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Kim Heacox, Author

Kim Heacox, author

The following books appear in chronological order, from 2015 back to 1991. Most are still in print and can be purchased at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. Kim encourages you to buy books at your local independent bookstore. His favorite stores (in his area) are Hearthside Books in Juneau, Alaska (www.hearthsidebooks.com), Old Harbor Books in Sitka, Alaska (www.oldharborbooks.com), and Sing Lee Alley Books in Petersburg, Alaska.

The National Parks

Kim’s fifth book with National Geographic celebrates the first 100 years of the U.S. National Park Service, one of America’s great success stories. It includes a foreword by former NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, excerpts from National Geographic Magazine articles on the parks, more than 300 lavish photos (including panoramic foldouts), and many compelling stories (told within the arc of the larger story). Kim’s text opens with John Muir at home in Martinez, California, with a first line that has become a popular hashtag: “How could this happen? Build a dam in a national park? John Muir had fought his last fight. All he could now, huddled back home in his ‘scribble den,’ in December 1913, was wait for Congress to vote, write a few letters to friends, and work on his book on Alaska. He was thin, old, and tired, worn down from many years as the point of the spear of the American conservation movement, standing as he had, largely alone, toe-to-toe with the rapacious juggernauts of the future…” The 368-page book chronicles and birth and growth of the U.S. National Park Service, how it matured into a science-based, multi-racial, culturally-sensitive agency always searching for the best ways to understand, interpret, and caretake America’s premier public lands, cultural areas, and historic sites. National Geographic (Washington, D.C.) 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4262-1559-9 (hardcover)

Jimmy Bluefeather

Winner of the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award for literary fiction, “Jimmy Bluefeather contains echoes of John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut,” says novelist Andromeda Romano-Lax, “but only if they had spent time among the canoe carvers, whale biologists, loggers, and basketball players of Alaska. Heacox, a writer and explorer of renown, offers a genuine, funny, and tender portrait that is rare in the literature of the forty-ninth state.” Adds Carl Safina, “Every page of Jimmy Bluefeather glistens with authentic genius born from Kim Heacox’s wise and deep-rooted sense of place. Never have I read prose so brimming with poetry, so lyrical and so yearning, the words drawn so perfectly that the characters seem like photographs in a dream whose steady gazes blaze from the page into your heart, your mind, your soul.” The storyline: Old Keb Wisting is somewhere around 95 years old (he lost count awhile ago) and in constant pain and thinks he wants to die. He also thinks he thinks too much. Part Norwegian and part Tlingit Native (“with some Filipino and Portuguese thrown in”), he’s the last living canoe carver in the village of Jinkaat, in Southeast Alaska. When his grandson, James, a promising basketball player, ruins his leg in a logging accident and tells his grandpa that he has nothing left to live for, Old Keb comes alive and finishes his last canoe, with help from his grandson. Together (with a few friends and a crazy but likeable dog named Steve) they embark on a great canoe journey. Suddenly all of Old Keb’s senses come into play, so clever and wise in how he reads the currents, tides and storms. Nobody can find him. He and the others paddle deep into wild Alaska, but mostly into the human heart, in a story of adventure, love, and reconciliation. With its rogue’s gallery of colorful, endearing, small-town, quirky-wise characters, this book stands as a wonderful blend of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and John Nichols’ The Milagro Beanfield War, with dashes of John Steinbeck thrown in. It also plays off resource and conservation issues of ongoing importance in Alaska. Alaska Northwest Books (Portland, OR) 2015. ISBN 978-1-941821-68-8 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-941821-87-9 (e-book)

Rhythm of The Wild

Rhythm of the Wild is a compelling memoir that focuses on Kim Heacox’s longstanding relationship with the most iconic landscape in Alaska, and a sister book to The Only Kayak, a PEN USA Literary Award finalist. Music runs through every page of this book, as do stories, rivers and wolves. At its heart, Rhythm of the Wild is a love story. It begins in 1981 and ends in 2014, yet reaches beyond the arc of time. Author/mountaineer Jonathan Waterman has called Heacox “our northern Edward Abbey.” Em Jackson says he’s “the Naomi Klein of Alaska.” In this book we find out why. We hitchhike with Kim through Idaho, camp on the Colorado Plateau, and fly off the sand cliffs of Hangman Creek with a little terrier named Super Max the Wonder Dog. We meet Zed the Aborigine, Nine Fingers the blues guitarist, and Adolph Murie the legendary wildlife biologist who dared to say that wolves should be protected, not persecuted. Kim also reprises in this book his friend Richard Steele, a beloved character from The Only Kayak. Some books are larger than their actual subject – this is one. Part memoir, part exploration of Denali National Park’s inspiring natural and human history, and part conservation polemic, Rhythm of the Wild ranges from funny to provocative to courageous. It’s a celebration of – and a plea to restore and defend – the vibrant earth and our rightful place in it. Lyons Press (Guilford, CT) 2015. ISBN 978-1-4930-0389-1 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4930-1665-5 (e-book)

John Muir and The Ice That Started a Fire

This book takes two of the most compelling elements in the narrative of wild America – John Muir and Alaska – and combines them into a brisk and engaging biography that earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Kirkus Review: Heacox (The Only Kayak) succeeds in producing a wonderfully personal biography of Muir, while also discussing a larger planetary issue that many know about only in passing. Heacox’s fascinating treatment of Muir’s life recounts his wilderness adventures, details the quirks and contradictions of his personality, and contextualizes his place in the infancy of the conservation movement. A cofounder of the Sierra Club, Muir was “a self-taught naturalist, glaciologist, ecologist”; he “popularized geology,” is credited with birthing the movement to preserve nature instead of viewing it merely as an endless source of raw materials, and his efforts helped save our first national park, Yosemite. Had he been born even a little earlier or a little later, America today may not have many of its most treasured pristine environments. While we are fortunate for Muir’s efforts, Heacox takes it a step further and analogizes his contributions to those of contemporary efforts to combat global climate change. The book is an engaging and informative look at Muir and his life’s work, as well as a timely call to action that poses difficult questions to the reader and the philosophies that underpin modern life.” Historian Douglas Brinkley adds that this book is “elegantly written, brilliantly researched, and illuminating in fifty different ways. Highly recommended.” ISBN 978-1-4930-0932-9 (paperback) ISBN 978-1-4930-0868-1 (e-book)

The Only Kayak

This memoir is about living in Alaska, and falling in love with a place that cannot stay the same. When do you hold on and when do you let go? This universal theme – dealing with change, living in a paradox – gives the book broad appeal and won it strong praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews, which called The Only Kayak “A tender chronicle of a miracle in process…” Author Mary Piper said “The Only Kayak helps us reconnect what the Lakota call the sacred hoop of life. I want to give this book to a dozen friends, and dear reader, I want to share it with you.” The Only Kayak was a 2006 PEN USA Literary Award finalist for creative non-fiction. According to Nick Jans, author of The Last Light Breaking, “Kim Heacox has outdone himself. This book is funny, sad, erudite, and beautifully written, and an important contribution to Alaska literature. It’s a rarity – a book that manages to convey an important environmental message without sliding into self-absorbed intellectualism.” ISBN 1-59228-715-8 (hardcover) Lyons Press (Guilford, CT) 2005 ISBN 1-59228-894-4 (paperback)

An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks

How did a nation so dedicated to business, growth and the capitalistic spirit come to embrace national parks; the idea that we should leave a few pieces of America as we found them? It’s a fascinating, inspirational story told over a 400-hundred-year reach of time, beautifully illustrated with historical sketches, paintings, and photographs. “A uniquely American story,” writes Robert Redford, “with all the drama and color of a good novel. An American Idea: The Making of the National Parks is a compelling presentation of the long and difficult journey that resulted in one of our nation’s most significant accomplishments.” National Geographic (Washington, DC) 2001. ISBN: 0-7922-7974-3

Caribou Crossing

“A novel doesn’t get much closer to the headlines than this one,” wrote Bill McKibben, “or much closer to the truth about what counts in this economy. Kim Heacox provides a great read – and a great service – in this fine book.” The central character, Shannon DeShay, is the daughter of an oil geologist in Alaska who uncovers a plot to destroy the environmental movement, and must risk her life to save the man and the refuge she loves – in this case, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Grishamesque” said Booklist, in praising this book for its pacing and intrigue. “This novel is superb in many ways,” wrote Jonathan Waterman, “refreshingly original, well-plotted, with interesting characters who are richly imagined. Caribou Crossing is our new Monkey Wrench Gang, and Kim Heacox our northern Edward Abbey.” Graphic Arts Books/Companion Press/WinterWren Books (Portland, OR) 2001. ISBN: 0-944197-70-1

Shackleton: The Antarctic Challenge

“Those who read this excellent book,” wrote Sir Edmund Hillary, “cannot but be overwhelmed by a story of a remarkable character.” That central character happens to be Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, once called “the most successful failure in polar exploration.” He never achieved his goal (of reaching the South Pole, or traveling across the continent by sled dog and ski), but he never lost a man under his command. This book explores his outrageous Endurance expedition of 1914-16 (a story of epic survival), and his other three journeys to Antarctica as well, how he became who he was, a leader who inspired his men to never give up. Illustrated with color and historical black & white photographs from the likes of Frank Hurley and Herbert Ponting. National Geographic (Washington, DC) 1999. ISBN: 0-7922-7536-5

Antarctica: The Last Continent

For the first time in more than 100 years, the National Geographic Society dedicated an entire book to the coldest, windiest, highest, driest, least populated, and most remote corner of the world. This book still serves as an excellent primer for anyone wanting to travel to “the last continent.” The introduction describes three Antarcticas, the biological, the geographical, and the spiritual, each with its own magic and boundaries, waiting “at the bottom of the world, locked in cold storage, demanding new sensibilities if we are to understand it, appreciate it, protect it… Wilderness is not a political designation here, it’s an essential truth.” Over 200,000 copies sold since 1998.

Alaska Light

“Alaska light, like Alaska itself, is rich with extremes…” begins a photographic book that took six years to complete. “It makes children of Alaskans who are otherwise automated by commerce and calendars. It snaps them into rhythms ancient and nearly forgotten; a time long ago when every human lived in close reciprocity with the earth, to the air and water, seals and songbirds, snow and silence…” The 112 color photographs in this book cover Alaska from Admiralty Island National Monument to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The text is organized into five lively essays and 28 story captions, with the last six pages dedicated to a timeline of Alaska history. As Bradford Washburn wrote, “Kim Heacox’s work instantly conveys to the reader not only his ability as a photographer, but also his love of the country. This book is just plain gorgeous.” ISBN: Companion Press/Graphic Arts Books (Portland, OR) 1998

Alaska’s Inside Passage

This large exhibit-format photography book (10”x14”) covers Alaska’s famous Inside Passage, from Ketchikan to Skagway, with colorful, sharp images (many taken with medium-format cameras) of intimate coves and seaside hamlets, tidewater glaciers and humpback whales, brown bears and flower meadows, sun-struck mountains and gleaming rainforest temples. Four essays accompany the photos; stories about traveling and living in Alaska, about John Muir and Tlingit Indian legends, totem poles and Chilkat blankets. Alaska’s Inside Passage is now the most popular cruising destination in the world (it surpassed the Caribbean around 2010), and offers vacationers wild, open scenery from the comfort of a luxury cruise ship or tour boat. A perennial strong seller, with more than 70,000 copies sold. ISBN: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. (Portland, OR) 1997

Visions of Wild America

The American landscape, its wildness has made us inventive. Its vastness has made us bold. Its great teachers, concerned voices, have told us who we are, where we came from, and where, in the presence or absence of wildness, we might go. This book – with each chapter as a stand-alone mini-biography – celebrates a chorus of those voices, from Emerson to Thoreau to Muir, with Rachel Carson, Robert Marshall and Edward Abbey thrown in to spice things up. Visions of a Wild America has sold over 200,000 copies and continues to sell in national parks across the country. Many colleges and universities use it for a textbook in environmental studies. ISBN: National Geographic (Washington, DC) 1996

In Denali

Winner of the 1993 Benjamin Franklin Book Award for Nature and Science, this photo book has sold more than 60,000 copies and garnered generous praise. “These one hundred photographs,” wrote the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, “reveal what makes Denali National Park worth preserving. The flowers, grizzly bears, birds, mountains, rivers, sunsets, and rainbows jump off the pages in crisp detail.” In Denali reminds us that places like this – immense, open, wild, and free from the mark of man – are among the most valuable heritages we can save. This is a sister book to Kim’s 1998 book of photos and essays, Alaska Light. ISBN: 0-944197-18-3 Companion Press/Graphic Arts Books (Portland, OR) 1992

Iditarod Spirit

Cover Photo Not Available – This large exhibit-format photography book (10”x14”) celebrates the spirit and love of dog sledding in Alaska, not just the famous Iditarod Race but many races and activities that serve as qualifying events for mushers who want to run the Iditarod. A two-page map shows the routes of the most well-known races. The photography is bright and sharp, accompanied with lively chapters about the history of dog sledding, including the story of the famous 1925 serum run to Nome, and a chapter that puts the reader on the sled, and still another chapter as a collection of fun quotes about dog sledding in Alaska. ISBN: Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. (Portland, OR) 1991