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 one million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and as 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. Traveling town to town by water, Adams ventures three thousand miles north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continues 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 the pressures of a changing climate and world.
Mark Adams is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Meet Me in Atlantis and Turn Right at Machu Picchu. A writer for many national magazines, including GQ, Men's Journal, and New York, he lives near New York City with his wife and children.
"Great nonfiction [...] takes a topic you thought you knew well and makes it new again [...] [Adams's] storytelling is guaranteed to make you want to get off your beach towel and book passage somewhere in the great wild north."
"A literary companion to Google Earth."
– The New York Times Book Review
"Adams gives readers an eye-opening look at the past and present history of a fascinating region."
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Adams writes with his signature sense of humor, but shows a real sense of respect for the sometimes odd people who populate the Last Frontier."
– Los Angeles Times
"[Adams's] writing illuminates this massive and magical land, and will have you booking your next trip ASAP."
– Fodor's Travel
"Tip of the Iceberg, with its fresh descriptive writing, strong character development, and presentation of contemporary Alaska within a historical framework, is a valuable contribution to our state's literature. Long-time Alaskans as well as newcomers and visitors will find much to appreciate here."
– Anchorage Daily News
"Armchair travelers, Alaskan history buffs, and anyone who just wants a solid, involving adventure read will relish the 'you are there' atmosphere created through Mark Adams's journeys."
– Midwest Review of Books
"A captivating true story [...] Featuring lush descriptive writing and an unusual cast of characters you won't soon forget."
"A fascinating journey through Alaska."
– New York Post
"[An] informative and entertaining history-cum-travelogue."
– Shelf Awareness
"A pleasing mix of travelogue and history, and the many colorful characters – human and otherwise – keep the pages turning."
– Charleston City Paper
"Tourists will certainly enjoy reading about both the past and the present, and the breezy, self-deprecating tone makes for an obvious vacation diversion."
"An entertaining and informative trip around Alaska's coastline."
– Kirkus Reviews
"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."
– Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins
"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."
– Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire
"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."
– Sam Kean, author of Caesar's Last Breath