly
"[One of] the greatest life-or-death tales ever told."
-- Esquire
"Campbell makes the case that an increasingly urban America -- and its desires for oil, for timber, for neat and packaged wilderness -- is killing and, worse, forgetting the frontier we once worshiped."
-- The New York Times
"The Final Frontiersman is an icily gripping, intimate profile that stands up well beside Krakauer's classic, and it stands too, as a kind of testament to the rough beauty of improbably wild dreams."
-- Men's Journal
"Heimo Korth and his family face down more adventures in a typical week than most of us experience in a lifetime. A terrific first book -- by turns inspiring and unnerving and never less than wholly absorbing."
-- Bill Bryson, BOMC judge, writing in the Book-of-the-Month Club News

Heimo Korth was one of the many young men who set out for Alaska in the 1960s and '70s to recreate the life of early fur traders in the American West, a movement first observed in John McPhee's classic Coming into the Country. Journalist Campbell has written a worthy sequel to McPhee's book that is a powerful tale in its own right, focusing solely on Korth, who now "lives more remotely than any other person in Alaska" as one of only seven hunter-trappers with a permit to live in the 19.5-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Korth lives with his wife and two daughters 130 miles above the Arctic Circle, the only settlers for more than 500 miles (250 miles from the nearest road and another 300 miles to the nearest hospital in Fairbanks). Campbell artfully details a number of visits he makes to the Korth family in 2002, as he accompanies Korth on hunting and trapping expeditions that make him and the reader feel "transported straight back into the 19th century." He also sympathetically recounts Korth's flight from his abusive Wisconsin father and his reinvention of himself as an Alaskan "legend," a "gun-toting, park-hating anti-animal rights trapper with a soft side" but one who is well respected by managers of the ANWR. What makes this more than just a profile of a fascinating personality is Campbell's deft weaving of Alaskan history into Korth's tale, showing how the recent influx of developers and ecotourists is making the trapping life "more of an anachronism with each passing year." (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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