In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Ernest Gruening governor of territorial Alaska. What followed were twenty historic years that changed the face of North America when Alaska became a state in 1959.
Using unpublished archival materials, Claus-M. Naske follows Gruening from Puerto Rico to the Pacific Islands and from Alaska to Antarctica. As governor, Gruening devoted himself to the economic development of Alaska and fought discrimination against Alaska Natives. In 1958, he was elected to the U.S. Senate where he opposed the Vietnam War and earned a reputation for his liberal views on civil rights. Gruening's letters and memos reveal the challenges that he faced every day as an activist governor and senator. As a man of talent, ambition, and ego, Gruening met conflict head-on and gained the respect of Alaskans for his honesty and plain speech.
The life of Ernest Gruening is a personal account of Alaska statehood as well as a political odyssey through the twentieth century.
Claus-M. Naske is professor emeritus of history at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was born in Germany and immigrated to Alaska in 1954. Since receiving his doctorate in 1970, he has written and published widely on the history of Alaska. His books include A History of Alaska Statehood (1985); Edward Lewis Bob Bartlett of Alaska: A Life in Politics (University of Alaska Press, 1979); and Alaska: A History of the 49th State, co-authored with the late Herman E. Slotnick.