Cover image for One man's wilderness : an Alaskan odyssey
One man's wilderness : an Alaskan odyssey
Proenneke, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Anchorage : Alaska Northwest Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
223 pages : color illustrations, maps ; 21 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Anchorage : Alaska Northwest Pub. Co., [1973].
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F912.T85 P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F912.T85 P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
F912.T85 P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F912.T85 P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F912.T85 P76 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke's journals and with firsthand knowledge of his subject and the setting, Sam Keith has woven a tribute to a man who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond. To live in a pristine land unchanged by man . . . to roam a wilderness through which few other humans has passed . . . to choose an idyllic site, cut trees by hand, and build a log cabin. . . to be self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials be not at odds with the world, but content with one's own thoughts, dreams and company. Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. This book is a moving account of the day-to-day explorations and activities Dick carried out alone....alone in the wilderness...and the constant chain of nature's events that kept him company.

Author Notes

Samuel "Sam"  M. Keith grew up in New England and worked in the CCC during the Great Depression. During World War II he served as a air combat crewman in the Pacific. After his military service ended, Sam attended and graduated from Cornell University. He followed his dream to go to Alaska where he met Richard "Dick" Proenneke in the 1950s on Kodiak Island. He also worked on the Alaska Peninsula and at Kenai for a total of three years before returning to Massachusetts where he met his future wife, Jane. Then he married Jane and began a 26-year career teaching English and eventually becoming an assistant vice principal. In August 1970 he visited Dick's new log cabin on Lake Clark in the wilderness of Alaska. Sam convinced Dick to let him borrow his journals from 1968-1969 as the factual basis for writing the now best-selling book, ONE MAN'S WILDERNESS. Sam passed away in Anderson, South Carolina on March 28, 2003.

Richard "Dick" Louis Proenneke was born in 1916 in Primrose, Iowa and dropped out of high school in nearby Donnellson, Iowa to work on farms during the Great Depression in the early 1930s. In 1939 he undertook a long "working" road trip through the West. On December 8, 1941 he joined the U.S. Navy and served with distinction until he developed rheumatic fever and was given a medical discharge from the Navy in 1945. After some work in Oregon after his discharge, he left for Alaska in 1950. His work in Alaska centered around commercial fishing, a mechanic, and a heavy equipment operator. He first visited Twin Lakes in 1962. He build his cabin at Twin Lakes by cutting logs for it in the summer of 1967. He lived in his cabin until 1998 when he donated the cabin and his possessions to the U.S. National Park Service and left to live with his brother in California. Today, Dick Proenneke's cabin still sits on Upper Twin Lake in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.  Dick passed away in Hemet, California on April 20, 2003, a few weeks after his friend, Sam Keith had pass away.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This book made a big splash when it debuted in 1973. Keith based the text on the journals and photography of Richard Proenneke, who, after racking up years of 50-hour work weeks, did what many of us only fantasize about: he chucked it all and went to live in the woods. Now in his 80s, Proenneke still abides in the log cabin he built with his own hands and has become an icon for naturalists. Though few will follow Proenneke's lead, his story can be quite inspiring. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.