James W. Brooks made his way to Alaska as a seventeen-year-old in 1940. He found a new world that offered occupations suited to an adventurous young man: fisherman, railroad worker, Caterpillar operator, trapper, musher, wartime flyer, walrus researcher, bush pilot, and whale biologist. He led the Territory of Alaska's wildlife management program into the era of statehood and later served as commissioner of the state Department of Fish and Game. Brooks has published numerous scientific and popular articles on Alaska's living resources. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from his alma mater, the University of Alaska, in 1989.
In a beautifully written memoir, Brooks tells of being drawn to the North, where he lived off the land in the final years of the Territory of Alaska. Later, he served as commissioner of fish and game under two governors.
Literally, Brooks lived and worked among the creatures of Alaska, from the walrus and seal habitats of the Bering Sea to the commercial fisheries in the Panhandle, and from the vast waterfowl nesting grounds of the Southwest river deltas to the harsh Arctic home of the polar bear.
Brooks balanced politics and science in dealing with battles over wildlife management including controversial aerial wolf hunting intended to conserve moose populations that feed many two-legged creatures of Alaska.