Hammond, Jay, CHIPS FROM THE CHOPPING BLOCK Epicenter Press softbound $14.95
Once again Alaskaís irrepressible ex-governor gives us the benefit of his charm, humor, political insights, and doggerel, an unbeatable combination.
His experience as a fighter pilot in World War II and sense of adventure brought him to Alaska, but what brought out the verse is unknown.
In 1974 the big oil money was just on its way. Alaskans were angered and frustrated that the $900 million paid out just a few years before, a sum of unimaginable wealth at the time, was gone. A bumper sticker popular at the time prayed "God, please give us another $900 million and we wonít (fritter was not the word used) it away." The people were ready for something besides the usual politicians.
God sent Jay Hammond. He had been President of the Alaska Senate, a remarkable achievement for someone with the power base of South Naknek, and was famous for reciting poetry to the Senate as well as being a man with a true love for his state. Not at all the usual politician. His first election was a real squeaker and he sent great doggerel thank-you notes to his supporters.
The next gubernatorial race in 1978 was another tough one, but once again Right prevailed and Alaska continues to be the better for it. When a person of great intelligence, political savvy, honesty, integrity, and a real love for the state is in a position of power, great things can happen. The serious oil money came in, but instead of a few people becoming millionaires and the rest of the population being little affected (look at Oklahoma or Louisiana), all Alaskans benefited from a greatly improved infrastructure and personally from the Permanent Fund dividends.
In his inimitible, self-deprecating fashion, Hammond gives us the inside story on political fights, personal events, and along the way identifies and solves a couple of seemingly intractable problems, including Subsistence. Would our current crop of politicians listen! This book is every bit as enjoyable as Hammondís earlier Tales of an Alaskan Bush Rat Governor and should sell every bit as well. Donít forget, after youíve done laughing, to ponder some of the good advice.