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Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds
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Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  237 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In 1973, Norma Cobb, her husband Lester and the their five children, the oldest of whom was nine years old and the youngest, twins, barely one, pulled up stakes in the lower 48 and headed north to Alaska to follow a pioneer dream of claiming land under the Homestead Act. The only land available lay north of Fairbanks near the Arctic Circle where grizzlies outnumbered human...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 24th 2003 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2000)
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Posted this review on my blog, but had to toss it up here as well, because I am baffled at the good reviews this beast received. From the blog...

"Arctic Homestead" is technically written by Norma Cobb (the homesteader) and Charles Sasser (co-writer). From what I can gather, Cobb didn't actually write the book (although she claims to have done so on her blog). Sasser used her journals and interviews with Cobb to write the novel. Cobb has a blog where she does some complaining about things she wou...more
Arctic Homestead is one of those modern-day pioneer memoirs written by back-to-the-landers. In this case, Norma Cobb writes about her 1972 trek to the Alaskan wilderness with her husband and FIVE young children. Like other reviewers, I found the Cobbs to be completely ignorant. They were on their way to Canada with all their kids when someone mentioned that they weren't allowed to homestead there. Really? They wouldn't have checked beforehand? So they headed to Alaska instead, where they endange...more
Marlene French
Like some other reviewers, I too had some difficulty rating this read. I loved how Norma followed the dream of her and her husband, Lester Cobb against all odds and never gave up while going through a multitude of difficulties and near deaths of some of their family. I do find it almost unbelievable that so many unlucky things could happen to one family, however, it IS set in an untamed Alaskan territory. It makes me wonder, though, if folks who are really as cut of from society as they were rea...more
This book reminds me of books of the Krakauer genre. Adventures into the wild by brave or foolhardy people which is finally determined by whether you are succesful or not. The first thing that attracted me to the story was that it was told by a woman which is unusual for outdoor, non-fiction risk-taking and adventure type books. The view of a woman surrounded by grizzlies, forty foot snowbanks, fifty below temperatures, floods, guns of every type makes the story more interesting particularly whe...more
Jennifer Wallace
Incredibly interesting story. I'm having my technology loving teens read it.
The first part of this book I loved it. I was into Ms. Cobb's story and enjoyed reading about the issues that faced the family as they journeyed to settle in the wilds of Alaska. As her story unfolded I began to wonder about the truth behind her tale.
Alaska though it is the largest land wise of all of the United States, is a small community. So it was not surprising that the Cobb family had met and spent time with some more famous Alaskans. I was really turned off by Ms. Cobb's need to comment...more
This could have been a fantastic story but was ruined for me by four things. One, the constant and pervasive references to religion. I'm a scientist and the frequent references to auroras and other natural phenomena as being "god's paintbrush" are just annoying.
Two, the insistence of the presence of a "hairy man" aka, Bigfoot. Seriously? That's right up there with UFOs as a way to destroy someone's credibility.
Three, the supremely stupid and cruel incident, and several other similar incidents,...more
This was a very good book. The writing was well done. I would have like to give this book a 5 star because it did really hold my interest. But, I could not because I was so angry with the author most of the time. As I said the read was an interesting one. It was a very exciting journey. But, in some part due to the fact that I felt Norma and Les were two very careless people with the lives of their children. I'm sure the children have grown up to be very strong people, because they really had no...more
Norma Cobb has a story to tell and I'm glad she published this book. She is judgmental towered people that mooch off the government, but wouldn't you after you endured the hardships that she overcame? I don't know which event would have driven me back to town quicker- Sean's gunshot, Tommy's near-drowning, the bear incident (oh, which one?) or Les Cobb's wander through the snow when his snowmobile broke down >12 miles from anywhere. Yes, she puts a big emphasis on the Lord for seeing them thr...more
Since we are lusting after snow, Jordan picked this one out from the library. It was a good read, really interesting survival-wise. Although more than once I thought about how sketchy these people are (especially the husband). And I could do without the whining about people taking government handouts and the downfall of the Lower 48. Hello? Where did you get your land from? Oh right. The government. I could also do without the long-winded (and incorrect) speech about how wolves were screwing up...more
What an amazing story. I loved, first of all, that Norma Cobb was the last pioneer woman to take advantage of the homestead act in Alaska. The Cobb family is like any hard-working American family of the 70's, struggling to find their place, achieve their dreams and are willing to sacrifice and work hard to get to where they aspire to be. This book doesn't sugarcoat anything, it lays out their true ordeals, their successes and their failures; their proximity to both death and freedom. There are m...more
The Cobbs remind me so much of my wife and I. Throughout the book it seemed like that they could not catch a break a day late and a dollar short.

In the book, Norma Cobb was the last pioneer woman to take advantage of the homestead act in Alaska. The Cobb family is like any hard-working American family of the 70's, struggling to find their place, achieve their dreams and are willing to sacrifice and work hard to get to where they aspire to be.

I love it she does not sugarcoat anything just tells...more
The true story of one family's survival and courage in the Alaskan wilds. Can the Cobb family beat all the odds and live out their pioneer dream? In 1973, Norma, her husband Lester and their 5 children pull up stakes in Colorado and head north to Alaska to claim land under the Homestead Act. (Norma was the last woman pioneer to sign up and claim land under the US Homestead Act.) Their family is one of only two families that makes it out of the 110 that filed that last year before the homesteadin...more
I loved this book! The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because I only give five stars to books I want to read AGAIN. This was written very well, extremely interesting and inspirational. What a family the Cobbs are! I don't think I've ever met anyone hardy enough to withstand the things they went through in order to secure their homestead in Minook Valley, Alaska. Grizzly attacks, shootings, backstabbing by so called "friends", and of course the nine months of winter where they are cut o...more
I found myself anxiously awaiting the turning of the pages in this novel. Ms. Cobb's first novel is written from observations in her journal. I like that she tells the spiritual, mental and physical struggle and rewards of homesteading. Ms. Cobb with her five children and husband, Lester, file then create the last homestead (free land grant) in the United States. They learn to co-exist with bears. Living off the land they eat a variety of wild meats, berries, and fish, from Alaska's bounty. The...more
The year:1973. The dream: Own your own land, raise your children in a better environment and be able to live a lifestyle that is different from the ordinary American way. The Cobbs and their 5 Kernels overcome many obstacles and hard time to achieve this dream but with God’s help they see the fruits of their labors. Norma also becomes the last American woman to file a homestead in Alaska. And their family is one of only two families that makes it out of the 110 that filed that last year before t...more
This is my kind of book and I realize it's not everyone's taste. I just really like stories of people who overcome the odds ... and the environment! I always pictured myself as someone who could go and live anywhere and not be afraid to work hard so I identified with Norma .. BUT after reading the book I know I couldn't deal with that much isolation! I like people : ) I guess she did have 5 children so maybe that was enough people for her : )
Very good book, reading it brought out all of my pioneering tendencies, in full force...oh how I would have loved to have experienced the wild as Norma has, then again would I have been able to have survived all that she was faced with...I would like to think I could have :) and maybe so. I even liked her husband (Les) the macho man...I usually have little patience for "macho", but Les can't help it, he's truly "macho" so I have to get over it.
Marvelle Morgan
I struggled with what to rate this book. The story relates quite an adventure and would probably be fascinating if it weren't for Norma's (the author) insufferable tone. Her disdain for everyone who does not think like she does, act like she does, believe like she does, or hold the same ideals as she does is apparent throughout the book and is off-putting. I think if someone else were to relate the story, it would have been a great read.
I don't know how to explain my fascination with this whole "go to the Arctic and live uncomfortably off powdered eggs and possibly get mauled by a bear" phenomenon. Whatever it is, the fascination is great enough to put up with Norma's paranoia and inexplicable male chauvinism. Maybe it's the sense that my survival skills are basically nil; maybe (as with the Hasidic books) it's that I don't want to do that, but I really want to want to.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Non-fiction about a family that chooses to move to Alaska in 1971 and homestead. It is a remarkable story of how they not survive those first years but they manage to build a business from nothing. It is hard to believe some of the stories in this book happened in the 1970's and not in the 1770's.

Kim Lanza
A friend lent me this book and the unexpected October snow & all the inconvenience it brought with it inspired me to read it. I couldn't put it down and devoured it in a day. Hard to complain about being without power when you read about this family. Interesting read! I would love to meet this couple - I am sure they have loads more stories to tell.
Sep 21, 2007 Dawn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
pretty well written, but mainly a really interesting story: the last homesteaders in america, in the '70s, surviving on what the wife calls grit determination and a big dream... a few times i got a bit tired of the overbearing pride in themselves and contempt of us 'weak sheep' but that wasn't the focus of the book, and i enjoyed the story.
Susan Henderson
Entertaining and if it wasn't for Mrs. Cobb for being so annoying and self-righteous I would have given it another star. She made it sound like she was the most attractive, strongest, and best wife in Alaska and maybe she was but I got tired of hearing about it. Oh, and her husband was an idiot, no sugar coating that.
Very realistic story of a young family who travels to Alaska as "newbies" and homestead there. It's rough, it's wild, it nearly brought them to their knees, but you can tell with every page their love for the land and the cozy valley they settled in despite all the trials they went through. I loved it.
It was a good book about a true story of homesteaders in Alaska and the various adventures and hardships they had while trying to accomplish there dream of making it in the bush. I enjoyed it a lot and would recommend it to those who enjoy true stories of adventure.
What an amazing family. I cannot even begin to comprehend either the courage or foolhardiness that it takes to attempt what they did. Norma Cobb is inspiring. A strong woman - I really enjoy reading books about strong women.
This was a fascinating story for sure. I can't believe people would choose to live where winters are so long, dark, and in such isolation, but to each his own. It also confirmed my convictions that Big Foot is out there!
This is my second time reading this book. It is the memoir of Norma Cobb, the last woman to file for a homestead in Alaska. It is the story of a family, of love, of survival, independence and self sufficiency.
I felt like this was an outline of a good book. Interesting story, but not written well. At least I know I still don't want to be a pioneer. I may have ruined it a little bit for myself by reading the reviews first...
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Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds

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