history

Public Domain

"I am not a physicist and this is not a physics book." 

That's the statement from David Schwartz, the son of a physicist and the author of a new biography of Enrico Fermi, The Last Man Who Knew Everything

Schwartz figured it was time for a new biography, because Fermi's work (he died in 1954) continues to influence physics and its practitioners today. 

National Archives of The Netherlands

Women went to war with the rest of the world in World War II.  Not generally on the front lines, but on the home front, working in factories and taking on tasks men had done until they went off to battle. 

And those tasks include analyzing enemy messages, and breaking codes. 

10,000 women served as codebreakers in the war, a story told in Liza Mundy's book Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.  

Wikimedia

The story of "exclusion laws" is well-known in Oregon.  The state skirted the slave-vs-free question at its birth by just banning all black people from living within its borders. 

But what about people who lived here BEFORE it was a state?  There are examples, including the shipwrecked black sailor James D. Saules, who arrived before many white settlers. 

His story is told in the book Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon

Dr. Mike Baxter/Wikimedia

Maybe you've taken one of those DNA tests that tells you where your ancestors lived.  They can contain a few surprises... for individuals, and for humans as a species. 

The science of genomics is ripping up some assumptions about the upright inhabitants of the Earth, and where they've lived and loved. 

Adam Rutherford explains in his book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

Kim Wing, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55316196

The scary face-off between the United States and North Korea has a long history, with a lot of personalities involved.  American presidents and the Kim family, sure.  But have you ever heard of Donald Nichols?  You will now. 

Nichols was a 7th-grade dropout recruited to spy for the Americans on the Korean peninsula after World War II. 

He quickly grew into a master spy and master of black ops, a story told in Blaine Harden's book King of Spies:The Dark Reign of America’s Spymaster in Korea. 

Al Jazeera English-http://www.flickr.com/photos/aljazeeraenglish/8049728422/in/set-72157631653957819, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29515145

All eyes are on North Korea at the moment, thanks to its ongoing weapons tests. 

But Richard McGregor urges us to look elsewhere for the real story in Asia: the lingering and growing distrust and dislike between Japan and China. 

McGregor is a journalist who has covered Asia extensively, and he writes about the rising tensions in the region in Asia's Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century

Ancient enmities and modern missteps, including in Washington, are examined in the book. 

Wikimedia

Labor Day gives the Exchange staff a chance to use that last little bit of summer vacation.  But the show must go on, so we provide interviews from previous editions of the JX.  

At 8: This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids.  The effort by Danielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo needs no further explanation.  

At 9: The Invisible History of the Human Race

House of Representatives

Duncan Lee is not a household name, but he probably should be. 

In an age when Americans feared Soviet spies in their midst, he was one.  A spy, that is... and he spied for a very long time, somehow avoiding prison for his deeds. 

Duncan Lee's story is told by Mark A. Bradley in the book A Very Principled Boy

Betty Halbreich did not invent the concept of the personal shopper, but it can be argued that she perfected it. 

New York's swanky Bergdorf Goodman store put her to work picking out clothing for customers to choose from, rather than ransacking the racks themselves. 

Betty became legendary, a story she tells in her memoir I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist

From a postcard, 1909

Just as social media and texting tie people together today, letters were critical in helping people communicate in the early days of our country. 

And pretty much the only way to get a letter to a faraway place was to send it through the mail. 

So the post office was like the Internet of its time, a point Winifred Gallagher brings home in her book How the Post Office Created America.  Created?  It's not too strong a case, she says. 

University of Oregon

We have mixed feelings in our country about refugees who arrive on our shores seeking a safe place far from wars. 

But we forget that human beings in our own region felt the same impulse in the middle of the 19th century.  That's when the series of battles and skirmishes collectively known as the Rogue Indian War disrupted life in the region. 

One site of particular interest to archaeologists is the Harris Cabin, near Merlin in Josephine County.  The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology has studied the site for years now. 

It is the focus of this month's edition of "Underground History." 

Wikimedia

Anybody alive in 1966 probably remembers the line "silver wings... upon their chest." 

It's a line from Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's number one hit song "The Ballad of the Green Berets." 

The patriotic ode to the military made Sadler briefly famous and rich.  Neither condition lasted, as author Marc Leepson points out in a book about Sadler's frequently troubled life, Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Wars of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler

Department of Defense/Public Domain

You'll bum out a lot of older Americans when you point out that the "summer of love" was 50 years ago. 

It was an exciting and pivotal year in American history, and the year Danny Goldberg graduated from high school. 

He includes his own experiences and broadens the focus in his memoir, In Search of The Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea.

The music, the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle and more are mixed in with personal memories of 1967 in the book. 

White House Photo Office/Wikimedia

William F. Buckley was not just the best-known conservative thinker of his time, he was asked for formulate policy based on his conservative views. 

Several presidents sought Buckley's advice, and he was close friends with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. 

Alvin Felzenberg, who served two presidents himself, revisits WFB's administrative influence in the book A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. 

National Archives

So many flights, so many accomplishments for Amelia Earhart. 

And so little evidence to clearly indicate what happened to her when she disappeared, almost exactly 80 years ago. 

The Archaeological Legacy Institute based in Eugene wants to observe the 80th anniversary of Earhart's last flight next month by visiting the island where she may have crashed. 

Wikimedia

Frances Stroh had it all growing up.  She was a rich kid, the heiress to the Stroh Brewing fortune. 

Then the economy of urban Detroit collapsed, beer tastes changed, and the family's fortunes went quickly south. 

It got ugly, a story Stroh tells frankly in her memoir, Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

JFK Library/Wikimedia

The late John Kenneth Galbraith is generally regarded as a liberal economist, but his story is quite a bit more complicated than that, and more than 97 years long.

Galbraith served under four presidents, wrote dozens of books, and worked for half a century at Harvard.

And now we get to read his mail, courtesy of a Southern Oregon University professor. Economics professor Ric Holt is the editor of The Selected Letters of John Kenneth Galbraith, epistles to world leaders, journalists, famous authors, and political opponents (like William F. Buckley).

Wikimedia Commons

Perusing the vast collections of the Oregon Historical Society does not require a trip to Portland. 

You will have to make your way to a computer, but you're already there, right?  OHS just flung open the doors of its new online Digital Collections Site, containing photographs and documents and oral histories and more. 

OHS Digital Archivist Mathieu Deschaine and his staff got the project on its feet. 

Lindbergh Foundation

Flying across the Atlantic in a plane is no big deal these days, apart from the cramped seats in coach. 

90 years ago, it was A Very Big Deal.  Charles Lindbergh took his life in his hands as he flew a single-engine plane from New York to France in 1927. 

Dan Hampton, an accomplished and decorated fighter pilot, tells the story of Lindbergh's dangerous and successful mission in the book The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing

Wikimedia

Norma Paulus was a key figure in Oregon politics in the 70s and 80s, and ran for governor in 1986. 

She missed there, but she was Oregon's first female secretary of state and later served as state school superintendent. 

Her years in the limelight are told in her book The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story

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