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  • Tip of the Iceberg

  • My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier
  • By: Mark Adams
  • Narrated by: Mark Adams
  • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Tip of the Iceberg

By: Mark Adams
Narrated by: Mark Adams
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Summary

**The National Best Seller**

From the acclaimed, best-selling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a fascinating and funny journey into Alaska, America's last frontier, retracing the historic 1899 Harriman Expedition.

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 100 years later, Alaska is still America's most sublime wilderness, both the lure that draws a million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and 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. Using the state's intricate public ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Adams travels 3,000 miles, following the George W. Elder's itinerary north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continuing 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 climate change.

©2018 Mark Adams (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“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.” (Outside)

 “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) 

What listeners say about Tip of the Iceberg

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  • rachel cartwright
  • 30-05-18

Very engaging

Having spent a lot of time in Alaska I found this a very refreshing and engaging account of the region - great portrait of John Muir - really brought the events of the Harriman expedition to life

7 people found this helpful

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  • Hershell Allan Foster
  • 21-05-18

Great book .. could do without the political trash at end

Great book .. I have enjoyed Mark’s other books. He could do without the political trash at end . I really don’t care about his thoughts or feelings on global warming

5 people found this helpful

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  • Paul J. Bibeau
  • 14-07-18

Arrogant and condescending New Yorker

In the prologue Adams gives me hope that he has a realistic view of the evolution of the earth and its 4.5 billion year journey through the cosmos experiencing myriad changes including those to the climate along the way. In the epilogue he dashes all hopes of any semblence of a realistic view by focusing on the past few years and trying to make a case for anthropogenic climate change. This book sounds like it was written for a NY Times reviewer by a person who fails to see that the thousands of taxis, for people who can't walk a few blocks, in NYC, that wonderfully polluted energy sink ,may also be part of the problem he so stridently wails about. Oh by the way I lived in Manhatten for a couple of years and also spent almost as much time going between California, Kodiak and Adak. One more thing. Dolphins do not cartwheel. They porpoise ,swim, roll, blow and even spy but they don't cartwheel. Only an arrogant and condescending writer from New York would tell us they cartwheel.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Melinda M. McCarthy
  • 31-05-19

Very enjoyable and informative!

I loved the chapters about the bear warnings and bear encounters. I learned so much from this book while being truly entertained.

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  • Martin A. Blanco
  • 01-05-19

The Iceberg is Massively Satisfying

Never a dull moment. An engaging survey of Alaska through the lenses of history, geography, biology/natural history and sociology. The prose is crisp and engaging. I’ve purchased copies as gifts and am listening to it for a second time.

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  • Anthony Rionda
  • 18-08-18

Time to go to Alaska

What a wonderful book! History and current events wound together in perfect harmony ! I want led to visit Alaska before, now want to experience Alaska!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ken Pearson
  • 15-09-22

Mark Adams Knows Better than You

Adam's elitism and I-know-better-than-them attitude perfectly encapsulates why Alaskans are so skeptical of east coast urbanites who think they know what's best for the state. He is quick to criticize, and emphasizes anecdotes and oddballs while providing no nuance discussing the challenges Alaska faces.

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  • John
  • 18-07-22

Good Stories, But ...

I really enjoyed a lot of this book. It was great to learn about the Harriman expedition. I thought Adams' personal stories about Alaska were also generally engaging.

But here's the thing: Adams just can't help being a condescending New Yorker. If you have lived in the South, the Midwest or parts of the West, you have probably experienced this type of person--Someone who purports to enjoy your company, but then tells you everything you do wrong because you just do not know better. If Adams were to write about Southern cooking, he would come to your house for dinner, eat everything and tell you how much he liked it--but would then leave and lecture about how bad it is for you.

Adams' recital of the climate change gospel (everything is due to climate change) is cloying. While he admits climate has been changing in Alaska for centuries and that glaciers have been receding well before the 20th Century, he never tries to put two and two together. He seems to have no concept of geological time.

His discussion of oil is particularly ironic given that oil is now again at or over $100 a barrel and prices at the pump have more than doubled, and we have a President begging Saudi Arabia to pump more. A thoughtful and balanced discussion of use and conservation of natural resources would have been welcome, but you won't find it here.

I just wish he had stuck to the main story.


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  • Paal Skjetne
  • 27-05-22

Skims just the tip of the Harriman expedition

I was hoping for more facts and less prose. The Harriman expedition is a faiint backdrop to the authors own Bill Bryson style travellogue to Alaska.

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  • Wayne
  • 23-02-22

Interesting....but not entertaining

I loved Turn Right at Machu Pichu and was hoping for another great listen. Nope...not even close. If you want to learn a lot about Alaska (the stuff we were never taught in school), this book is for you. If you're hoping for a great adventure read, this book is definitely not it. I finally gave up half way through.

In addition, the author chose to narrate his own book, which didn't help. I feel like I wasted a credit on this one.