A Letter From The Publisher: Jul. 27, 1970

TO experience what Thoreau called "the tonic of wildness" and to prepare for reporting this week's cover story on Alaska, TIME's San Francisco Bureau Chief Jesse Birnbaum spent several days alone in a bush-country cabin twelve miles outside the village of Skwentna (pop. 12). In his wooded retreat, Birnbaum, a city-bred New Jerseyite, was reading by kerosene lamp when "suddenly the entire cabin began shaking. I grabbed the .30-30 Winchester that I had brought along, unlatched the door and peered out. A huge black bear was standing there upright—he must have been six...

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