Exploring and Mapping Alaska

The Russian America Era, 1741-1867

Alexey Postnikov and Marvin Falk

Exploring and Mapping Alaska

Alexey Postnikov and Marvin Falk

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Translated by Lydia Black
450 pages | 75 maps | 7 x 10 | © 2015
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9781602232518 Published June 2015
E-book $7.00 to $75.00 ISBN: 9781602232525 Published June 2015
Russia first encountered Alaska in 1741 as part of the most ambitious and expensive expedition of the entire eighteenth century. For centuries since, cartographers have struggled to define and develop the enormous region comprising northeastern Asia, the North Pacific, and Alaska. The forces of nature and the follies of human error conspired to make the area incredibly difficult to map.
Exploring and Mapping Alaska focuses on this foundational period in Arctic cartography.  Russia spurred a golden era of cartographic exploration, while shrouding their efforts in a veil of secrecy. They drew both on old systems developed by early fur traders and new methodologies created in Europe. With Great Britain, France, and Spain following close behind, their expeditions led to an astounding increase in the world’s knowledge of North America.
Through engrossing descriptions of the explorations and expert navigators, aided by informative illustrations, readers can clearly trace the evolution of the maps of the era, watching as a once-mysterious region came into sharper focus. The result of years of cross-continental research, Exploring and Mapping Alaska is a fascinating study of the trials and triumphs of one of the last great eras of historic mapmaking.
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgements
I. The Russian Advance Toward the Pacific Ocean
II. Are America and Asia Joined?
III. Mapping the Distribution of Water and Land in the North American Pacific (1750-1800)
IV. The Exploration and Cartography of Russian America
V. The Sale of Alaska and the International Expedition to Effect a Telegraph Link between North America and Europe via Siberia
Conclusion: Russian Heritage and the Influence of Geographic Explorations in Alaska
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Choice
“The reader senses immediately when opening and scanning this volume that it is a work of exceptional learning and value. It is the result of international scholarship of the highest order and the product of excellent translation by a distinguished scholar who is also an authority on Russian America’s history and peoples. Many pleasant hours of engrossing reading confirm the initial impression. . . . This noble book tells that story with clarity, thoroughness and erudition. With fine illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography and serviceable index, Exploring and MappingAlaska is highly recommended as an essential volume in Alaskan history and in Russian imperial endeavours.”
 
Journal of Historical Geography
“Long awaited. . . . Postnikov is an internationally known authority on the history of the cartography of Russia and its territories. The late Lydia Black, an acknowledged expert on the anthropology and Russian-era history of Alaska, worked closely with him to produce a translation that conveys the essence of the Russian original while pruning some of its verbiage. Coauthor Marvin Falk, a recognized authority on the history of the cartography of Alaska, updated portions of the translated text to reflect scholarship published since 2000. The result of their collaboration is a thorough and highly readable account of the exploration and cartography of Alaska before that territory's acquisition by the USA in 1867.”
 
Barry Gough | Imago Mundi
“This noble book tells the story of the mapping of Alaska with clarity, thoroughness and erudition. With fine illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography and serviceable index, Exploring and Mapping Alaska is highly recommended as an essential volume in Alaskan history and in Russian imperial endeavours.”
Alaska Journal of Anthropology
“This augmented English translation of a history of Russian exploration and cartography, and through those processes the very invention of the Great Land, or Alaska, will likely be the definitive account on this subject.”
Alaska History
“A big book with much to offer: a wealth of information from obscure Russian sources, reproductions of exciting maps from many places, ideas that are worthy of careful attention and further research. This book is highly recommended.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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