“I highly recommend this book for history buffs and anyone wanting to know more about Alaska’s heritage.”
Laurel Downing Bill opens her aunt’s trunk of historic notes once more in Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume 3. This volume starts with the happenings in Alaska during the onset of World War I and the signing of the Alaska Railroad Act by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This act caused the development of Anchorage and the continued settlement of Alaska. Bill, using the detailed notes and research of her late aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson (Aunt Phil), recounts the events of the following decades, including the construction of the railroad, aviation exploration, Anchorage’s early development into a thriving city, and the tragedy of the influenza pandemic that struck in 1918. Laurel Downing Bill’s third volume of Aunt Phil’s Trunk celebrates the resilience, ingenuity, and heroism of Alaskan residents in the early to mid-1900s. Bill’s strength from the very beginning of this collection has been in giving history a voice. Rather than dry accounts of historical fact, her collection brings historical moments to life. In this volume, many of the heroes of Alaska are allowed to tell their story, those that bring laughter, those that bring cheers, and even those that bring tears. Readers will learn about entrepreneurs Z.J. Loussac and Austin E. “Cap” Lathrop, the start of the Alaska baseball league by William F. Mulcahy, and the heroics of dog sled driver Leonhard Seppala and the other runners who braved the extreme conditions of Alaska’s winter in order to deliver diphtheria vaccine. These are just a few of the characters that are concisely and intriguingly explored in Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume 3. Once again, Laurel Downing Bill has provided an enjoyable and exciting account of Alaskan history. I highly recommend Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume 3 and the rest of her collection.