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April 7th, 2014

Renowned journalist and broadcaster Peter Laufer has written a new book, Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. Slow News challenges us to reevaluate our relationships with the news, relationships that, Laufer argues, have deeply harmful effects—the intellectual equivalent of consuming an empty-calorie diet. Today on the blog, Peter Laufer reflects on current events to make a case for why we need to slow down our news. 

Was a friend or relative or colleague of yours on the lost Malaysia airliner? Were your neighbors inundated by the tragic mudslide in Washington state? Probably not. Nonetheless the CNNs of the world spewed unending accounts of both recent news stories, often reporting nothing. Reporters interviewed reporters who knew nothing but who did not hesitate to speculate. Reporters interviewed so-called experts who knew nothing but often did not hesitate to speculate.

Of course both are riveting stories of tragedy and we hoped for survival. Human nature draws us to such tales as we consider our own mortality and engage in what the National Enquirer told me years ago is the basic criteria for all its reportage: each story must either make you wish you were the protagonist or make you relieved you are not.

Nonetheless, unless we did know a passenger on the plane or a resident of Oso, Washington, how necessary is it for us to subject ourselves to the minute-by-minute stressors of the updates that spiked CNN's ratings? Aren't these examples of stories that can wait for us to digest them once they're resolved? Shouldn't we prioritize our news consumption, especially in this era of too much information?

I believe that such rationing is mandatory for our mental health. That's why I wrote Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. It is a step-by-step guide on how to wean ourselves from the 24-hour news cycle. It is a paean to my motto, "Yesterday's News Tomorrow." We simply do not need all the dismal details of the daily downer creating anxiety and brain clutter in our overwrought heads.

Used with permission from The New Yorker

Of course it is imperative to know as fast as possible if there is a pending crisis in our midst. But when there is passing trouble half a world distance, details can wait until the reporters spewing noise at us at least know the basics of the story. And allowing ourselves to be consumed by the disaster-of-the-moment or the celebrity-divorce-of-the-moment diverts our attention from more difficult to analyze geopolitical world events that deserve our attention.  

Not too long after CNN moves its news cycle past the anomalies of Malaysia Flight 370, the Russian invasion of Crimea will continue to reverberate world affairs for hundreds of millions of us in America, Europe and Asia. So I invite you to join my Slow News Movement and reject addiction to faux news. 

—Peter Laufer

You can order Slow News here.

An award-winning author, journalist, broadcaster, and documentarian, Peter Laufer has written more than a dozen books, including Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling, and The Dangerous World of Butterflies. He reported for NBC and CBS radio around the world, and wrote and produced several documentaries as an NBC news correspondent, winning the George Polk Award for his study of Americans incarcerated overseas. He is the James Wallace Chair in the School of Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon in Eugene. To learn more, visit his website here

March 26th, 2014

Tomorrow, March 27, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake: an enormous earthquake off the Alaskan coast—the largest ever recorded in North America—and the tsunami that hit the West Coast of the United States afterward. Bonnie Henderson, whose latest book, The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast—just out from OSU Press—was described in a recent LA Times book review as “by turns a story of obsession, a geologic mystery and an inquiry into how we deal with disasters — or, more often, don't” joins us to reflect on that anniversary, how best to move forward, and to share rare color snapshots* from the scene in Seaside, Oregon, a day after the tsunami struck 50 years ago. You can also tune in to OPB's Think Out Loud tomorrow at noon to hear more from Bonnie Henderson.  

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Tomorrow, March 27, 2014, marks fifty years since a massive earthquake on the Alaskan coast—at 9.2, the largest ever recorded in North America—generated a tsunami that didn’t just slam the Alaska shoreline but killed people and damaged homes, businesses, and other structures as far south as Crescent City, California.

As geologist Tom Horning—who was asleep in his family’s cottage in Seaside, Oregon, when the tsunami reached the northern Oregon coast and surrounded the cottage like a moat—has said about the not-infrequent tsunami warnings his town receives, “it gets people in Seaside thinking about tsunamis, and that’s a good thing. But it gets people thinking the wrong way.”

Thinking the wrong way about tsunamis—overreacting to warnings of tsunamis coming from far away, then when nothing much happens, tuning out discussions about tsunami preparedness—may ultimately be hazardous to your health and that of your neighbors all along the Pacific Northwest coast.  

Courtesy of Tom Horning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plate tectonics is a complicated subject, and a relatively new theory. The term “plate tectonics” didn’t appear in print until 1969; back in 1964, any scientist who took it seriously was considered something of a crackpot by most of his colleagues. But it takes just a little understanding of how the plates that compose the Earth’s outer crust grow and slide and collide to understand why the Oregon coast—indeed, the entire Pacific Northwest from Vancouver Island to Eureka, California—has been and will again be struck not just by leftover waves generated by an earthquake from far away but by a local tsunami: series of huge waves from an earthquake just a few dozen miles off our own shoreline, one roughly the size of the quake that surprised Japan on March 11, 2011. 

The last time such a quake occurred here was around 9 p.m. on January 26, 1700, when the strain of pressure from the North American plate (the piece of crust under Oregon and Washington) slowly colliding with the offshore Juan de Fuca plate finally gave way, causing the Juan de Fuca plate to suddenly dive under the North American plate. Native people living here experienced that as a huge, five-or six-minute-long earthquake. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, their shoreline villages—every cedar plankhouse, and every person who hadn’t thought to run to high ground, as oral history no doubt suggested they do—was swallowed by the sea.

So what is the right way for people in Seaside—for anyone who lives on or visits or cares about the Pacific Northwest coast—to think about tsunamis?

Denial is one option. There’s no reason to think the next tsunami will happen in your lifetime; it might not strike for hundreds of years. So many other disasters could befall you before then; why worry?

The trouble is, it could happen literally any day. Oregon State University geologist Chris Goldfinger figures there’s about a 12 percent chance of a “full rupture”—shaking the entire 600-mile-long Cascadia Subduction Zone, as the fault line is called—sometime in the next 50 years. He estimates the chances of such a quake on just the southern portion of the fault line in the next half-century at upwards of 43 percent.

Courtesy of Tom Horning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worrying won’t help, nor will seawalls, nor warning sirens: the Big One will immediately knock out power, silencing the sirens. Education can help, particularly of the kind the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has provided with its updated tsunami inundation maps: look at the map and know where you’ll go if the earth starts shaking. New bridges, strong enough to remain standing through a magnitude 9 earthquake, are essential in a town like Seaside, with two rivers to cross between the beach and high ground. And visionary leaders are key—people such as Doug Dougherty, superintendent of the Seaside School District, who is seeking support to move one high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools out of the tsunami inundation zone.

Visit any elementary school classroom, ask who likes science, and you’ll see faces light up and arms shoot up. I’ve found the same sense of wonder among the geologists I’ve interviewed: an unabashed enthusiasm for the serendipitous delight of discovery. For the rest of us world-weary adults, an interest in science tends to be driven by worry: about climate change, or pollution, or looming natural disasters. Too much worry, however, and we get overwhelmed and just stop paying attention.

But what is happening beneath our feet right this minute is amazing, marvelous, fascinating: the Earth reshaping and recycling itself, too slowly to observe until, in a flash, everything changes. As a community, we need to take care of business: to take appropriate, effective steps to attempt to minimize loss of life from what will be this country’s biggest-ever natural disaster.

And then let it go. And enjoy the timeless pleasure of a walk on the beach.

—Bonnie Henderson

You can order The Next Tsunami here.

Journalist Bonnie Henderson is the author of two hiking guidebooks in addition to The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast and Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, which was an Oregon Book Awards finalist and was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by the Seattle Times. She has been a newspaper reporter, an editor at Sunset magazine, and a writer for a number of magazines including Backpacker, Ski, and Coastal Living. She is currently a freelance writer and editor focusing on the natural world. She divides her time between the Oregon coast and her home in Eugene, Oregon. For more information, you can visit Henderson's website here.

*The images, which show the same house from two different angles, are courtesy of Tom Horning.

March 18th, 2014

    Last week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released its 2013 Wolf Conservation and Management Annual Report. The document includes a wolf count and other statistics pertaining to Oregon’s wolf population. Biologists will use this data to determine the state of that population, and how wolves will be managed in Oregon in the year ahead.
    The report shows that in 2013, ODFW recorded a minimum of 64 wolves in 8 packs, including 4 breeding pairs. This number represents an increase of 18 wolves from 2012, but two fewer packs. The reasons behind this reorganization are still under investigation, but one thing is known for certain: the management of wolves in Oregon continues to shift as the state responds to both changes in the animal’s population and the ways in which humans interact with the species.
    OSU Press has conducted an interview with Aimee Lyn Eaton, the author of Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country, published by OSU Press last fall. Eaton’s responses shed light on topics ranging from the current state of wolf management to how the issues related to wolves continue to evolve. Like Collared itself, Eaton’s discussion will be of interest to anyone with a stake in the wolf debate.


In the last chapter of your book, ‘Moving Targets,’ you write: “the wolf issue in Oregon is not a static, flat issue. It cannot be summed up and topped off…it is a living, breathing organism with thousands of moving parts and it changes daily.” Are there any recent developments—shifts in policy or practice—since your book was published just a few months ago?

    Wolf management in Oregon has continued to change and evolve since the publication of Collared last October. Several new wolves and new packs have been identified by the state, and these animals are living and hunting in territories where wolves have not been present for decades. This has led to an increased need for collaborative management and ongoing conversation between wildlife managers and the public. One ramification of this increased presence was the recent January decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to allow livestock producers acting without a permit to kill wolves that are caught in the act of biting, chasing, injuring or killing livestock. As of yet this ruling has not been put into use, however, I believe it does hint at the steps being taken within the state to both empower livestock producers and protect wolves.
    Springtime is a notoriously busy time for wolf management in Oregon. Depredations often occur during calving season, and we might expect to see an increase in conflict as we move toward the warmer months. This will likely spur into action new policies and practices that so far have largely been only theoretical (see the addendum in Collared).
    Beyond the state, the federal government continues to debate the merits of removing gray wolves from the Federal Endangered Species List. A decision is expected in December 2014, and if delisting does occur we can expect further changes to wolf management throughout the state.

I was very interested in the title of your book, Collared. Why are Oregon’s wolves collared? What boons to ranchers, conservationists, and the wolves themselves do these collars provide? How or why did the collar become an emblem for your work—and your book’s title?

    Radio telemetry or GPS collars are one of the primary tools wildlife managers have in determining where wolves are traveling, living and hunting. These collars, which are fitted on animals by trained biologists, provide a wealth of information concerning the state’s wolf population and the habits of individual animals and packs. By analyzing the data from collared animals, the state is better able to actively manage and prepare for wolf/human conflict. For example, if data shows a wolf in close proximity to a known livestock operation, the livestock producer can be notified and encouraged to take extra steps to avoid depredation. In addition, these collars allow for the continued tracking and counting of the state’s population. This is information that has a direct impact on how Oregon’s Wolf Plan is carried out.
    Titling the book Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf County was a collaborative process. Several people at the Press were part of the conversation, and we discussed several options ranging from the very serious to the slightly silly. Ultimately, I liked how Collared hints both at the very real biological management plays in the wolf issue, and at its more cultural meaning when used in a verb form.

The majority of Oregonians haven’t been out to Wallowa County, and thus lack intimacy with what it means to live in close proximity to wolves. Can you reflect on how your own experience doing exactly that changed the trajectory of your work?

    It’s very easy to characterize the individuals and communities involved in wolf management in Oregon. However, like our parents told us when we were young, you can’t know someone’s life until you have walked in their shoes. I chose to spend large amounts of time in eastern Oregon so that I could better increase my own understanding of what it meant to live in an area where wolves were known to exist, and also where many people thought they were a threat. I wanted to know the community not as a group of ranchers, but as individuals with hopes and fears. In order to talk about the issue from multiple sides, I felt it was necessary to enter the arena where things were most tangible. That being said, I also spent large amounts of time in offices, file rooms, coffee shops, courthouses and laboratories across the west as I attempted to increase my own understanding of the people and issues involved in wolf management.
    I believe this willingness to go into the field and meet the people directly involved in wolf management, or really any issue, is paramount to moving away from stereotypes and toward something that looks a lot more like understanding. In using this approach I wanted readers to recognize something of themselves in the book. I hope it was successful.

One person you interviewed in Northeastern Oregon explained: “to come out for wolves is to come out against your neighbors.” With this in mind, were you asked to choose sides? What sorts of responses did you receive as you were working on this project? Since the book itself has come out, what kind of reception have you received, from parties on both sides of the wolf debate?

    Throughout my research and reporting several people made assumptions about where I stood, however I don’t believe that I was ever asked directly to identify myself as either pro or anti wolf. Several times I was greeted with skepticism, but as with any controversial topic, I believe that’s to be expected. I was asking people to tell me what scares them, to tell me their hopes and dreams. They had a right to be wary of where I was coming from, and I did my best to earn their trust and respect by approaching their stories with care and consideration.
    The response to Collared has been very positive, with people on all sides of the debate calling it an honest piece of work. I’m not sure I could have hoped for more than that.

In the introduction of Collared, you narrate the story of the first wolf to re-arrive in Oregon—and subsequently get ‘deported’ back to Idaho. This action was later found to be in violation of the Endangered Species Act but, “at the time,” you explain, “the understanding of wolf management in the West was still in its infancy.” What life stage would you say it’s in now?

    It’s an interesting question. I would say we’re entering the early 20s of the issue's development. We have figured out some things — we know roughly who we are and how we are going to walk through this world, but we’re still prone to some bad decisions and the occasional misstep. Life isn’t quite comfortable yet, but some of the angst is beginning to fade and out there somewhere is the idea that things are pretty much on a good track.

You characterize the entire wolf debate as an issue with “almost no middle ground.” But one of the things that struck me most about your book is how incredibly even-handed you are, how faithful to temperance and presentation of fact. This tone seems to fly directly in the face of the bouts of “flawed reporting” that unfortunately seem to have run rampant in the course of these controversies (84). You allow your readers to formulate their own opinions—and seem to work tirelessly to not tip your hand. Was this your objective in writing this book?

    I think it’s in medicine where future doctors are required to take the Hippocratic Oath promising to do no harm. In a lot of ways that sums up my approach to writing Collared. Throughout the process I knew there were multitude opportunities for me to step in it, to make a mess of things, to drop the ball. In truth it was terrifying, and at several points I swore that my next writing project would be about something benign like dam removal, or nuclear weapons.
    Fortunately at the beginning of the project I was able to recognize that the story of wolves in Oregon doesn’t belong to me, or to any one person. Rather it belongs to all of us, and the most I could hope to do would be to present the information in the best way I knew how, then to get out of the way and let readers relate to the issue through their own experiences and beliefs. Every time I panicked about messing up, I would return to that philosophy.

Of the 2011 litigation that put a temporary injunction on lethal measures to manage Oregon’s wolves, Daniel Edge, former chair of the state’s Wildlife Commission, says to you: “there will be no winning” (70). But as a reader, the accord that’s stuck to resolve the suit reads almost as a resolution—or at least a policy whose intentionality Oregonians on all sides of these issues can be proud of. While I don’t want to ‘spoil’ the addendum for would-be readers of Collared, I would love to hear you reflect on what that agreement conveys about the needs and character of the constituents of Oregon—and the future of wolf issues in our state. (Especially given the care you take to differentiate among western states’ wolf management policies, which “reflect the concerns and realities expressed within these regions”) (102).

    I hope that Oregonians can be proud of the men and women from all sides of the wolf debate who have worked so tirelessly to manage not only for the health of wildlife and wilderness, but also for the prosperity and longevity of rural communities. The groups involved in the injunction and its resolution continue to work together, and trust in each other, to build Oregon’s future. It’s not an easy thing, and I believe one of the reasons they are willing to make it work is they see no better option. In working together they are each other’s best bet for long term sustainability.
    One thing to note, when the agreement was made the additional cost in manpower and work required by the implementation of the changes in the Oregon Wolf Plan was not necessarily considered. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf management program continues to largely be a two-person show. If we wish to see continuity within the program and the continued growth of partnerships and positive relationships we will have to figure out some way to bolster the program and its people.

You can order a copy of Collared or read an excerpt from the book here.

Aimee Lynn Eaton has worked with the National Geographic Society, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Freshwater Trust, numerous community newspapers, and as a science communicator at Oregon State University. She earned a BS in journalism from the University of Oregon and a MS in physical geography from OSU. Eaton’s writing has been published in The New York Times, National Parks Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, The Dirtbag Diaries, and a range of other national and international media. She lives in Central Oregon, where she grew up. For more information, visit her website, Notes from the Dry Side

 

March 10th, 2014

Recently, Jim Lichatowich, whose most recent book, Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery is out from the OSU Press, paid a visit to Oregon State to deliver a talk: “Salmon Management and Salmon Science at a Crossroads” as part of the department of Fisheries and Wildlife’s seminar series.

Lichatowich spoke openly with young biologists about his experiences over the course of his esteemed career—including the ethical dilemmas between policy and science he says are endemic to the profession. He challenges would-be wildlife managers to consider what they themselves will do, when faced with one such dilemma of their own.

Today, Jim Lichatowich returns to OSU as a guest blogger to offer his advice in writing.

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During my career, I worked nearly 20 years at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). As chief of fisheries research at ODFW, I learned how difficult it was to get the new scientific information the researchers were developing incorporated into salmon management programs. After leaving ODFW, I served on ten independent scientific review panels, which were looking into various aspects of salmon management and recovery programs. Service on those panels also showed me that there are impediments to the incorporation of science into salmon management and recovery programs.

One of the scientific panels I served on was the Independent Scientific Advisory Board for the Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program. Another panel scientist, Rick Williams, and I summed up part of our combined 20 plus years on the panel in this paper: Failures to Incorporate Science Into Fishery Management and Recovery Programs: Lessons from the Columbia River. We identified three impediments: 1) a conceptual foundation that is not consistent with the latest science, 2) the fragmented way watersheds are managed and, 3) political interference.  Recently, I added a fourth impediment: a lack of historical perspective.

In my book Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery, I discuss several examples of the gap between what science is telling us and what management is actually doing. This gap is an impediment to the success of salmon recovery programs and one of the reasons that the huge expenditure of recovery dollars has resulted in so little real progress. For students at OSU who are looking forward to a career in a fish and wildlife agency, the gap between science and management has another serious implication.

During the 44 years of may career, I witnessed this gap create ethical dilemmas for young biologists.  For example, do you follow a policy that you know to be a flawed or do you do what you believe is the right course, the course consistent with what science is telling us about salmon sustaining-ecosystems? It is an ethical dilemma that I have seen colleagues face too many times and have experienced myself.

If or when confronted with this ethical dilemma each biologist has to make an intensely personal decision based on his or her circumstances.  No one can make it for you. The only advice I can give is this: take a little time now to think about what you might decide should you be faced with this dilemma, so you will be at least partially prepared to handle such a difficult situation.

--Jim Lichatowich


Jim Lichatowich is the author of the award-winning Salmon without Rivers: A History of the Pacific Salmon Crisis, and Salmon, People, and Place: A Biologist’s Search for Salmon Recovery. He has worked on Pacific salmon issues as a researcher, manager, and scientific advisor for more than forty years. He has served for many years on the Independent Scientific Advisory Board for the Columbia River Salmon Restoration Program, the State of Oregon’s Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team, and on other independent scientific review panels in British Columbia and California. He lives in Columbia City, Oregon.

February 25th, 2014

OSU Press publishes books that celebrate and explore aspects of African American history in the Pacific Northwest. (For more on OSU Press publications that honor the significant contributions African American women have made to Oregon, click here.) In particular, OSU Press has established a legacy of publications that aim to acknowledge and recount the historical realities of both African American experiences and the struggle for civil rights in Oregon.

In Oregon’s Promise, An Interpretive History, published by OSU Press in 2003, author David Peterson del Mar endeavors not only to provide readers with a general history of Oregon, but to go beyond and beneath pioneering narratives to examine Oregon’s often overlooked margins—like Oregon’s earliest African American inhabitants—who struggled to be included in Oregon’s promise.

Peterson del Mar brings us the words of a man who came to Oregon in 1844, who remarked: “I’m going to Oregon, where there’ll be no slaves, and we’ll all start even.” Ten years after the publication of Oregon’s Promise, OSU Press published Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory by R. Gregory Nokes. Breaking Chains elucidates the story of slavery in Oregon and sheds light on the fact that many of the state’s earliest constituents—especially its African Americans—never got their chance to do exactly that—start even.

It’s hard to say what in the book’s premise best captures the complexity of the attitudes surrounding slavery in Oregon at the time. There’s the fact that a slaveholder who settled in Oregon kept his slaves and his slaves’ children, whom he promised to free, in bondage for almost ten years; that one of those slaves, when finally freed, took his former master to court and won; or that Oregon was admitted to the union as a free state—but with a voter-approved ban on African Americans written into its constitution: the only free state ever admitted to the union with such a ban. You can read an excerpt from the book here.

Also published in 2013, Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era by Richard Etulain reinforces the manner in which the political landscapes of early Oregon made the state a far cry from a ‘far corner’ and, especially when it came to Abraham Lincoln—whose close ties to the area informed his military policies, his views on civil and legal rights, and his stance on North-South ideological conflicts—Oregon’s influence was strong.

Thanks in part to publications like Breaking Chains and Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in OSU Press’ recent seasons, these crucial narratives are now closer to Oregon’s cultural, literary, and scholastic spotlights than ever before. To honor this work, and to celebrate R. Gregory Nokes’ nomination for the Oregon Book Award, OSU Press is pleased to announce its 2014 inaugural Book Giveaway. This week, you can enter to win a free copy of Breaking Chains—and read it just in time for the Oregon Book Awards Ceremony on March 17th.

There are three ways to enter. You can either:

  • leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address (comments are private)                  
  • tweet @osupress and say that you’d like to be entered to win a copy
  • e-mail the Press at osupress@oregonstate.edu

You can vote for OSU Press and Breaking Chains for the 2013 Readers’ Choice Award here.

You can learn more about nominee R. Gregory Nokes by visiting his website here.

Other books of interest are available for your perusal; click on their covers to learn more.

Books can be ordered online, or by calling 1-800-621-2736.

February 18th, 2014

Last month at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Ken Albala’s latest book, Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food: Perspectives on Eating from the Past and a Preliminary Agenda for the Future, recently published by OSU Press, won in the category of Culinary History. Today, Albala, a Professor of History at the University of the Pacific, joins us on the blog to offer his perspective on the potency, and the palatability, of cooking from the past. 

The Cookbook as Historical Source

People often ask me how to do historical research using cookbooks. There are several different approaches, all legitimate. On one level, it’s interesting to see what people liked to eat in the past. Their preferences were very different from ours. In the Renaissance, they used a much heavier hand with spices than we would and they liked food finely pounded and sieved–mostly because they ate with their fingers. Sugar also appears in places we find surprising, on a roast chicken, or sprinkled on a plate of pasta. They also ate a much wider range of game animals and in one of my favorite cookbooks by Bartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to Pope Pius V in the 16th century, there are even recipes for hedgehog and bear.


Rather than gawk at these strange dishes, my inclination has been to cook them, whenever possible using the same cooking utensils, over an open flame and of course meticulously sticking to the written directions without substitutions. As it turns out, cookbook authors knew what they were doing. I have never made a dish from the past that didn’t turn out right, nor one that was anything less than delicious. From this kind of historical research we get a glimpse not only of the taste preferences of our forebears, but also an idea of what daily life was like for a good proportion of the population, both the professional male chefs as well as the women who cooked for households.


In reading and cooking directly from old cookbooks, most importantly, we get a sense of the aesthetic values of the past, much the same way listening to Bach on an original harpsichord or looking at an old painting in person tells us exactly what people valued. I think it is a shame that we don’t have a large literature and critical vocabulary for culinary history of the caliber that art historians and historians of music have long enjoyed. People in the past ate pretty much every day, so why not try to understand their culinary arts with the same depth that we study other arts?   

There are other ways to read cookbooks without getting your hands dirty though. Much as any historian is trained to read between the lines and look for clues in any primary source document, cookbooks are also a remarkable resource. For example, if an author instructs to start by killing your chicken, you can be fairly confident that it was written for a rural audience. The number of people served, although rarely specified, can also be guessed from the proportions called for. If it is one chicken this would have been a small household, perhaps a family. It’s very clear when chefs are writing for professionals working in noble or royal households; they use huge proportions and exotic expensive ingredients.

Sometimes an explicit food culture will be apparent in a cookbook. Some focus on national dishes as a matter of patriotic pride. Some recommend spare and frugal foods as a means of attaining health, longevity or sometimes piety. Others may suggest avoiding animal products as a way to be penitent during periods of official fasting. In other words, recipes often reveal an entire worldview, a social and political outlook, even an ideology of food. For example, a cookbook written in the late Middle Ages known as the Menagier de Paris was composed by a wealthy elderly townsman for his young bride. The author assumed that he would die first and that his widowed wife would need extensive household skills, including cooking, to attract a new husband. While very revealing about patterns of marriage and the structure of families, the recipes themselves were often borrowed from a much more famous royal cookbook, the Viandier of Taillevent. What this suggests is that this man was not only of middling ranks, but he was a social aspirant, trying his best to teach his young bride how to make elegant dishes so she could pass as a woman of stature.

Take a look at this recipe which comes from Hugh Plat’s Delightes for Ladies (London: H.L. and R.Y., 1628, pp. 71-2) and see what you can discover between the lines. And if you are adventuresome, try cooking it. A beef brisket works very well, it’s corned (salted) beef.

How to keepe powdered beefe five or sixe weeks after it is sodden, without anie charge.

When your beefe hath beene well and thorowly poudred by ten or twelve dayes space, then seeth it throroughly, dry it with a cloth, and wrap it in dry clothes placing the same in close vessels and Cupboards, and it will keepe sweete and sound two or three moneths, as I am credibly informed from the experience of a kinde & loving friend.

–Ken Albala

Ken Albala is Professor of History at the University of the Pacific and author or editor of sixteen books, including Eating Right in the Renaissance, The Banquet, and Beans: A History (2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award). Albala edited the Food Cultures Around the World series, the 4-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, and is now series editor of AltaMira Studies in Food and Gastronomy, for which he wrote Three World Cuisines: Italian, Chinese, Mexican (Gourmand World Cookbook Awards best foreign cuisine book, U.S.). Albala also co-edits the journal Food, Culture and Society and has co-authored two cookbooks: The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. He lives in Stockton, California.

You can order Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food here.

February 3rd, 2014

Issues surrounding the Columbia River Gorge are an ongoing source of conflict, emotion, and interest. And who better to chronicle the history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act, the legislation that incited both conservation and controversy, than Kathie Durbin—renowned journalist and native Oregonian? In a recent review of her book, Bridging a Great Divide: The Battle for the Columbia River Gorge for the Oregonian, Jeff Baker calls the book Durbin’s “last, best story.”
 
Today, we share an excerpted foreword from Bridging a Great Divide, written by Durbin’s longtime friend (and fellow OSU Press author) Roberta Ulrich. Ulrich offers readers an intimate glimpse into the lengths Durbin went to finish her final book—further evidence of her indomitable legacy.


 
Foreword
 
I have just returned from a hike in the Columbia Gorge and it reminded me how much we owe Kathie Durbin for giving us the story of how this magical place was preserved—and how the battle to keep it continues. Wildflower blossoms glistened through raindrops; I didn’t know the flowers’ names but Kathie would have. Giant moss-covered evergreen trunks towered into the low-hanging clouds and their branches diverted the worst of the rain. Kathie would have reveled in this slosh through the woods.

For Kathie journalism wasn’t just a job; it was a passion. She was dogged in pursuit of a story, thorough in gathering facts, accurate in reporting, and fiercely competitive. She was intense about the things she cared about. Many relished her sly sense of humor that skewered the self-important—and sometimes herself. She stepped on some extremely large toes, but even public officials who endured her interrogations respected her integrity.

Kathie earned her journalism degree from the University of Oregon in 1975, and found her true calling at the Oregonian—in her assignment to cover the environment in 1989. The six-part series, “Forests in Distress,” that Kathie co-wrote in September 1990 was called “the turning point in the long battle over the fate of our forests.”

That battle over logging old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest—a fight that came to be called the “spotted owl wars”—brought Kathie a national reputation. She even won rare respect from the often-insular Washington press corps, whose members tend to disdain reporters from the hinterlands. The forest conflict spilled into Congress and the administration of George H. W. Bush and the Capitol reporters recognized the caliber of Kathie’s coverage.

After Kathie left the Oregonian in 1994, she co-founded and co-edited Cascadia Times. She also chronicled the lengthy forest battle in a fine book, Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat and Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign, published in 1996. That book remains the definitive history of the struggle over management of Northwest forests. She continued writing about environmental issues for High Country News, National Wildlife, Audubon magazine, Defenders of Wildlife and the Seattle Weekly. The Tongass National Forest caught her attention and she produced another fine book, Tongass: Pulp Politics and the Fight for the Alaska Rain Forest, in 1999. At times Kathie might have found life easier had she been willing to confine her work to less controversial issues. Instead, she continued to find ways to do the work she seemed meant to do. As she neared retirement she began to think that the history of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and its effects would make an interesting book. She was right.

Freed from daily journalism in 2011, she sought out the people who had created the act and the people who implemented it and the people who fought against it. As she was completing the interviews and beginning the writing she was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. It was ironic—as she herself noted ruefully—now that she could devote all her time to a project she really cared about, she was forced to race cancer’s intractable clock. She won that race; the book that resulted is truly a triumph of reporting, history, description, and analysis—and an excellent read to boot.   

Through chemotherapy and radiation she worked on. Even as her strength failed she kept writing. She finished the manuscript working in bed after she was hospitalized. “That’s a real deadline,” she said with a mischievous smile.
           

“This is my legacy,” Kathie had told a friend, explaining her determination to finish the book in the face of her devastating illness.

It is a fitting legacy from a noteworthy reporter who cared about the world she lived in.

--Roberta Ulrich
 
You can order Durbin’s book here, and read more about Kathie here and here.

 

January 16th, 2014

 Spring is rapidly approaching and with it come new books from OSU Press. We’re excited to share previews of the ten new books being released in the coming months, all of which are available for pre-order now!

 

   

  

Tsunami

 

Bonnie Henderson’s The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast shares the compelling story of how scientists came to understand the Cascadian Subduction Zone—a fault line capable of producing earthquakes even larger than the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan—and how ordinary people living in zones vulnerable to tsunamis cope with the knowledge that when the next one strikes—this year or hundreds of years from now—it is likely to be the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States.

 

 

Slow News

 

Peter Laufer’s Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer makes a provocative plea to news consumers: “Don’t become a news junkie,” take a step back from the frenetic barrage of instant empty-calorie news that has become integrated into our daily lives to consider news both thoughtfully and thoroughly. Laufer offers twenty-eight rules—including “Trust accuracy over time” and “Know your sources”—to guide us on the gradual quest for slower, most meaningful news.

 

 

Nude Beach

 

In The Nude Beach Notebook, Barbra J. Scot explores her reluctance, and longing, to reconnect with a much-loved brother, lost to alcoholism for thirty years. Scot’s long, meditative walks on the nude beach of the idyllic Sauvie Island near Portland, Oregon, and the unique individuals she encounters on the beach, as well as stories about the native people who once lived on the river, become a lens for exploring family responsibility, faith, and the importance of place as a means for exploring and interpreting one’s own story.

 

 

Trying Home

 

Justin Wadland’s meticulously researched Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound is the fascinating true story of the rise and fall of Home, Washington—a practical experiment in anarchism. Wadland weaves his own discovery of Home into the linked narratives that explore the iconoclastic individuals who inhabited an attempt at a utopian community in the Pacific Northwest during the early 20th century.  

 

 

Church

 

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Foster Church’s new book, Turning Down the Sound: Travel Escapes in Washington’s Small Towns, guides adventurers into the engrossing small towns of Washington. With maps, photographs, and recommendations for more than thirty-five towns in all corners of the state, Turning Down the Sound vastly expands the resources available for readers and travelers keen on encountering what Church calls American tourism’s last frontier: its small towns.

 

 

Indian Heart

 

In To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School, Melissa D. Parkhurst combines histories of Chemawa alumni with archival records of campus life. The book examines the prominent forms of music making at Chemawa—school band, choirs, private lessons, pageants, dance, garage bands, and powwows. Parkhurst traces the trajectory of federal Indian policy, highlighting students’ creative responses and the ways in which music reveals the inherent contradictions in the U.S. government’s assimilation practices.

 

 

Salmon

 

Salmon Is Everything: Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed is the script of a play developed by director Theresa May to give a voice to the central spiritual and cultural role that salmon play in tribal life. It also presents essays by artists and collaborators that illuminate the process of creating and performing theatre on Native and environmental issues.

 

 

 

Ancestral Places

 

Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira’s Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies explores the deep connections that ancestral Kānaka (Native Hawaiians) enjoyed with their environment. Oliveira’s language moves fluidly between Hawaiian and English, terms are nimbly defined, and the work of the field is embodied: geographic layers are enacted within the text, new understandings created—not just among lexica, but amidst illustrations, charts, terms, and poetry.

 

 

 ThereforeAn annotated translation of the extraordinary autobiography of Dr. Moisey Wolf (1922-2007), “Therefore, Choose Life...” is an important addition to the literature of Jewish experience and deepens our understanding of the human condition in the twentieth century. Wolf ’s narrative skill and evocative personal insights, combined with Judson Rosengrant’s judicious editing, annotation, and elegant translation, provide the reader with direct access to a world that has seemingly ceased to exist, yet continues to resonate and inform our own lives in powerful ways.

 

 

Sedges

 

Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest: Second Edition is an illustrated guide to all 169 species, subspecies, and varieties in the genus Carex that grow in the wild in Oregon and Washington. This updated second edition includes eight additional species documented in the region since the guide was first published, along with an improved identification key, updated nomenclature and taxonomy, revised range maps, and improved illustrations.

 

 

 For more information about these titles and more please reference our spring catalog. If you'd like a print copy of the spring catalog request one by sending us an e-mail at OSUPress@oregonstate.edu.

December 23rd, 2013

It's been a rewarding year of publishing at OSU Press. Many thanks to our fabulous authors and partners. We're pleased to take a moment to celebrate the authors and books of 2013.

Happy and peaceful holidays to all...

Calif CondorsAva HelenLincoln

    Ellie's

  HoldfastEscapingBreakingHuntingHere on the EdgePNW CheeseCollaredGrow FoodAccomplishinDeeper SenseSalmonMeanderBridging

November 13th, 2013

We are pleased to welcome OSU Press Acquistions Editor Mary Elizabeth Braun as a guest on our blog as part of the University Press Week blog tour! The tour continues today at Texas A&M University Press. A complete blog tour schedule is available here.

UP Week logo   There are many ways to define a region, yet no single definition can completely capture its essence. The diverse books published by university presses help define and describe the complexity of various regions, covering everything from a region's history, culture, flora and fauna, geography, natural history, ecosystems, watersheds, and political history, to its folklore, literature, and art. They may include reprint editions of out-of-print regional classics, as well as newly written books. Such books are usually written for general readers as well as scholars and students, with an emphasis on good writing and accessibility, and published in attractively designed, well-illustrated editions. Increasingly, such books are available electronically—some with digital ancillaries—as well as in print.

Dragonflies coverSlugsButterflies

Regional books from the Oregon State University Press focus on the Pacific Northwest. Some of our authors define the Pacific Northwest strictly by political boundaries, others define it by watersheds and landforms. Some include northern California, or Alaska, or western Canada, or western Idaho and Montana, while others are adamant that the region comprises only Oregon and Washington. Of course, the definition of the region has shifted over time. Our books include an atlas of the Pacific Northwest and an atlas of the state of Oregon; several regionally-based scientific reference books and field guides, such as Dragonflies and Damselflies of Oregon and Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest; and books about land-use planning, natural resource management, wildlife policy, Oregon viticulture, and cheesemaking in the Pacific Northwest. We recently published our first children's book and an accompanying teacher's guide, Ellie's Log: Exploring the Forest Where the Great Tree Fell, which was inspired by research done at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades. 

Our literary books include the anthology Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, edited by noted poet David Biespiel; the six-volume Oregon Literature Series created by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English; many memoirs by women and men who have lived and worked in the Pacific Northwest at different points in time; and our first novel, Brian Doyle's Mink River, which has sold more than thirty thousand copies since its publication in 2010.  Books in the Northwest Photography Series present the finest Pacific Northwest historical and contemporary photographs in book form, complemented by an online digital archive, curated exhibitions at museums, schools, and libraries, and education programs. 

We continue to expand our list in Native American and Indigenous Studies, which includes titles such as Teaching Oregon Native Languages and Oregon Archaeology and the forthcoming books To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School and "Salmon Is Everything": A Community-Based Play from the Klamath Watershed. Our political books include a series by Pacific Northwest women politicians; To the Promised Land: A History of Government and Politics in Oregon, written by Tom Marsh, a long-time Oregon high school history teacher and state legislator; and A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936. Other recent books include titles about slavery in the Oregon Territory, the first authoritative account of the unsolved murder of more than thirty Chinese gold miners on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon, and noted historian Richard Etulain's cross-continental history about Abraham Lincoln's strong connections with the Oregon Country on various political issues. Glenn May's book Sonny Montes and Mexican American Activism in Oregon is a major contribution to Oregon and Chicano history, along with Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives. We have published books about two WWII conscientious objector camps in Oregon, and our reprint edition of Oregon poet laureate William Stafford's book Down In My Heart: Peace Witness in War Time continues to sell well.   

The regional books we publish create an identity for the Oregon State University Press, as well as the region about which we publish. We help our parent institution fulfill its mission as a comprehensive public, research-extensive university, one of only two land-, sea-, space-, and sun-grant institutions in the country. We contribute to the economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress of people in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

The bottom line? We publish well-written and engaging books for readers eager to learn more about the place in which they live or visit, and to facilitate their exploration, entertainment, and enjoyment of the region.

—Mary Elizabeth Braun, Acquistions Editor, OSU Press

Member of AAUP