Monthly Archives: July 2014

Photo Essay: Exploring Seattle’s Architectural History

From the Space Needle and Pike Place Market  to the Smith Tower and Suzzallo Library, Seattle is a city defined by its iconic buildings. In the image-rich new edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, editor Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and volume contributors bring to life the city’s fascinating built environment and the architects who worked to create it. Here we provide a sampling of what the book has to offer through ten photographic glimpses into the city’s rich architectural landscape.

Learn more about Seattle’s architectural history and celebrate the publication of the updated edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture at two upcoming events:

Book signing, reading, and reception with Jeffery Karl Ochsner
at Peter Miller Books, August 6 at 6:00 p.m.

Jeffrey Karl Ochsner in conversation with Feliks Banel
at Town Hall Seattle, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.

1. Alaska Building

0C-05-AlaskaBuilding (2)

Photo credit: University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, 1905. Photo by Asahel Curtis

Alaska Building, built 1903–4, designed by Eames & Young with Saunders & Lawton (superintending). The first of the city’s steel-frame high-rise office buildings rose fourteen stories to tower over surrounding construction. Continue reading

No-No Boy: Ruth Ozeki Reflects on the Legacy of a Japanese American Classic

Originally published in 1957,  John Okada‘s No-No Boy tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a fictional version of the real-life “no-no boys.” Yamada answered “no” twice in a compulsory government questionnaire as to whether he would serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to the United States. Unwilling to pledge himself to the country that interned him and his family, Ichiro earns two years in prison and the hostility of his family and community when he returns home to Seattle.

As Ruth Ozeki writes in her foreword to the new edition of this classic book, Ichiro’s “obsessive, tormented” voice subverts Japanese postwar “model-minority” stereotypes, showing a fractured community and one man’s “threnody of guilt, rage, and blame as he tries to negotiate his reentry into a shattered world.” Here, we feature an excerpt from Ozeki’s  powerful new foreword, which she wrote as a personal letter to John Okada.

Dear John Okada,

I’m writing to you across time, as one writer to another, to congratulate you on the reissue of your groundbreaking novel, No-No Boy. The University of Washington Press has done me the honor of asking me to write a new foreword to your book, and to tell you the truth, I’m nervous. I wish I could consult with you, or visit you and ask you for your blessing, but I can’t.

You probably don’t even know that your novel was groundbreaking. When it was published, back in 1957, you probably thought it was a colossal failure. It’s hard enough to write a novel, and harder still to get one published, but then to have it so completely ignored—this must have been crushing. Your original publisher, Charles E. Tuttle, was based in Tokyo, which I’m sure didn’t help your chances for success in North America. The few critics here who bothered to review it pretty much panned it.They bitched about your “bad English” and said it wasn’t literature. Even Japanese Americans shunned it. It seems they were embarrassed by it, which sounds crazy now, but in retrospect I suppose I understand why. In No-No Boy you wrote unflinchingly about the scarring experience of being a Japanese American on the West Coast during World War II, but that war had only ended twelve years earlier, and twelve years is no time at all. When your book came out, Japanese Americans were busy keeping their heads down, assimilating, and working on becoming the model minority of 1950s America. It’s understandable. They had been rounded up and sent to prison camps in the desert. They had lost their homes and businesses and communities. They had suffered, and they wanted to move on. No-No Boy was radical, but it was ahead of its time. It was angry and raw. It touched nerves and opened wounds. It reminded them of a past they wanted to forget, and so they rejected it. Your book disappeared almost overnight. Continue reading

Where the Buffalo (May) Roam

[This blog is crossposted at]

A wild buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by William Wyckoff.

A wild buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by William Wyckoff.

The Department of the Interior recently issued a plan to reintroduce free-roaming bison across the Intermountain West and Great Plains. This news came with praise from advocates of wild bison and sharp criticism from ranchers who view buffalo and the diseases they can carry as threats to their livelihoods. Here, geographer William Wyckoff provides historical context for bison management in the American West and examines implications of the new reintroduction plan.

In late June, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released its long-awaited report on the future of bison management in the American West. As a resident of Bozeman, Montana—only a short day trip from Yellowstone National Park—I know bison management is a dicey topic: in this region, many western cattle ranchers fear that Yellowstone bison will infect their herds with brucellosis. I visited Yellowstone yesterday and the large herds congregating in the park’s Lamar Valley were a focus of continuing fascination for park visitors.

Bison herd in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by William Wyckoff.

Bison herd in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by William Wyckoff.

Continue reading

UW Press News, Reviews, Events


Jean Morgan Meaux‘s In Pursuit of Alaska: An Anthology of Travelers’ Tales, 1879-1909 was featured in the “Best of the Best from the University Presses” panel at the American Library Association annual conference in June. It also appears alongside several other UW Press books in the bibliography of University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 24th Edition.

We provide here a roundup of the UW Press titles that were considered exceptional by reviewers from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Collection Development and Evaluation Section of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA/CODES) in this year’s edition of the bibliography. We also include highlights from the reviewer comments that show why these books are so ideal for school libraries and general readers.

In Pursuit of Alaska: An Anthology of Travelers’ Tales, 1879-1909 edited by Jean Morgan Meaux 

“Being a historian, I am a sucker for first-person accounts of past eras. Jean Morgan Meaux’s collection of stories, articles, and diary entries from Alaskan travelers, pioneers and Gold Rush miners fascinated me. Well known writers such as John Muir and Charles Hallock mingle with the voices of famed travelers like Mary Hitchcock and scientists like Ernest Ingersoll. These short tales are full of vibrant descriptions, replete with terror, humor, indefatigable spirits, and ultimately, true adventure. The included images, coupled with vivid descriptions written in such stories as H.W. Seton’s Escape from Icy Bay, are gripping. I recommend this book for public libraries with strong geography or history collections”—Tina Beaird (RUSA/CODES) Continue reading

Idaho’s Place: Making a Case for a New History of the Gem State

Idaho’s history is as complicated and diverse as any Western state, yet it is often overlooked in narratives about the American West. Adam M. Sowards’s new edited volume, Idaho’s Place: A New History of the Gem State attempts to claim Idaho’s rightful place  while also shedding light on its rich history. From the state’s Indigenous roots and early environmental battles to recent political and social events, these essays provide much-needed context for understanding Idaho’s important role in the development of the West. Here, Adam Sowards introduces the book and makes a compelling case for more critical examination of Idaho’s history.

What is Idaho’s place? It is a deceptively simple question. The answer, of course, is, it depends. It depends partially on how we frame the question. If we consider it geographically, Idaho is a meeting ground of the Great Basin, Rocky Mountains, and Columbia Plateau and is characterized by stunning sagebrush, majestic mountains, and roiling rivers. If we examine it politically, Idaho is as conservatively Republican as any state today, but beginning in 1971, two Democratic governors served six consecutive terms, and the state has long been represented by fiercely independent Republicans and Democrats unafraid of bucking their party establishments and serving the state more than a party’s ideology. If we conceive of it ethnically, Idaho is one of the most homogeneous states in the nation, yet once nearly one-third of its population was Chinese, a long and proud Basque tradition strongly influences cultural events and identities, and its many tribal members represent a continuing vital presence.

Chinese immigrants constituted a prominent community in nineteenth-century Idaho mining camps. Lalu Nathoy, better known as Polly Bemis, represents the rare Chinese woman whose experiences have not been entirely lost to history. February 6, 1910. Photo by Charles Shepp. Photo Courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society, 62-44.7.

Chinese immigrants constituted a prominent community in nineteenth-century Idaho mining camps. Lalu Nathoy, better known as Polly Bemis, represents the rare Chinese woman whose experiences have not been entirely lost to history. February 6, 1910. Photo by Charles Shepp. Photo Courtesy of Idaho State Historical Society, 62-44.7.

Continue reading

A Roadside Guide to the Lakes of the North Cascades Highway

Each year thousands of drivers travel Washington State’s breathtakingly beautiful North Cascades Highway, observing the region’s alpine flora and fauna and its dramatic geologic features. In The North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide, author and photographer Jack McLeod takes readers through a number of stops at eye-catching sites along eighty miles of the highway. In this richly illustrated book, McLeod explains the deep geological history of the North Cascades landscape we see today. Moving beyond geology, McLeod introduces the region’s plant and animal life as well as its key historical moments. In today’s guest post, McLeod introduces six mountain lakes that can be found alongside the North Cascades Highway, following the same milepost-by-milepost model he employs in the book.

Gazing from the overlook, my wife muses that nature doesn’t always look natural. Below us, the teal-colored lake looks like a giant piece of abstract turquoise jewelry. With kayaks. And a single fir on an exposed rock of Skagit Gneiss.

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake is one of three visible lakes along State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway. It’s my favorite because of so many outdoor memories canoeing, camping, climbing and even taking classes. Nearby are Gorge and Ross Lakes which, like Diablo, exist because dams were built in the mid-1900s to provide inexpensive electricity for a growing Seattle. The headwaters of the Skagit River flow from Canadian peaks into Ross Lake then over Ross, Diablo, and Gorge Dams to flow free again as the Skagit Wild and Scenic River System. Diked and directed in Skagit farmland, glacial melt water finally pours into the salty Salish Sea. Continue reading