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Humanities

Winter 2008

Conquistador: Hernan Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs

I suspect I am a good example of the intended audience for this book, which is a popular account of the strange, tragic relationship between Cortés and Montezuma, and the destruction of a way of life. I can’t remember reading anything about Cortés or Montezuma since high school, other than an occasional National Geographic article. So, I am not the best person to comment on the scholarship. But I can comment on the readability as a popular history, and Levy captured me in the initial pages. He has a way of spinning a good story, of keeping the pages turning, and as the pages turn, … » More …

Winter 2002

The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers

How to describe Robinson Jeffers, now 40 years deceased? Visionary or reactionary? Hard-eyed realist or Romantic throwback? The West’s answer to the East’s Robert Frost? California’s anti-type in poetry and politics to John Steinbeck in fiction and politics?

Jeffers’s raw “inhumanism,” along with his defiance of government meddling, seems the essence of fabled American independence and individualism. In one of his anti-Modernist screeds, “Poetry, Gongorism, and a Thousand Years” (1948), which Tim Hunt, former professor of English at Washington State University at Vancouver, includes among other prose in the Selected Poetry, Jeffers advises young poets that a “posthumous reputation” is “the only kind worth considering.” … » More …

Summer 2003

Anaconda: Labor, Community and Culture in Montana's Smelter City

Anaconda, in southwest Montana, was home to the world’s largest copper smelter. Marcus Daly established the first smelter in 1884. In 1980, the last plant closed its doors. Anaconda deals primarily with the community from the 1930s through the 1970s, and focuses on social life, work, unions, and the role of women in an industrialized western town.

An associate professor of history at Washington State University at Vancouver, Laurie Mercier undertook much of the research for Anaconda while she served as state oral historian for Montana.

The strength of Mercier’s work is her attention to women. She doesn’t ignore the male story, but she continually … » More …

Spring 2007

With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture since 1830

For many years, the study of popular culture, like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, “got no respect.” Only with the vast amount of excellent, sophisticated research in the last three decades has the culture preferred by millions of Americans become serious history. LeRoy Ashby’s With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830 is the first book to synthesize hundreds of recent studies of specific aspects of popular culture into a single, sweeping story. Both in time frame—from the 1830s, when innovations in communication and transportation first made a truly mass, national culture possible, to the present era of proliferating new media—and in scope—including … » More …

Spring 2004

All Abraham's Children: Changing Conceptions of Race and Lineage

This thoroughly documented study of race and identity within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints unravels various ways Mormons have constructed and negotiated their identity throughout history. Armand Mauss, professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University, makes the intriguing argument that Mormonism provides a unique case in which religious prejudice or particularism actually undermines secular prejudice. While Mormon relations with other races have not been without difficulty, documentation provided here demonstrates that in specific cases, Mormons hold less prejudicial attitudes than other white Americans.

This is due, according to Mauss, to a theology linking Mormon lineage with other ethnic groups. Believing Native … » More …

Winter 2001

The War Years: A Chronicle of Washington State in World War II

Most Washingtonians don’t realize that their state—with a wartime population of just over 1.7 million—did as much or more per capita than any other state to help win World War II, says James R. Warren.

The WSU alumnus (’49 Speech/Comm.) and Bellevue resident is author of a new book, The War Years: A Chronicle of Washington State in World War II.

The state’s 15 shipyards were busy building warships. Boeing turned out thousands of B-17 and B-29 bombers. Pacific Car and Foundry produced hundreds of Sherman tanks. And Hanford purified the plutonium for the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by B-17s. When the war started … » More …

Winter 2005

Sacajawea's People: The Lemhi Shoshones and the Salmon River Country

In this year of 2005, the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, we are again reminded of the role Sacajawea played in that long journey westward. However, Sacajawea’s tribe of origin, the Lemhi, has gone largely ignored. Only recently have historians given any significance to what Native American history offers us past the late 19th century. It’s this oversight that John W.W. Mann (’01 Ph.D. Hist.) addresses regarding the Lemhi tribe’s heroic struggle to maintain its separate ancestry, cultural heritage, and identity during the 20th century in Sacajawea’s People: The Lemhi Shoshones and the Salmon River Country.

It is, frankly, an excruciating and confusing … » More …

Fall 2003

Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance

In Opening Minds: A Journey of Extraordinary Encounters, Crop Circles, and Resonance Simeon Hein (’93 Ph.D. Soc.) sets out to show that Western rationalism and the rise of technology have alienated us from our world and from each other, but that by tapping into the “quantum perspective,”; we can access hitherto unknown realities and achieve integration with the universe. Hein provides an insightful sociological critique of information technology and our uses of time, then launches into discussions of his own experiences with “the universal mind grid”; through resonant viewing (a form of telepathic perception), encounters with extraterrestrial beings, and some of the stranger aspects of … » More …

A new memorial in Neah Bay, built on land donated by Ed Claplanhoo '56, his wife Thelma, and two other Makah families, commemorates area veterans and the presence of Spain on the Northwest coast as early as 1774. Photo Zach Mazur
Fall 2008

A memorial and a blessing

At the western edge of the Makah Nation village of Neah Bay sits a tidy new park. It marks the spot where 216 years ago Spanish explorers built the first European settlement in the continental United States west of the Rockies and north of San Francisco.

Fort Núñez Gaona–Diah Veterans Park, dedicated in May, was built on property donated by Ed Claplanhoo ’56, his wife Thelma, and two other Makah families in a unique partnership amongst the Makahs, the state, and the Spanish government.

Claplanhoo, a former Makah Tribal chair, had known of the historic significance of his property for many years, even marking it … » More …

Fall 2003

Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the America

This gem of a book is actually about the gem state, Idaho—specifically, the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, where farmers, engineers, lawyers, bankers, and politicians have carved an agricultural landscape out of the parched and dusty sagebrush desert. With deft prose and engaging anecdotes, author Mark Fiege (’85 M.A. Hist.), a professor of history at Colorado State University, systematically traces the 100-year history of the creation and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure that made farming possible in the Snake River plain. Praising it as “an ingenious, intricate, technological system,” Fiege nevertheless offers sober assessments of the economic inefficiencies, ecological losses, engineering foibles, and political … » More …