SEATTLE: The Life and Times of an American City by Gerald B. Nelson

SEATTLE: The Life and Times of an American City

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A windy squawk at Seattle as the city that free-wheeling enterprise built, Klondike gold and the Great-Northern connection consolidated, and Boeing sold out. Beneath his contempt (or pique), native-son Nelson has a story: the beauty of living in Seattle promotes the recruitment of newcomers--whether day laborers or junior executives--who become expendable as soon as the latest bubble bursts. When the relapse of commercial aviation and the SST crash led Boeing to lay off thousands, ""The new immigrant from M.I.T., and the older company man. . . found himself in much the same situation as the coolies brought in to drive the final railroad spikes, except no boats waited to take him back to China. And he wasn't hated, he just wasn't needed."" The better side of Seattle is represented for Nelson by David Denny, one of four founders who, foreclosed by brother Arthur (""We were all Capitalists""), walked away--into the nearby woods (not where he came from). One who stayed out of the woods was Teamster boss Dave Beck--he saw the profit of going into partnership with business--while the victims cited include the 1919 General Strikers and those 1970 anti-warriors, the Seattle Eight, the Indians, Japanese, and blacks. Seafair Week sums it up: ten days of wild but harmless fun followed by blinkered diligence, empty distraction, and insecurity. Trouble is, Nelson's too hung up on Seattle's wrongs to convince us he has tho picture right.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1977
Publisher: Knopf