In 1973, Norma Cobb, her husband Lester and the their five children, the oldest of whom was nine years old and the youngest, twins, barely one, pulled up stakes in the lower 48 and headed north to Alaska to follow a pioneer dream of claiming land under the Homestead Act. The only land available lay north of Fairbanks near the Arctic Circle where grizzlies outnumbered humans twenty to one. In addition to fierce winters and predatory animals, the Alaskan frontier drew the more unsavory elements of society's fringes. From the beginning, the Cobbs found themselves pitted in a life or death feud with unscrupulous neighbors who would rob from new settlers, attempt to burn them out, shoot them and jump their claim.
The Cobbs were chechakos, tenderfeet, in a lost land that consumed even toughened settlers. Everything, including their "civilized" past, conspired to defeat them. They constructed a cabin--and first snow collapsed the roof. They built too near the creek and spring breakup threatened to flood them out. Bears prowled the nearby woods, stalking the children and Lester Cobb would leave for months at a time in search of work.
But through it all, they survived on the strength of Norma Cobb--a woman whose love for her family knew no bounds and whose courage in the face of mortal danger is an inspiration to us all. Arctic Homestead is her story.
Cobb holds a little-known but significant place in American history. As the last woman to claim land under the Homestead Act, in the 1970s, she was America's "last official woman pioneer." Using a direct, honest style that gives her writing an authentic frontier feel, Cobb, writing with Sasser (Fire Cops), relates the story of how she and her family of six "proved" their claim in northern Alaska. Over the course of the book, Cobb is transformed from a small-town girl into the driving force behind a courageous, isolated family braving the dangers of the Arctic wilderness. Through their ingenuity, determination and faith, the Cobbs endured the five years allotted by the government to improve their land, surviving harsh winters, bear and wolf attacks, money problems and degenerate neighbors who tried to kill them. Interspersed among stories about the hazards of living near the Arctic Circle are poignant family moments that reveal the affectionate side of these tough pioneers. In addition to Cobb, the reader meets many interesting characters, from the legendary Bushman (aka Bigfoot) to gun-slinging locals who would seem more at home a century earlier. Among them is Cobb's husband, Lester, of whom locals say, "If you had a choice between fighting an enraged Grizzly or taking on Lester Cobb, you might be safer choosing the bear." Cobb's voice combines the ruggedness of the frontier with the tenderness of a caring mother, resulting in an appealing, and enjoyably quick, read. 8-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW.
An AWESOME read !!
From the first page to the last a GREAT read. Very few authors these days I feel can write as well. What an adventure!! This book will be treasured!!