Last Letters from Attu: The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese POW
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Last Letters from Attu: The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese POW

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  53 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Etta Jones was not a World War IIsoldier or a war time spy. She was an American school teacher who in 1941 who 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...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 5th 2009 by Alaska Northwest Books (first published September 1st 2009)
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This remarkable story is about Etta Jones, a pioneer who moved from Yonkers, NY to Alaska in the early 30’s. She had planned to stay one year, but she fell in love, married and stayed for twenty. Etta and her husband were employed by the Alaskan Indian Service and taught native peoples in remote villages. Etta was a prolific letter writer and took great pleasure in receiving mail from her family. Her grand niece, author of this book, relied on Ettas’s correspondence and her own research to show...more
I found this book surprisingly interesting. I was particularly fascinated by the descriptions of the lifestyle of the Alaska natives in the villages. Etta's courage and stamina are an example to all women. I think the title should have been more appealing or appropriate. There was so much more to Etta's story than a few letters from Attu. Someone gave me this book almost a year before I picked it up to read. An enjoyable read.
This was an interesting look at a woman who braved the hardships of Alaskan life, always enjoying the beauty of the land. She truly appreciated the lives and cultures of the Native people she taught and served and didn't see them as inferior even though they had fewer material possessions and a different value structure. For me, it was a chance to learn about Alaska and a part of WWII that I was unfamiliar with.

It was a little strange when the book switched from the point of view of Etta to tha...more
I have never read published letters before and I felt a bit voyeuristic reading these. Having Etta’s personal life in letter available through a book was interesting, but it was not my favorite read.

Anyone interested in the early pioneer days of Alaska will enjoy her account of life on the frontier. It is very much like other stories of this fashion in its charming way.

Selection of the book was based upon the fact that she was a survivor of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp from the Second World...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In 1922, Etta Jones was 42 and decided on a whim to travel from her East Coast home to Alaska. Within a year she married fellow adventurer Foster. Then for 20 years she and her husband lived in remote native communities - Athabascan, Yup'ik and Alutiiq while Etta taught school. (This was the upbeat section of the book - descriptions of the communities before they were influenced by caucasians.)

In 1942 Etta and Foster were transferred to Attu. The remainder of the story portrayed Etta (age 62-65)...more
Etta was a remarkable woman who led a remarkable life. She seemed the type of person that I would want in my life. She had such strength, generosity, open-mindedness and a sense of adventure. The book was difficult to read at times because of her hardships as a POW. But the it flowed smoothly through Etta's life's timeline, and the pictures, letters and diary entries were amazing. Thank you Mary Breau, for sharing her life with me.
Aug 22, 2011 Cory added it
Before I read a review for this book I never knew that the Japanese had taken over an Alaskan island during WWII. I found this to be a great read that did a good job of showing what life was like in Alaska at the beginning of the 20th century as well as life in a Japanese POW camp. I like books like this that are easy to read and that I can learn a lot of interesting facts from.
Loved this book. The story and the historical documents are amazing. The writing gets a little over-reaching while she's a Japanese POW but how much is there to say about living as a POW, it's not like there's a lot going on. It talks so much about different parts of Alaska which I loved and learning more about WWII in AK was really interesting too.
I read this for a book discussion, and to be honest , I wasnt sure that I would like it. I was very pleasantly surprised. This book was very skillfully done, combining exposition with the letters of this real and amazing woman. I enjoyed it and have recommended it to several people, and will probably give it for a holiday gift.
Nick Schroeder
Interesting story of Etta Jones' life in Alaska and as a WWII POW. Read this for our book group. Will make for an interesting discussion. Made me think of the BBC TV series from the early 1980s called "Tenko."The photos in the book were really helpful in picturing the Alaskan landscape.
Excellent description of life in the smallest of villages in Alaska. Distrubing descriptions of her life as a POW in Japan during WWII. A must read. Fascinating
This is the story by my Great-Aunt's Daughter and I think book club will find this story amazing! Am proud to present it to book club and have everyone read it!!!
Beverley Rose
As an Alaska resident I found this book very interesting. I think it is poorly titled. It really doesn't have much to do with letters from Attu.
Book 14 2012 Reading challenge
A few interesting twists. Subject not as interesting to me since I have read so many Alaska pioneer type stories.
The beginning was another "teacher in early 1900s bush Alaska, but once she got to Attu....a compelling read.
Fascinating view of Alaska from a sympathetic person immersed in the culture.
Jerry Breu
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