Arctic Homestead

Norma Cobb, Author, Charles W. Sasser, Author, Charles W. Sasser, Joint Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-26198-6
Cobb holds a little-known but significant place in American history. As the last woman to claim land under the Homestead Act, in the 1970s, she was America's ""last official woman pioneer."" Using a direct, honest style that gives her writing an authentic frontier feel, Cobb, writing with Sasser (Fire Cops), relates the story of how she and her family of six ""proved"" their claim in northern Alaska. Over the course of the book, Cobb is transformed from a small-town girl into the driving force behind a courageous, isolated family braving the dangers of the Arctic wilderness. Through their ingenuity, determination and faith, the Cobbs endured the five years allotted by the government to improve their land, surviving harsh winters, bear and wolf attacks, money problems and degenerate neighbors who tried to kill them. Interspersed among stories about the hazards of living near the Arctic Circle are poignant family moments that reveal the affectionate side of these tough pioneers. In addition to Cobb, the reader meets many interesting characters, from the legendary Bushman (aka Bigfoot) to gun-slinging locals who would seem more at home a century earlier. Among them is Cobb's husband, Lester, of whom locals say, ""If you had a choice between fighting an enraged Grizzly or taking on Lester Cobb, you might be safer choosing the bear."" Cobb's voice combines the ruggedness of the frontier with the tenderness of a caring mother, resulting in an appealing, and enjoyably quick, read. 8-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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