Book of the Fortnight Archives (, 2004-2007

  • Posted 12/08/2004
  • Essay 7140

A compilation of books on Pacific Northwest history and related topics that were profiled on's Book of the Fortnight page between 2004 and 2007. Presented by University of Washington Press and Washington State University Press. During this era the "book of the fortnight" feature appeared less often than every fortnight.

September, 6 2007

Dear Medora: Child Of Oysterville's Forgotten Years
By Sydney Stevens
Washington State University Press, 2007
Soft cover, 168 pages
Profusely illustrated
ISBN 978-0-87422-292-0

Author Sydney Stevens, a descendent of Oysterville's founding Espy family, explores the daily domestic life of one Washington family using correspondence between "Mama" (Helen Richardson Espy) and her eldest daughter, Medora Espy. As Stevens explains in her preface, her mother, Dale Espy Little, was Medora's younger sister. Stevens grew up spending long periods of time in the Espy home, where she now lives full time surrounded by the ephemera of a century of Espy family life. Stevens explains, "Much remains as it was in my childhood and as it was in Medora's time, as well." Readers are welcomed into this family's past and invited to sift through it via letters, journals, keepsakes, scrapbooks -- personal fragments of a young girl's childhood.

Stevens quietly guides the reader through this material, defining any language that is now archaic, annotating personal and place names in order to flesh out relationships, inserting historic newspaper articles, always breathing life into what could have been an exercise in family genealogy. Instead, Stevens's presentation sets the Espy family's daily life within the broader historical context. A collection of family postcards, for example, is framed with the information that the period in which they were written is considered to have been the Golden Age of Postcards: "Like many Americans, Mama and Medora did their share of postcard writing." Fabric types, frequently mentioned in the letters, are explained and made accessible to modern readers who may never have heard of grimps, messaline, chevoit, and Indian Head (the trade name for a coarse linen substitute).

Party lines, laundry lines, Papa's rooftop rain barrels, Mama's recipe for Butter-scotch candy are brushed on layer by layer to summon up the tiny town of Oysterville as Medora Espy experienced it in the first two decades of the twentieth century. After 1910 when her father, Harry Albert Espy, was elected to the state senate, the family divided its time between Oysterville and Olympia, broadening the book's focus on community history. In 1913 Medora started boarding school in Portland, further broadening the focus. As she enters her teens we sense Mama's increasing reliance on Medora for emotional support, and are given detailed examples of the Espys' medical issues, social life, reading habits, etc., always framed within the broader historical context.

Tragically, just as she was moving into young adulthood -- gaining self-confidence and ticking off "firsts" (dance, movie date, infatuation) Medora Espy died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in her boarding school bedroom in 1916. She was 17 years old. Sydney Stevens's book honors Medora's brief existence and brings her to life once again.

This book will fascinate anyone interested in domestic history and mother-daughter relationships. It may be particularly useful for teachers and for older children who have explored history through (but now outgrown) books like the American Girl historical characters series, or Scholastic Press's Dear America, My America, and My Name is America series.

By Paula Becker

August 24, 2007

The Jewish Experience in Washington State: A Chronology, 1845-2005 Third Edition

Washington State Jewish Historical Society, 2006
Soft cover, 101 pages
Profusely illustrated
No ISBN; $18 plus $3 postage
Available from:
The Washington State Jewish Historical Society

To order see historical society website at
or mail check to:

The Washington State Jewish Historical Society
2031 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121


This superb book chronicles the settlement of Jews in Washington, along with their many contributions, organizations, and activities. The book is cogently organized as a timeline or chronology, beginning with the arrival in 1845 of 24-year-old Latvian adventurer Adolph Friedman to what would become Washington Territory.

The short entries march through the years in a straight line but thematic coherence is gained because under the "first" entry (arrival, settlement, founding event, etc.) subsequent activities related to that entry are indented directly under it. Thus under the year 1860, we learn that the renowned Schwabacher Brothers established their mercantile business in Walla Walla. That the Schwabachers expanded their business to Seattle in 1869 and appointed brother-in-law Bailey Gatzert as manager is indented under the 1860 founding date and forms part of the same entry. This puts the Schwabacher story all in one place.

The entries are eclectic and inclusive. Geographically, they encompass the entire state from Marcus, Washington, (named after its Jewish founder) to Spokane, from Republic to Seattle. The diversity of our state's Jewish community is reflected in the wide spectrum of political, social, and religious beliefs and activities here represented. All the congregations have their founding dates, and the entries also include social-service organizations, newspapers, a Yiddish drama club, a Jewish sorority, political organizations of various persuasions, all manner of schools, veterans' organizations, women's organizations, men's organizations, and so on.

The Jewish Experience in Washington State is handsomely designed in an 8.5 x 11 format and printed on coated stock, which enhances the quality of the numerous photos. Last but not least, each and every entry is sourced and an index adds to the book's ease of use.

Anyone with an interest in Washington state history will want to add this book to his or her collection.

June 28, 2007

Sky Time in Gray's River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place

by Robert Michael Pyle
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007
Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 0-395-82821-X
ISBN-13: 978-0-395-82821-2

Naturalist Robert Michael Pyle calls his 14th book a "personal phenology" (phenology being the scientific study of seasonal biological phenomena). In 12 beautifully written chapters, he portrays the rhythm of plant, insect, bird, and animal (including human) life over the course of a year in and around his home in rural Wahkiakum County. The stories are not from a single year, but reflect the monthly and seasonal changes that Pyle, one of America's leading nature writers, has been observing and recording since he moved to a pioneer homestead overlooking the Grays River valley and its historic covered bridge nearly three decades ago.

Sky Time in Gray's River is Pyle's second book about his wet southwest Washington adopted homeland. Wintergreen: Listening to the Land's Heart, first published in 1986, embraced the entire Willapa Hills region, describing an ecosystem devastated by logging but still full of interest and beauty. The focus in the new book is more local and personal. Pyle evocatively describes the flora and fauna he sees from his own house -- often inside the house, including a honeybee hive, swarms of ladybirds, deer mice, salamanders, and stray bats in addition to a succession of cats -- and the few miles of river valley from his yard to the small village of Grays River.

Although Pyle says that his book is not a local history, it is nevertheless rich with stories of his neighbors and their families, stretching back to when Grays River was first settled in the mid-1800s. He joined the local Grange not long after he arrived largely to hear the old-timers' stories and reports: "In this I have not been disappointed." Pyle's portrayal of human history is as sensitive and perceptive as his writing about natural history. Weaving the two together in Sky Time in Gray's River he creates a masterful portrait of the special place that has captivated and inspired him for almost 30 years.

-- By Kit Oldham

May 31, 2007

Catastrophe to Triumph: Bridges of the Tacoma Narrows

Richard S. Hobbs
WSU Press, 2006
Large format, soft cover, 188 pages
ISBN 0-87422--289-3
Profusely illustrated

This is a well-designed, engaging, and exhaustively informative book on the three bridges of the Tacoma Narrows. It is a clear and amply illustrated primer on suspension bridges, a definitive presentation of the world-notorious collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on November 7, 1940, and a lucid account of the building of the revised 1950 Tacoma Narrows Bridge that corrected the errors in engineering and administration that led to the collapse.

It is also a treasure trove of human stories, curiosities, and interesting facts. Here we have, at last, the story of Tubby (the beloved dog who was the one fatality in "Galloping Gertie's" collapse), along with short biographies of engineers, construction workers, and area residents who contributed to (or opposed) the Tacoma Narrows bridges.

The book was published in anticipation of the completion of the new 2007 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the twin suspension bridge that parallels the 1950 bridge. It fulfils the Washington State Department of Transportation's public information obligation under the Environmental Protection Act and its mitigation obligation under the National Historic Preservation Act for impacts to the 1950 bridge.

It serves as a fine history of the debates, technology, and human interest surrounding the Tacoma Narrows bridges and their predecessor ferry. As well, it is a fascinating in-depth look at one particular, significant place in Washington state.

May 17, 2007

Archaeology in Washington

Ruth Kirk and Richard D. Daugherty
University of Washington Press June 2007
Soft cover, 158 pages
Illustrated in color
Softcover $26.95
Hardcover $40.00

The first Americans settled in what is now Washington state at least 14,000 years ago or perhaps longer ago. They arrived as the great continental ice sheets retreated, leaving many of the geographical features we see today such as Puget Sound. The cataclysmic floods caused by glacial action carved out Eastern Washington and melting ice raised sea levels by 300 to 400 feet.

Archaeology in Washington is an update to Exploring Archaeology in Washington (1978) by these same authors and includes descriptions of newly developed sites and new technologies used by archaeologists. Heightened understanding by local, state, federal, and tribal governments has helped protect sites from destruction by urban development. The book starts with the geological and environmental events that shaped the land into which the first Americans moved and then covers Native American site investigations by region. The last quarter of the book addresses more modern sites, such as Fort Vancouver, Fort Nisqually, and the Whitman mission at Waillatpu.

Archaeology in Washington is richly illustrated with maps and images of investigators in action (usually hunched over), and with sketches and photos of the artifacts themselves. Sidebars explain the geologic history, technology -- both modern and ancient -- and even some of the laws that protect the state's heritage.

May 3, 2007

Washington Then And Now

Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard
Westcliffe Publishers, 2007
Hardcover, 156 pages
Profusely Illustrated
ISBN 10: 1-56579-547-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-56579-547-1

Washington Then and Now
is both an open invitation to time travel and a gentle meditation on change and constancy throughout the state of Washington. Readers familiar with co-founder Paul Dorpat's long-running "Seattle Now and Then" column in The Seattle Times can now join Dorpat and his co-writer and photographer Jean Sherrard on a photo-historical tour of the entire state.

Dorpat and Sherrrard chose visually compelling historic images of Washington's built environment and natural features. They then re-shot these locations to exactly match the vintage views. This process (called repeat photography) allows the viewer to stand in the footprint of past photographers and see just how places have altered and how they have remained the same. The book is large format with fine glossy paper and the photographic images are of the highest quality. The images are divided by regions. Rich visual comparisons invite the reader to savor the exploration. Accompanying text illuminates the particulars and supports the viewing experience. Many of the historical images are from Dorpat's voluminous personal collection, and others were sifted from historical museums, libraries, and private collections from across the state.

Poignant at times, such as in their comparison of the Tolt River Valley pre-and-post reservoir, Dorpat and Sherrard also use humor to underline their presentation. When people are present in an historic image, the co-authors often pose modern equivalents in the repeat shot: the serious gentleman gazing over Hell's Gate at Eagle Falls in a 1920s shot is translated into two equally thoughtful young cliff jumpers in the modern shot.

This volume is one of a planned series that will eventually give every state the Then and Now treatment. Paul Dorpat's thoughtful work over the past three decades in the field of historical repeat photography make it difficult to imagine anyone better suited than he to reveal Washington in this format. This book succeeds both as a visual ambassador of our state's history and as an absorbing treasure trove for Washingtonians already familiar with many of the featured locations.

-- By Paula Becker

April 19, 2007

A History of Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and Her People

Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
2100 Boyer Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
Hardcover, 404 pages
$50.00 plus $5.00 shipping

Ioannis Phocas -- Juan de Fuca to his Spanish employers -- generally gets credit for being the first European and the first Greek to visit the Pacific Northwest. The documentary evidence of Phocas's 1592 voyage is quite thin, but geographers have acknowledged him with the name of the entrance to Puget Sound. The next Greeks to arrive were Nicholas George of the Greek island of Leros and George Tandou Nicholas from Langada in Asia Minor. They stepped ashore in Seattle from a fishing schooner in the 1880s. George fished Northwest waters for a time before sending for his bride, Irene, and opening a confectionery shop in 1891. So begins the history of the Greek community in Seattle as documented in this lavish chronicle of the center of that community, Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

These first few Greeks joined with Russian immigrants and founded Saint Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral with financial support from the Czar of Russia. The land for the first Saint Spiridon came from a gift from George and Irene Nicholas. In 1915, several hundred Greek men assembled at the Labor Temple to consider building their own church. The church's corporate name was Greek Community of Seattle whose purpose was to found and operate a place of worship.

A Greek Orthodox Church needed an icon. Alexander Spetsieris brought from Greece an icon of Saint Demetrios, martyred by the Romans in the arena in Thesalonika in the third century. The new church had a name.

This book catalogs community activities and organizations and every step of the building and operation of the church. It treats newspapers, service clubs, schools, businesses, architecture, social and cultural activities, community and religious leaders, and more. The History of Saint Demetrios has it all. This book will be of particular use to family historians because it places individuals in the context of their religion, language, and culture, all within the context of Seattle in the twentieth century.

April 5, 2007

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing Over Place

Coll Thrush
Foreword by William Cronon
University of Washington Press, 2007
Hardcover, 326 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-295-98700-2
ISBN-10: 0-295-98700-6

In Native Seattle, University of Washington graduate and University of British Columbia Professor Coll Thrush paints a picture of the Native American presence in the Seattle area. Thrush shows just how important a role indigenous peoples served in the economic and cultural growth of the city and region and he traces their history through the twentieth century to the present day.

The founding and growth of Seattle was not simply a question of the arrival of the whites and the removal of Indians to reservations. Chief Seattle -- Seeathl in this book -- welcomed the new arrivals and served as an important labor contractor, supplying mill hands, domestics, farm workers, and loggers to Seattle pioneers. When the first Seattle City Council tried in 1865 to ban Indians from the city at night they found the measure unworkable since their labor was critical to commerce. Through the 1880s, Indians remained a significant presence in the city.

As Seattle grew, Indians became the city's underclass and one of the urban problems to be resolved by a new generation of planners who rerouted rivers and washed mountains into the tide flats. The construction of the Government Locks at the mouth of Salmon Bay ("Tucked Away Inside") resulted in the eviction of the last of Seattle's Indians who had lived in their own homes on land they held for generations.

The descendants of Chief Seattle came back though with the Boldt Decision that gave them the salmon guaranteed by treaty and by Seattle's shift to an environmentally sensitive culture ready to embrace its Indian heritage.

Of particular value in Native Seattle is the Atlas of Indigenous Seattle, which lists and locates the Salish names of dozens of geographic features and a bit of background on each. What the Americans would call Duwamish Head the natives knew as Low Point. Puget Sound was just Salt Water. Many land and water features have disappeared under concrete and asphalt, but Native Seattle keeps them alive.

February 22, 2007

The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche

Gary Krist
Henry Holt and Company, 2007
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 0805077057
ISBN-13: 978-0805077056

During the last week of February, 1910, a raging snowstorm trapped a mail train and a Seattle-bound passenger train high in the Cascade Mountains, near Stevens Pass. Great Northern Railroad crews worked round the clock to clear the tracks, but during the early hours of March 1, an electric storm unleashed high winds, heavy rain, and lightning. Hundreds of feet above both trains, an ice shelf broke loose, sending tons of snow, slush, and ice hurtling downhill, killing 96 men, women, and children in the worst avalanche disaster in America's history

In The White Cascade, Gary Krist begins with some background information about James J. Hill's Great Northern Railway. Then he places the reader on board the ill-fated trains during the long week before they were swept down the mountain. Through detailed research from diaries, first-hand accounts, newspaper reports, and courtroom documents, Krist provides an almost hourly account of conversations that occurred, events that transpired, and thoughts written down while, all this time, disaster loomed in the mountains above. That the reader knows what's coming adds a sense of helplessness, anxiety, and suspense to this tragic tale of terror.

The White Cascade is the first non-fiction work by Krist, an award-winning novelist, and he knows that the "dirty little secret" to writing good history is good storytelling -- also one of our little secrets here at In fact, Krist's initial research into the Wellington Disaster (named for the nearby town that has since faded into the past) led him to's hosted site Wellington Scrapbook, which details newspaper coverage of the event at the time. After he contacted us, we were also able to recommend other historians, archivists, and Wellington experts within the state who could help him further his research. But it's Krist's storytelling that fascinates, with a narrative that is both compelling and informative. This book is a page-turner, one that will sweep you away.

--by Alan J. Stein

February 8, 2007

Ship Builders, Sea Captains, and Fishermen: The Story of the Schooner Wawona

Joe Follansbee
iUniverse, Inc., 2006
Paperback, 230 pages
ISBN: 0-595-41833-3

Joe Follansbee weaves a marvelous tale in Ship Builders, Sea Captains, and Fishermen: The Story of the Schooner Wawona. Beginning with a background on the men who built this fine vessel, Follansbee whisks us back to the nineteenth century as the era of great sailing ships draws to a close. We're later introduced to Captain Ralph Peasley, whose exploits were greatly embellished in a series of pulp-fiction novels that made Peasley one of the most famous American ship's captains of the early twentieth century.

In the lean years before World War I, the Wawona found new life as a codfishing vessel, and as robust as the ship's early history is, it is at this point that the vessel took on a more important role. Much has been written about lumber history in the Northwest, but very few books go into detail about the men who sailed from Washington every summer up to the Bering Strait to fish for cod. The codfishing industry was just as valuable to the Northwest economy as logging was; its often overlooked history is fascinating and very worthy.

Basing his account on journals, interviews, newspaper articles, and other primary sources, Follansbee places us on board the deck of the Wawona in the year 1936. From there we witness the men and their daily routine, hear their conversations, catch a heady whiff of salted cod, and feel the salt breeze whip through our hair. Every nuance, every detail, every interaction amongst the men, and every task performed by the crew is described with such vividness that at the end of the voyage you are left wanting still more. After the fishermen returned home and walked off the ship they might have faded into the past, but Joe has brought them back to life, all these years later.

The value of this book cannot be overstated. Not only do we learn the history of the Wawona, we also get an insight into the hard-working people on board who contributed so much to the development of Washington state, but whose stories are rarely told. As with all great sea-going adventures, it's not just about the ship, it's about the odyssey.

--by Alan J. Stein

January 23, 2007

Vanishing Seattle

Clark Humphrey
Arcadia Publishing, 2006
128 pages
Softcover, illustrated
ISBN 0738548693

Clark Humphrey can claim the distinction of being Seattle's first post-modern feuilletonist. His roving "Misc." columns documented the early Punk scene in The Stranger when it was an obnoxious Broadway brat pissing on the Seattle Weekly's Birkenstocks. He has now tracked the city's cultural Zeitgeist for more than a decade in print and on the Web seeking to discern the shape of things to come. In this delightful book, Humphrey flips his lenses to examine the shape of things that have gone.

Vanishing Seattle is the mug book in the Seattle Missing Places Bureau: Dag's hamburgers, Coon Chicken Inn, Grandma's Cookies, Clark's Restaurants, Wigwam Stores, G.O. Guy Drugs, and on and on. Like the ads in an old Yellow Pages directory, the images and the brief but informative captions conjure memories (or imaginings) of a lost civilization, a kinder, gentler world of Sunny Jim peanutbutter sandwiches, locally owned banks, Bubbleators, and Brakeman Bill.

Humphrey resists the temptations of saccharine nostalgia and lets his photos tell their stories, which makes it all the sadder that he has been so poorly served by his publisher. Arcadia cranks out scores of virtually identical photo histories every year, usually sampling the collections of small historical societies and amateur historians eager to share their images with the public and, wisely, not in it for the money. They are rewarded with a cookie-cutter format, mechanical design, and indifferent photo reproduction. Humphrey deserved better, and it is too bad no local publisher took on this project and gave it the TLC it needed. That said, Vanishing Seattle is still an essential addition to any local historical library and a great gift for native and newcomer alike.

-- Walt Crowley

December 7 , 2006

A Chapter in Pacific Northwest History: United Daughters of the Confederacy Robert E. Lee Chapter #885, Seattle Washington

Marjorie Ann Reeves
With forward by Junius Rochester
Published by the author, 2006
110 pages
ISBN-10: 0-9648950-4-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-9648950-4-1
Softcover, illustrated, with notes and text

In Lake View Cemetery in Seattle stands a monument in memory of United Confederate Veterans. It was carved from ten tons of granite from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and it was erected in 1926 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a small but active group of local women dedicated to "Memorial, Benevolent, Historical, Educational, and Patriotic" objectives. The monument is in juxtaposition to a small cemetery for Union veterans a few dozen yards away and both veterans and members of heritage groups dedicated to the Union and Confederate armies attended the dedication.

Marjorie Anne Reeves has compiled a centennial history of Seattle's UDC chapter beginning with its founding in 1905. She traces the group's activities through the Alaska- Yukon-Pacific Exposition and the sponsoring of Dixie Day and its support of servicemen during the world wars. The members -- never more than a few dozen -- arranged for a plot at Lake View for Confederate veterans and prevailed on the University of Washington to use textbooks on Civil War history they felt were more accurate. They celebrated the birthdays of Robert E. Lee in January and Jefferson Davis in June as well as Memorial Day. Members supplied to Lake View the Gettysburg battle flag of General George Pickett. The chapter's gavel was carved from a tree under which General Lee last addressed his troops.

In 1928, the chapter spearheaded a movement to rename Highway 99 the Jefferson Davis Highway (Davis was Secretary of War in the 1850s and responsible for some of Washington Territory's first roads) and to establish markers in Blaine and Vancouver. In the twenty-first century, members and their counterparts in the Sons of Union Veterans fought to preserve the markers after the one in Blaine was removed by the state parks director.

Junius Rochester is a local historian and author and a contributor. His grandmother was president of the chapter during the A-Y-P in 1909.

--David Wilma

October 26, 2006

The Spokane Indians: Children of the Sun, Expanded Edition

Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown
University of Oklahoma Press, 1996
346 pages
ISBN 0-8061-3761-4
Softcover, illustrated, with notes and text

The Spokane Tribe of Indians live today on a reservation west of Spokane in Stevens County. They share with other Native Americans a story of dispossession from their traditional range, involuntary relocation, and loss of their cultural and economic base, the salmon. Robert Ruby and John Brown tell the story of this people from their arrival in the Northwest some 13,000 years ago to the present day.

At one time, the Spokanes occupied the Spokane River Valley in enough numbers to be divided into two general groups, the Upper and Middle Spokanes, above Spokane Falls, and the Lower Spokanes. When Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens attempted to secure treaties with the peoples of the Columbia Plateau in 1855, he got enough push-back from them over the terms (cession of all lands in exchange for reservations) that he gave up. War in 1858 left the tribe almost destitute (the Army shot hundreds of their horses) and with no clear title to their land. In 1886, Congress assigned the Lower Spokanes to a reservation after white settlement left them almost homeless. At least they could fish.

But not for long. Hydroelectric dams first on the Spokane River and later on the Columbia devastated the salmon runs that were so plentiful they could easily share the bounty with other tribes.

Ruby and Brown trace the story of the tribe through the 1970s in a balanced and readable fashion with extensive notes and very informative illustrations. It is particularly valuable alongside other sources of the history of Eastern Washington prepared from the non-Indian point of view.

-- David Wilma

September 28, 2006

Windshield Wilderness: Cars, Road, and Nature in Washington's National Parks

David Louter
University of Washington Press, 2006
240 pages
ISBN 0-295-98606-9
Hardcover, illustrated, with notes and text

Washington's three largest national parks showcase the National Park Service's evolution in how the nation's wilderness treasures are to be presented to the public. Rainier National Park was founded in 1899 at the dawn of the automobile age and was the first park to admit automobiles in 1916. Prior to the auto, only the affluent who could afford train tickets and hotel rooms could enjoy wonders like Yosemite and Yellowstone. By the 1920s, cars were ubiquitous in American society as symbols of technological advancement and personal freedom. The National Park Service sought to landscape roads and services into the park so that it could become a windshield wilderness. Roads became a means of display rather than of transit.

In the 1930s, preservationists began to argue that roads were at odds with the idea of wilderness as the numbers of automobiles exploded despite a national depression. Olympic National Park was originally designed in 1938 as entirely roadless. This was at odds with both the Forest Service and its need for access to the interior and nearby communities and their reliance on tourism. Even the preservationists wanted people to see the park. The roads in Olympic allow visitors to look into the park from Hurricane Ridge and other spur roads.

The two units of the North Cascades National Park (1968) acknowledge the necessity for highways and industrial development by including recreational areas adjacent to the true wilderness areas. National Park Historian David Louter documents the stories of these parks and how their development was influenced by the automobile both positively and negatively.

--David Wilma

September 7, 2006

Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are

by the Olympic Peninsula Intertribal Cultural Advisory Committee
Edited by Jacilee Wray
University of Oklahoma Press, 2002
Paperback, 224 pages
Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index.
ISBN 0-8061-3552-2

The various indigenous peoples of the Olympic Peninsula have been telling their origins and history for thousands of years, passing accounts from elders to children across hundreds of generations. In the two centuries since contact in the late 1700s, there have also been many written accounts of Olympic Peninsula societies, primarily by outsiders ranging from explorers to anthropologists. This book combines spoken tradition and written historical and anthropological accounts to tell the story from the perspective of the Olympic Peninsula's original inhabitants and their descendants.

Separate chapters prepared by representatives of the Peninsula's nine tribes portray the culture, history, and current lives of those diverse communities: the Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah. Each chapter describes in different ways the difficult but ultimately successful struggle of succeeding generations to retain -- or, in many cases, to reacquire -- portions of their original lands and to preserve their languages and ways of life. Each chapter also discusses current tribal economic and cultural-heritage initiatives and provides useful information on unique and sometimes little-known visitor opportunities.

Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula is essential reading for those interested in the past, present, and future of the region's first peoples and a valuable resource for anyone living or traveling on the Peninsula.

-- Kit Oldham

August 10, 2006

Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community

David Neiwert
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
280 pages
ISBN 1-4039-6792
Hardcover, illustrated, with notes and index

In this compelling book, Seattle journalist and blogger David Neiwert examines the growth of Bellevue's Japanese immigrant community and its destruction due to racism and World War II internment. Through his extensive research, which included interviews with many Bellevue residents and their descendants, Neiwert weaves a fascinating -- yet tragic -- tale of how government abuses can profoundly damage the lives of hard-working families and individuals.

The book starts out in the late 1800s with an examination of immigration and alien land-use laws that acted as a backdrop to anti-Japanese agitation throughout the region. Although many Bellevue residents accepted (or at least tolerated) Japanese strawberry farmers in their community, their presence was vilified by certain civic leaders, most notably among them Bellevue patriarch Miller Freeman, who claimed that the Japanese were an insoluble race bent on infiltration. Indeed, Freeman argued for mass deportation in the 1910s, long before internment became a reality due to wartime hysteria following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The greatest strength of Strawberry Days comes from the words and experiences of those whose lives were uprooted when the town's entire Japanese population was carried away on a train on May 20, 1942. Only a few returned to Bellevue after the war ended, but their stories illustrate how fragile civil rights can be in America. Neiwert's book is an effective antidote against the rhetoric raging within today's punditocracy about race, immigration, and yes, even the case for internment, yet again.

July 27, 2006

A Whale Hunt: How a Native American Village Did What No One Thought It Could

Robert Sullivan
Simon & Schuster, 2002
288 pages
ISBN: 0-684-86434-7
Paper, $13.00

Visitors to the Makah Tribe's cultural center and museum will find this book for sale in the gift shop. Writer Robert Sullivan is not a tribal member, but he spent the better part of a year living with the Makah while preparations for the controversial tribal whale hunt were taking place in 1998-1999. He makes no secret of his admiration for the enterprise, but does not shrink from discussing the disagreements between the tribe and environmental groups; the political, social, economic, and spiritual divides within the Makah; and the practical, technical and bureaucratic difficulties they faced in re-creating a central facet of Makah life that had lain dormant since the early twentieth century.

The story is told as an excitingly written, first-person narrative, based on Sullivan's observations and research, plus extensive discussions with tribal members and environmentalists opposed to the hunt. The book also includes divagations into comparisons with Melville's Moby Dick, which have rightfully been confined to footnotes. Almost a decade after the events described, this book gives readers an in-depth view far more insightful than the superficial coverage provided at the time by the news media.

-- Charles Hamilton

July 6, 2006

Takhoma: Ethnography of Mount Rainier National Park

Allan H. Smith
Washington State University Press, 2006
208 pages, photographs, maps
ISBN 0-87422-284-2
Paper, $22.50

In 1963, WSU faculty member Allan Smith conducted a field study of Mount Rainier National Park in order to locate possible archaeological sites in the park. His report to the National Park Service is here published for the first time, together with modern introductions and commentaries.

Smith and his team hiked the mountain's river corridors, interviewed Native American elders, and reviewed previous literature. Although Dr. Smith's report did not prove terribly useful as a guide to archaeological sites, scholars have found it to be a groundbreaking examination of how indigenous peoples used and interacted with the mountain and its environs. Prior to his work, it had been assumed that the higher elevations were little used except as passes over the Cascades; Smith showed that despite the rugged and remote terrain, the land now in and near the park was extensively used by the Yakima, Taidnapaum, Nisqually, Puyallup, and Muckleshoot tribes. His report details native place names, boundaries, village sites and structures, trails, food-gathering locations and techniques, and other activities in the area.

The writing is clear, if sometimes dry, and the casual reader may not be interested in tables showing such things as annual variations in the dates huckleberries ripened. However, this book will prove useful for anyone interested in a scholarly treatment of the history of the area near the mountain from before European settlement through the early twentieth century.

--Charles Hamilton

June 22, 2006

Rain Check:
Baseball in the Pacific Northwest

Edited by Mark Armour
Photos from the David Eskenazi Collection
Society for American Baseball Research and University of Nebraska Press, 2006
Softbound, 128 pages
ISBN 1-933599-02-2

Prepared for the 2006 annual meeting of the Society for American Baseball Research in Seattle, this lively collection of illustrated essays traces the history of Pacific Northwest baseball from its roots in the 1880s to the arrival of Major League play with the short-lived Pilots in 1969, and caps off with the Mariners’ stunning 2001 season. Editor Mark Armour fields 20 essayists including himself and baseball collector-extraordinaire David Eskenazi (also a contributor), whose rare photographs and ephemera fill each page to bursting like the bleachers at a sold-out game. A home run from the home team!

June 8, 2006

River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia

by William D. Layman
Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center in association with University of Washington Press, 2006
Paperback, 150 pages
Profusely illustrated.
ISBN 0-295-98592-5

This is a stunning book on the Columbia River. It contains historic photographs, maps, myths, poems, journal entries, and narratives, but not one dam, for it is a record of our five-million-year-old river as it was before a "fervor of engineering" forever altered it. River of Memory grew out of an exhibition on the Great River that will remain on view through 2006 at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.

The 100 or so photographs, such as an 1894 view of Celilo Falls or a 1929 shot of John Day Rapids, are beautifully reproduced. The book offers exquisite illustrations of each of the river's 46 indigenous species of fish, including of course salmon, 16 million of which used to enter the river every year. The informative writings are contributed by poets, early explorers and travelers, and indigenous writers descended from the Indians who lived beside the river for thousands of years.

River of Memory is beautiful, lyrical, and sad, but also highly educational because of the way it is organized. It begins at the mouth of the Columbia, known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific" because of the 2,000 ships and 1,500 lives claimed by these crashing waters. The volume then proceeds systematically upriver until it reaches the headwaters in Canada. Here is history at its best, and a monument to the river that has touched every one of our lives.

May 19, 2006

Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan

by Frederik L. Schodt
Stone Bridge Press, 2003
Paperback, 432 pages
Illustrations, Maps, Notes, Bibliography, Index.
ISBN 1-880656-77-9

Ranald MacDonald's father, Archibald, was a Scottish fur trader working for the Hudson's Bay Company. His mother, Koale'xoa (Raven), was the daughter of the influential Chinook leader Comcomly. Perhaps due to feelings about his mixed ancestry and seeing similarities between his Chinook features and those of Asian peoples, MacDonald, born at Astoria, Oregon, in 1824, became fascinated with a third nationality, the Japanese. That country and its people were little known because the Shogunate government banned all outside contact. Nonetheless, ocean currents occasionally deposited disabled Japanese ships and crews on Northwest shores. Frederik Schodt shows that, contrary to assertions in prior accounts, MacDonald did not meet Japanese castaways, but their existence was well known in Hudson's Bay circles and probably also contributed to his bold decision to enter closed Japan.

Having become a sailor in the whaling fleet, MacDonald obtained a small boat that he deliberately capsized off the little northern Japanese island of Rishiri. After the local Ainu people rescued him, MacDonald, in accordance with Shogunate law, was kept in custody, first on Hokkaido and then in the southern port of Nagasaki. Although officially a prisoner, he was well-treated and made friends with his guards and interpreters.

For Nagasaki's professional interpreters, MacDonald's arrival was a godsend, as he was the first native English speaker willing to teach the language. Several interpreters who MacDonald helped become fluent in English, especially Einosuke Moriyama, played important roles in the 1853-1854 diplomatic negotiations with American Commodore Matthew Perry that opened Japan to the rest of the world.

After being "rescued" by an 1849 American navy visit that preceded Perry's mission, MacDonald went on to other adventures and travels before settling in Washington's Colville valley, near the former Hudson's Bay outpost his father once headed, where he died in 1894. This engrossing biography gathers extensive documentation of MacDonald's life and provides comprehensive and fascinating background context, from Hudson's Bay Company activities along the Columbia to the American whaling fleet and of course the history and culture of nineteenth-century Japan.

--Kit Oldham

May 4, 2006

Classic Houses of Seattle: High Style to Vernacular, 1870-1950

by Caroline T. Swope
Timber Press, 2005
ISBN: 0-88192-717-1
Hardcover, 268 pages with detailed index and bibliography

Classic Houses of Seattle
is a meticulously researched exploration of personal dwellings in Seattle. Architectural historian and historic preservationist Carolyn Swope combed through the massive number of house images available in numerous local historical archives, selecting the very best illustrations of Seattle's residential architecture: Victorian, Classic Revival, Craftsman, Eclectic Revival, Four-Square, Spanish Revival, and Modern (through 1950). The history of each featured house, often including floor plans, architectural details, interior shots, and information about early homeowners, is thoroughly explored. Most of the featured houses still survive.

Photographs throughout the book are black and white and are shown to greatest advantage by thick, high-quality paper stock. Recent images are interspersed with period shots. Each image is captioned and identified by year and, for historic images, by collection and image number. A house locator by chapter and also by neighborhood is included, enabling any reader who wants to visit these houses to create a personal driving or walking tour.

The book's last chapter explains in detail how to research a house's history, with particular emphasis on resources for investigating the history of Seattle-area homes. By sharing her considerable skills as a house-history detective, Swope demystifies the research process and gives homeowners a blueprint for exploring or deepening their understanding of their own home.

This lushly illustrated volume is equally well suited for display on coffee tables as it is for the libraries of serious scholars of Seattle's architectural history. Classic Houses of Seattle will be of interest to all who appreciate Seattle's built environment. Homeowners who have researched their home's history (or plan to do so) will find this book particularly helpful -- even inspirational.

By Paula Becker

April 20, 2006

The Orphan Tsunami of 1700: Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America

by Brian F. Atwater, Musumi-Rokkaku Satoko, Satake Kenji, Tsuji Yoshinobu, Ueda Kazue, and David K. Yamaguchi
United States Geological Survey in association with University of Washington Press, 2005
Paperback, 133 pages
Bilingual (English and Japanese), Highly illustrated, Notes, Index
ISBN 0-295-98535-6

On January 26, 1700, an enormous tsunami hit the east coast of Japan. There some called it high tides or high seas, not a tsunami, since it followed no earthquake. But it did destroy houses, cause fires, wreck a ship, and wreak dread and fright among the people. If it was a tsunami, it was an orphan, because no known parent earthquake had caused it. Now of course we know that that a massive earthquake, estimated at a terrifying magnitude of 8.7 to 9.2, shook the Pacific Northwest. The fault runs just off the coast from Vancouver to Northern California, where the Juan de Fuca plate is sinking under the North America plate. This is the very fault that will cause our expected "big one," and this book takes great care to show what the potential effects will be, knowledge that should help us to prepare.

The evidence for the 1700 event begins with Japanese accounts, which are here bilingually reproduced in English and Japanese, and with Northwest Indian oral accounts. The Makah, for example, gave early settler and diarist James Swan a detailed account of the disaster, in which many saved themselves by getting into canoes and many died. In the late 1980s geologists researching the Pacific Northwest coast began to find buried remains of spruce forests, marshes, and even Native American hearths. This beautifully designed, profusely illustrated, bilingual book gathers together Japanese texts, Native American traditions, and all the earth science that researchers have brought to bear on the case. On nearly every page the relevance of this history to our present-day situation is underscored. This book about the "big one" of long ago should be of special interest to all of us right now.

--Priscilla Long

March 30, 2006

Maurice Rosenblatt and the Fall of Joseph McCarthy

by Shelby Scates
University of Washington Press in association with History Ink, 2006
Paperback, 135 pages
Notes, Index
ISBN 0-295-98594-1

This account of the rise and ultimate downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy opportunely follows the acclaimed 2005 movie drama Good Night, and Good Luck. The film, with its extensive clips of McCarthy in action, introduced a new generation to the bombastic politician and to the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s he exploited so relentlessly that it came to be called McCarthyism. Journalist and Good Night, and Good Luck hero Edward R. Murrow was among those who -- like Army attorney Joseph Welch -- publicly confronted McCarthy and his bullying tactics. In contrast, as longtime Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter and columnist Shelby Scates recounts in his third book, lobbyist Maurice Rosenblatt worked behind the scenes.

Besides being a commercial lobbyist, Rosenblatt had worked for U.S. recognition of Israel and co-founded the National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), whose support helped liberals like Hubert Humphrey win Senate seats. He created the NCEC's "McCarthy Clearinghouse" which aided and encouraged other senators to stand up to McCarthy. Both Ralph Flanders, the conservative Vermont Republican who introduced the motion to censure McCarthy, and McCarthy himself asserted that Rosenblatt's work played an important role in the vote for censure. Based on archival research and extensive interviews with Rosenblatt, Scates's book gives an insider's perspective on a still all-too-relevant historical controversy.

-- by Kit Oldham

March 16, 2006

Spokane & the Inland Empire: An Interior Pacific Northwest Anthology

Edited by David H. Stratton
WSU Press, 2005
Paperback, 225 pages
Illustrations, Notes
ISBN: 0-87422-277-X

This anthology, originally published in 1991 and reprinted here with the addition of two new essays, provides a thoughtful introduction to or (for seasoned readers of history) further elaboration of the Inland Pacific Northwest. Each essay presents in dense and illuminating detail a key aspect of the region that has Spokane as its cultural and commercial center. Donald W. Meinig's "Spokane and the Inland Empire" considers "regional formation" in terms of perception and identity as well as commerce and geography. Two essays make visible the Native American past: Harvey S. Rice's "Native American Dwellings of the Southern Plateau" explores the architecture of the indigenous inhabitants, and Clifford E. Trafzer narrates the bitter and tragic history of the Palouse of the Lower Snake River, who, however, survived and persevere to the present day. Ruth Barnes Moynihan corrects an imbalance in the first edition with a new essay on the suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway's activities in Washington Territory. Wayne D. Rasmussen was the U.S. Department of Agriculture's lead historian and here presents a superb history of the agriculture of this quintessentially agricultural region. Finally, Spokane receives its due with four essays: on the labor history of the region (Carlos A. Schwantes); on Spokane's leading architect Kirtland Cutter (Henry Matthews); on the Dutch bankers important to Spokane's early development (John Fahey); and, as the second new offering, an essay on Spokane's Expo '74, the environmental world's fair (J. William T. Youngs). These cogent, well-written, well-documented, scholarly but entertaining essays provide a succinct way to grasp the essential core of Inland Pacific Northwest history.

--Priscilla Long

February 23, 2006

Seattle's Women Teachers of the Interwar Years: Shapers of a Livable City

by Doris Hinson Pieroth

University of Washington Press, 2004
Hardback, 304 pages
Illustrations, bibliography, index
ISBN: 0-295-98445-7

This book examines the history of women who taught in the Seattle Public School District during the first four decades of the twentieth century. Drawing information from a number of archival collections including the enormous resources of the Seattle Public School District archives, the author intersperses detailed employment and living statistics with short anecdotes about specific women teachers. Although readers may long for deeper information about many of the women's stories, the human-interest snippets enliven the broader statistical picture.

These female teachers were unmarried, since Seattle School District rules prohibited married women (but not married men) from employment as teachers until 1943. The author's exploration of how this constriction impacted the lives of teachers, as well as how Seattle women teachers, schools, and parents weathered the Great Depression, is especially insightful. The teachers' home front efforts during World War II --- moonlighting at Boeing, filling in for enlisted male postal workers, etc. --- are also detailed. The author's description of the destruction of the landmark Denny School during the Denny Regrade project and how this event impacted the school's teachers is especially poignant. Teachers' rights and early advocacy for collective bargaining (and its repression by the school district) receive attention.

The book's photographic illustrations, well chosen from a variety of local archives, gracefully underscore the text. This book will interest anyone seeking a Seattle-specific analysis of women in education, and anyone interested in how female teachers worked within the confines of one of the only professions available to them during the era, successfully shaping their personal destinies.

By Paula Becker


February 9, 2006

Vintage Postcards From Old Spokane
by Duane Broyles and Howard Ness with Tony and Suzanne Bamonte
Tornado Creek Publications, 2005
P.O. Box 8625
Spokane, WA 99203
Hardcover, 127 pages
Profusely illustrated, Index
ISBN 0-9740881-4-5

This is a stunning, full-color picture book that illustrates the history of Spokane through postcards, which became a craze in the United States around 1900 until about 1920. In Spokane as elsewhere, postcards were made on every subject imaginable from agricultural scenes to industrial scenes to street scenes. Here, postcards illustrate the elegant Davenport Hotel, residences designed by Spokane's preeminent architect Kirtland Cutter, a drove of 80,000 sheep photographed in 1908, cows standing in the Spokane River about 1913, the Union Stockyards, the Monroe Street Bridge (second and third), Manito Park, Coeur d'Alene Park, Natatorium Park, roads, autos, and locomotives, to mention a few. The book is cogently organized into theme chapters such as "Fairs" and "Downtown Street Scenes" and is introduced with a brief, illuminating history of the postcard. The reader learns to recognize the era of postcards with the message written on the back (illegal until 1907), the white border era (1915-1930), the hand-tinted era, the linen era, and so forth. Text accompanying each postcard reproduces some of the handwritten messages -- an 1899 message reads, "These western towns have no regard for the Sabbath..." -- and provides historical information on the image. The postcards themselves are, to use the authors' words, "miniature and exquisite pieces of art."

By Priscilla Long

January 26, 2006

Pioneer Square: Seattle's Oldest Neighborhood
Edited by Mildred Tanner Andrews
Introduction by Leonard Garfield
Contributions by Karin Murr Link, Mark Blackburn, and Dana Cox
Pioneer Square Community Association, in association with University of Washington Press, 2005
Paperback, 235 pages
Illustrations, bibliography, index
ISBN: 0-295-98503-8

This book, produced as part of the Pioneer Square History Project, traces the development of Seattle's Pioneer Square. In a series of chapters by noted contributors, the neighborhood is chronicled from its inception in 1852 through the urban renewal battles of the late twentieth century. The reader is introduced -- in an accessible, journalistic style -- to the diverse people, events, and architecture that give the neighborhood its unique character.

Much of the content will be familiar to HistoryLink readers, but the book combines in one place several themes that may be seen in the broad sweep of Pioneer Square history -- the interactions between natives and immigrants, business and residential development, and arts and culture. The somewhat seedy past of the Square and the city is not swept under the rug, but we see how the denizens of "Skid Road" existed side-by-side with citizens with visions of theaters and universities. The book will interest those interested in local history, and anyone who wishes to see how one urban neighborhood serves as a microcosm for the development of Seattle and the Northwest.

By Charles Hamilton

January 12, 2006

Becoming Citizens: Family Life And The Politics Of Disability
by Susan Schwartzenberg
University of Washington Press, 2005
Paperback, 113 pages
ISBN: 0-295-98519-4

This book tells the stories of 13 families of children with disabilities born between 1936 and 1965 in Seattle. At that time most children and adults with disabilities like Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and brain damage due to oxygen deprivation at birth, fevers, flu, and spinal meningitis were considered by many members of society to be uneducable. These parents, mostly mothers, were forced by the lack of educational services for their children to become advocates.

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