Welcome Amanda Coyne, (AlaskaDispatch.com), Tony Hopfinger and Host Jeanne Devon (TheMudflats.net) (co-author Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Crude Awakening – Money, Mavericks and Mayhem in Alaska

Host, Jeanne Devon:

“Only in Alaska.”

We hear that said up here in the Last Frontier all the time. In the case of the rise of Sarah Palin, the fall of Bill Allen and the larger-than-life legacy of Ted Stevens, it is literally true. It only could have happened here.

Crude Awakening explains the growing pains and tribulations of a new state coming of age in the modern era – a state of wilderness, and Sourdoughs, thousands of years of Native culture, fishermen, prospectors and pioneers, brilliant minds and brave souls writing their own Constitution. In some ways comparable to the spirit of newness, hope and optimism of Philadelphia in the 1830s, Alaska’s coming out party had a darker and more raucous side. Heralded by the discovery of North Slope crude in 1968, Alaska’s coming of age meant that almost overnight in came the Outsiders – oil mavericks, religious zealots, guys in suits, Texans, and opportunists eager to make a buck. It has not been an easy or graceful adolescence for the 49th state which just celebrated its 50th Anniversary during the brief but eventful Palin administration.

Emerging from Alaska’s new-found wealth and opportunity came a handful of players who shaped the state for good and not-so-good. With opportunity comes greed. With power comes corruption. Crude Awakening focuses on three of these history makers – former half-term governor Sarah Palin, the late Senator Ted Stevens, and unlikely political kingmaker and entrepreneur Bill Allen.

After the 2008 election Alaskans were often asked by those Outside, with more than a little derision, “How could you have elected her?” Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger skillfully put into historical context the unique set of circumstances that rolled out Alaska’s political red carpet for an unknown Wasilla mayor who would change politics nationwide and put Alaska on the map in its proper place for many who thought of it only as the state in that box somewhere near Hawaii. And isn’t it dark all the time, and don’t they live in igloos? To fully understand Palin’s political career, you have to watch the prequel. Coyne and Hopfinger show us the reel. Sarah Palin’s political career was no accident and her sparkling ivory tower was built on a foundation of charred political bones with their own stories to tell.

For Alaskans, this book is sure to be a mix of comfortable known history and “hey, I never knew that” moments. For Outsiders (yes, we capitalize it), it will be a jaw-dropping, eye-popping look into a world of political intrigue that doesn’t seem possible – a small-town writ geographically large, where even the unlikeliest and shadiest of characters is one degree of separation from power-brokers and political hot-shots.

How did hard-scrabble, uneducated self-made oil services maverick Bill Allen befriend Harvard grad Senator Ted Stevens, at one time fourth in line for the presidency of the United States? And how did Stevens (whom most Outside know only as the “series of tubes guy” for his infamous description of the internet) earn the love and admiration of so many in his state? Nothing is ever black and white in the land of the midnight sun.

At times the book reads like an oil tax policy primer, oftentimes like a soap opera, and occasionally like a travel brochure. From price per barrel, and pipeline negotiations the reader suddenly pops into the seedy world of back room deals, love triangles, underage sex for drugs, nepotism, political favors, vengeance, and personalities as large as the wilderness they inhabit.

Coyne and Hopfinger explain how our nascent state got here. Where we go now is anyone’s guess. Alaska politically, geologically, and culturally is a dynamic and unpredictable work in progress. Many of the colorful characters portrayed in Crude Awakening have moved on – some dead, some in prison, some fled the state for greener and more lucrative pastures. But some of the players are still here and the characters they all played, from the broad-minded dreamers to the Corrupt Bastards, all remain (albeit with different faces and names). The tug o’ war over Alaska’s resources and how best to develop and tax them rages on. We, as a state, are ready in some ways to leave our wild youth behind, but geographic isolation, an economy which is still very much reliant on oil, and that same cast of untamable characters means that anything is possible. Alaska’s next fifty years promises a book that is just as entertaining and intriguing as Crude Awakening.

There’s another thing you often hear around these parts. “You just can’t make this stuff up.” In Alaska, you don’t have to.

156 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger, Crude Awakening: Money Mavericks and Mayhem in Alaska”

BevW November 13th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Amanda, Tony, Welcome to the Lake.

Jeanne, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

It’s great to be back, Bev. Thank you for the opportunity.

Welcome, Amanda and Tony! First let me say that I really enjoyed Crude Awakening. I thought it was a great mix of history, drama, tourist brochure, trashy novel, and petroleum education and tax policy. There aren’t many books you can say that about!

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:00 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Thanks both of you. What a great venue this is.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:01 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 2

So glad you enjoyed it. We really did want it to be a fun, serious book.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Thanks for having us.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

· It’s clear that the book involved a lot of research. Was there anything you discovered while researching the book that surprised you, or that you hadn’t known before?

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Hey Amanda and Tony! I’m looking forward to reading your book (it’s on the coffee table as I write) and I’m a real fan of the Alaska Dispatch; was it hard to write the book and maintain the site?
Jen

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:03 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 6

So much that we didn’t know and more research than we would have imagined, particularly about the early history of the state. In fact, it took us about a year just to write those first three chapters (which, for those who don’t have the book in front of them, introduce oil,(which is a character in the book) and set the scene for the other three characters Ted Stevens, Bill Allen and Sarah Palin. What probably surprised me most as I was doing the research was how over time Alaska had set itself up to be totally and completely dependent on oil. Oil funds about 90 percent of state government. The citizens here don’t pay any broad-based tax (the only state in the Union that doesn’t do so), and receives a check every year from the oil companies. Alaskans tend to view the state’s relationship with oil as a given. But the dependency didn’t happen overnight with the 1968 Prudhoe Bay strike. It was a slow, steady creep.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hey Jen, yeah, it was like two jobs.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

And the lack of diversification in the economy contributes to that strange relationship.

I’m curious about who you perceived your audience to be when you were writing the book. Did you originally have the notion that you were writing for Alaskans, or for those Outside?

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:05 pm
In response to jentoblues101 @ 7

Yes. Two jobs and loads of stress. It’s relatively quite now, however, and I don’t much know what to do with myself.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

As an “insider” I didn’t find myself getting bored, even in sections where I knew the story.

BevW November 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and number you are replying to and helps for everyone in following the conversation.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 10

We wrote it for both a national and Alaskan audience. We wanted to use Palin as the hook to tell the back story of our state. As you have covered on Mudflats over the past several years, an oil-political drama has been unfolding for a long time up here. Palin is just a small part of that as far as Alaska is concerned. We wanted to explain that to the national audience.

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 9

I get the impression that the Dispatch is a 24/7 project; did you and Amanda work in shifts, switching off jobs? :)

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

How much oil is left in the North Slope? What is the oil dividend per capita? Is it going down as the oil gets depleted?

What about ANWR? Will that get drilled?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I think you did a fantastic job describing the first version of Sarah Palin – the one we knew as governor of Alaska. With the exception of a few die-hard ultra-conservative devotees , the rest of the country sees her now as almost a caricature, or a joke. Talk a little bit about how Alaskans saw her when she won the governorship in 2006.

urbantrapper November 13th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for exposing this book to the Outside world. Things are strange indeed when the small population of the largest state cannot see through the murk of oily waters sullying our state politics. There are none so blind, etc. I have not read the book yet (I am busy trapping squirrels that think my attic is their playground) but hope to read it soon.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 12

Tony (who’s in the other room) is also going to reply to this. But I do think there is a value to telling our story (of the state) to a national audience. It helps us define our own narrative, which Alaskan writers (present company excluded), don’t do much of. As I wrote in a book review years ago, if Alaska writers don’t get busy, others will tell our story for us and get it wrong.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:08 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 12

The narrative of Alaska unfolds like a movie.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 20

Do you have hopes that the book will be made into a movie?

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to jentoblues101 @ 15

Jen. Tony wrote the proposal, and I did much of the first-draft writing as he was running the Dispatch. He them zoomed in, edited, and then took as month off and we both wrote our fingers off to finish it.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to urbantrapper @ 18

Thanks! The book is basically a look at what happens when a state becomes dependent on one industry. Add Alaska characters and, like I said to Jeanne, it unfolds like a movie.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to BevW @ 13

Thanks!

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 21

ditto eCAH

Pat November 13th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Great book! Alongside the history lesson, loved how you depicted Alaska’s uniqueness. You guys came up with a great read.
But the book left me curious. What’s your take on the future of Palin. Will she get herself involved in national politics again? And if not, do you think she is going to be content staying out of the limelight?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:11 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 23

I have found sometimes, as I’m sure you have, that the reality of Alaska, if you saw it in a movie might seem a little “over the top” and unbelievable. Truth is stranger than fiction up here.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:12 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 21

Yes! Know anybody in Hollywood?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 28

I hear there’s a great film incentive program up here. ;)

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:13 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 16

Not exactly sure what life is left in the aging oil fields specifically, but oil production is around 550,000 barrels. As for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, some oil money funds it, but mostly the fund and dividend Alaskans receive is influenced by the markets and economy (it’s value is about $40 billion, invested in stocks, bonds and real estate around the world).

I doubt ANWR will open. The bigger play right now is for offshore oil in the Arctic Ocean. There are lots of concerns about spills and cleaning them up in ice.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 28

No but Jane Hamsher, founder of FDL, does.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 21

I think that would be great!

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm
In response to Pat @ 26

I predict Palin will be a part of the national scene for years to come. In fact, I don’t put it past her to announce a change of mind and a run.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 30

Just curious if you have an opinion as to what way Alaska may diversify it’s economy to prepare for the post-oil era? Do you think we’ll have foresight, or will we be caught off guard?

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 30

Didn’t know that about the fund. Thanks.

Arctic offshore will also involve some claims complications. With the global meltdown, I understand that U.S., Canadian, and Russian ships are all cruising around newly open waters doing their tests.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 33

I feel the same way, Amanda. Glad to know I’m not the only one!

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Good review. And great book, so far – page 83. hope to find time to finish it soon. Maybe Thanksgiving break.

I’m impressed, not only with your research, but with how much material from others, on the rise of what Alaska’s strange economy now is, you bring into it.

The review copy I got back in September has excellent end notes, but no index. Does the published copy have one?

Also, Tony – your articles on the seamiest aspects of Bill Allen are the best there is and have been for some time. What first got your interest piqued in how strange that guy really is?

Edward Teller (aka Phil Munger)

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 17

I wasn’t a fan of Palin in 2006, mainly because I saw her as an overreaction to the embattled Murkowski administration and the multibillion-dollar oil tax debate that was going on at the time (not to mention the emerging Justice Dept. probe). Back in 2006, when the FBI was serving search warrants on our GOP lawmakers and Gov. Frank Murkowski was proposing we lock oil and gas taxes for decades, Palin, to many Alaskans, seemed like a breath of fresh air. Perhaps to national GOP loyalists in fall 2008, they felt the same – briefly.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

It really struck me that in the post-Palin era, we are beginning to see the same old debates about oil taxes that we did during the Frank Murkowski era. We have a governor pushing to lower taxes on the industry, and a few who are clinging to Palin’s ACES tax plan or a version thereof. Where do you see this going?

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 34

I think the best and only way to diversify is to tax ourselves. That might sound counter intuitive, but Scott Goldsmith (an Alaskan economist) crunched some numbers and has found that because we don’t have a broad-based tax, every job created that lures an Alaska to our state costs the state $1200. This creates a huge disincentive for the state to support entrepreneurship.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 33

So how did Palin become the half-guv? Short version.

By way of context, I’m a senior woman and completely immune to charisma (or she’s-famous-for-being-famous phenomenon), so she is a complete mystery to me. She comes across as a perky moron who doesn’t know when to unhinge herself from the mic.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 41

Back in 2006 when the FBI was serving search warrants on our GOP lawmakers and Gov. Frank Murkowski was proposing we lock oil and gas taxes for decades, Palin seemed like a breath of fresh air. Perhaps to national GOP loyalists in fall 2008, they felt the same – briefly

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 30

There are lots of concerns about spills and cleaning them up in ice.

Which is, basically – even with thinning sea ice in the Arctic – most of the year.

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 37

Yes Edward/Phil, there is an index in the published book, along with those comprehensive chapter notes.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 37

Hey Phil, thanks for the kind words and reposting on your excellent blog our reporting on Allen over the years. Why was I interested in Allen? He sort of seemed like Tony Soprano. During the Kott trial, it emerged that he had allegedly threatened to kill his nephew, Dave Anderson, a character in our book. I spent a lot of time tracking down Anderson (found him in Jerry Ward’s cabin in Willow). Then I spent a bunch of time interviewing him and people he mentioned to me. At the same time, Amanda and I had caught wind of Allen’s alleged teenage girlfriend, Bambi Tyree. That was another juicy thread. And then there were the allegations that the FBI had covered up stuff in regards to Allen’s troubled past. How could we not focus on Allen?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 43

Yeah, I don’t think they have proven they can clean up oil in water, not to mention in ice.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 39

More of the same. All the time and effort dealing with taxes, is I hope, one of the main take-aways from the book.

Daisy November 13th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Congrats, Amanda & Tony, on your best publishing move: not giving an advance copy to Joe McGinniss. ;)

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I think readers outside Alaska (particularly on the progressive end of the political spectrum) will be surprised by your portrayal of Ted Stevens. I think that those in the Lower 48 who knew of Ted Stevens, knew him primarily as the “series of tubes guy” or the cranky one in the Hulk tie who banged his fist on the table and yelled, “No!” Can you talk a little bit about why he was so revered almost universally in Alaska, and how the relationship with “Uncle Ted” deteriorated at the end of his career?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 35

Yeah, there is an emerging battle for the Arctic. The U.S. is falling behind in policy and infrastructure. We need ports and icebreakers so we can clean up oil spills and respond to shipping disasters. Alaska and Russia are the gateway (Bering Strait).

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:26 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 42

Just a little like corrupt & seamy hopey changey. Geez.

One would think in a state that is 47th in population that it would be easy to find out about Palin’s questionable past easily. Everyone in the state must be 2 degrees of separation away from everyone else. Like the snake charming at her church (is that accurate or a myth). Or like how she actually performed a mayor of Wasilla.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 47

Too, the debate has been going on since 1968. I knew abstractly how big the fights have been with industry throughout the years, but I what was surprising is how those fights seems so much the same. I mean, the same language and everything. Groundhog day in the resources committees over and over..

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Daisy @ 48

Ha! Thanks.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Stevens actually had been in the national limelight for a good 30+ years before he started talking about the tubes. One story goes that he was almost selected over Dick Cheney by President H.W. Bush to be secretary of defense.

Stevens did many good things for the state, like bringing attention to rural Alaska (as well as federal funding to provide basic infrastructure and services). But he tainted himself by complaining in public of how much he sacrificed – mainly his Harvard law degree and millions of dollars. He began complaining in the late 1980s. By the time he became Senate Appropriations chairman in the late 1990s, he was still saying he “sacrificed” so much. Difference then, however, was his power in that post. And his “friends” seemed to want to help him financially, as well as perhaps benefit from his influence. His relationship with Bill Allen exemplifies this. Why in the world would Stevens think that it was OK to have Allen and his oil company remodel his home in 2000? Stevens had become arrogant, and he paid the price.

That said, many Alaskans have since put that aside and remembered Stevens, who died in a 2010 plane crash, as doing more good than bad for his beloved state.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 51

Yes, you would think. But one of the interesting (and best) things about Alaska is that people kind of tend to leave you be. There really isn’t that big of a gossip mill up here. For instance, Sylvia Plath’s son lived in complete anonymity in Fairbanks for years. I didn’t even know he was here until he committed suicide.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 51

I think everything between 2006 and 2007 was sou clouded with disdain for Frank Murkowski and the emerging corruption scandal that everybody was desperate for a change.

Daisy November 13th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 52

Diversification would seem to help with that. (The same fights, rinse & repeat.) Any investment advisor will tell one not to put all one’s eggs into one basket, and that’s why we’re so dependent on the per-barrel price and leave one industry with (in my view) undue influence over state gov’t. Has your reporting left you with any ideas re: areas in which AK could diversify?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

It seems that Alaskans can have short-term memory issues. At the time the FBI raided the offices of Alaska legislators, and the Corrupt Bastards Club was being exposed, Alaskans were feeling pretty hostile to the oil industry. We felt played. Do you think Alaska has forgotten about that now? Do you think they believe it’s all “fixed” now that the trials are over? Or do they see the Parnell administration as Frank Murkowski Lite?

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 50

Irony would be if Russia got the new oil resources from U.S. Seward would roll over in his grave.

Since book is a history, did you go back as far as Seward’s Folly? It’s a part of U.S. history I know nothing about except that it happened. Whatever make U.S. put that into the hopper around Civil War, Lincoln assassination time? Seems like a highly unlikely event in retrospect.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 56

Frying pan & fire cliche.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Daisy @ 57

I hear you. I mean, it’s astounding how old those new fights are. But Alaska has spent, throughout the years, nearly all of it’s time and imagination fighting with the oil companies. As I wrote to Jeanne: I think the best and only way to diversify is to tax ourselves. That might sound counter intuitive, but Scott Goldsmith (an Alaskan economist) crunched some numbers and has found that because we don’t have a broad-based tax, every job created that lures an Alaska to our state costs the state $1200. This creates a huge institutional disincentive to support entrepreneurship.

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 45

I first met Allen at the auction of surplus goods from the Exxon Valdez cleanup, in April 1990. Veco ran the auction. I was sent down to it by Bill Weimer, to look for bedding, furniture and kitchen stuff for Weimer’s halfway houses in Bethel, Anchorage and Fairbanks.

I wanted to look at some pallets full of bedding, and was not getting help from the staff. They wanted me to buy it sight unseen. I wanted to see the stuff. Allen walked up, listened to us, then started yelling at me about not trusting him on the quality of stuff. I told him my directions were to not buy anything I hadn’t checked out. Allen turned to the clump of people working for him that had gathered, and said something like, “Don’t help this jerk.” They didn’t.

I went back to the Cordova Center empty-handed, and reported to Weimer. I told Bill that Allen was an asshole. He replied, “I don’t doubt that, but he’s becoming an important asshole.”

He decided to go back to the warehouse and see for himself. That’s when they met.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 58

It’s interesting. At Alaska Dispatch, we still cover the fallout from the corruption scandal. But if pageviews are any indication, regular Alaskans don’t seem so interested. There is definitely a feeling that the Justice Department became as dirty as their targets. That’s jaded people’s views of just how corrupt the lawmakers – from state Rep. Vic Kohring to U.S. Rep. Don Young – really were.Is it fixed? Maybe for now. But somebody will screw up again. It seems there is always a big political corruption scandal in Alaska about every 10 to 15 years.

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 62

Great story, Tony!

Daisy November 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 61

I hear you, re: taxing ourselves. But that’s a means—my question (which I may have phrased poorly) was more re: which industries? Where do you think it makes sense for AK to invest those tax revenues? What industries do you think would make for a good fit for the state? (Thanks!)

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 59

Russia offloaded it because of concerns they might have to defend it from Britain, I believe. We don’t go into it in the book, though more than one historian told us that, in their opinion, Ted Stevens was more influential the Secretary Seward as far as Alaska history. I found that interesting.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 62

Interesting… When can we expect a book from you Phil? You know where all the bodies are buried..

jentoblues101 November 13th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Whoops, lost track of the thread: Great story, PHIL. Sorry.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 63

Well, continue the great coverage. I think we need reminders. I view the resolution to the Corrupt Bastards issue as the treatment of a symptom, but the affliction continues, and the corruption continues. Human nature is not so easily changed.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 62

Wow! A tale of two Bills.

One thing I found interesting was that in 2008, even after Kott and Kohring had been convicted, you could still find ex-VECO executive Rick Smith (who by then had pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers with Uncle Bill) at the Petroleum Club getting drunk. And none of the oil executives in the bar seemed to have a problem with it.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to Daisy @ 65

I’m just not sure we’ll be able to make coherent, rational decisions about that until we tax ourselves. That I think is the first step. Then I think the state needs to look really hard at the way it’s structured its fishing, say: a structure that seems to encourage people to make loads of money for a few months a year and live in other places.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:43 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 69

Agreed. Thanks for your coverage too. We need as many eyes as we can get on the way Alaska does business.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

It may be too early to ask, but what has feedback been like? I’m curious as to how the book reads for those who are not familiar with Alaska politics. I tend to think they’d be pretty stunned at the strange and incestuous nature of our political family.

Daisy November 13th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

One of the most salient parts of the book, for me, was the reminder than AK never had the chance to build much in terms of social structure, community, etc before there was a huge pile of money on the table. Other states have no idea what it’s like to have that kind of wealth within a decade of their existence. That was one of many thing in “Crude Awakening” I’d never thought about before in that particular light. It truly was an education, and I thank you for that.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Daisy @ 65

Throughout the book writing process, I’ve also become a Wally Hickel fan. If we had taken his advice and used the perm fund to build the gasline like he wanted, then we’d have a gasline…

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 67

Nobody knows where all the bodies are buried. Hanson can’t even remember where he buried all of his.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Daisy @ 74

Thanks Daisy. To bring up Hickel again, he once said that Alaska was reminding him of a real-life Dallas tv show. Too much money. Not enough imagination.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 73

Honestly, we haven’t gotten tons of feedback. We had a book release party in D.C., but most of the reporters and policymakers already knew the basic narrative.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 73

One 5-star review on amazon, fwiw.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Not surprisingly, the native population has been invisible in this discussion so far.

Are they part of the book?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 75

Wally Hickel. There’s another interesting character. I like him too. That was one of the things I felt gave the book so much flavor – it’s not just the first-string players (Palin, Stevens, Allen) that were the story. You have Hickel, and Hammond, and Frank Murkowski, Joe Boehm, Bambi Tyree, and a whole secondary cast of characters that really flesh it out well.

You couldn’t have created a better cast if you’d been writing a novel.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 73

We’ve gotten some decent responses. USA today reviewed it, Seattle Times, Washington Times. And then the usual, Kirkus, et al. (The Anchorage Daily News has told us, however, that they won’t be doing anything with it unless the book wins a national award. Their feature section today, if you notice, features a Dallas cheerleader from East Anchorage). I’m a little dismayed that the reviewers are making it some dark tale. I mean, we tried to make it a little fun..

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 80

I believe the Native population came up while we were discussing Ted Stevens and the critical role he played in getting essential infrastructure and services to rural communities.

It does come up in the book as well, but I’ll let the authors address that.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 80

Not as much. I actually have long wanted to finish another book about the Inupiat village of Wales. It’s has a fascinating but tragic history, from contact to today.

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to Daisy @ 74

When the first big Prudhoe payments started coming into the state coffers from the pipeline in ’79 through ’81, Alaska went from a $50 million capital spending budget in FY ’78 to something $2.3 billion in FY ’82. It was like a python that had swallowed a pig. The push to expand state government at that time came from industry, not from bureaucrats. From building contractors, especially. By early ’82 there was a $4 or $5 billion backlog of projects around the state needing their RFP’s completed before the bids could be accepted.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 84

As for Crude Awakening, it’s really focused from the oil perspective. We found it challenging to dive deep into the Native corporations (which Uncle Ted championed) and rural Alaska without compromising the narrative of how oil changed the state.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 85

Phil, do you remember what percentage of Alaskans were saying “No, slow down! Save for the future.” Or was it pretty much most of the state saying spend it while you have it?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 84

And a fascinating paleontological history long before that too, considering its unique location on the Land Bridge… which I guess now is another Alaska bridge to nowhere.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 81

Thanks again. I’m particularly please that we were able to weave in the Boehm/Bambi stuff.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 88

Tony has been working on the Wales story on and off since I met him in 2002, and years before that. He’s got a whole closet full of boxes of research…

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 89

That was the section of the book that I knew the least about. The coverage of that always seemed very sketchy, and short on specifics. And I thought your speculation about why Ted Stevens attorneys had not brought that up was interesting – that it would have put into sharp focus his admittedly close friendship with someone who did those things. I found it fascinating.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

To the group: what do you think is the best book on Alaska?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Throughout your coverage of the Corrupt Bastards and Polar Pen, the name Ben Stevens (son of Ted and former State Senate President) comes up repeatedly. He and Pete Kott figured heavily in the corruption. Any theories why the announcement came that Ben Stevens will not be prosecuted?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 93

My best guess is because the Justice Department didn’t have a solid case and become exposed for alleged misconduct in the previous investigations.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 88

Yeah, that was one of the first places I visited when I came to Alaska. It is very cool. You can watch todays and tomorrows sunsets from Wales over the mountains of Siberia!

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

That’s a really tough question, Amanda! I have to say that your book ranks right up there for me. Another recent read I very much enjoyed was Willie Hensley’s “Fifty Miles from Tomorrow.”

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 91

Thanks. Funny how that came about. I have a ahem.. relative, who was a roommate in the halfway house with Bambi. Then I was having lunch with a group of totally unrelated people–way outside the media world–one of whom mentioned that she had heard that Allen had a relationship with a girl named Bambi who worked at a Mexican restaurant. I’m like, there just can’t be two Bambi’s in town who work at a Mexican restaurant. I got on the phone first thing. Hence, the Bambi/Allen relationship unfolded..

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 95

Very cool. And that must make you a foreign policy expert too! *wink*

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 96

Marketing of Alaska is pretty good. Nader wrote the forward. In many ways, it does a good job of combining energy, corporate, environmental and Native issues into one book.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 97

I love that. It is so very Alaskan. It’s almost a shame that wasn’t included in the book, just because it’s so perfect. It will just have to wait for the movie.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 98

I didn’t look as pretty saying it ;)

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

That’s why you’re not the governor. :)

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 96

Jeanne. I was going to include “aside from our book” but thought that it would be presumptuous. Books that I really appreciate now more than ever: Jack Roderick’s Crude Dreams, all the Clause Naske books, Steven Haycox has done amazing work on this state, John Sweet’s Discovery at Prudhoe Bay was invaluable to me.Seth Kantner’s Ordinary Wolves always got me in the mood..

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 88

LOL.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Speaking of our former governor, do you think that Palin’s unbelievable political career will make it more or less likely we’ll see another Alaskan in national politics? In some ways she really did break our “ice ceiling” but it hasn’t turned out like we would have hoped. Any thoughts?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 103

Yes, I’m a huge fan of Steve Haycox. He’s quite brilliant and perceptive. And Jack Roderick too. Good calls.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 105

I’m afraid that for years to come, any politician from Alaska is going to be compared to Palin.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 105

Certainly Palin has made Alaska a bit of a joke. But the real question is who will be that next Alaskan politician that grabs national headlines? Any ideas? I don’t see one right now.

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to Tony Hopfinger @ 87

At the time the $$$ first started coming in, I was heading up the Whittier Harbor expansion project. The fight started in 1977, and we put it in in 1980 and 1981. For three years we hadn’t been able to get funding. Then, with the Prudhoe $$$, it was all of a sudden a gold-plated contract with every freebie I could think of added on without even much discussion – a huge Michigan 275B front-end loader, a slick new 40-ton boat lift, fireboats and search and rescue boats. At $5 million for the project total, we were given about 3/4 of a million more than we really needed, but DOT was being pressured by AGC (Associated General Contractors) to add even more stuff – buildings and a warehouse. I just thought of how I’d have to hire extra people just to take care or some marginal needs, so we backed out of some of the goodies.

Like a lot of other projects around Alaska then and later, Sen. Stevens was always there, with his staff, to break a logjam or ice-jam with the legislature, the Alaska Railroad, or Jay Hammond, who did not want the harbor in Whittier expanded, because Prince William Sound, according to Hammond, was “Wally Hickel’s playground.”

So that was one project. Multiply that times 350 public infrastructure projects across the state that were finally getting their funding after waiting sometimes for decades.

People in 1980 did not think that Prudhoe would still be producing this much oil, if anything at all.

As long as Alaska’s political infrastructure is run by the oil industry and mineral extraction-first crowd, combined with Evangelical Christians, we are going to go nowhere in terms of increasing the quality of education and diversification of our economy away from reliance upon those constituencies.

Got the belts changed on my snow blower. Back to work.

Good luck with this important book, Amanda and Tony.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 109

Thanks Phil!

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I certainly have my favorites, and those I think could really be beneficial for the state (Bill Wielechowski/Scott McAdams)… And I believe there are a handful of politicians from both sides of the aisle who would certainly fare better on the national stage in terms of preparedness, and political chops, than Palin. There was some talk a while back of Tony Knowles dipping his toes in the big pond, but I really can’t think of someone I’d put my money on right now.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

And of course. Jeanne’s book about Frank Baily’s time with Palin, Blind Allegiance, is definitely worth a read..

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:15 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 111

Yeah, we’re kind of in transition. Do you think a tea party candidate could win Senate or House?

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 111

I think Lisa has a shot at VP if she wants it, which I don’t think she does. Begich does better in front of the cameras than I thought he would. What also was surprising to me in writing the book was how close Tony Knowles was to the oil industry.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 112

Thanks, Amanda. One of the things I most enjoyed about writing Blind Allegiance was one of the very things you covered so well in Crude Awakening – what it was that people saw in Sarah Palin, and why she was able to capture the imagination of her fans the way she did. It wasn’t just the hard right-wing Christian Republicans that voted for her. I have staunch Democratic friends who voted for her too. People had a hard time understanding that if they weren’t here at the time.

eCAHNomics November 13th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to EdwardTeller @ 109

Since ET is gone, perhaps some one else might A this Q. What is the relationship betw Eva Xtians & Alaska? Are they associated with oil crowd? TX connection?

This is another mystery world to me, so any light you could shed on how these strange peeps infiltrate would be helpful.

EdwardTeller November 13th, 2011 at 3:17 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 106

Glad you and Jeanne mentioned Jack’s book. Yours is linked to its premise in important ways, sort of beyond an update.

Charles Wohlforth’s The Fate of Nature is by far my favorite recent read.

The book about Alaska I learned the most from recently was Jim Lethcoe’s The Geology of Prince William Sound. He touches upon the geology of much of Alaska as backdrop, so it is more than about PWS. Best layman’s explanation of plate techtonics and Alaska I’ve ever read – by far.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

To all. (Jeanne, particularly). I have often pondered this question, and have yet to come up with a good answer: Did we in Alaska change when Palin was picked or did she change?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I think that Joe Miller’s victory in the primary shows that non-Tea Party Republicans, even incumbents who are fairly popular can be vulnerable. Lisa was able to pull off a miracle and win the write-in, even with a name like Murkowski… but if it happened to Don Young, or if it happened to Begich, or in an open seat it might be a different story. I’m not sure Lisa Murkowski could have done it without the tremendous support she received from Native Corporations.

What do you think?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 116

Yeah, many came up here during the pipeline boom, including the preacher at the biggest Baptist temple in Anchorage. Our current governor is a Christian, as well as a former lawyer who contracted with oil companies.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 119

Yeah, the new campaign laws gave her the horsepower to win. I’m afraid of what we’re going to see next as far as campaign contributions. Money has taken over the process unlike ever before.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 118

I’m sure there was some of both, but I think it was mostly Palin that changed. I remember watching her speech at the Republican convention and thinking to myself, “Doesn’t she know we can hear her?” It was like thinking that you knew someone and then seeing them in another setting being a completely different person. Like a friend who threw you under the bus when the popular kids took her in.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

My grandparent’s moved to Alaska in the late 1930s. My mom and her siblings were raised here and they all left before oil. The Alaska that I was raised with–the so informed my childhood–only barely resembled the Alaska that I found when I moved here in 2002. Oil changed everything..

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Do you think that Parnell’s strong evangelical Christianity is on the radar for most Alaskans? Palin’s really wasn’t when she was governor, and only seemed to emerge after the 2008 race.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 122

Yes. I see that. But I’ve also wondered if that wasn’t really her all along, but she just didn’t have the opportunity to express it before. Hence her shock at the way Alaskans reacted.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 124

Not so much. You hear about him sometimes meeting with influential Christians, etc. But he hasn’t made it a big issue. Neither did Palin as governor until after she was picked, in my opinion.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

To ask a very basic question, what made you decide to write the book in the first place? Did your conception of what it would be change as you went? Were you planning on focusing on the “Big 3″ personalities you did, or did that change? I’d be interested to hear what made you do it. It’s such a big undertaking and such a time commitment.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:27 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 124

Yes. It probably is under the radar. I know that some of his decisions–like the abstinence programs in place now at HHS–have been informed by his faith. Other than that, I haven’t seen much evidence that he’s brought his religion into office. Have you?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 125

My theory is that she has been consistent and predictable in one thing – her opportunism. From the mayoral election, to governor, to VP nominee, she has always been and done just what was necessary to take the next step. In some ways she is politically brilliant. I think she expected Alaskans to understand that she was doing what she needed to do to take that step, and didn’t really think about her own intellectual inconsistency.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 127

In 2007, while covering the lead up to the corruption trials, we began to craft the book proposal. At that time, Palin was not a big part of the book. After she was picked, we rolled her into the narrative, centering on her, Bill Allen and Ted Stevens. The narrative seemed to work and, of course, there was now interest in Alaska because of Palin. But we did not want to make it a Palin book only. That was the trick.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 128

I’ve not seen it in a public way, but knowing how intensely it exists behind the scenes makes me wonder (as it did in hindsight with Palin) if there is more involved in decision making and policy than we know.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 127

A very basic answer: my husband thinks big. And there was a big story in Alaska unfolding right in front of us. So, he went away for 3 or so weeks, and came back with a 50 plus page book proposal, which nearly gave me a heart attack. We sold the book relatively easily (weeks?), and kind of had to follow what we sold. Or that’s what we told ourselves anyway. So, it’s pretty true to that initial proposal. Yes. the undertaking was immense. But kind of fun. I’ve been having yearnings to get back to another big project.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I think you did a good job with that. And it would be hard not to include her, simply because she changed so many things and was in so many ways a product of her predecessors – the pendulum swinging back against Murkowski.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I’d also add that the book, in many ways, feels to me like the main story I’ve covered in Alaska since coming here in 1999. Most of my reporting has been spent on oil and politics. It was fun to write the “big story” because we had so much knowledge of the topic. The challenge was doing so while still earning a living. And in our case, that meant keeping Alaska Dispatch going. A start-up company aimed at preserving Alaska journalism, we very much had a full plate. Amanda, in fact, stopped working at Alaska Dispatch for more than a year. She was the main writer on the book.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 131

Come to our offices and get thee reporting on this!

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I’m curious about one thread of connection in this web. What do you think about Ted Stevens’ opinion of Palin and vice versa. Do you remember the 50th Anniversary Statehood book debacle? There was a huge kerfuffle about Ted Stevens being slighted and virtually non-existent in the book, and Palin wildly denying that it was done on purpose.

She did, as you pointed out, say that he should resign as Senator when he was convicted of those 7 felonies, but as far as I know Ted remained almost mum. Any insight?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

PALIN WATCH: This just came in my email from Team Sarah —

It seems that the rest of the media is finally paying attention to the crony capitalism drum that Governor Sarah Palin has been beating for quite some time. Tonight, 60 Minutes will air an episode that will feature Peter Schweizer, adviser to Governor Sarah Palin, and author of “Throw Them All Out”.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 135

I think it could be an interesting story… but complicated. I’ll explain some time. :)

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I’m super glad that Sarah Palin has pointed out the big problem with cronyism. ;)

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:39 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 136

I’m not sure he really thought a lot about her. But I do think that he was smart enough to know that she could have become a threat to him in some ways. Therefore he gave her wide berth. About the anniversary book: there’s an email from her (on crivella west, peace be upon it), and Ted talking about it. I can’t remember what it says exactly, but something from him about his staff getting upset and for her not to worry about it.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 139

See. She’s not going away.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 140

Yes, Ted was very gracious, but behind the scenes felt a bit slighted. His staff, and loyal constituents were incensed and took it as a personal slight. It was quite the drama in the governor’s office.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 141

I agree. But it has been nice that she’s not quite so in our faces all the time. You said before that you wouldn’t put it past her to throw her hat back in the ring. Given the current Republican lineup, and its lack of a clear leader, would you care to elaborate on your statement?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 142

I think Ted respected Sarah enough as a possible political foe that he didn’t bash her. God knows he had no problem saying what he thought about others. He even once blamed Gravel for the plane crash that killed his wife.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 142

Yes.I remember some of the drama. But you know more about it than I do.What I do know is that it was exactly that kind of small time, small minded thing that brought her down, and will continue to follow her where ever she goes.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 143

Maybe I’m just influenced by the Conservatives4Palin folks who are mounting a “reconsider” campaign. But I think she needed to feel what it’s like not to be a candidate for awhile, and I’m not sure she likes it one bit. I also think that she’s got a shot at it now.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 145

I agree totally. I was glad you pointed that out in the book. The inability to understand what was important and what wasn’t, the inability to let small things go, and to not take everything personally. It always amused me when she referred to herself as having thick skin. I don’t think that’s something that someone can will themselves to change. I think it’s just a part of who she is.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 142

What do you think about her getting in?

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

For both of you – Alaska politics really is like a big incestuous soap opera. Was there one particular character or plot line in this drama that really captured you, or that you especially enjoyed researching and writing about? You’ve alluded to a couple, but if you had to pick your own favorite chapter or plot line, or character, what would it be?

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I think the biggest issue with Sarah Palin is that she quit. You can like her policies or not, but they were bold at a time when our state had been rolled by the Corrupt Bastards Club. She quit in the middle of all these big policy changes she’d asked us to believe in. For that reason, she should not be considered for any elected position.

BevW November 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Amanda, Tony, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

Jeanne, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Amanda and Tony’s website and book (Crude Awakening)

Jeanne’s website and book (Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin)

Thanks all, Have a great week.

Next week
Saturday – Morris Berman / Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline
Sunday – Arne Kalleberg / Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm
In response to Amanda Coyne @ 148

We seem to be on the same page so far. I was one of those people who kept saying “she will run” and everyone else had every good reason why she wouldn’t. She just wanted money, she was lazy, etc. I never really agreed completely with either statement. The thing that her “new life” does not give her is a sense of competition. I think that’s her driver. I think she loves the thrill of it, the personal testing, the faith in the outcome, the adrenaline rush… You can’t get that on a book tour, or lounging by the pool in Arizona.

I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if she got back in as “the reluctant leader” who swooped in to save the good ol’ boys (and girl) in the GOP from themselves.

Jeanne Devon November 13th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Thanks so much, Bev. And thanks Amanda and Tony. It’s been great hosting the salon and getting the opportunity to discuss your wonderful book! Best of luck to you with your continued success at Alaska Dispatch, and with whatever book we can expect next!

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to Jeanne Devon @ 149

For me, I think the side characters were the most fun to write about: Bambi Tyree, Wally Hickel, Pete Kott. And perhaps the most interesting part of it to write was the slow, steady march towards the state’s dependency on oil. It happened so subtly and slowly, and watching that unfold was in a way so heartbreaking. The reason I’m so into Hickel was how ferociously he fought the oil companies, and how bruised he became from those fights. There were even a whisper campaign afoot that he was mentally ill! He had to get a psychiatrist to have a press conference. I mean, it was brutal for him.

Amanda Coyne November 13th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Hope I got that last response in in time. From both me and Tony (who had to put out a Dispatch fire), thanks so much. Bev: This is awesome. Jeanne: You’re brilliant.

Tony Hopfinger November 13th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Thanks for a wonderful interview and reading our book!

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