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There’s a Freedom Here: My 100 Years in Alaska by Patricia Ray Williams details the century-long relationship of an Alaskan girl, her home town, and the land that Robert Service described in his poem The Spell of the Yukon as the cussedest. The author's parents journeyed to Alaska when it was still a U.S. possession--not yet a Territory--and the town of Seward, where the author would spend her life, had not yet been founded. This is a story of starting from scratch. Relying on lived experience in addition to preserved correspondence, documents and other primary sources, the author describes how her mother and father met and married, the establishment of her fathers legal practice, his service as President of the First Territorial Legislature and later Mayor of Seward, and his untimely death. The author’s personal history—childhood, outdoor adventures, schooling, marriage, grieving sibling, divorce, life as a single parent and work history—is influenced at every stage by world, national and local events. She lives through two world wars, the construction of the Alaska railroad and the Seward Highway, developments in the mining, shipping, and aviation industries and the polio epidemic of 1954-55. She witnesses the destruction in Seward and the raging fires which ensue following the massive 1964 earthquake and tidal waves and she helps rebuild the town after all the docks on which the economy depends disappear into the sea. There’s a Freedom Here: My 100 Years in Alaska is a superbly edited, formatted and indexed personal and Alaska history. The book has received critical praise statewide and beyond. The author’s distinctive voice carries readers through a fascinating time which some will remember but many can only imagine.
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