If you like reading historical novels, then you will appreciate these fascinating tales and rich heritage of Alaska. Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume One: Bringing Alaska’s History Alive by Laurel Downing Bill explains how Alaska first came under Russian dominance. The greed for sealskins, pelts and other valuable commodities depleted the wildlife population. They also ill-treated the Alaska Natives, forcing them to work under inhumane conditions. Some of these stories were of the shamans who possessed healing powers. Alaska was the new frontier, undeveloped and filled with untapped prosperity for new settlers. Many countries sent naval ships on expeditions to claim a piece of this intriguing land. Another interesting historical account was how the U.S. government acquired Alaska from Russia.
Laurel Downing Bill did a remarkable job writing this book and illustrating it with hundreds of historical photographs. Her aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson, was a respected historian who published many articles on Alaskan history. The author used these articles, along with her own notes and research, to compile this well documented book appropriately called Aunt Phil’s Trunk. I have read historical books on Alaska, but this is the first one that has given more in-depth information and recorded stories about explorers, Eskimos, missionaries, and other persons who all played significant roles in the development of one of the most important states of America. The book is unbiased in content and one that I found intriguing and knowledgeable, and I have learned a lot from reading this.