REVIEW - ALASKA Photographic Excursion

Kelley, Mark, photographer, Nick Jans, narrator, Alaska : A Photographic Excursion: Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, Denali National Park. 160 pages, profusely illustrated. Softbound $24.95 or hardbound $34.95.

Mark Kelley has done it again. Another wonderful pictorial tour of parts of Alaska, complete with landscapes, flora, fauna, and Alaskans doing their summer things. If you're reading this during the black-white-and gray winter, take heart. It's all summer in this book.

Nick Jans is a fine writer, but his grasp of history seems to slipped out of his hands. Ignore the background written about Sitka, Dyea, and Skagway, and you'll be all right. Juneau is just right; he adopted a current view of the place, ranging from its perennial quarrel over the desirability of a road connecting the city with the mainland to the variety and multitude of trails. The other eternal battle over the second crossing to Douglas, (right up there with the Second Coming to some), the mention of frequent bears in summer, the uncertain weather most of the year, plus the love of politics in all its forms will bring nods of recognition in town.

Perhaps next time he can hire some historians to help.

Favorite tourist spots of Southeast are covered; Mendenhall Glacier and Tracy Arm, as well as the favorites around the state. Mount McKinley offers some stunning shots, Kenai Fjords are out in force, and even Anchorage manages a nice skyline.

However, Southwestern Alaska and the Aleutians are not mentioned. Well, they're not on the tourist rounds, and this book is definitely aimed at visitors. Think of it as a rather heavy portfolio of postcards.

There are a few pages on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which this reviewer suspects is a quiet plea to regard ANWR as something besides a great undeveloped oil field.

The oblong format is ideal for the color photography, which is beautifully reproduced; the typos seem non-existent; the lay-out people and printers should rightfully be proud of themselves.

Overall, I think Alaskans will see a number of copies of the books clutched by tourists this coming summer.

D. L