Douglas Brinkley's Alaska

Mr. Brinkley does not suffer from writer's block. In 2009, the Rice University historian published a 900-plus-page biography of Teddy Roosevelt. Only 18 months later, he's back with another meatloaf-thick history, The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom (HarperCollins, $30). Starting with John Muir's first 1879 expedition north and ending with the fledgling environmental movement's protection of ANWR in 1960, the history is sweeping and often workmanlike due to its quick pace. The second installment in his Wilderness Cycle trilogy (the third will be about Rachel Carson and Stewart Udall), The Quiet World is also essential reading for those who desire a complete view of our wildest state, the kind of rich, weighty stuff not offered by guidebooks or reality TV.

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