Pilgrim's Wilderness by Tom Kizzia
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: July 2013
Categories: Nonfiction, Government, Religion, Alaska
|The Pilgrim Family|
In Pilgrim’s Wilderness, veteran Alaska journalist Tom Kizzia unfolds the remarkable, at times harrowing, story of a charismatic spinner of American myths who was not what he seemed, the townspeople caught in his thrall, and the family he brought to the brink of ruin. As Kizzia discovered, Papa Pilgrim was in fact the son of a rich Texas family with ties to Hoover’s FBI and strange, oblique connections to the Kennedy assassination and the movie stars of Easy Rider. And as his fight with the government in Alaska grew more intense, the turmoil in his brood made it increasingly difficult to tell whether his children were messianic followers or hostages in desperate need of rescue. In this powerful piece of Americana, written with uncommon grace and high drama, Kizzia uses his unparalleled access to capture an era-defining clash between environmentalists and pioneers ignited by a mesmerizing sociopath who held a town and a family captive.
It wasn't long, however, before cracks appeared in the facade of this "perfect" family. The nose-thumbing at the government became a little extreme. Sides were taken, scathing articles were written, and the residents of McCarthy found themselves in the middle between the NPS and the Pilgrim family.
Tom Kizzia masterfully explores the bizarre history of Papa Pilgrim in this book. His love for the area is obvious and the time he spent with the people in this story is evident. Pilgrim's Wilderness is fascinating, dark, and true. Once I started reading this I didn't want to stop.
Truth can be stranger than fiction. I don't know if I've ever read another book that proved that old adage in quite the same way.