Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People

William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-15484-4

Although this fascinating memoir is set hundreds of |miles from where most Americans have ever dared to travel, Hensley brings to life this “little-known part of America” through myriad tales of toil, triumph and the Inupiat Ilitqusiat—the Inupiat spirit. Growing up in what he calls the “twilight of the Stone Age,” Hensley grew up without what many would consider basic necessities; in his homeland on the Kotzebue Sound in rural Alaska, “survival was the primary concern.” But even through the illness and hardships that plagued his and other families, the life lessons learned as a child stayed with him for decades. As such, despite attending high school and college in the Lower 48, he found himself always drawn back to his homeland, “like a salmon heading for the waters where he was spawned.” Hensley became a crusader for the Inupiat people, starting as a fresh-out-of-college activist, then his tenure as a state representative, and later his work in the corporate sector. Through his entire adult life, Hensley's mission has been simple: to ensure the Inupiat are allowed to keep their rights and their land. There are rich details of hunting adventures and typical childhood struggles, but the deep-rooted values and strength of the Inupiat people are what make this work truly sing. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Genre: Pick of the Week
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4299-3874-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-42936-2
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