Where I am from and going

California, A History by Kevin Starr; 2005; $24.95; 370 pages; A Modern Library Chronicles Books, New York, NY; 0-679-64240-4; History, California, 979.4 S796c; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 5/15-5/20

Why did I pick this up?  Because I am from California and next month I am driving from Portland to San Diego with my friends Robert and Philip Jones, so I wanted to know more about the state I was driving along the edge of.

What is the story?  California was at one time thought to be an island, but eventually people realized that it was part of a larger continent.  Starr has a great format that starts with a basic history of the state and then delves into different areas and does a history of each area, such as education, culture, science, entertainment, art, the effect of California on the rest of the United States and the world, government, labor and forging a diverse group of people into one state that works together.

Did I like it?  Yes, it was a very complete history but at the same time very readable, full of names and places that everyone has heard of.  I liked it so much that I am reading another book by the same author now.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  I was born in Long Beach, CA and have lived in San Diego, Buena Park, Big Sur, Alameda, Oakland, Ferndale, and Port Hueneme, CA.  I think that is all the places we lived and next month I am driving from Portland to San Diego along the edge of the state.

 

Railroad porters, barbers and the NAACP

Images of America, African Americans of Portland by Kimberly Stowers Moreland; 2013;$21.99; 127 pages; Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC; 978-0-07385-9619-8; checked out from Multnomah County Library, St. Johns; 5/15-5/15

Why did I pick this up?  I am always interested in the people who made my town what it is today and too many ‘official’ histories ignore the contribution of minorities, so I thought this might fill in some blanks.

What is the story?  Like most “Images of America” books this is primarily a scrapbook, mostly pictures with captions.  There was some things that I knew of but there were pictures of people whom I only knew by name.  I found out today that the church next door to where I work played an important part in the civil rights movement in Portland.  I found out that two of the Tuskegee Airmen were from Portland  and one of them is still living here in town.

Did I like it?  Yes it was an enlightening look at a history that I had not previously known.  It was like looking at someones’ scrapbook and learning about their family.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  A large portion of the early African American population came west to work on the railroad and in hotels.  The NAACP and the Urban League were vitally important in the fight for civil rights.

West of where I live

Portland, Oregon; East of the Willamette River  by Donald R. Nelson; 2012; $25.00; 120 pages; DNelson Books, Portland, OR; 0-9762823-6-4; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 2/21-2/24

Why did I pick this up?   Because I live in east of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon and always want to know more about where I live.

What is the story?  Mr. Nelson has assembled a collection of vintage photographs of the inner east side of Portland and followed up the history of the buildings in the pictures and if possible showcased the location in the present.

Did I like it?  It was an interesting look at the inner east side of Portland, I didn’t think it really went far enough east to justify the title of the book.

Grade-B

What is with the title of the review?  I live 122 blocks east of the Willamette River in Portland, OR and everything in this book is about 80 blocks west of where I live.

Where I live, Who I work for

Multnomah, The Tumultuous Story of Oregon’s Most Populous County by Jewel Lansing and Fred Leeson; 2012; 326 pages; $24.95; Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR; 978-0-87071-665-2; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Rockwood; 11/15-11/20

Why did I pick this up?  I had read Jewel Lansings’ book on Portland and learned a lot so I thought I would read this.

What is the story?  It is the story of Multnomah County, the smallest county in Oregon geographically, but the largest in population.  The authors trace the county from its founding in the 1850’s to 2010, highlighting the people that led the county and also highlighting the conflicts between the city of Portland and the county.  I learned all kinds of things about the people who shaped this county and much about the workings of the county government.  Jewel Lansing served as the auditor for Multnomah County for eight years so some of this is from a insiders perspective, which is always interesting.  The way the county is governed has changed several times over the years, and how that has impacted the population is interesting.

Did I like it?  Yes, it is very informative as well as being easy to read.  Some non fiction can be rather dry, but the authors make it interesting.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  I live in Multnomah County and work for the Multnomah County Library, so this falls into the category of wanting to know more about where I live.