Furs and Frontiers in the Far North: The Contest among Native and Foreign Nations for the Bering Strait Fur Trade

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Overview

"This comprehensive history of the native and maritime fur trade in Alaska during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is without precedent. The Bering Strait formed the nexus of the circumpolar fur trade in which Russians, British, Americans, and members of fifty native nations competed and cooperated. The desire to dominate the fur trade fed the European expansion into the most remote regions of Asia and America and was an agent of massive change in these regions." Award-winning author John R. Bockstoce fills a major gap in the historiography of the area in covering the scientific, commercial. and foreign-relations implications of the northern fur trade. In addition, the book provides rare insight into the relationship between the Western powers and the Native Americans who provided them with fur, ivory, and whalebone in exchange for manufactured goods, tobacco, tea, alcohol, and hundreds of other things. But this is also the story of the enterprising individuals who energized the Alaskan fur trade and, in doing so, forever altered the region's history.

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Editorial Reviews

Anchorage Daily News

"A comprehensive history of the Native and maritime fur trade in Alaska during the 18th and 19th centuries."—Gretchen Weiss, Anchorage Daily News

— Gretchen Weiss

The Arctic Book Review

“This book is as near perfect as I think any book about the fur trade can be. . . .[It] is a gold mine of information for historians, geographers, ethnologists, and antiquarians. It shows what can be done by a perceptive scholar who has complete command of the subject and of the English language.”--The Arctic Book Review
American Historical Review

“An important and epoch-making book.”--American Historical Review
Polar Libraries

Recipient of the 2010 William Mills Prize for non-fiction books sponsored by Polar Libraries.

— 2010 William Mills Prize

Western Historical Quarterly

"It is not easy in a short review to do justice to a book as comprehensive and magisterial as this one...Furs and Frontiers in the Far North is a fascinating, impeccably researched, and engagingly written work of scholarship."--William R. Morrison, Western Historical Quarterly

— William R. Morrison

North American Society for Oceanic History

Winner of the 2009 John Lyman Book Award in the category of U.S. Maritime History

— 2009 John Lyman Book Award

Ernest Burch

"Furs and Frontiers in the Far North is a comprehensive history of the international trade in furs that was centered on the Bering Strait region during the 18th and 19th centuries…In scale, the account moves smoothly up and down from specific interactions between particular individuals at one extreme to the broad sweep of international affairs at the other.”—Ernest Burch, Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

William Barr

"There is no other work that attempts to cover this far- reaching topic, and hence it fills an important gap in the historiography of the area. What Bockstoce has produced is a worthy companion-volume to his earlier work, Whales, Ice, and Men, which is recognized as being the definitive source on the history of American whaling in the Western Arctic."—William Barr, Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary
Ted Widmer

“This utterly beguiling work reminds us that American history has a north along with its more familiar east, west, and south. And quite a place it is – a vast region of land, water and ice, nearly beyond all jurisdictions, not easily reached then or now. But fortunately, we have an incomparable guide in John Bockstoce. With relentless research, sensitivity, and a palpable love for his subject, he has brought considerable warmth to the study of the far north and the fur trade that drew Europeans and Americans there, from all directions.”—Ted Widmer, Director and Librarian, John Carter Brown Library

David H. Stam

"Though it may appear at first a narrow specialist study, John Bockstoce's Furs and Frontiers in the Far North is in fact a wide-ranging work of natural science, anthropology, economic history, technology, exploration, and international intrigue—all presented with consummate grace, scholarship, and above all enthusiasm."—David H. Stam, Syracuse University
Anchorage Daily News - Gretchen Weiss

"A comprehensive history of the Native and maritime fur trade in Alaska during the 18th and 19th centuries."—Gretchen Weiss, Anchorage Daily News

Polar Libraries - 2010 William Mills Prize

Recipient of the 2010 William Mills Prize for non-fiction books sponsored by Polar Libraries.
Western Historical Quarterly - William R. Morrison

"It is not easy in a short review to do justice to a book as comprehensive and magisterial as this one...Furs and Frontiers in the Far North is a fascinating, impeccably researched, and engagingly written work of scholarship."--William R. Morrison, Western Historical Quarterly
North American Society for Oceanic History - 2009 John Lyman Book Award

Winner of the 2009 John Lyman Book Award in the category of U.S. Maritime History
Canadian Journal of History - Cary C. Collins

"Furs and Frontiers in the Far North joins a spate of outstanding recently released books on the fur trade . . . that are adding exponentially to our knowledge of this subject and in ways that heretofore have never been examined in such depth or argued with such nuance and grace. With Furs and Frontiers in the Far North, John Bockstoce has solidified his reputation as one of our foremost historians of the fur trade and its relentless sweep across continents."—Cary C. Collins, Canadian Journal of History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300149210
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Series: The Lamar Series in Western History
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Arctic specialist John R. Bockstoce is an independent scholar and the author of many books, monographs, and articles on the history of the Arctic.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Felipe Fernandez-Armesto xiii

Preface xvii

A Note on Names xix

Acknowledgments xxi

Part 1 The origins of the fur Trade in the Bering Strait Region 1

1 The Opening of the Maritime Fur Trade at Bering Strait 3

2 Trapping and Hunting for Marketable Furs 41

3 The Russian Expansion toward Alaska 70

4 Marketing the Furs 103

Part 2 The Russian-British Rivalry in Northern Alaska 115

5 The Russians Move North 117

6 The British Response 129

7 Mikhailovsky Redoubt 167

8 The Expeditions to Point Barrow 179

9 Zagoskin's Expedition to the Yukon 193

10 The British Expansion Northwestward 203

Part 3 Foreign fleets Reach Bering Strait 225

11 The Search for Sir John Franklin 227

12 Trading Activities from 1848 to the Sale of Russian America 260

13 Chaos and Transformation in the Latter Third of the Nineteenth Century 296

14 The Last Decades of the Nineteenth Century 324

15 End of the Century 355

Appendix The Introduction of Firearms to the Eskimos of the Bering Strait Region 361

Chronology 363

Glossary 371

Notes 375

Bibliography 411

Index 447

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