Webb, a historian for the National Park Service, prepared well for this exhaustive history of the Yukon Basin. In addition to scouring libraries and archives, she lived the life of a modern trapper along the banks of the Yukon River for three months in 1976, chewing beaver tail, slogging through swamps, fending off the world's most voracious mosquitoes, and acquiring a firsthand knowledge and love of this brutal land that adds gloss to this straightforward, historical account. The Yukon River lured Russians, British, Norwegians, and Americans to its perilous shores. Two thousand miles long, it was probably large enough to accommodate them all, as well as the natives who preceded them. But history rarely rolls along on ideal track, and much of Webb's account covers the competitive jostling of these various factions. Fortunately, the Yukon also attracted its share of heroes and memorable characters, and Webb delights in summarizing their exploits (often with accompanying photographs). She also covers, in a dry but informative style, the archaeology, anthropology, and geology of the region, as well as its social and economic history from the earliest Eskimo trappers through the Klondike Rush of 1896 and up to the controversial Alaska Pipe. line, ""the largest and most costly private project in history."" For fans of Sergeant Preston and Klondike Annie, for inhabitants of the Yukon, and for those who appreciate thorough historical research and armchair adventuring.