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Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks, and Mayhem in Alaskaby Amanda Coyne
Synopses & Reviews
Crude Awakening is the rollicking story of politics in America’s last frontier and oil province—Alaska, the nation’s most wild and mysterious state, where politics and oil blurred on the day wildcatters struck it big in 1968. Living in a northern Never Land, where oil companies and the federal government kept the state living high and wild, a handful of players ran the show. Among them were the late Sen. Ted Stevens and oilman Bill Allen, the Tony Soprano of Alaska who controlled the political machine until the FBI arrived to root out corruption, only to be accused of playing as dirty as those they were investigating. These characters and events paved the way for Sarah Palin’s rise to fame and fall from glory in Alaska. Authors Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger chart the epic tale of these three characters, set in a state of soaring hopes, fading dreams, drying oil fields and an uncertain future.
"Alaska: land of the free and home of the oil-crazed? In this dramatic political saga, Coyne and Hopfinger, cofounders of the news site AlaskaDispatch, illustrate the relationship between oil companies and politics from 1968, when wildcatters first struck oil, to Sarah Palin's ascent to the governorship. Without 'crude,' the authors write, 'Alaska's future would become unimaginable. Crude would make everything that was about to happen to Alaska possible: wealth and corruption, growth and environmental degradation, soaring hopes and fading dreams. Alaska's best known leaders — Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens — were born out of oil.' And in turn, the state's bounty fueled America — and the ambitions of Sarah Palin. Often with a free indirect style, the authors chronicle the triangular relationship between Palin, Stevens, and oil mogul Bill Allen: we are introduced to Palin's supposed thoughts, 'Would she be stuck in this shabby office... for all that time?' It's a juicy portrait of power and corruption, although Palin is portrayed cartoonishly as a heartless, conniving villain. Still it's an engaging, well-drawn political history that initiates a necessary conversation on Alaska's future now that the old-guard leaders like Stevens and Palin are gone, the Arctic is melting, and pervasive 'corruption has been exposed.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
Writing with a sense of humor and a conversational style for general readers, Coyne and Hopfinger, founders of an online news site covering Alaska, go back to 1968 (when oil was first discovered in the state) to explore the roots of Alaska's oil-fueled political scandals. The book focuses on the relationship and shady dealings of Republican Senator Ted Stevens and Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corporation, an oilfield services company, and their support of politician Sarah Palin. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Crude Awakening is the rollicking story of politics in Alaska, where corruption is currency, oil is lifeblood, and corporations like BP and players like Sarah Palin and the late Ted Stevens run the show. These characters and their rise to power transformed the nation at large—from Stevens’s epic fall from grace to the machinations of Bill Allen, the Tony Soprano of Alaska, who controlled candidates and companies while being investigated for allegedly dallying with underage prostitutes.
One part Northern Exposure, one part Dallas, one part All the King’s Men, Crude Awakening is the story of America’s last frontier, where machine politicians rely on the largesse of modern-day robber barons and where Sarah Palin reigned supreme, only to resign, leaving Alaska with dying oil fields and an uncertain future.
About the Author
Amanda Coyne is cofounder of AlaskaDispatch.com. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, and the Guardian. She lives in Anchorage.
Tony Hopfinger is Alaska correspondent for Newsweek and Bloomberg News and cofounder and editor of AlaskaDispatch.com. He lives in Anchorage.
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