Summary and book reviews of Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams

Tip of the Iceberg

My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier

by Mark Adams

Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams X
Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2018, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a fascinating and funny journey into Alaska, America's last frontier, retracing the historic 1899 Harriman Expedition.

In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer voyage to the wilds of Alaska: He converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university," populated by some of America's best and brightest scientists and writers, including the anti-capitalist eco-prophet John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity. More than a hundred years later, Alaska is still America's most sublime wilderness, both the lure that draws a million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and a natural resources larder waiting to be raided. As ever, it remains a magnet for weirdos and dreamers.

Armed with Dramamine and an industrial-strength mosquito net, Mark Adams sets out to retrace the 1899 expedition. Using the state's intricate public ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Adams travels three thousand miles, following the George W. Elder's itinerary north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continuing west into the colder and stranger regions of the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, he encounters dozens of unusual characters (and a couple of very hungry bears) and investigates how lessons learned in 1899 might relate to Alaska's current struggles in adapting to climate change.

CHAPTER TWO
All Points North
NEW YORK CITY

Next to the cluttered desk in my office, I keep a small collection of manila folders labeled with the names of destinations I would like to write about one day. Inside each folder are scraps of paper—bar napkins covered in semi-legible hieroglyphics and yellowed newspaper clippings pertaining to a particular place. In the folder marked ALASKA there's a piece of hotel stationery on which I scribbled something an Alaskan friend once told me. Three basic types of people live in Alaska, he said. There are the Native Alaskans, who've been there since time immemorial. There are people who have come north running toward something, usually a chance to do something unpleasant to make a lot of money quickly, such as gutting fish twelve hours a day or operating a welding torch in minus-forty-degree temperatures. And there are those who are running away from something, like a bad marriage or fluoridated water.

...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Tip of the Iceberg is one of the better travelogues I've read in recent years. It vibrantly conveys Alaska's sights and describes Adams' own encounters there with insight and humor. I highly recommended the book, especially for armchair travelers and those interested in the history and nature of this unique land.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (736 words).

Media Reviews

Booklist
Tourists will certainly enjoy reading about both the past and the present, and the breezy, self-deprecating tone makes for an obvious vacation diversion.

Library Journal
Recommended for general readers interested in Alaska's environment and history.

Kirkus Reviews
Simultaneously uplifting, inspiring, and dispiriting.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Adams gives readers an eye-opening look at the past and present history of a fascinating region.

Author Blurb Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins
Whether you've already fallen in love with Alaska, or simply intend to in the future, Tip of the Iceberg was written for you. Mark Adams is an adventurous traveler's ideal guide to the breathtaking natural history - and colorful human history - of one of America's most fascinating corners.

Author Blurb Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire
With Tip of the Iceberg, Mark Adams gave me, in spades, what I always hope to find in a book: the chance to effortlessly learn something extraordinary. I was constantly laughing, shaking my head in astonishment, and trying to slow down so I wouldn't finish it too fast. Some of my favorite people show up in this book, from John Muir to John Burroughs, but Adams himself may be the most unforgettable character.

Author Blurb Sam Kean, author of Caesar's Last Breath
Tip of the Iceberg radiates a warmth we don't usually associate with up north. Adams finds nuggets of gold everywhere, and spins a story as expansive as Alaska itself.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Kodiak Bear

In Tip of the Iceberg, author Mark Adams sets out to follow in the footsteps of Edward Harriman's 1899 expedition to Alaska. Harriman's expedition is remembered for the important scientific findings gathered by the more than thirty scientists, artists and writers who accompanied him, but for Harriman himself, the focus was primarily on hunting bear. He eventually bagged his prize – a female Kodiak bear on Kodiak Island, much to the disgust of fellow traveler John Muir.

The Kodiak bear was identified as a unique subspecies of grizzly bear (aka "brown bear") by C. Hart Merriam, another member of the Harriman expedition, in 1896. They are the largest of the brown bears; an average male ("boar") stands five feet at the shoulder (10 ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Mark Adams

If you liked Tip of the Iceberg, try these:

  • Savage Country jacket

    Savage Country

    by Robert Olmstead

    Published 2018

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A gripping narrative of the infamous hunt which drove the buffalo population to near extinction--the story of a moment in our history in which mass destruction of an animal population was seen as the only route to economic solvency. And the intimate story of how that hunt changed two people forever.

  • Lands of Lost Borders jacket

    Lands of Lost Borders

    by Kate Harris

    Published 2018

    About this book

    A brilliant, fierce writer makes her debut with this enthralling travelogue and memoir of her journey by bicycle along the Silk Road—an illuminating and thought-provoking fusion of The Places in Between, Lab Girl, and Wild that dares us to challenge the limits we place on ourselves and the natural world.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Rust & Stardust
    Rust & Stardust
    by T Greenwood
    Highly readable and tightly plotted, T. Greenwood's Rust and Stardust achieves the perfect ...
  • Book Jacket: American Prison
    American Prison
    by Shane Bauer
    After spending over two years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for supposedly crossing the country's ...
  • Book Jacket: Small Fry
    Small Fry
    by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    Small Fry is the debut memoir from Lisa Brennan-Jobs, long-time journalist and writer, and oldest ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    French Exit
    by Patrick deWitt

    A brilliant and darkly comic novel from bestselling author Patrick deWitt.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.