Neil Davis (T. Neil Davis) Fiction and nonfiction northern books relating to the aurora, permafrost, general Alaska science, Alaska history, Alaska energy resources, gold mining, homesteading, health care.

I am now writing a monthly column on medical finance issues titled DOSE OF REALITY that is appearing in The Ester Republic and occasionally elsewhere Click here for an index of published columns


Alaska Science Nuggets, University of Alaska Press (1982) ISBN 0-912006-38-2


Extracts from Published Reviews

“This incredible book should be required in all hotel rooms. Look through the table of contents and see what I mean.” --Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
“…short, informative science-based articles for Alaskan newspapers that make up this—yes, unique—book….You may never get to Alaska, but you can enjoy Alaska and these articles, high in a Honolulu condominium or relaxing in front of a crackling fireplace in an Aspen ski lodge.”—SCAN-A-BOOK, Bountiful, Utah, June 1998.
“Though written primarily for Alaskans, the book explains, in layman’s language, a great many odd and interesting things….All these questions [several asked] are clearly and entertainingly answered.”—Ruralite (Forest Grove, Oregon), November 1982

ENERGY/ALASKA University of Alaska Press (1984)

ISBN 0-912006-07-2

University of Alaska Press (1992) ISBN 0-912006-59-5 (cloth) and ISBN 0-912006-60-9 (paper) and ISBN-8052-0498-2 C3004 P3090E (Japanese Translation)
Author’s Note: Don’t be fooled by the low price of this book. Its preparation was subsidized by an agency of the state of Alaska with the requirement that 300 copies be given free to Alaska’s school libraries, and the remaining press run be sold for less than $20 per copy. (At $19.95 it is a steal; the price could have been $19.99.)

The book is intended for the general audience and as a reference for professionals.


Published in 1984 by the University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks, AK 99775
ISBN 1-912006-07-2 List Price $19.95
530 Pages

Extracts from Published Reviews

"Excellent maps, graphs, figures, tables, and photographs add visual definition to text, which, in addition to excellent historical perspectives, provides more technical and scientific information than this historian would ever need. Although published ten years ago, the discussions are surprisingly pertinent today, and the book remains an excellent reference.” —JOURNAL of the WEST, October 1994.

The Aurora Watcher’s Handbook

The College Hill Chronicles how the University of Alaska came of age (1993)

University of Alaska Foundation ISBN 1-883309-01-8

Originally published by the University of Alaska Foundation in 1992, this book is available through the University of Alaska Press. ISBN 1-883309-01-8.
List Price $30.00 627 pages


Originally published by the University of Alaska Foundation in 1992, this book is available through the University of Alaska Press. ISBN 1-883309-01-8.
List Price $30.00 627 pages

Chronicles Book I

I The Founding of a New University in a New Land

II The Early, Practical Years

III Science Comes to the Campus

IV The Changing of the Guard

Chronicles Book II

V A New Way of Doing Business

VI The Development of the Community College System

VII The Confrontation Over the Geophysical Institute

VIII The Turning of Adversities to Opportunities

Epilogue: What Happened Afterwards

Excerpts from Published Reviews

“But there’s more: this history reads like a novel. Davis writes with a gentle sense of humor, obvious respect, even awe, for the people involved, and his love of his subject. No one else could have written this magnificent book. I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Alaska in general or Alaska’s university in particular.” — ARCTIC, Vol. 48, No. 1, 1995.

“…well crafted….[Davis writes] exceedingly well…[Chronicles] is surely in a distinct class….Americans ever more inclined to the news bites of CNN and USA Today may flinch at the size of Chronicles. Relax, Davis’s prose is fun as well as frank—for example his description of three Fairbanks faculty members as ‘among the strongest vertebrae in the campus’ relatively weak spine.’….Virtually anyone researching twentieth-century Alaska can find choice bits and pieces of Alaska history scattered throughout the Chronicles. Its abundant illustrations, the author’s personal/professional identification with prominent Alaskans, and, above all, his sympathetic treatment of people inside and outside Alaska recommend this engrossing read.” —Pacific Historical Review, May 1995.

Caught in the Sluice McRoy & Blackburn Publishers, Ester, Alaska (1994)

ISBN 0-9632596-1-X (paperback) and ISBN 0-9632596-2-H (casebound)

Published in 1994 by McRoy & Blackburn Publishers, Ester, Alaska 169 Pages
ISBN 0-9632596-2-8 (hardbound) List price $19.95
ISBN 0-9632596-1-X (soft cover) List price $13.95

You can order from McRoy & Blackburn Publishers here.


Excerpts From Published Reviews.

“For light summer reading, Caught in the Sluice is good fun….that’s the way of it with most of the Caught in the Sluice characters. You think there isn’t much to them, that they are predictable as seasonal change—then they fool you….readers won’t be shortchanged on the settings of the stories. The author is careful and accurate….It’s a pleasure to have books from Alaska publishers that reflect the strengths of regional expertise.”—Anchorage Daily News, July 28, 1996.

…a collection of entertaining stories about Alaska characters….In these stories, simple folks attempt to accomplish simple goals, yet matters invariably go awry.—ALASKA Magazine, February 1997

Battling Against Success, McRoy & Blackburn Publishers, Ester, Alaska (1997)

ISBN 0-9632596-6-0 (paperback) and ISBN 0-9632596-7-9 (casebound)
Published in 1997 by McRoy & Blackburn Publishers.ISBN 0-9632596-6-0 (paperback), List price: $16.95, and ISBN 0-9632596-7-9 (clothbound), list price: $26.95, 259 pages.

Excerpts From Published Reviews

“His sense of humor and detail are engaging…By the end of Battling Against Success, I was won over by this mature young narrator.” --Ellen Moore, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
"In this often humorous, but mostly matter-of-fact autobiographical novel, Neil Davis tells the compelling story of growing up on a homestead near Fairbanks in the 1940s.
"It’s hard to tell who’s real and who’s imaginary in this tale, for Davis does an outstanding job of bringing all the characters to life. Certainly Davis’ parents, Bon and Bernice, and his brother, Lewie, are real. But then there are the folks like Henry Grutberger, the religious fanatic who devised the perfect plow for Alaska’s scrubby ground; Tom Wade, the eccentric and well-read woodcutter; and Nellie Kelley, the brawny bar owner who spices up the story.
"Davis also successfully draws upon a lifetime of experience. His descriptions of the changing seasons and landscape are as accurate as they are interesting: ‘Fireweed’s purplish blooms are shrinking up into wispy shreds of old woman’s hair.’
“Unlike the battles against success encountered by Davis’ father as he tried to make a life in this harsh land, Neil Davis has found success with this book.” --Melissa DeVaughn, ALASKA magazine

PERMAFROST, a guide to frozen ground in transition, University of Alaska Press (2001)

ISBN 1-889963-19

Published in 2001 by the University of Alaska Press, Fairbanks,AK 99775
ISBN 1-889963-19-4 List Price $35.95
351 Pages


Excerpts From Published Reviews

“This book is written for the scientifically aware layman but contains much of interest to the specialist….[Davis] cleverly carries the reader with him through complex explanations of ground freezing phenomena….The style is easy and explanations are clear, making this a refreshingly accessible account of the physics of frozen ground.—POLAR RECORD, Vol. 38, No 206, 2002
“Engrossing an audience in a subject in which it is unfamiliar is a difficult task, but the author does a good job, making his material easy to understand and interesting. …. this is the first popular book on permafrost published in English, and deserves to be on the library shelf of anyone interested in the topic.” Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 48 No. 162, 2002
“This is a wonderful book. Rarely quirky, the style is not like that of much ‘popularized’ scientific writing which is based on superficial knowledge and a way with words. Rather it is full of information, very readable and illustrated with a splendid collection of photographs. In a broader view, it is a very up-to-date account in many respects. The observations of the geologist and observant field investigator are well represented. Importantly, they are particularly well supported by the more recently recognized theories and findings of engineers and ‘laboratory’ scientists. Indeed, as I was reading it, I was excited by new insights, not necessarily totally new scientifically, but so well put that the novice reader and ground-down specialist alike are led to ponder.” Prepublication review by a noted permafrost specialist
“It is not an easy task to describe very complicated phenomena and processes in an interdisciplinary science such as geocryology in a plain and simple language; however, Professor Davis accomplished it successfully in his book….Overall, this is an outstanding introductory book on seasonally frozen ground and permafrost for a broad audience. It also is an excellent reference book for students, permafrost scientists and engineers, and professionals in earth and environmental sciences." Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, Vol. 34, No 1, 2002

The Great Alaska Zingwater Caper, McRoy & Blackburn Publishers, Ester, Alaska (2004)

ISBN 0-9706712-2-9 Also on Kindle.
Published in December 2004 by McRoy & Blackburn Publishers. List price: $14.95
ISBN 0-9706712-2-9 paperback

Meeting by accident in Mexico, a lawyer, an accountant, and a government researcher hatch a plot to scam money from the Alaska public trough. A peculiarity in the organization of Alaska’s state government and the current political climate provide them with the opportunity–they think. As they move along, the plotters involve the feminine crew of a fishing charter boat in their plan, and the ladies end up playing a larger role than anyone anticipated. Will the members of this group pull it off, get rich, and live happily ever after?


The Great Alaska Zingwater Caper is likely to tweak the state’s movers and shakers. But for the humble folk who look askance at how the power brokers conduct their business, this pointed satire is a hoot… [It is] a penetrating critique of state business in the form of comic fiction…The book’s strongest suit is Davis’s shrewd analysis of Alaska’s boondoggles and shortcomings. --Kenai Peninsula Clarion

This is a very clever and very Alaskan story…For any veteran Alaska political or civic aficionado, this is a great and entertaining read, almost too credible an Alaskan tale…culminating in a fizzing delight of chemical imagination…One needn’t know the science or technology or the arcane workings of government to enjoy the plot and the characters…a delightful fictional account of industrial development in Alaska. --The Ester Republic

Davis has a lot to say, and he is clever enough to know how to sugar-coat a bitter pill. He definitely is grinding axes in The Great Zingwater Caper, but the results are pretty darn sharp. --Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The author’s science is sound, his facts are solid and the plot is good. This is an enjoyable and important book that will be a frequent topic of conversations among Alaskans this winter. Don’t be left out of the conversation., read the book! --The Ester Republic

Rockets Over Alaska, Alaska-Yukon Press, Ester, Alaska (2006) ISBN 0-9778141-0-6 Also now a Kindle book

Published in 2006 by Alaska-Yukon Press.
List Price: $30.00 Clothbound, 256 pages
ISBN 0-9778141-0-6


There is usually a conventional way to do things—and then there is the Alaska way, one grounded in the homesteader make-do-with-whatever-you’ve-got mentality. Sometimes the Alaska approach is not the best, but circumstances can dictate that it is the only possibility. That was so back in 1968 when the Poker Flat Research Range job got its start. Since then, this rocket range has developed into a major facility that is now the Western Hemisphere’s primary high-latitude site for launching scientific rockets. Its location in central Alaska, just north of Fairbanks, has proven ideal for the study of the aurora and other related phenomena occurring at high latitude. Unique in various other ways, Poker Flat is the only major launching facility built, owned, and operated by a university, namely the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This is the story of how that odd situation came about, in part because of the crash of a B-52 carrying hydrogen bombs at far-off Thule, Greenland, in early 1968.

Pages 203-234 of this book contain a table showing the 302 major rockets launched from Poker Flat from 1968 to 2005.

Mired in the Health Care Morass: an Alaskan takes on America’s dysfunctional medical system for his uninsured daughter. Ester Republic Press & Alaska-Yukon Press, Ester, Alaska (2008) ISBN 978-0-9749221-4-0

Published by the Ester Republic Press and Alaska-Yukon Press
PO Box 24, Ester, AK 99725

ISBN 978-0-9749221-4-0 (paperback)
List Price: $18.00 s&h: $4
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007943962



An Alaskan Takes on America’s Dysfunctional Medical System for his Uninsured Daughter

Available in February 2008
from the Ester Republic Press

See bottom entry in panel at left To view a blog related to this book click here