Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And another review: Curling the hair of the FAA

Here's another one on Amazon by pilot Mike Meiser of Anchorage:
Jorgy is an unembellished look at Alaskan Aviation through the eyes and actual words of Holger Jorgensen, one of Alaska's most respected pilots. It takes the reader through the ending days of the Nome Gold Rush to the coming of the jet age. If you are an aviation enthusiast, a history buff, or you'd just like to meet an amazing Alaskan Eskimo Pilot who touched many, many lives, this is a must for you! ... Jorgy traces his rough beginning in the gold mines to the left seat of jets and turboprops, flying all over the world. Don't expect him to pull punches or mince words. That wouldn't be Holger. For example: suffering macular degeneration late in his life, he talks of flying blind (in more ways than one) on his last flight, a tale that would curl the hair of an FAA inspector.

Good thing there's a statute of limitations!

Jorgy's life story follows the coming of age of commercial aviation in America's flyingest state, Alaska. Holger Jorgensen's leadership and mentoring changed Alaskan aviation and the lives of those he touched for the better, and forever. I heartily recommend this excellent book.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New review on Amazon: a keeper

A new review on Amazon is titled "What is really exciting about Alaska:"
Back when I traveled the world while home schooling several kids, when we landed into a new country, we learned to head to the local library (or it's equivalent) for advice. "What are the stories about this place we need to read? What will orient us to this country, its landscapes and and weathers, the people who have lived here long and ones who have come lately? What stories do you recommend?"

"Jorgy" is just such a keeper. The story begins with his hybrid parentage, Eskimo mother and Norwegian gold miner father, and the challenges of village life on Alaska's Seward Peninsula prior to World War II. Rich in details about kid's games, schooling, methods of hauling water and wood, hunting, fishing, and mining work, we also get to see the prejudice he experienced from both cultural wings of his heritage and the effect of his mother's remarkable work in independently raising five children after his dad's death in a mining accident. Jean Lester does a remarkable writing job throughout--her perfect invisibility --allows us to simply listen to Jorgy's unfolding story. From the glamor-and risks- of early aviation, wartime changes and post war possibilities via the GI bill, at each step, we see this young village kid making step by step choices into an extraordinary life. Hollywood would be hard pressed to match the appealing glamour we see in many of the photos of Jorgy, his wife, family and of course the many handsome airplanes, but there is grit throughout which underscores the inherent drama of early bush and commercial flying.
Now that's a review!

Friday, August 29, 2008

LibraryThing review: this book is worth a look

From LibraryThing comes another review:
A fun read, but certainly not a traditional biography. If you are looking for a straight storyline with a clear start and end, you may be in for a surprise if you pick up this book. In general, this book is pieced together by segments and articles, as if the author is developing a portrait of a person instead of a life story told in the tradional, narrative storyline. With that said, the life of Jorgy is interesting, and this book is worth a look.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Midwest Book Review

The Midwest Book Review just released this review, appearing in the August Small Press Bookwatch Biography Shelf:
Just because one only has an eighth grade education doesn't mean one can't make something of oneself. "Jorgy: The Life of Native Alaskan Bush Pilot and Airline Captain Holger Jorgy Jorgensen" tells of Jorgy's adventures flying over the skies of every continent in the world (except South America and Antarctica) as a runner of equipment for science, among other duties. A straight no nonsense account of a life in the skies, "Jorgy" is as educational as it is entertaining.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New review from the News-Miner

David A. James has given a somewhat mixed review, but has this to say: "Overall, the book is a valuable addition to the ever-growing library of Alaskan narrative history. Jorgensen is an openly opinionated and frequently very humorous guide." James picks up on the civil rights aspect of Jorgy's experiences, talking about the movie theatre in Nome:
While living in Nome, Jorgensen also directly confronted the local segregation with an act that provides the most dramatic moment in the book. Nome’s theaters were sectioned off at the time, with only one area of seats open for Natives. At the behest of a white friend who wanted this practice abolished, Jorgensen went on a date and deliberately sat in the white section of the theater. This led to his arrest, but his friend (who was also the father of his date) bailed him out, hired a lawyer, and succeeded in opening the theater to all patrons.

This incident, similar to Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience in Montgomery, Ala., a few years later, reminds us that although Alaska was far removed from the South, racism was every bit as prevalent (though far less violent). It’s an important piece of civil rights history, and one that should be taught in the state’s schoolrooms.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review of Jorgy in the Capital City Weekly

and a wonderful review it is! Here's an excerpt:
'Jorgy' a direct and vivid tale of an Alaskan pilot's journeys

…Jean Lester, his "conduit," gives us the next best thing to sitting down with Jorgensen to hear his life story. …

As the 50th anniversary of statehood kicks off this week, we'll be hearing and reading a lot of takes on Alaskan history. "Jorgy" sets out to tell the story of an extraordinary pilot and along the way tells the history of Alaskan aviation. After reading "Jorgy," I have a hard time thinking of a more interesting perspective on state history than through the window of an early Native bush pilot.

Another new review from LibraryThing gives the book four stars:
Wow, what an interesting man Captain "Jorgy" is. This was an interesting book for me, in that it is the first biography that I've read that is essentially an edited transcript of the words spoken aloud by the subject, telling his own story. Thundering applause for Jean Lester for keeping it this way rather than trying to turn this into a "normal" biography. This way, it works. "Hearing" "Jorgy" tell his own story in his own words made this such an interesting read, that I encourage anyone interested in Aviation, Alaska, American History, oral history, or is just looking for a fun read to pick up this book.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wright Brothers award

Jorgy was awarded this recognition in 2006, but I thought I'd put it online for the benefit of the curious. The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award (Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office Honoree 2006) is awarded by the FAA. Other honorees include Randy Acord, Pearl Laska, Merrill and Richard Wien, and others. A biography of Jorgy is included on their website (PDF).

A recommended book on Go By Jet!

On the Alaska Airlines page of Jorgy is listed in the sidebar as a recommended book! Word is getting around.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canadian bookstore now carrying Jorgy

Jorgy is now available at Mac's Fireweed Books, the first Canadian bookstore to carry his memoir. Mac's is in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and is an excellent store. As they say, it "is a proud, independent bookstore and a Whitehorse institution." If you're up that way, check them out.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Upcoming events in Anchorage and Fairbanks

Several events are planned for the next month at which either Jorgy Jorgensen or both Jorgy and Jean Lester will be featured:

• Book signing at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum starting at noon and going on until 3 or 4 pm, June 20, Friday, 4721 Aircraft Drive, Anchorage.

• Book signing at Title Wave Books at their downtown store, 415 W 5th Avenue, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm, June 21, Saturday, Anchorage.

• Book signing at the Fairbanks Barnes & Noble, at 421 Mehar Avenue, Sunday, June 29 (time to be announced), 2 to 4 pm.

• 2008 Salmon Bake at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, on July 4th, Friday from 4 to 9 pm, Anchorage.

Jorgy's book is now available in Nome, at the Arctic Trading Post!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Latest review from LibraryThing

This reviewer gave the book a four-star review:
This book is an oral autobiography, so I suspended my usual demands on structure and approached the stories in this book as if I were a small child listening grownups talk about days gone by. And I was well rewarded.

The subject of this book is Holger “Jorgy” Jorgensen, whose heritage includes Russian, Inupiat, and Norwegian ancestors. His life began with a subsistence-level struggle for survival and grew to be part of the story of aviation in Alaska. In 1943…Jorgy started flying lessons and he never looked back. He flew as a charter pilot, an airline pilot, a freight pilot, and for the sheer love of flying itself. He criss-crossed Alaska, landing on icebergs, too-short runways, and runways ending beside mountains. He progressed to flying jets and piloted planes carrying passengers and freight around the world.

I can see how Jean Lester, who brought this book to life, must have sometimes wanted to beat her head against the wall. She describes Jorgy as a master of understatement, and editor Carla Helfferich describes him as “a laconic fellow with a good memory and no interest in tooting his own horn.” The stories are told in a dry, unemphatic way just as I might talk about a day at the office. However, Jorgy's day at the office included hauling the inanimate (dynamite and dump trucks) and animate (fish--dead, reindeer--live). And he did it in a place where you might have to drain the oil from an airplane's engine to keep it from freezing.

The problem with reviewing this book is that I want to tell you all the things Jorgy did, and there are just too many of them. And then there are the very understated descriptions of what it was like to grow up as a native and have to catch or harvest every bite of food that went into your mouth. Plus there is the story (also understated) of how Jorgy faced down the attitudes toward natives and did his part to end segregation in Alaska.

The natural audience for this book is pilots, but non-pilots will find a lot here, too. I'm not a pilot and I found much about this book to be fascinating. I only wish I could have really been listening while Jorgy told his stories.
More speaking or signing events are coming up, some of which will, we hope, be in Anchorage. Please check back for more news. Any readers who may have stories to share, please post them in the comments!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Talk at Noel Wien Library

The talk at Noel Wien Library went well; Jorgy, Jean, and I dressed up, Melinda came all spiffied up (with a little airplane pin on her black velvet lapel), and around 62 people attended the talk, with a few more coming in afterward for the book signing. Richard and Sally Wien came, and Richard introduced Jorgy with the tale of giving him a check ride when Richard was 17 years old. After the talk, people asked questions about things like the FAA, Jorgy's flight to the T-3 ice island research station, going to countries in Asia and Africa, whether he preferred large to small planes, his first flight, seeing his first airplane, and so on. It was a good turnout, and interesting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming events and a new review

Another review from LibraryThing:
Jorgy Jorgensen is definitely a remarkable individual who overcame long odds to rise to a well respected position in his chosen profession. The book conveys his laconic voice well although, to some extent, it is a victim of his accomplishments in that, even when Jorgy's not bragging, the book seems to be.

The book holds obvious appeal for fans of aviation and those interested in the behind the scenes stories of the Alaska bush. While I am neither of those, the book held my interest quite well too.
There are two upcoming events at which you can meet Holger Jorgensen and get a copy of his book. The first is a book signing at Gulliver's, Saturday, May 17, from 2 to 4 (and probably a bit later). The second is a talk on aviation and his life at Noel Wien Library, Wednesday, May 21, at 7 pm. Jorgy will give an overview and perhaps an anecdote or two, and he and Jean Lester will be available for questions and book signing afterward.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Oral history collections

Jean Lester has collected many, many hours of tapes over the two years or so worth of interviews with Jorgy, and intends to donate these the UAF Polar Regions Oral History collections.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Alaska Airmen's aviation trade show

Jean Lester, Jorgy, Noel Jorgensen, Melinda Harris, and Deirdre Helfferich (publisher) went to the 2008 Alaska Airmen's trade show, held May 3 & 4, Saturday and today, in the Fed Ex hangar at the Anchorage International Airport. We'd apparently just missed the deadline for getting into the program, so people didn't know we were there at first--but friends and acquaintances of Jorgy's soon found out and several hundred of them came to wish him well and buy his book. It was (to put it informally) a blast. There were, of course, a ton of pilots, and old friends even from Haycock came by to say hello.

A few aviation stores in the Anchorage area now carry Jorgy as a result of contacts made at this conference: the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, the Lake Hood Pilot Shoppe, and Northern Lights Avionics. So, if you live in Anchorage but missed Jorgy's booth at the trade show, or were unable to make it to the event, you can get it at one of these places, or at Title Wave.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

First reviews, from LibraryThing

The first reviews of Jorgy are out! Two readers at LibraryThing have given the book four stars. Here's the the most recent, from MrsLee:
I was very pleased with this book. The cover is attractive and the size of the book is comfortable, as well as allowing the print to be comfortably readable. It included a great map illustration which made Jorgy’s travels come alive. Many photos, interesting captions and quotes from those who knew him, as well as an informative glossary and appendix made for a fuller picture of this man’s life. Having interviewed the elderly to try to write their memories down, I know how difficult it can be to get them to talk about themselves, that is why the notes from those who worked with and knew Holger Jorgensen are so helpful. Jean Lester did a good job of capturing Jorgy’s calm, dry, no-nonsense style of speaking and his quiet humor.

Aviation fans would probably enjoy this book even more than I did; it is filled with details of the flights and planes used in the bush of Alaska in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It also tells much of the life of survival in Alaska villages in those years. There are many interesting anecdotes which made it an easy read. Holger faced and overcame tragedy, prejudice and hardship. He quietly, or not so quietly, did what was right and did his best. It is uplifting to read about such a man, and I felt by the end of this book that I had met a fine specimen of the human race.
The second reviewer, apparently a pilot, also enjoyed the book:
I sailed through this thoroughly enjoyable and well-told story of the life of native Alaskan bush pilot Holger Jorgensen, as told to Jean Lester. His description of Alaska and village life when he was growing up in the 1930s and 40s is fascinating by itself. Jorgensen describes his ascent through the ranks as a pilot, along with the discrimination he faced as a native. He also tells how the training, guidance and equal treatment he received from those who saw him only as a pilot - not a native pilot - helped him to achieve his goal to be the best pilot he could. I found the descriptions of flights, airports (or sometimes just spots to land) and piloting strategies and techniques to be particularly instructive, even if I never fly in Alaska. This is a handsome book, with photographs and a nice format.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where to get the book

At the moment, there are several options. You can order directly from the publisher or order through Alaska bookstores like Gulliver's Books, Title Wave, or the UAF Bookstore.

You can also order on line through Amazon, or, if you are looking for a distributor for this title for your bookstore, you can contact Partners West Book Distribution.

And, of course, it is going to be available at the Alaska Airmen's Association conference, the Valdez Fly-In, and other aviation events!

The book retails for $25 and is a paperback, with many photos, appendices, and an index.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A photo of Jorgy

From Men of the Tundra: Alaska Eskimos at War, by Muktuk Marston, comes a listing on Alaskool of photos, including one of Jorgy. You have to scroll most of the way down the page.

Advance box has arrived!

The first two boxes of the book have arrived (just yesterday) and the first batch of review copies of Jorgy have gone out! Review copies will be going to newspapers and magazines around the state, including small newspapers in towns where Jorgy had regular flights, or which are discussed in the book. These include places like Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel, and elsewhere.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The books are on their way!

The books shipped today from the printer. Half will be drop shipped to Anchorage, just in time for the aviation conference, and the other half will come up to Fairbanks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

At the Alaska State Aviation trade show

The annual Alaska Airmen's Convention and trade show is a huge aviation show and get-together in Alaska. Jorgy Jorgensen, Jean Lester, and the publisher will have a table at this event -- along with Jorgy's memoir! Come see us there!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

About the book

Jorgy is the autobiography of an Inupiat man, born in an isolated mining community, having only an eighth-grade education, who, amidst a frontier mentality of conqueror superiority, surpassed the prejudice of his time to become a legendary aviator. Early aviation, the Alaska Territorial Guard, segregation, the DEW line, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline were part of this exciting and tumultuous time in Alaska's history. Boom and bust, exploration and exploitation to such an extent no one could have imagined or anticipated, was Alaska when Jorgy was growing up and flying. Holger Jorgensen recounts events in his life with a dry wit, describing his early years living a subsistence lifestyle, working in the gold mines of Haycock, mushing dogs as a youth and later in the Alaska Scouts, working for Sig Wien as a fire potter, learning to fly.

Jorgy's flying career was long and varied, from Alaska bush pilot to airline captain, working cargo planes hauling reindeer and fuel, heavy equipment and fish. He flew passenger planes, too, and worked for companies like Wien Air, Munz Northern Air Cargo, and Interior Airways. He was one-third owner of an air transport business. He flew all across Alaska and North America, Europe and Africa, logging almost 35,000 hours in the cockpit with only one minor accident.

Jean Lester brings her talent for capturing the voices of her subjects to bear, vividly relaying Holger "Jorgy" Jorgensen's wry and laconic tales of his life in the northern air. Appendices by Captain Bill Rimer, Captain Tamar Bailey, and others add depth and insight into the amazing life of this extraordinary pilot.

Jorgy is scheduled to be released May 2008.