Author: Lydia Black
This definitive work, a crown jewel in the distinguished career of Russian America scholar Lydia Black, presents a comprehensive story of the Russian presence in America from the point of view of social anthropology and ethnohistory. Drawing on extensive archival research and especially on documents only recently declassified in Russia, Black shows how the expansion into lands beyond Russia's Pacific shore was the culmination of a centuries-old movement of peoples originally from the Russian north, a movement more mercantile than military. Black counters the stereotypical depiction of the Russian period in Alaska as a time of unbridled exploitation of the Native inhabitants and pillaging of the land's resources. Without glossing over the harsher aspects of the Russian period in Alaska, or the sometimes mutual incomprehension that clouded the interactions of Native Americans and Russians, she presents a far more complicated--and certainly more accurate--portrait of their interrelationship. Going beyond governmental policies, she focuses on the actions of ordinary Russian men and women in Alaska, and neither romanticizes nor chastises their actions. She clearly sets forth who they were, precisely what they did, their aims, the immediate and distant consequences of their actions, and how imperial governmental considerations, dictated by geopolitical struggles of the time, affected their destinies. This deluxe volume features fold-out maps and color illustrations of rare paintings and sketches from Russia and North America, many of them never-before published. A jewel for historians, Russians in Alaska will also be the go-to text for all Alaskans, visitors, and readers interested in thisimportant period under the Russian flag. A tribute to Black's life as a public and university educator, it is an essential text that will inspire yet another generation of students both inside the classroom and out.
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