Picking up where her aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson (Aunt Phil), a respected and dedicated historian of Alaska, left off, Laurel Downing Bill has compiled a comprehensive account of Alaska’s history. Combining the research of her late aunt and her own extensive research, Bill’s book, Aunt Phil’s Trunk, Volume One, discusses the history of Alaska starting with the first inhabitants of the land through the Alaskan gold rushes. With rich details, a comfortable and inviting writing style, and countless supplementary photographs, drawings, and maps, the story of Alaska is brought to life.
From the title itself, Aunt Phil’s Trunk, readers can tell that they have picked up a history book that is a little different than most. This is not a stuffy tome of text that drones on about inconsequential details or in lofty speech that only a scholar can appreciate. Instead, Aunt Phil’s Trunk succeeds in being highly educational and informative while still being an entertaining and enjoyable read. It contains within its pages a conversational tone that delivers fascinating accounts of Alaska’s rich history. I never really considered myself overly interested in the history of Alaska, but I’m so glad that my curiosity got the better of me, and I picked up a copy of this book. If more history texts were written like this one, then I think there would be more interest in the topic.
I highly recommend this book for history buffs and anyone wanting to know more about Alaska’s heritage. I also believe that this book would be an excellent addition to high school classrooms, since it is such an easy, entertaining, and informative read. I’ll definitely be hanging on to this book, and I look forward into to delving into Phyllis Downing Carlson and Laurel Downing Bill’s volumes 2-5 of Aunt Phil’s Trunk as well.