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The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  564 ratings  ·  65 reviews
The inspiration for The Last Alaskans—the eight-part documentary series on Animal Planet! Called “[one of] the greatest life-or-death-tales ever told” (Esquire), James Campbell’s inimitable insider account of a family’s nomadic life in the unshaped Arctic wilderness “is an icily gripping, intimate profile that stands up well beside Krakauer’s classic [Into the Wild], and i ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Atria Books (first published 2004)
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The Call of the Wild by Jack LondonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerWhite Fang by Jack LondonAlaska and Back by Dorothy May MercerAlaska by James A. Michener
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70th out of 192 books — 160 voters
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Biographies of Place
110th out of 113 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

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I've had a hard time convincing people to read this book. My mom pestered me to read this for almost a year, and I reluctantly picked it up from the library. It is now one of my favorite books.

If you think rugged individualism, environmental stewardship, integrity, and, old-school family values are dead, read this book. It is truly inspiring to see a man and his family build a fulfilling, simple, happy life in one of the most inhospitable places on earth.

The day-to-day challenges of living in su
I'm not into shows like Survivorman or Man Versus Wild, so maybe I'm not the target audience for this book, the true story of a man from Appleton who lives above the Artic Circle in the interior of Alaska. I learned a lot about Alaska and about trapping, which was interesting, but I felt the book was really poorly written. The author is Heimo's cousin, also from Appleton, and he seems unwilling to probe Heimo too much about the emotional impact of living as he does and the events of his life. It ...more
The Final Frontiersman, written by James Campbell, published by Atria Books in 2004 is a biographical adventure selling for $25.00 in hardback, ISBN 0-7434-5313-1.

Mr. Campbell takes us into the wilderness of Arctic Alaska, to learn as his main character, Heimo Korth, learns a harsh, rich, new life which most of us wouldn’t have imagined. For me, the book illuminated both the struggle of survival in the wilderness and the heroic odyssey of a man who finds himself.

I honestly enjoyed this book wi
Want to live off the grid? Better read this first.

The author is brought out via chartered plane to visit Heimo Korth and his family on the Coleen River in Northwestern Alaska, hundreds of miles from the nearest road and seemingly centuries away from the hustle of Fort Yokun and Fairbanks. You learn of their daily hardships, and too the pleasures of being that far out in country. The Korth’s are trappers, and spend much of their time and energy adapting to the harsh cold and shifting weather of t
This book is an exportation of the concept of "wilderness" and those who strive to find themselves in the American concept of wilderness. The book does a great job at contrasting the native cultural concept of wilderness as home and the need for community and the unique American concept of "finding oneself alone in the wilderness." I also appreciate how the book explores the female and family outlook on life on the frontier and how to cope with the loneliness. It is a great anthropological look ...more
The author, James Campbell, spent time with his cousin, Heimo Korth and family in 2002 Alaska to learn more about this rare subsistence trapper's way of life. Originally from Wisconsin, Heimo set out in the mid '70s and never looked back.

James' style of writing intertwines character studies of Heimo, his wife Edna, and their daughters Rhonda and Krin, with descriptions of the vast landscape, and the skills needed to survive in such an extreme place.
"Ala-aska", the Aleut Indians called it- "the
As a boy living in Paxon, Alaska I wanted to do what the subject of this book did, live as a mountain man with my dog and be a trapper. And while I had a dog team and had a trap line for a couple of weeks that didn't' catch a thing I certainly haven't lived the life of Heimo Korth. And thats ok. While the book suffered from frequent jumps back and forth in time in ways that I didn't feel had any rhyme or reason as the story emerged a vastly interesting story emerged that touches on Americas rela ...more
Ted Ryan
Subsistence living. No, not like you see on the Discovery Channel. The Korth's, the family at the center of this book, have lived a life of subsistence living unlike nearly anyone else living today and the author, James Campbell, tells the story capably. I've always liked to read memoirs and biographies of wilderness adventures, mountain climbing, river journeys, you name it. This is one of those stories.

This isn't a high energy book from start to finish, many of the tales don't compel you to ha
Cushmant Cushman
interesting way of life, would have given it four stars but too much about government, I liked it though a lot
Tom Halvorson
I personally loved the book; The Final Frontiersman was a great book for those who love the outdoors. The biggest challenge of the book is living off the land and inhabit ting the inhabited. The book reflects a lot on living off the wild and trying to survive in the Arctic Circle. This book has a lot to do with trapping, hunting, and having to do things to survive. To be able to finish this book I believe you must be committed to finish this book because of the same story, setting. If you start ...more
A nicely crafted look at a vanishing way of life in a place that is threatened as much by modern wannabes as by those who would exploit its resources. Heimo and his family are impressive in the way they live and the relationship they have with the land and with nature. I found it most interesting to read this book during the Polar Vortex cold freeze, because the temperatures that were so awful to me would be a decent fall day for Heimo and Edna. I did have to sympathize with Edna and the girls, ...more
As a native of the Adirondacks, I admit I have romantic notions about living in the North Woods and perhaps that is why I am drawn to books about Alaska of which The Final Frontiersman is an excellent example. Heimo Korth and his family are interesting people and the reader grows quickly attached to their bravery and rugged determination. The book is full of stories about the wild, animals, plants, and the weather. James Campbell, who is actually Heimo's cousin from Wisconsin, does an example jo ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Nina rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I found out about this book a year ago after watching this video and have wanted to read the book ever since. There is nothing like reading a book like this on South Beach, reading about -35 degree temps and trying to shield your eyes from staring at the naked boobs around you. That said I rate this book about 3.5 stars it would have been 4 stars but author did not organize it well. One moment he would be talking about the present the next he was talking ...more
Aaron Mlot
remarkably beautiful and unrelentingly devastating insight to the Korth family's daily lives; and how their "home" came about. most of the time when reading non fiction almost too incredible to believe, i want that lifestyle; that is not the case with "the final frontiersman"; while romantic, it's not for me.
After watching the first few episodes of Animal Planet's "The Last Alaskans", I found out that there was a book about one of the people featured on the show. This book follows Heimo Korth's family as they they meet their basic needs in the far north of Alaska. It's a good read.

Interesting portrait of a highly unusual lifestyle. However, I felt like the subjects were holding back from the author. He doesn't really dig deep into how this isloated and extreme way of life affects them. I wanted to hear more about how they navigate the hardships of this life, like how a family of four can keep from going insane when faced with 24-hour darkness and bone-chilling temperatures hundreds of miles from any other human beings.

However, the book is still worth reading. The author s
I found that this book to be quite interesting. My wife and I have been talking about moving in the middle of nowhere. I am not that sure if this what she has in mind. After reading this book..WOW.

We live in Wisconsin, I will admit it gets cold here, but not -40. I love that Heimo never gives up his dream. The author shows what it is like to live with nobody, but you and your family for hundred of miles.

This is great book - especially for those that love the wilderness and the real life storie
I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this book. It was so well written and descriptive that I could easily visualize the cabins, the rivers, and the Alaskan wilderness. The stories of the Korth family are humorous, delightful, and heart achingly sad. Truly a great read!
Previous TCL Reviews
I believe that no matter where we live or grew up that leaving the everyday world to find our roots in nature is still a romantic notion. The Final Frontiersman is about a man who did just that. As an adult Heimo Korth moved to the Alaskan bush to live a subsistence lifestyle in the remote Arctic. He feed himself and later his family by hunting, fishing and trapping and dealt with the rewards and the hardships of living for months at a time without outside human contact. As the show business say ...more
Lance Gideon
UPDATE: I have to admit that continue to think back on this story often - its people, its tragedy, its landscapes. I needed to change my rating accordingly, because it is now obvious that this book is near perfect, and all of its parts are just as important as the next. I loved this story.

Great book - especially for those that love the wilderness and the real life stories of those that venture into God's vast creation. It's a bit long, and some of the pieces probably could have been left out, bu
On one hand this is an adventure biography of a man who knew that he would never fit into the rat race life in his native Wisconsin. Moving to Alaska, he did what it took to establish himself as a subsistance trapper in the Arctic. Written by his cousin, the book gives an idea what his life (and that of his wife and two daughters) is like.

But it is also more -- wandering onto sidepaths of the role of wilderness in the western tradition, wilderness in literature, environmental politics, Alaskan h
Linda Thompson
I couldn't finish it. It seems well written and well researched. I just don't care. It's not my thing.
LOVED this book. Then went on Facebook to see the family, then found a video on Youtube on a show called Vice that interviews them.

You get that hooked into their story. Well, especially if you love the outdoors, love to camp and are the type to really tire of the rat-race mentality of civilization.

His cousin visits him and gathers material to write this book. You see what his life is like hunting, working on the cabins, migrating to different cabins, staying warm, cooking. It's fascinating.

The o
Jennifer Morefield
My husband and I loved this book. What an adventure... While it would not be the way we would choose to live, Heimo Korth is truly the final frontiersman. Just a remarkable wonderful story. It was also interesting learning about Alaska and the politics that shapes its territory.
I have just finished this book last night, and let me tell you, it is worth the read. This book can make one appreciate what they have in so many ways. The wirter takes us through triumphs and tragedy with the Korths. Anyone fashioning themselves to be an outdoorsman should think twice and read this. Heimo is an American original.

The only downside to this book is it is obvious to any reader that this is the authors first book. The style needs polishing up a bit, but I'm sure he has a few good b
Sophie Muller
I had read Hatchet and Dogsong and wanted to learn more about people living in the wild when a friend lent me this book. I wasn't disappointed! I've learned a lot, one thing being that I wouldn't be able to stand the cold! I also realized that the frontier culture was really important at some point in American culture, something I had never guessed. The tragic story of Colleen, the daughter, also helped me understand the importance of recovering the body of a loved one. I understood the concept ...more
I thought this book was really interesting. I could never picture myself living out there in the middle of nowhere Alaska, but I found it fascinating to read about the Korth family's lifestyle. I give a lot of credit to them! There is also some good background/history of the Alaska frontier in general. The book is an easy read and is well-written. For anyone interested in more about the family, this mini documentary is also good:
Nate Jordon
The Final Frontiersman is the story of Heimo Korth and his odyssey in the Alaskan wilderness. It’s an intriguing read for any outdoorsman – a must-read for anyone pondering a life in the wild. James Campbell has written a well-researched and compelling book.

“In the outdoors, Heimo found both deliverance and self-discovery. Thoreau called it ‘the tonic of wildness.’ For Heimo, it was an antidote to a bad situation at home—an escape to a simpler, more beautiful world…”
This book is a fascinating look into a lifestyle not many live anymore. Heimo Korth is an Alaska-by-way-of-Wisconsin trapper who has lived in the bush for 20-plus years. I can't even imagine the danger he faces on a daily basis, such as going to check his trapline when it's 40-below outside. This book documents Heimo's everyday life and the environment in which he lives. This is the author's first book so the flow was a little off, but I liked the book.
Decent, but overly long

The premise was one I could get behind, and the depth of the reporting style writing its impressive. Sadly, this book could have been much shorter. For me, it felt like it dragged on and on, and got to the point where I was no longer enjoying the story. I stopped caring. I'm not sure if this is a case of an author looking to fill pages, or an inability to weave a story, but Krakauer or Lewis he is not.
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“I settled into a rhythm—teaching the kids, tending the garden, canning, checking the fishnets, raising rabbits, hauling wood. All of that gave great purpose to my life.” 0 likes
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