history

Oregon State Parks

The history of our region is rich in detail, and a crowd of people will get their hands dirty this summer digging into it.  Quite literally.  

  The Geisel Homestead on the Southern Oregon Coast and other sites of hostilities between white settlers and native Americans are the focus of a summer archaeology project by the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA).  

Restore Oregon

Before the multiplex with the dozen-or-more smallish movies screens, we had big theaters downtown.

Medford's a great example: the historic Craterian got a major renovation 20 years ago, and the Holly is set for a major reworking. 

People like old theaters, especially when they are made to look new again.  Restore Oregon is holding a series of theater restoration workshops around the state. 

Randy McKay, boss of the Holly project, visits with details of the workshop and an update on his project. 

HarperCollins

Our society is, in theory, supposed to protect its most vulnerable members. 

But society failed The Boys in the Bunkhouse for years. 

The boys of the title in Dan Barry's book were men with intellectual disabilities who were warehoused and kept in slavery-like conditions. 

Until, that is, social workers, journalists, and a lawyer took up their case. 

Penguin Books

Quick, name the federal agency you most recently had contact with.  For a lot of people, the answer would be the Postal Service. 

Its mission and importance have changed in the age of email, but it certainly can be argued that the postal agency is of vital importance. 

In fact, that IS the argument of Winifred Gallagher's book How The Post Office Created America

Gallagher points out that the Continental Congress created a postal agency before it did almost anything else.  It predates the Declaration of Independence by a year. 

luminare press

Eugene is now home to about five times as many people as it held in 1950. 

"Leaps and bounds" might be an understatement when it comes to growth. 

Sara Jeanne Duncan Widness remembers the quiet days, and shares her memories in her book The Dusky Afternoon

Harvard University Press

Whether Hillary Clinton wins the White House or not, she is NOT the first woman to try, not by a long shot.

The first woman to seek the presidency did so before women even had the right to vote in America; does the name Victoria Woodhull ring a bell?  Woodhull and the later seekers are profiled in Ellen Fitzpatrick's book The Highest Glass Ceiling

Fitzpatrick dazzled us a few years back with Letters to Jackie

Penguin Random House

It was what the world wanted: the end of the Soviet Union, the "evil empire," the Communist stronghold.  And the USSR did, in fact, dissolve. 

So why is the world generally unhappy with what followed?  Because the Russia we got, with the autocratic Vladimir Putin in command, is a far cry from the democratic republic we hoped for. 

Russian native Arkady Ostrovsky goes back to the Cold War to explain how we got here, in his book The Invention of Russia

Penguin Random House

Philippe Sands is a writer and international lawyer who works to curtail and punish mass murder by whichever term is used: genocide or crimes against humanity. 

And the author's stint in a Ukrainian university led him down the trail of two men, both lawyers who studied at the same university. 

They both took radically different pathways to get to the same place: a body of law to prosecute the likes of the Nazis who committed genocide in World War II.  East West Street is Sands' book. 

Penguin Random House

Ask anyone who lived through the 1960s about the most turbulent year of the decade, and they might say 1968: multiple assassinations, riots, and the election of Richard Nixon as president. 

Clara Bingham suggests a different time frame in her book Witness to the Revolution.  August 1969 to August 1970 saw the My Lai investigation, the American invasion of Cambodia, domestic bombings and murders, and millions of people protesting in the streets. 

Bingham's book is an oral history compiled from dozens of interviews. 

Penguin Random House

Information about Queen Elizabeth is abundant; she's reigned over England throughout the television age.

It's her long-ago predecessor, Elizabeth I, who remains something of a mystery. 

British historian John Guy dug into archives from more than 400 years ago to give us a better picture of the queen's later years in Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years. 

HarperCollins

At the peak of Maya civilization, something like ten million people lived on the Yucutan Peninsula.  Fewer than a million live there now, near the ruins of Maya culture. 

We know of it now, but the whole story of the Maya people was lost for hundreds of years. 

Explorers found it again in the middle of the 19th century, a tale told in William Carlsen's book Jungle of Stone

Simonandschuster.com

  Andrew Solomon has a knack for getting into the middle of things.  In previous books, he helped us understand depression, appreciate the complexity of parent-child relations, and know more about the particular relationship between the Sandy Hook shooter and his father.  

 In "Far And Away," Solomon takes us to centers of change around the world.  He was present for upheavals in Russia, South Africa, and Brazil, and the list goes on.  

Penguin Random House

It was another battle in a long war: American Navy ships sunk the German submarine U-550 in 1944. 

For 68 years, the sub lay on the ocean bottom off Nantucket, allegedly in waters divers could reach, but its exact location unknown.  Until divers found it: the last undiscovered U-boat in divable waters. 

How divers finally located it and what they found at the wreck scene is the story Randall Peffer tells in Where Divers Dare

Blackstone Publishing

Thomas Doty's storytelling ability can make his characters seem larger than life. 

And now the longtime teller of tales from Southern Oregon has put some of the best into a book, Doty Meets Coyote

It turns out the wilyness of the coyote was well noted long before the Road Runner cartoons.  The human half of the title visits with the animal half, sharing stories both ancient and new. 

Book Publishers Network

If it seems like American armed forces are frequently busy somewhere in the world now, just consider our history. 

Christopher Kelly, an American living in England, got curious about the number of countries the USA invaded or fought in through the centuries.  Answer: nearly half of them. 

And when you drop the bar to just "involved militarily," there are only THREE countries we have NOT had military dealings with. 

Kelly's book with Stuart Laycock is called America Invades

PBS

Try to imagine "Downton Abbey" floating on the ocean, and you have some idea of the opulence of the RMS Lusitania, the ship sunk by a torpedo during World War I. 

Author Erik Larson tells the story of the ship and its sinking anew in the book Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

He helps peel the layers of fact and fiction apart, helping us understand the state of war and the reason for the ship sailing into the middle of a war zone. 

Penguin Random House

It may not be possible to have a dull conversation with Andrew Bacevich. 

He's a retired army colonel and retired history professor who writes compelling books about America's engagement with the rest of the world... which he often finds wanting. 

His latest book America’s War for the Greater Middle East, focuses on where most of our military action now takes place... and it predates the invasion of Iraq by a couple of decades. 

OSU Press

Newcomers to Oregon can scarcely believe the stories of a few decades ago, a time when Republicans dominated state politics and fought for landmark environmental protections.

All true, and the central focus of Floyd McKay's book Reporting The Oregon Story

McKay, a newspaper and TV reporter for decades, focuses on the period from 1964 to 1986, a time when Tom McCall and Bob Straub moved up the ranks to the governor's office, facing each other in several elections. 

Accomplishments of the time include beach protections, bottle deposits, and land-use regulations, among many others.

HarperCollins

Growing up on a prairie ultimately made Laura Ingalls Wilder famous. 

The Little House on the Prairie and related books made Wilder a beloved author, and led to the TV series of the 80s. 

Wilder is the focus of another book, but this one much more intimately connected to her. 

Because it's a collection of her correspondence, The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Penguin Books

"Magic" in today's world is largely in fiction or on stage: Harry Potter and disappearing elephants.  But we live in an age where science holds sway, and it was not always so compelling. 

Centuries ago, our ancestors really believed in witches and transformations and more. 

The Book of Magic, edited by Brian Copenhaver, is an exhaustive look at what people believed in, often intertwined with religion, until The Enlightenment. 

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