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Alaska Book Festival to celebrate Alaska history

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: 907-474-7902


History buffs and readers will get a chance to hear and meet some of their favorite authors June 11-13 at the third-annual Alaska Book Festival in Fairbanks.

This year's festival, "Historically Alaska," features two-dozen authors-including special guests Willie Hensley and Brian Garfield-in lectures, panels and readings. Most events will be at the Pioneer Park civic center and all are free. Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning at the University of Alaska Fairbanks organizes the festival in collaboration with a committee of community and university representatives.

UAF Summer Sessions director Michelle Bartlett describes the festival as "a celebration of the written word." It aims to engage readers, potential writers and the community in a variety of ways, including this year's boogie-woogie piano performance.

Sessions with authors will focus on Fairbanks history, Alaska aviation, politics, statehood and children's literature. Other events will include historical walking tours, outdoor bannock-baking for children and parents, and sessions on screenwriting, book making and self-publishing. Most events are scheduled during the daytime June 12-13, but several evening lectures and events are also planned. A schedule is available at www.uaf.edu/bookfestival.

Hensley will talk about his new memoir at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11 at the Davis Concert Hall on the UAF campus. "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and The Real People" describes his family's traditional Inupiaq life and his journey to activism. After attending school Outside, Hensley became active in the Native land claims movement and helped found the Alaska Federation of Natives. His numerous leadership roles have included 10 years in the Alaska Legislature, executive director of AFN and director and president of NANA Regional Corp.

Brian Garfield will talk about World War II in Alaska at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13 in the Pioneer Park civic center theater. Garfield is well known in Alaska for one of his earlier books, "The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians," a history of the only World War II campaign fought on North American soil. First published in 1969, the book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Altogether, Garfield has written more than 70 books and is best known for his novels of suspense and the movies derived from them, including "Hopscotch," "Relentless," "Necessity" and "Death Wish," which became the basis for a series of Charles Bronson action movies. More than 20 million copies of his books have been published worldwide. Garfield also will talk about screenwriting from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Friday, June 12 in the Pioneer Park theater.

Boogie-woogie piano man "Johnny B." Bushnell of Homer will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, June 12, in the Pioneer Park theater. Bushnell plays what he describes as a mix of blues, swing, Alaska dreamscape and boogie-woogie.

Children's events will include readings and presentations with children's authors Tricia Brown, Deb Vanasse and Mary Shields. Two sessions of bannock-baking and outdoor safety for children ages 5 and older and their parents will begin at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. June 13. Call 907-474-7021 or toll-free 1-866-404-7021 to register for the cooking class, as space is limited.

Participating authors will include Sarah Palin biographer Kaylene Johnson, Sharon Bushnell, Stan Jones, Dermot Cole, Terrence Cole, Neil Davis, Steve Haycox, Jane Haigh, Sarah Crawford Isto, Kyle Joly, Holger "Jorgy" Jorgensen, Jean Lester, Lael Morgan, Claus Naske, Nicole Stellon O'Donnell and Dan O'Neill.

CONTACT: Michelle Bartlett, UAF Summer Sessions director, at 907-474-6624 or Mary Calmes at 907-474-7021. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.