Our popular culture has thrown away decades talking to us about the Wild Wild West: we can find it in movies and TV series; we can read about it in books and comic books; we can sing songs and ballads about those brave cowboys and vaqueros. And, like Sienfield would say, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But up north there is another magical place full of stories about adventure, hardship and courage: Alaska.
I have found little references to Alaska, until now.
“Aunt Phil’s Trunk” is a series of books written by Laurel Downing Bill and her own story is also magical: Laurel inherited a treasure of information about Alaska from her aunt Phyllis when she died. Phyllis had been a librarian and historian and she had researched her native state, Alaska for many years. Laurel was lucky enough to receive this information.
But luck goes a short, short way. To truly succeed you also need determination and Laurel had tons of that too: at 50 she returned to school to become a journalist and then she started reading, classifying and preparing all the information for a new publication.
Today, thanks to this generational effort, we have not 1, but 5 books about Alaska. And what books they are! Filled with entertaining short stories and packed with photographs, these chronicles will keep you entertained for months and months to come.
In volume 1, with more than 300 pages, Laurel takes us thousands of years back to show us the first migrations to Alaska and she finishes at about the year 1900. I was amazed at all the black and white photographs that Laurel managed to pack in her book and was moved by the stories of all these brave men and women that took a challenge that I could never do.
The second book focuses more in the 20th century. Again, it has more than 300 pages and hundreds of photographs. I have never found such an extensive research about Alaska anywhere else, and to me, Laurel Downing Bill is the definite source to learn the captivating story of this land.
I recommend these books, not only to the people who want to learn about Alaska, but also to anyone who has doubts about the capacity, the courage or the compassion of the human race.
Here are some resources to learn more about Laurel: