A glance at the Weekly’s book shelf

We get a lot of books to review here at the Capital City Weekly. We typically focus on books written by Southeast Alaska residents, about Southeast Alaska, or both. We can’t write about them all, but here we’ve highlighted recently received books.



Razor Clams - Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest, by David Berger, 2017, University of Washington Press.

“In this lively history and celebration of the Pacific razor clam, Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean, and cook them using his favorite recipes.”

Threadbare - Class and Crime in Urban Alaska, by Mary Kudenow, 2017, University of Alaska Press.

“The real north is not all calving glaciers, grizzly bears, and reality-TV-fishermen. Set in urban Alaska, these essays explore the darker forces that shape this state’s end-of-the-road culture, including some of the nation’s highest rates of suicide, alcoholism, and violent and sexual crime.”

Critical Norths, edited by Sarah Jacquette Ray and Kevin Maier, 2017, University of Alaska Press.

“Critical Norths showcases work by scholars in a variety of fields that challenge notions of the north as a vanishing frontier, an isolated wilderness, a beautiful landscape redolent with wildlife, a space of rugged individualism, or a place of infinite resources.”

From the Klondike to Berlin - The Yukon in World War I, by Michael Gates, 2017, Harbour Publishing.

“Nearly a thousand Yukoners enlisted before the end of the Great War. They were lawyers, bankers, piano tuners, dockworkers and miners who became soldiers, nurses and snipers; brave men and women traded the isolated beauty of the North for the desolate horror of No Man’s Land. … Historian Michael Gates tells us the stories of both those who left and those who stayed…”

Walter Harper - Alaska Native Son, by Mary F. Ehrlander, 2017, University of Alaska Press.

“Alaska Native Son illuminates the life of the remarkable Irish-Athabascan man who was the first person to summit Mount Denali, North America’s tallest mountain. … Walter’s strong Athabascan identity allowed him to remain grounded in his birth culture as his Western education expanded and became a leader and a bridge between Alaska Native peoples and Westerners in the Alaska Territory.”

North: Finding Place in Alaska, edited by Julie Decker, 2017, University of Washington Press.

“North: Finding Place in Alaska explores the state’s various facets through exhibitions and artifacts at the Anchorage Museum and the words of a diverse selection of writers, curators, historians, anthropologists, and artists.”

Old Russia in Modern America - Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers, by Alexander B. Dolitsky, 2017, Alaska-Siberia Research Center.

“Persecution by the Russian tsarist government forced Orthodox Old Believers into remote and undeveloped rural areas, where they continued to practice their old rituals, periodically moving when threats of persecution caught up with them again. Several of these groups migrated to the United States in the 1960s, settling in rural areas of Oregon and Alaska. Their obedience to pre-17th century ways and worship practices places them in conspicuous contrast to other residents of their new locations. Despite tendencies toward acculturation, they continue to observe ancient traditions, worship practices and ‘living memory’ in many cultural domains.”


Dead Men Do Come Back, by Steven C. Levi, 2016, Crime Wave Press.

“Why would someone kill a miner, freeze his body solid on a glacier and then drop it alongside the Juneau wharf, the one place where United States Marshal Gordon Whitford would be sure to find it?

Does it have anything to do with the 250 pounds of gold that have just been extracted from the Alaska Gastineau Mine? And how were both the frozen body and the gold able to disappear off a steamship that made no stops between Juneau and Seattle?

Now there is another shipment of 250 pounds of gold bound for Seattle — along with the miner’s frozen body that has been recovered — again —floating just south of Juneau. Will Marshal Whitford be able to solve the murder and the robbery before the next shipment of gold vanishes into thin air?”

Children’s books

A Seal Named Patches, by Roxanne Beltran and Patrick Robinson, 2017, University of Alaska Press.

“Scientists Roxanne Beltran and Patrick Robinson set off on a polar adventure, traveling to Antarctica to study the lives of Weddell seals. By finding Patches, a wily seal they’ve been tracking since its birth, they’ll be able to learn a lot about how much the seals get to eat and how many pups they raise.”

Native Values - Living in Harmony, by Rosita Worl, 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“Explore the four core cultural values of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsishian people in this photo-based children’s book. These four values —which include living in harmony with the land and the importance of balance and reciprocity — have guided Native peoples in Southeast Alaska for more than 10,000 years and remain central in these cultures today.”

Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy, edited Johnny Marks, Hans Chester, David Katzeek, Nora Dauehauer, and Richard Dauenhauer and illustrated by Michaela Goade, 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“After a Tlingit mother gives her son a dried piece of salmon with mold on the end, he flings it away in disgust, comitting a taboo. This offends the Salmon People, who sweep him into the water and into their world, where they name his Shanyaak’utlaax or Salmon Boy.”

Am’ala, by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse and illustrated by David Lang, 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“In this traditional Tsimshian story, a young man who is teased by his brothers for being lazy and dirty trains secretly with a spirit and gains superhuman strength. He takes on warriors, animals, and even a mountan before facing his greatest challenge — the world itself.

Let’s go! - a harvest story, 2017, by Hannah Lindoff and illustrated by Michaela Goade, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“Learn about Southeast Alaska Native subsistence activities and foods in this original text … Readers travel on a journey through the seasons while exploring Native traditions, cultural values, and the beautiful and bountiful Southeast Alaskan landscape.”

Picking Berries, by Hannah and Marigold Lindoff, illustrated by David Lang, 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

Discover the different types of berries that grow in Southeast Alaska while learning their names in the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian langauges.

The Woman Who Married the Bear, by Frank Henry Kaash Katasse and illustrated by Janine Gibbons, 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“In this ancient Tlingit story, a woman who has insulted the bears while out berry picking meets a bear in human form. They fall in love and get married. Soon, the woman’s brothers come looking for her and the woman learns her husband is not what he appears to be.”

The Woman Carried Away by the Killer Whales, a Haida story illustrated by Janine Gibbons. 2017, Sealaska Heritage Institute.

“When a woman is carried off by killer whales, her husband embarks on a journey to get her back.”


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