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Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 1900

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.

Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 1900

Post Number:#1 by greenstripedgiraffe
» 17 Apr 2017, 12:17

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 1900" by Laurel Downing Bill.]

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3 out of 4 stars
Review by greenstripedgiraffe
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Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume One, Up to 1900, by Laurel Downing Bill, is an intimate look at Alaska from the earliest civilizations until 1900. Extensive research has obviously been done in preparation for this detailed history. In the dedication, the author explains that her aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson, was a noted historian. While living in Alaska, Aunt Phil (Phyllis Downing Carlson) collected numerous bits of Alaskan history including photos, rare books, notes, and written stories. Aunt Phil’s Trunk Volume One includes stories about Alaskan Natives, Russian fur traders, the sale of Alaska, and the Klondike Gold Rush.

I found this history both spell-binding and tedious. I was fascinated to learn the history of a state that I knew nothing about until now. For instance, I did not know who had first occupied Alaska or how it became to be part of the United States. However, I got lost trying to sort out the different Indian tribes and locations. Also, I had not realized the extent to which Russia had occupied Alaska prior to the United States acquisition. The names of geographical landmarks, famous Russians, and Alaskan Natives were quite unfamiliar to me and quickly became confusing. I would have appreciated a listing of the various tribes, as well as a map documenting where the tribes were primarily located.

Additionally, I learned (too) much about the Klondike Gold Rush. This time era has been greatly romanticized by literature and movies. Aunt Phil’s Trunk, Volume One details the day-to-day life of the men and women who rushed to Alaska in search of instant riches. Daily conditions included back-breaking labor, disease, and death. General stores, saloons and organized crime also had a big part in Alaska’s history. After reading about several new cities with seemingly no end to the amount of data, the wealth of information started to bog me down. While reading, many times I wished for a map of cities or a list of names associated with each city—anything to aid overall comprehension.

I believe the in-depth information is valuable to serious students of history, as well as anyone seeking knowledge on Alaska, Native Alaskans, or the Gold Rush. Many of the cities started during the Klondike Gold Rush are still thriving today. However, as a casual reader of history, I found this book to be too much. Mostly, it read like a history textbook. I congratulate the author on the minutely accurate detailed account of the subject; however, I would not recommend this book to any but dedicated history fans.

The author writes in a way that brings historical figures alive for the reader. My only complaint is that while the book is impressive in its accuracy, the reader needs help in breaking down the information in a more manageable format. Also, a timeline would be helpful to put the events into perspective overall. One thing that greatly confused me was that the “second gold rush” included dates prior to the “first gold rush.” I am sure there is a good reason for this, but I didn’t discover it while reading the book. Overall, I give this 3 out of 4 stars.

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Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 1900
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Re: Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 190

Post Number:#2 by Amagine
» 18 Apr 2017, 22:27

It doesn't sound like my kind of book but I'm sure anyone who loves history will greatly appreciate the book and the author's extensive research.

Great Review! 🌸
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Re: Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 190

Post Number:#3 by greenstripedgiraffe
» 19 Apr 2017, 08:47

Amagine wrote:It doesn't sound like my kind of book but I'm sure anyone who loves history will greatly appreciate the book and the author's extensive research.

Great Review! 🌸


Thanks for reading my review! This book is filled with a wealth of information! But, I do think a history buff would enjoy it best :lol:
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Re: Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 190

Post Number:#4 by kandscreeley
» 19 Apr 2017, 09:00

I would love to learn more about this time period. However, I don't think this is the book for me to do that. It definitely sounds too in depth for someone like me who just wants to learn a little more about Alaska and the gold rush. Thanks for the review though.
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Re: Official Review: Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One, Up to 190

Post Number:#5 by greenstripedgiraffe
» 19 Apr 2017, 09:20

kandscreeley wrote:I would love to learn more about this time period. However, I don't think this is the book for me to do that. It definitely sounds too in depth for someone like me who just wants to learn a little more about Alaska and the gold rush. Thanks for the review though.


Although well-written, this is a pretty hefty read!
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