Alaskana 2017

Alaska History, Vol. 32, #1, Spring 2017

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, and Maeghan Kearney, Alaska State Library.

Chris Allan, Arctic Odyssey:  A History of the Koyukuk River Gold Stampede in Alaska’s Far North. (Fairbanks, Alaska: National Park Service, Fairbanks Administrative Center, 2016) 156 pp., paperback, available by contacting the National Park Service or as a free online PDF, ISBN: 9780692806319. Using photographs, journals, and other writings by Jasper Wyman as a basis for investigating the history of the 1898-1899 gold rush along the Koyukuk River in Alaska.

Carl Battreall, Alaska Range: Exploring the Last Great Wild. (Seattle, WA : Mountaineer Books, 2016) 169 pp., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN: 9781594859663. Full color photos by Carl Battreall. Ten essays by Alaskan writers on the series of mountains in northern Alaska called the Alaska Range, which includes Denali. The essays cover the geological origin of the Alaska Range, the flora and fauna, its historical summits, and other mountaineering anecdotes.

Blair Braverman. Welcome to the goddamn ice cube: chasing fear and finding home in the great white north. (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2016) 274 pp., hardcover, $25.99, ISBN: 9780062311566. An autobiography of a young woman who leaves California for Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, then moves to Alaska to work as a tour guide.

Gerry Bruder, Seaplanes Along the Inside Passage: The Highs and Lows of a Modern Bush Pilot. (Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books, 2014) 194 pp., softcover, $17.99, ISBN: 9780882409580. 1st person anecdotes from decades of Alaska bush piloting, interspersed with facts about seaplanes and historic Alaska airplane crashes.

Pamela Cravez, The Biggest Damned Hat:  Tales from Alaska’s Territorial Lawyers and Judges. (Fairbanks, AK :University of Alaska Press, 2017) 220 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 9781602233171. The history of Gold Rush era Alaska to the 1950s, as told by the lawyers, both formally and frontier trained.

James P. Devereaux, Spirits of Southeast Alaska:  The History & Hauntings of Alaska’s Panhandle. (Kenmore, Washington: Epicenter Press, 2016) 129 pp., paperback, $15.95, ISBN: 9781935347675. Eleven stories of haunted places in Southeast Alaska.

Bjorn Dihle. Haunted Inside Passage: ghosts, legends, and mysteries of Southeast Alaska. (Portland, Oregon: Alaska Northwest Books, 2017) 219 pp., $16.99, ISBN: 9781943328949. A collection of personal and historical anecdotes involving supernatural and other mysterious events in Alaska.

Michael Dunham, The Man Who Bought Alaska:  William H. Seward. (Anchorage, AK: Todd Communications, 2017) 118 pp., softcover, $16, ISBN: 9781578336609. Offering a new take on William Seward, this book puts the purchase of Alaska alongside his other achievements, and brings in other players not generally included in discussions of the event.

Michael Dunham, The Man Who Sold Alaska:  Tsar Alexander II of Russia. (Anchorage, AK: Todd Communications, 2017) 102 pp., softcover, $16, ISBN: 9781578336593. A companion book to the one above. The sale of Alaska in context to Tsar Alexander II of Russia’s other accomplishments.

Donald H. Dyal. The Fleet Book of the Alaska Packers Association 1893-1945. (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014) 208 pp., softcover, $44.89, ISBN: 9781499329209. The fleet of the Alaska Packers Association was originally comprised of square-rigged sailing vessels but eventually grew to include steam and diesel-powered ships as technology changed. Dyal follows the rise of the APA, its control of West Coast salmon canneries, and the cultural and infrastructure shifts post-World War II that led to the company’s eventual demise. Each sailing ship over 100 tons in the fleet is given its own page of details, including both hard statistics and a short “biography”.

James A. Estes. Serendipity: an ecologist’s quest to understand nature. (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016) 275 pp., hardcover, , ISBN: 9780520285033. In this natural history study, Estes examines the way his growing awareness of the complex relationships between species in an ecosystem brought him to new insights as he studied the lives of sea otters in the Aleutian Islands.

Lee A.Farrow, Seward’s Folly: a new look at the purchase of Alaska. (Fairbanks, Alaska: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 225 pp., paperback, $25.95, ISBN: 9781602233034. Examines the many historical and political motivations behind the sale of Alaska by Russia and its purchase by the United States.

Ann Fienup-Riordan and Alice Rearden. Anguyiim Nalliini: time of warring. (Fairbanks, AK : University of Alaska Press, 2016) 613 pp., softcover, $40.00, ISBN: 9781602232914. The first half of this book examines the role of warfare and interpersonal aggression in the culture of the Yup’ik. The second presents both oral histories and legends (carefully distinguished) in both English and Yup’ik concerning arrows and flint points as used in warfare. Illustrated with some color and some black-and-white photos.

Ann Fienup-Riordan and Alice Rearden. Ciulirnerunak Yuuyakunak: Do not live without an elder. (Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 364 pp., softcover, $39.95. ISBN: 9781602232976. These oral histories of six elders, all men, show the varied approaches towards living taken by disparate groups across Western Alaska, but also emphasize the importance of passing information from one generation to the next. Dual-language text: English and Yupik.

Monte Francis, Ice and Bone: Tracking an Alaskan Serial Killer. (Denver, CO: WildBlue Press, 2016) 359 pp., softcover, $17.99, ISBN: 9781942266396. Slightly fictionalized account of the 2010 murders in Anchorage committed by Joshua Wade, their investigations, and his trial.

Michael Gates, From the Klondike to Berlin:  The Yukon in World War I.  (Madeira Park, BC : Lost Moose, 2017) 272 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 9781550177763. Tales of the Yukoners who went enlisted during World War I and of those who stayed to give support from the home front.

Sven D. Haakanson Jr. and Amy F. Steffian. Creative Alaska: a ten-year retrospective of support for Alaska artists. (Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2016) 222 pp., hardcover, $50.00, ISBN: 9781602232853. Chronicles the artists who have received support from the Rasmusson Foundation between 2004-2013, including the recipients of Distinguished Artist Awards, Fellowships, and Project Awards. Short biographies or autobiographies, color photos of the artists’ works, and explanations of how the awards benefited each artist say as much about the scope of the Rasmusson Foundation as about the artists.

Ernestine Hayes. The Tao of Raven: an Alaska native memoir. (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2017) 176 pp., hardcover, , ISBN: 9780295999593. Touching on the legend of Raven and the Box of Daylight and also Lao Tzu’s The Art of War, Hayes weaves the story of her own life as a Native Alaskan into her meditations on the prejudices still faced by Alaskan Natives today.

Alex Hills, Finding Alaska’s Villages:  And Connecting Them. (Indianapolis, IN : Dog Ear Publishing, 2016) 188 pp., softcover, $22.95, ISBN: 9781457551109. Alex Hills recounts his career of travelling across Alaska to bring telephone lines and other telecommunications to all parts of Alaska. 

Nick Jans, The Giant’s Hand: A Life in Arctic Alaska. (Self published : 2016) 254 pp., hardcover, $22.95, ISBN: 9780692647585. A collection of Nick Jans “On the Edge” articles published in Alaska Magazine. These essays detailing his life in the Arctic have been updated and revised from the originals. 

Carl Johnson, Where Water is Gold: Life and Livelihood in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. (Seattle, WA: Braided River, 2016) 176 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 9781594857737. A Pebble Mine protest in book form, this contains many photos of the Bristol Bay area, interspersed with essays mostly about the natural resources and ecology of the area, but also touches on its history, economy, and current and past Native cultures.

Patricia A. Neal, Stikine River Journal:  Stories of Wrangell and the Stikine River. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012) 148 pp., softcover, $9.95, ISBN: 9781479347339. An edited and expanded compilation of articles Patricia Neal wrote for the Wrangell Sentinel on the history of the area.

Patricia A. Neal, Wrangell Garnet Ledge History and the History of the Alaska Garnet Mining & Manufacturing Co. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016) 218 pp., softcover, $19.95, ISBN: 9781516829996. This is the story of the original owners of the all-women run Alaska Garnet Mining and Manufacturing Corporation.

Jacquelin Pels, Framed by Sea & Sky:  Community Art in Seward, Mural Capital of Alaska. (Walnut Creek, CA: Hardscratch Press, 2016) 188 pp., softcover, $24, ISBN: 9780983862871. Full-color guide to the community art in Seward, from decorated dumpsters to full-scale murals.

Summer Rickman. Alaska historic buildings survey manual & style guide. (Anchorage, AK : Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Office of History and Archaeology, 2016) comb binding, Office of History and Archeology report; no. 162. This is a resource for those working on community surveys of buildings in Alaska, providing a structure for reporting and a guideline for identifying architectural styles.

Katherine Ringsmuth. At the heart of Katmai : an administrative history of the Brooks River Area with special emphasis on bear management in Katmai National Park and Preserve 1912-2006. (Washington, D.C. : U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 2013) 329 pages, softcover, $29.15 or available as free online PDF, ISBN: 9780979643279. Black and white photos bring the details of Katmai’s complex, 4000 year old history of people, fish, and bears, to life.

Matias Saari, The Equinox: Alaska’s Trailblazing Marathon. (Anchorage, AK : Racing Rabbit Press, 2016) 460 pp., softcover, $25.00, ISBN: 9780997709704. Covering the history of the Equinox marathon in Fairbanks, from 1963 to present, with stories from the competitors and a recap of every race up to 2015.

James Perrin Warren, Placing John Haines. (Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Press, 2017) 240 pp., softcover, $34.95, ISBN: 9781602233096. A biography of John Haines that discusses his early life as a writer and poet in Alaska, but also his later years as a successful teacher traveling around the country.

Noel Merril Wien. Born to Fly: an autobiography. (Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books, 2016) 208 pp., softcover, $19.99, ISBN: 9781943328406. Wien has spent his life in the air, first being flown as a baby in his father’s 1930 Stinson, and then as an adult, flying himself and others in over 140 other types of aircraft (all listed in an appendix). Black-and-white photographs.

Jon Van Zyle, Alaska’s Artist Jon Van Zyle: My Colorful Life of Art and Adventure. (Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 2016) 96 pp., hardcover, $19.95, ISBN: 9781935347002. An autobiography told in text and paintings, this covers Jon Van Zyle’s long and diverse career. Many of the paintings and children’s book illustrations are alongside process photos, and include descriptions of his inspiration or the history of the piece. This book is in landscape orientation.

Alaska History, Vol. 32, #2, Fall 2017

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

James K. Barnett, Captain George Vancouver in Alaska and the North Pacific. (Anchorage:  Publication Consultants, 2017) 392 pp., softcover, $26.95, ISBN: 9781578336739. British explorer George Vancouver’s five-year expedition, 1791-95, investigating the North Pacific and making detailed charts of the coast and waters between today’s Oregon and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Ray Bonnell, Interior Sketches: Ramblings around Interior Alaska history sites. (Fairbanks: Pingo Press, 2013) 132 pp., softcover, $19.95, ISBN: 9780615923192.

Ray Bonnell, Interior Sketches II: Ramblings around Interior Alaska history sites. (Fairbanks: Pingo Press, 2015) 132 pp., softcover, $19.95, ISBN: 9780692599068. Volumes I and II each contain 60 essays on road-accessible historic sites around Interior Alaska, and a pen and ink snapshot sketch of each location. The main essays and sketches are from his column “Sketches of Alaska” for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, with additional new drawings of other scenes around Interior Alaska.

Stephen R. Bown, Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition. (New York: Da Capo Press, 2017) 352 pp., hardcover, $28.00, ISBN: 9780306825194. The story of the Great Northern Expedition, led by Vitus Bering for Russia, that lasted nearly ten years, made accomplishments on par with Cook and Lewis & Clark, but also a story of tragedy, suffering, and survival.

Mike Chihuly, Alaska Fish and Fire: Alaskan outdoorsman, biologist, fishing guide, and fire chief. (Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2016) 352 pp., softcover, $19.95, ISBN: 9781594336386. Brought by his parents to Alaska as a small child, Chihuly immediately began a life that included fishing and hunting. Here he recounts his days as a wildlife biologist, fishing guide, husband, father, EMT, and fire chief of Ninilchik.

Skip Coghlan, Wasilla: A Great Place Among the Lakes, The Centennial History 1917-2017. (Big Bend, Wisconsin: Among the Lakes Publishing Company, 2017) 224 pp., softcover, $35.00, ISBN:  9781578336586. The book is divided into three parts, a narrative history, pictorial history, and family histories “to preserve Wasilla history, inform the reader, and answer questions about Wasilla.”

Janet R. Collins, On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy. (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2017) 344 pp., softcover, $27.95, ISBN: 97800874223514. A biography of a geologist, who was a member of two formal Arctic expeditions then spent nine summers and six winters between 1906 and 1914 at Flaxman Island off Alaska’s northern coast charting the geography and geology of what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pioneered research in permafrost, and collected wildlife specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.

Langdon Cook, Upstream: searching for wild salmon from river to table. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2017) 314 pp., hardcover, $27.00, ISBN: 9781101882887. Cook examines the state of the Pacific salmon through statistics, studies, and interviews with sport and commercial fishermen, home and professional chefs, scientists, and activists. From Alaska down through Washington, Oregon, and finally to California, salmon’s many aspects, from food to totem to wildlife on display, are all under threat from sport and commercial overfishing and from changing water conditions.

Mary F. Ehrlander, Walter Harper, Alaska Native Son. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2107) 240 pp., softcover, $29.95, ISBN: 9780803295902. A biography of an Irish-Athabascan man born in 1893 who was the first person to summit Denali. He was missionary Hudson Stuck’s riverboat pilot and winter trail guide before 1918 when he died in the Princess Sophia sinking near Haines on his way to medical school.

Henry Fountain, The Great Quake: how the biggest earthquake in North America changed our understanding of the planet. (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2017) 277 pp, hardcover, $28.00, ISBN: 9781101904060. The 9.2 Good Friday earthquake of 1964 contributed to our understanding of the planet in a way that previous earthquakes had not, thanks to  a U.S. Geological Survey geologist named George Plafker. Science journalist Fountain includes information about the quake from survivors’ eyewitness accounts, official records, and from Plafker himself in this investigation of how the science community came to realize that the then-controversial theory of plate tectonics had been proven. With several pages of photos and an extensive list of further reading.

Michael Gates, From the Klondike to Berlin: The Yukon in World War I. (Madeira Park, BC:  Lost Moose imprint of Harbour Publishing Company, 2017) 267 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 0781550177763.  Nearly a quarter of the population of Yukon Territory enlisted in the Canadian army during World War I. The author tells the stories of the units overseas and on the home front, as well as the contributions to the war effort by the women and others in the Yukon.

Lily Gontard and photographs by Mark Kelly, Beyond Mile Zero: the vanishing Alaska Highway lodge community. (Madeira Park, BC: Lost Moose, an imprint of Harbour Publishing, 2017) 239 pp., softcover, $24.95, ISBN: 9781550177978. New and historic photographs illustrate the profiles of the many lodges that line the Alaska Highway, whether abandoned, diminished, or still functioning as hotels and restaurants. Gontard and Kelly trace the history of famous and enduring lodges and interview their founders and current owners.

William L. Lang and James V. Walker, Explorers of the Maritime Pacific Northwest: Mapping the World Through Primary Documents. (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2016) 303 pp., hardcover, $108.00, ISBN 9781610699259. Documents from European expeditions to the North Pacific between 1602 and 1795 are presented with analysis, and introduced and placed in context. The textbook includes many illustrations and map, and a chronology.

Christine and Dennis McClure, We Fought the Road.  (Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 2017) 224 pp., softcover, $19.93, ISBN: 9781935347774. The untold tales of the black U.S. Army soldiers who were involved in building the Alaska-Canada Highway, showing in painful accuracy the differences in the conditions between soldiers of different races in 1942.

Eileen Norbert, editor, Menadelook: an Inupiat teacher’s photographs of Alaska village life, 1907-1932 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016), hardcover, 160 pp. $44.95. ISBN: 9780295999333. This collection of photographs of everyday Inupiat life in the village of Wales, Alaska on the Bering Strait, was taken by Charles Menadelook, an Inupiat teacher born in Wales in 1892. His granddaughter, Eileen Norbert, researched these handed-down photographs and the stories and explanations of the subjects make up the text of the book. Black and white photos, some shown original and others retouched.

David Ramseur, Melting the Ice Curtain: The Extraordinary Story of Citizen Diplomacy on the Russia-Alaska Frontier. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2017) 307 pp., softcover, $29.95, ISBN 9781602233348. The author looks at Alaska-Russian relations, particularly in the last 35 years, and possibilities for cooperation in the future.

Sarah Jaquette Ray and Kevin Maier, editors, Critical Norths: Space, Nature, Theory. (Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 2017) 344 pp., softcover, $45.00. Writers look at the North and how it is conceived by asking questions about place, identity, nature, justice, history, and the environment to encourage rethinking about the idea and reality of the North.

Bev Sims and Dianne Zitnik, Our Fur-Fathers of Southwest Alaska: Kalmakoff, Kameroff, Kamkoff, Kozevenikoff, Sipary, Clark, Matrozoff, Lukin, Belkoff, Johnson, Anaruk, Demientieff and Many Others. Privately printed, 2017. 284 pp., softcover, $20.00, ISBN: 9781546668732. Biographies of early Russian, Creole, and American fur traders and their families who were in southwest Alaska from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s. The authors are descendants of these traders.

David J. Silverman, Thundersticks, Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America. (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016) 371 pp., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN: 9780674737471. The author assesses the adoption of guns by American Indians and concludes it had a profound impact on the people and their relationships with Euro-Americans, other Natives, and within their own communities. One chapter looks at the Sitka Tlingits.

Melanie A. Smith, editor, Ecological Atlas of Southeast Alaska. (Anchorage: Audubon Alaska, 2016) 223 pp., spiral bound paper, $105.00 (contact Audubon Alaska to order), no ISBN. Guide to species, topography, ecological features, and the geology of Southeast Alaska. Through maps, graphs, and images, shows ownership, land use designations, mammal, bird, and fish habitats, infrastructure, mines, and more.