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NOTABLE WOMEN OF PORTLAND

From the Images of America series

While its visually focused approach doesn’t dig deep, this book deftly spotlights lesser-known figures from Portland’s past.

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Two historians offer a brief look at the role women have played in the evolution of Portland, Oregon.

Prince (Culture Wars in British Literature, 2012, etc.) and debut author Schaffer highlight the many notable ways women have shaped Oregon’s largest city in this informative book, part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. The authors’ aim was “to do our part to mend the telling of Portland’s history,” which has traditionally focused on men. In particular, they draw attention to the lives of Native Americans and other women of color. They begin with the “forgotten history” of the city before the arrival of white settlers in the 1840s and continue through the post–World War II era into the present. Separate chapters cover women in the arts from the 1890s onward (such as noted children’s author Beverly Cleary) and women in politics from the 1920s to today. As with other volumes in this series, the emphasis is on historical photographs, newspaper clippings, and other documents, which are accompanied by short captions. The result is a visually interesting but necessarily scattershot history. Still, the authors have wisely chosen to concentrate on certain themes, such as the fight for women’s suffrage or women’s work on the homefront during World War II, which helps to provide an overarching context to the text and images. In some cases, more details would have been helpful in understanding the broader historical events that provided the backdrop to the women’s actions. For example, a number of African American women who fought for civil rights are admirably profiled, but a statement that Oregon’s 1953 law banning discrimination in public accommodations put it “a decade ahead of the nation in passing civil rights laws” downplays the state’s troubling history of racial exclusion. Yet the authors are to be commended for their efforts to document the experiences of a diverse group of Portland women. Many of them seem ripe for a more in-depth exploration, such as Lucy A. Mallory, a suffragist and writer whom Tolstoy once called the “greatest woman in America.”

While its visually focused approach doesn’t dig deep, this book deftly spotlights lesser-known figures from Portland’s past.

Pub Date: June 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4671-2505-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Arcadia Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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