Cover image for The book of the Tongass
The book of the Tongass
Servid, Carolyn.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, MN : Milkweed Editions : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 1999.
Physical Description:
ix, 297 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F912.T64 B66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In the southeast corner of America's most rugged state lies the last contiguous expanse of temperate rain forest on the planet, much of it within the Tongass National Forest. With Glacier Bay at its northern end, the Tongass lies on a maze of islands and along a coastal strip protected by a range of mountains.

The Tongass lives up to its state's reputation for wildness, natural beauty, and battles over how the land has been and will be used. In The Book of the Tongass, 13 Alaskans describe the region's spectacular forest and wildlife, its economic opportunities, and in two pieces by Tlingit storytellers, its oral history.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Home to immemorial beauty, ancient and valuable timber and longstanding environmental disputes, the southeast Alaskan forest region called the Tongass has attracted Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes, lumber companies, eco-tourists and environmental activists. These 13 essays pay homage to its beauty and assess its controversies. In "Heart of the Forest," Juneau-based biogeographer Richard Carstensen coaxes clear accounts of the area's soil and flora from his journey through it. Ecologist Paul Alaback places the Tongass in the context of other rain forests, and describes how it rebounds after winds and fires, in "The Tongass Rain ForestÄAn Elusive Sense of Place and Time." Former fisherman Brad Matsen offers a fish's-eye view in "Salmon in the Trees." Lawyer David Avraham Voluck, in "First Peoples of the Tongass," explains Native peoples' "subsistence way of life," which is inadequately protected, he argues, by federal legislation that governs the region. In "Glacier Bay History," Tlingit storyteller Amy MarvinÄone of two Native contributors, whose work is printed as verseÄtells "how things happened to us/ at Glacier Bay." Daniel Henry presents the uncomfortable populace of Haines, Alaska, as the town's economy shifts from a past of logging to a hopeful future of tourism in "Allowable Cut." And PI/mystery writer John Straley (The Angels Will Not Care) explains with drama and sympathy, in "Love, Crime, and Joyriding on a Dead End Road," who commits crimes in southeast Alaska and why. Servid and Snow (editor of the magazine Northern Lights) have assembled a worthwhile book. Never dryly technical, rarely shrill, these original pieces often go no deeper than good daily newspaper journalism, but most will reward nonspecialists interested in Alaska's forests, foresters, fish, First Peoples and the eco-economic issues that affect them all. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska contains much of the last contiguous temperate rain forest left on earth. After decades of heavy clear-cutting and the subsequent closure of several large pulp mills, residents of the region are struggling to adapt to life without big timber companies and the jobs they provided. These 14 pieces, all written by Alaskans, represent a cross section of views on a variety of subjects, including natural history, legal and native issues, forest management, salmon and wildlife, and the mythology of the region. As a whole, the selections question our lack of connection with our environment and the desire to control nature for short-term gain, but they remain surprisingly upbeat about the future of the Tongass and the people who live there. A good companion to Robert Glenn Ketchum's heavily illustrated The Tongass: Alaska's Vanishing Rain Forest (Aperture, 1994); recommended for academic and larger public nature/environmental collections.ÄTim J. Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.