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102 Western American Literature technology countries upon comparatively primitive mountain regions. Speak­ ing of one Karakoram village, Rowell writes, Askole was changing rapidly from a cashless, self-sufficient society which had no throw-away items into a competitive scramble for visitors’ goods and dollars. The government believed that increasing the amount of money flowing into the villages could only help. Officials must have wondered why, since the reopening of the Karakoram, they have had to subsidize Askole with wheat in the winter. Subsidies had not normally been required to keep the people alive before, when everyone was considered very poor because they had no money. Such economic effect is only part of the story. “The land itself was suffering. At each place where our six hundred porters had stopped for the night and gathered firewood, the hillsides looked as if a swarm of giant locusts had passed through.” Interwoven with the 1975 narrative is a history of the previous attempts, on K2, with emphasis on the psychological and teamwork aspects, items for which Rowell has developed a keen eye. There is also a good account of “extreme climbing” in general, and particularly Reinhold Messner, who comes close to being the hero of this book, simply by the con­ trast between his and Peter Habeler’s lightly-equipped, two-man, oxygen-less ascent of Hidden Peak (26,470'), and the bogged-down scene on K2. The chapter on extreme climbing also contains some profound remarks on why people climb. These pages are the real core of the book; Rowell has the chance here to speak about what genuinely matters to him. There are forty-eight pages of color photographs, and over a hundred black and white photos, and hardly a “hero shot” among them. The photog­ raphy (most of it by Rowell) has depth and interest beyond the first visual excitement, and is part and parcel of this excellent book. THOMAS J. LYON, Utah State University Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway. By David A. Remley. (New York: McGraw Hill, 1976. 253 pages, $10.95.) Americans are a travelling people. This is nowhere more evident than in the existence of the great number of trails crossing the North American continent. Airways, waterways, highways, freeways, expressways, interstates, tolls, trails, traces, paths and roads network the land in a vast flow of people on the move, creating a national destiny and a history. Since traveling is an integral aspect of the culture of America, it is appropriate that this be commemorated in the American Trails Series, a group of scholarly works Reviews 103 about the famous roads and trails that have been instrumental in the settling of America. One of the most recent works in this series is David A. Remley’s Crooked Road: The Story of the Alaska Highway. Realizing at the outset of World War II that “the defense of Alaska (was) the defense of Canada,” the Canadian and United States govern­ ments combined forces and worked feverishly to complete the 1500-mile highway. The U.S. Corps of Engineers, under constant threat of a Japanese invasion on the West Coast, and beset with a myriad of logistical and engi­ neering problems connected with the northern permafrost, completed the “Alcan” tote road in only nine months. Further work was done by the Public Roads Administration. From Edmonton, Alberta, to Fairbanks, Alaska, the “crooked road” passed through the frontier outposts of Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, and over vast expanses of permafrost, rough mountainous terrain, and across numerous muskegs and surging rivers. With careful scholarship, Remley has outlined the plans and the subsequent construction of the “Alcan” Highway by drawing from contemporary newspaper stories, government documents, histories, — and, most interestingly, the oral histories, the reminiscences of people who lived and worked along the highway. After the war ended, the road was opened for general use and a great onrush of people headed north to Alaska, in a manner “something like the Klondike gold rush.” Remley describes in detail the attitudes of the Canadians and Alaskans toward the Americans who came north. They were generally amazed at the ignorance of such greenhorns and were completely astounded...


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