The Great Land

How Western America Nearly Became a Russian Possession

By Jeremy Atiyah

For more than a hundred years after Europeans began populating the Atlantic shores of North America, the Pacific coast of the continent remained a blank on their maps and in their minds. When Russians from Siberia first sighted the mountains of Alaska in 1741, they called it the Great Land. In fact, they were glimpsing at just a part of a 4,000-mile stretch of virgin coastline, reaching from Western Alaska to Oregon to Southern California. As far away as Spanish Mexico, all was uncharted and unknown. Its water, salmon, sea otters, trees, and harbors were under the preserve of Native Americans, free of international commerce. But time would not stand still. In the second half of the 18th century, Europeans were aggressively taking their way of life to every corner of the globe. Northwest America could not remain exempt from this process. Who would be the first to settle the coast that was destined to become the cultural and economic powerhouse of the world? The answer to this question was not obvious. The Great Land is an absorbing story of how Western America very nearly came to be a possession of the Empire of Russia. Not only is it one of history's odder side-paths, packed with strange people and events, it is also a fascinating 'might-have-been.' It will surprise and engage fans of history, travel, and exploration.

250 pages

Publication Date: 3/1/2008
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9780955832703