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Old 02-16-2019, 08:55 PM
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Default Book Review: Where the Sea Breaks itís Back by Corey Ford

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This is an excellent read about both survival in extreme conditions and parts of North American history few are even aware of. I picked the book up in the small fishing village of Petersburg, on Mitkof Island, Alaska a few weeks ago. I typically find a small bookstore and ask for unusual books of history about the area. My adventures in Petersburg is a story for another time!

The book follows the adventures of Georg Steller and the Russian exploration of Alaska long before Captain Cook sailed north to Alaska. Steller was a German physician and naturalist and was hired as part of the Russian exploration and expansion initially commission by Peter the Great. It covers the exploration across Siberia, and the discovery of Alaska as Steller joined Vitus Bering’s tragic last voyage. Of course, the Bering Strait and Sea or named after Bering.

Most interesting are the details of survival for over a winter on a treeless windswept island in the Aleutians over a 10 month period. It’s a fascinating story of how they survive the long winter fighting storms and wildlife, then the survivors hand built a boat from the wreckage of their sailing ship. The hand built boat was big enough to hold over 30 survivors and make it across the uncharted Bering Straits back to Russia. While most died, Steller and a handful of others made it back to Russia some 14 months after departing. The book also has accounts of first contact with Native Alaskans and now extinct wildlife, including 8,000 pound sea cows and other wildlife never seen since.

The “suckage” that was part of daily life during these 14 months is hard to imagine, but the resourcefulness and resilience of these men was remarkable. The book also provides detailed accounts of the use of flora as medicine to treat disease.

I highly recommend the book for this interesting virtually unknown remarkable exploration of America and an epic tail of survival. Well worth the read!
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