Alaskana 2016

Alaska History, Vol. 31, #1, Spring 2016

Alaskana is an annotated listing of recent publications on the North featured in Alaska History, the journal of the Alaska Historical Society. All titles are available through the publisher,,, or your local library, unless otherwise noted.

Compiled by Kathy Ward, Juneau Public Libraries.

Chris Allan, Gold, Steel & Ice: a history of mining machines in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (Washington, D.C. : United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 2015) 113 pp., paperback, free copies available: contact Greg Dixon, NPS Regional Office, Anchorage,, ISBN: 9780692504833. Through period and contemporary photographs and drawings, this documents the specialized mining equipment used in Alaska’s Interior between the late 1800s and the mid- 1900s.

George E. Boulter II and Barbara Grigor-Taylor, The Teacher and the Superintendent: Native Schooling in the Alaskan Interior, 1904-1918. (Edmonton, AB: AU Press, 2015) 426 pp., paperback, $39.95, ISBN: 9781927356500. Boulter II is the son of George E. Boulter, the school superintendent, and Alice Green, the schoolteacher for boarding schools for Native Alaskan children run by the Episcopal mission. Here Boulter II collects his father’s letters to his superiors in Seattle and Washington D.C. and his mother’s journal entries, and with his daughter, adds context to show day-to-day life in mission schools at the turn of the last century.

James L. Carns and Teresa White Carns, Our First 100 Years: Holy Family Cathedral, Anchorage, Alaska (Anchorage, Alaska: The Holy Family Cathedral, 2016) Copies for sale for $15 at St. Paul’s Corner bookstore next to the church.

Nancy DeWitt, Extreme Motoring: Alaska’s First Automobiles and Their Dauntless Drivers. (Fairbanks, Alaska : Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, 2015) 127 pp.,paperback, $19.95, ISBN: 9781495159701. This traces the history of cars in Alaska, beginning with their arrival in the early 1900s, before bridges, snowplows, service stations or tow trucks.

Lew Freedman, Iditarod Adventures: Tales from Mushers Along the Trail. (Portland, Oregon: Alaska Northwest Books, 2015) 222 pp., hardback, $32.99, ISBN: 9781941821534. Profiles of mushers from all walks of life, the administrators who ensure the race happens each year, and others who are intimately connected with the Iditarod, written by sports writer Freedman.

Dorothy M. Frost, edited by Rolfe Buzzell, Gold Rush Wife: The Adventures of Nellie Frost on Turnagain Arm, 1895-1901 (Eagle River, Alaska: Ember Press, 2016) 286 pp., paperback, $26.95, ISBN: 9781495180026.

Warren Good, Alaska Shipwrecks: 1750-2010. (Palm Coast, Florida: Warren Good, 2015) 728 pp., hardback, $49.94, no ISBN. Three sections comprise this compilation of the 3,642 vessels which have been lost in Alaskan waters between 1750-2010. The first lists vessels alphabetically by name and gives location at time of sinking, owner, registration, type, value, and tonnage of vessel, and any available first-hand accounts of the incident. The second lists sinkings chronologically, and the third lists lives lost between 1972-2010.

Kim Heacox, Rhythm of the Wild: a Life Inspired by Alaska’s Denali National Park. (Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press, 2015) 304 pp., hardback, $25.95, ISBN: 9781493003891. A personal history of Denali Park, where Heacox worked for years as an interpretive ranger, including perspectives on the state of conservation and climate change as well as stories of the human and animal residents of the park.

Helen Hegener, Alaskan Roadhouses: Shelter, Meals and Lodging Along Alaska’s Early Roads and Trails. (Wasilla: Northern Light Media, 2015) 284 pp., paperback, $24.95, ISBN: 9781517785635. Combines first-hand accounts with historic photographs in telling the history of the roadhouses that dotted the Alaskan landscape in the early years of the territory.

Heather E. Hudson, Connecting Alaskans: Telecommunications in Alaska from Telegraph to Broadband (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2015) 380 pp., hardback, $60.00, ISBN: 9781602232686. In Alaska communications history, military requirements often spurred technological advances that then trickled down to enhance civilian access.

Seth Kantner, Swallowed by the Great Land: and Other Dispatches from Alaska’s Frontier. (Seattle, Washington: Mountaineers Books, 2015) 192 pp., paperback, $15.95, ISBN: 9781594859687. New essasys from Kantner exploring the tension between humanity and nature in Alaska’s Interior.

Igor Krupnik, Early Inuit Studies: Themes and Transitions, 1850s-1980s. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 20146) 592 pp., hardcover, $49.95, ISBN: 1935623702. A collection of 15 scholarly papers arranged chronologically, showing the changes in attitude and perspective towards Native cultures of the Far North.

Kenneth L. Marsh, Alaska’s Sealed Book: A chronicle of the Opening of the Upper Susitna Valley by Way of Cache Creek’s Gold Rush (Trapper Creek Museum/ Sluice Box Productions, 2015) 284 pp., ISBN: 9780971830240.

Debbie Clarke Moderow, Fast into the Night: a Woman, her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016) 272 pp., hardcover, $25.00, ISBN: 9780544484122. Tells the story of Moderow’s two attempts at running the Iditarod, the first, in 2003, stymied by her dogs’ refusal to continue, and the second, in 2005, concluding successfully at the finish line.

Ray Ordorica, The Alaskan Retreater’s Notebook: One Man’s Journey into the Alaskan Wilderness. (New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016) 248 pp., paperback, $14.99, ISBN: 9781634502474. Part memoir, part how-to guide, this is an attempt to answer the questions which new arrivals to Alaska’s interior often have.

Susanna Rabow-Edling, Married to the Empire: Three Governors’ Wives in Russian America 1829-1864. (Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press, 2015) 300 pp., 3 halftones, 1 map, hardback, $50.00, ISBN: 9781602232648. Recounts the experiences of three of the eight women who came to Russian America as governor’s wives, where they were expected to provide a civilizing influence on both the Russian men and the Native Alaskans.

Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth, Alaska’s Skyboys: Cowboy Pilots and the Myth of the Last Frontier (Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 2015) 280 pp., hardback, $34.95, ISBN: 9780295995083. Ringsmuth juxtaposes the myth of the Alaskan cowboy aviator with the evidence that aviation in Alaska, largely funded by the federal government, was instrumental in expanding the global technological horizons of the field.

Chuck Sassara, Chuck Sassara’s Alaska: Propellers, Politics and People. (Anchorage, Alaska: Constant Drummer Publishing Company, 2015) 178 pp., paperback, $20.00, ISBN: 9781578336173. A memoir by Sassara, who moved to Alaska in 1955, and who has been a pilot, a businessman, and an Alaskan legislator.

Aaron Saunders, Stranded: Alaska’s Worst Maritime Disaster Nearly Happened Twice. (Toronto: Dundurn, 2015) 144 pp., paperback, $19.99, ISBN: 9781459731547. Separated by 77 years and a world of technology, passenger ships Princess Sophia and Star Princess were united by shared catastrophe: a grounding upon Vanderbilt Reef in Lynn Canal near Juneau, North America’s deepest and longest fjord. This account follows each disaster from the small decisions that snowballed into big problems and on to the concluding rescue attempts (successful, in the case of the Star Princess).

Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan and G. Ray Bane, Our Perfect Wild: Ray and Barbara Bane’s Journeys and the Fate of the Far North. (Fairbanks, University of Alaska Press, 2016) 280 pp., paperback, $24.95, ISBN: 9781602232785. Excerpts from Ray’s journals are imbedded in an encompassing narrative that tells the story of the Bane’s transition from new arrivals in Alaska to supporters of the conservation movement and their role in establishing the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980.

Kenneth Dean Tollefson, Tribal Trio of the Northwest Coast. (Richland, Washington: Journal of Northwest Anthropology, 2015) 244 pp., paperback, $14.95, ISBN: 9781505437560. In this memoir by a committed advocate of tribal autonomy, Tollefson recounts his work with three tribal groups, including the Tlingit of Southeast Alaska.

Gordon E. Tolton, Healy’s West (Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, Mont., 2014) 288 pp., paperback, $20.00, ISBN: 9780878426348. Traces the life of John Healy, who was born in Ireland in 1840 and came to the United States to make his mark in Alaskan frontier life during the Gold Rush.

Anthony Urvina with Sally Urvina, More Than God Demands 1897-1918: Politics and Influence of Christian Missions in Northwest Alaska, 1897-1918 (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 328 pp., paperback, $50.00, ISBN: 9781602232938. Urvina weaves his mother’s personal history as an Alaskan Native orphan brought up in a Christian mission into the broader history of the Alaskan territorial government’s attempt at eradicating Native beliefs and establishing Christianity in its place.

Alaska History, Vol. 31, #2, Fall 2016

Compiled by Kathy Ward, Juneau Public Libraries, and Maeghan Kearney, Alaska State Library

Eleanor Phillips Brackbill, The Queen of Heartbreak Trail: The Life and Times of Harriet Smith Pullen. (Helena, MT:Two Dot Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) 320 pp., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN: 9781493019137. This biography was created in order to separate the fact from the fiction of the author’s well-known great-grandmother. Starting from Pullen’s father’s decision to migrate west and his early life as a homesteader in Washington, to her decision to separate from her husband and travel to Sitka with her children during the Klondike Gold Rush and the adventures that inspired radio plays about her. Four of 14 chapters in this book are spent on Harriet’s time on the Heartbreak Trail and with the Pullen House hotel in Alaska.

Stephen R. Bown, White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic. (Boston: DaCapo Press, 2015) 384 pp., hardcover, $27.99, ISBN: 9780306822827. This first full biography for Knud Rasmussen in English highlights Rasmussen’s early life as the part-Inuit son of a missionary in Greenland and focuses on his adventurous Arctic expeditions and travels through Alaska and Canada.

James Campbell. Braving It: A father, a daughter, and an unforgettable journey into the Alaskan wild. (New York: Crown Publishers, 2016) 384 pp., hardcover, $27.00, ISBN: 9780307461247. When Campbell’s daughter Aiden was 15, he took her into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to help his cousin build a cabin. The experience turned Aiden into a budding outdoors woman, and a few months later, the two returned to the Interior for a winter of trapping and hunting with the cousin and his wife. The third part of the book tells the story of the pair’s final trip together before Aiden leaves for college: a journey down the Hulahula river after backpacking through the Brooks Range.

Doug Capra. The Spaces Between: stories from the Kenai mountains to the Kenai fjords. (Eagle River, Alaska: Ember Press, 2014) 258 pp., softcover, $26.95, ISBN: 9781467586849. A lively collection of stories about life in Southcentral Alaska from the 1900s to the 1960s based on Capra’s interviews with Alaskan pioneers and their descendants and illustrated with contemporary photographs.

Shelby Carpenter. Denali National Park and Preserve. (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2014) 130 pp., softcover, $21.99, ISBN: 9781467131704. This is a photographic history of Denali Park in five chapters, with each photo thoroughly captioned. It begins with the Kantishna Gold Rush period (1903 through the early 1920s) and ends by examining the current draw of the area as a tourism and climbing destination. Carpenter also documents the area’s first inhabitants, the effects of Western civilization on the landscape and biosphere of the area, and the construction of the road through the park.

John Haile Cloe, Mission to the Kurils: The Little Known World War II Air and Naval Operations Against the Japanese Home Islands From Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. (Anchorage: Todd Communications, 2016) 336 pp., hardcover, $40.00, ISBN: 9781578336425.

Alexander B. Dolitsky, editor, Pipeline to Russia: The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in World War II. (Anchorage: National Park Service, 2016) 116 pp., softcover, currently only available online at or through the Federal Depository Library Program, ISBN: 9780990725213. This is a preservation of American and Russian first-hand accounts of the Lend-Lease program in World War II. It begins with a detailed account of the program’s history by the author, followed by personal accounts from Victor Glazkov, a Russian radio operator, Bill Schoe ppe, an American airplane mechanic, and Henry Varnum Poor, an American artist.

Liam Frink. A Tale of Three Villages: indigenous-colonial interaction in Southwestern Alaska, 1740-1950. (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2016) 184 pp., hardcover, $55.00, ISBN: 9780816531097. Through non-invasive methods (surface-feature comparisons, ethnohistoric and oral historic accounts) Frink examines three villages that preceded the current community of Chevak, in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region, with close attention to the interactions between native groups themselves as well as the interactions between those groups and incoming colonists.

Kristin Helweg Hanson. Alaska Native (Inupiaq) Translations and Transformations of Protestant Beliefs and Practices: a case study of how religions interact. (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2014) 430 pp., hardcover, $199.95, ISBN: 9781495502941. Helweg looks at the historical and contemporary ways in which Alaskan Native beliefs have been challenged by and intertwined with Western religions, particularly Protestant. Where these cultural difference intersect, there is often conflict over such topics as education and medical assistance, as well as legal and social issues. Contains an extensive bibliography and good index.

Stephen Haycox. Battleground Alaska: fighting federal power in America’s last wilderness. (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2016) 430 pp., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 9780700622153. In a state that relies on resource extraction for income, environmentalists, economists, and corporations often go head-to-head. Haycox examines the ongoing battle between Alaska’s dependence on federal funding and its rejection of the federal environmental restrictions often attached to federal monies.

McKibben A. Jackinsky, Too Close to Home? Living with “drill, baby” on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. (Walnut Creek, CA: Hardscratch Press, 2016) 400 pp., softcover, $24.50, ISBN: 9780983862864. Using her own personal decision on whether to allow a corporation to lease her family’s land for oil and gas exploration as a launch pad for a detailed discussion on the pros and cons of the oil and natural gas industry in Alaska, Jackinsky is focused on covering the personal, economic, and environmental questions facing those in her situation. Includes over 40 pages of citations and an index.

James M. Kari. Shem Pete’s Alaska: The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 432 pp., hardcover, $39.95, ISBN: 9781602233065. On the geography, stories, and history of the Dena’ina area. This revised 2nd edition has additional maps, articles, place name entries, photos, and a significant number of revisions and annotations.

 Doug Kelly. Alaska’s Greatest Outdoor Legends: Colorful Characters Who Built the Hunting and Fishing Industries. (Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 320 pp., softcover, $29.95, ISBN: 9781602232990. Profiles of more than sixty outdoor guides, biologists, and outfitters whose skills and personalities helped build Alaska’s outdoor tourism industry.

Steve Kemper, A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2016) 448 pp., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN: 9780393239270. Only one chapter of this biography of “the American Scout” describes his time in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Otherwise it covers Burnham’s wide-ranging career as a tracker, prospector, and military man. 

Josephine Knowles, Gold Rush in the Klondike: A Woman’s Journey in 1898-1899. (Fresno, CA: Quill Driver Books, 2016) 176 pp., hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 9781610352703. A memoir edited by Knowles’ granddaughter, this details the year Josephine Knowles spent among miners during the Klondike Gold Rush

Wilma M. Knox. Four Years Below Zero. (Deming, New Mexico: Tennyson Press, 2016) 204 pp., hardcover, soon to be available on Kindle, ISBN: 9780578173849. Knox writes about her four years working as a security guard and photographer on the Arctic portion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, just as the project was beginning in 1975.

Nancy Lord, ed. Made of Salmon: Alaska Stories from The Salmon Project. (Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 224 pp., softcover, $21.95, ISBN: 9781602232839. The goal of this collection of personal stories, poems, essays, and photographs is to bring salmon to the forefront of readers’ minds and help them understand the connections between Alaskans and salmon. Stories from sport, subsistence, and commercial fishers, and from children and elders, are brought together to create a kaleidoscope of images.

Ilarion Merculieff, Wisdom Keeper: One Man’s Journey to Honor the Untold History of the Unangan People. (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2016) 216 pp., softcover, $15.95, ISBN: 9781623170493. This is partly a memoir of Merculieff’s long journey to help heal Alaska Native communities and also the history of the Unangan people. Details his traditional childhood in the Pribilof Islands, his college education, his time as a lobbyist during the time of the Fur Seal Act of 1966, and how he’s leading a mission to help heal and repair his community for future generations.

Catherine Holder Spude, editor, All for the Greed of Gold: Will Woodin’s Klondike Adventure. (Pullman, WA: Washington State University Press) 326 pp., softcover, $27.95, ISBN: 9780874223354. Will Woodin’s memoir of finding his fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush, not by mining, but by supplying the miners with the provisions they needed. Pulled together from Woodin’s earlier unpublished memoir, photographs, and diaries.

Clive S. Thomas, Laura C. Savatgy, Kristina Klimovich. Alaska Politics and Public Policy: The Dynamics of Beliefs, Institutions, Personalities, and Power. (Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 750 pp., hardcover, $75.00, ISBN 9781602232891. A behind-the-scenes look at the ways that various factors, both historical and contemporary, combine to affect the decision-making process in Alaska politics.

Deb Vanasse, Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold. (Fairbanks: UA Press, 2016) 314 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 978-1602232778. This biography of Shaaw Tláa, also known as Kate Carmack, weaves together oral histories, interviews with family members, newspaper articles, and letters for an as-complete-as-possible history of one of the people possibly responsible for setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.

Mike Williams Sr. and Lew Freedman. Racing Toward Recovery: The extraordinary story of Idiatrod Musher Mike Williams Sr. (Portland, Oregon: Alaska Northwest Books, 2015) 214 pp., softcover, $17.99, ISBN: 9781941821442. Williams tells his life story, from growing up in a log cabin in the native Yup’ik village of Akiak, to time in the military, careers in mental health counseling, politics, business, and finally to his position as chief of the Yupiit Nation and leader in health and climate issues in rural Alaska. Threaded throughout are his and his family’s struggles with alcoholism and his years racing sled dogs in the Iditarod.