To many readers the subtitle “A Frontier Doctor in Alaska” will put the emphasis in the wrong place. The greater and more interesting part of this autobiography concerns the author’s life before going to Alaska. Of Cuban parentage, he was orphaned in New York City at the age of eight and lived there essentially “on his own” for the next four years. This was in the late 1880’s. Finally a truant officer caught up with him and he was transported to Iowa to a farm. Two years later he was starting to study law in Deadwood at the time of the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee. Then he was a hobo for three years.
A year as companion to a drunken and disreputable doctor in St. Louis was followed by several filibustering expeditions to Cuba just before the Spanish War. Finally a period as attendant in a Texas insane asylum led him to a medical school in San Francisco.
The writing is simple and interesting with strong views expressed on various subjects. For instance, he likes neither missionaries nor specialists. He fitted perfectly in a community of rugged indiv idualists. C. C. L.