LAST LETTERS FROM ATTU: THE TRUE STORY OF ETTA JONES, ALASKA PIONEER AND JAPANESE P.O.W. -- one woman's letters tell the story of her life in Alaska , and what happened to those taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded Attu Island
Last Letters From Attu: The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese P.O.W. by Mary Breu (2009, Alaska Northwest Books; 320 pages)
The true story of an Alaska pioneer, stationed on Attu when the Japanese invaded the island. Jones' letters and photographs have been used by her grand-niece, Mary Breu for this book.
Etta Jones was an American school teacher who, in 1941, along with her husband, Foster, agreed to teach the Natives on the remote Aleutian island of Attu. They were both sixty-two years old when they left Alaska's mainland for Attu against the advice of friends and family. Etta and her sister moved to the Territory of Alaska in 1922. She planned to stay only one year as a vacation, but this 40-something-year-old nurse from back east met Foster Jones and fell in love. She married and for nearly twenty years they taught in remote Alaskan villages, including their last posting on Attu Island at the far end of the Aleutian island chain. Etta's life changed forever on that Sunday morning in June 1942 when almost 2,000 Japanese military men invaded Attu Island and Etta -- along with the rest of the civilian population -- became a prisoner of war. She was taken from American soil to Japan and given up for dead. This is the story of a brave American, a woman of courage and resolve with inextinguishable spirit.
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Recommended by: Ann
DROP CITY -- what happens when a 1970's California hippie commune moves north to Alaska and collides with the locals
Drop City by T. C. Boyle (2004, Penguin Books; 512 pages)
For those in search of some hippie nostalgia -- now that marijuana is legal in Alaska and we can call ourselves "the officially recognized new hippies" -- I would recommend reading Drop City, a book by T.C. Boyle with exceptional characters, a master dialogue technique and a very interesting premise: the author brings some California hippies north where they have to endure the endless winter of the Alaskan wilderness.
We have this book in our Alaskana collection, and when you read it you will understand why.
In his BookPage review, Bruce Tierney describes the book: "Drop City begins in a Sonoma commune of the same name, circa 1970. It would be a comparatively simple task to write a book about the culture clash between the normal folks and the hippies, or even a Cyra McFadden-style send-up about life on a commune, but T.C. Boyle has never been one for taking the easy road. Rather, Drop City is a tale of a utopian community riven from within by many of the problems that have plagued "straight" society for ages: drugs, sexism, racism and jealousy.
Meanwhile, in remote Boynton, Alaska, a union takes place between a hermit-like fur trapper and a mail-order bride. The wedding goes superbly (one is tempted to say 'without a hitch') until late in the day, when it is crashed by the sworn enemy of the groom, the only person in Boynton who was not invited to the ceremony. Hijinks ensue, and the upshot of the skirmish leaves a team of sled dogs dead, and a pristine 1965 Shelby Mustang GT-350 coupe submerged in the cold deep waters of Birch Creek.
Back in California, the law is breathing down the necks of Drop City's resident revelers. A dead horse, a hit-and-run car accident, and several issues with the building codes department have conspired to draw the utopian experiment to a close. It is time to move on, but where to? You guessed it: Boynton, Alaska, to establish Drop City North. A weedy caravan of vehicles (a dusty Lincoln, a rusty Studebaker, and an elderly school bus) gingerly makes its way across the Canadian border, up the Alaska Highway. It will be a clash of a different sort, as the welfare/food-stamp/peace/love/dope crowd comes into contact with perhaps the most fiercely self-sufficient people the country has ever known."
As I read somewhere: "For best effect, read Drop City in a beanbag chair. A drop or two of patchouli oil and Janis (Joplin) on the stereo couldn't hurt, either."
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Recommended by: Maite
Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, A Journey Into the Human Heart by Lynn Schooler (2010, Bloomsbury; 270 pages)
Walking Home by Lynn Schooler blends Alaskan wilderness adventure, history, and personal narrative to result in a compelling read. Schooler’s writing is poetic both in its descriptions of the natural world—Juneau and the nearby coast from Lituya Bay to Yakutat Bay—as well as in its exploration of his own emotional terrain as he experiences personal loss. While I’m drawn to Schooler’s poetic style, perhaps what I most enjoy is his ability to wrap his present day, at times gripping, Alaska adventure story in historical stories about the places he travels through. As Schooler boats the coast from Juneau to Lituya Bay, the tales of early European explorers mapping the coast and some of their first interactions with the Native Alaskans living in that “wilderness” weave in and out of his own story, like clouds clinging to the shoulders of mountains, revealing some peaks and shrouding others. Riveting details about the earthquake and resulting avalanches and tsunami that devastated Lituya Bay in 1958 wind through Schooler’s own trip into Lituya Bay where he then begins a journey by foot. Walking Home is a beautiful book that any reader who enjoys a good adventure story but craves a bit more will be delighted by.
Find this title in our catalog: Walking Home