Paper pub. date
June 2014
ISBN 9780870717420 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870717437 (ebook)
6 x 9 inches, 192 pages. B&W photographs. Selected Bibliography. Sources. Index.

Trying Home

The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound

Justin Wadland

The true story of an anarchist colony on a remote Puget Sound peninsula, Trying Home traces the history of Home, Washington, from its founding in 1896 to its dissolution amid bitter infighting in 1921.

As a practical experiment in anarchism, Home offered its participants a rare degree of freedom and tolerance in the Gilded Age, but the community also became notorious to the outside world for its open rejection of contemporary values. Using a series of linked narratives, Trying Home reveals the stories of the iconoclastic individuals who lived in Home, among them Lois Waisbrooker, an advocate of women’s rights and free love, who was arrested for her writings after the assassination of President McKinley; Jay Fox, editor of The Agitator, who defended his right to free speech all the way to the Supreme Court; and Donald Vose, a young man who grew up in Home and turned spy for a detective agency.

Justin Wadland weaves his own discovery of Home—and his own reflections on the concept of home—into the story, setting the book apart from a conventional history. After discovering the newspapers published in the colony, Wadland ventures beyond the documents to explore the landscape, traveling by boat along the steamer route most visitors once took to the settlement. He visits Home to talk with people who live there now.

Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Trying Home will fascinate scholars and general readers alike, especially those interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest, utopian communities, and anarchism.

Visit Justin Wadland's website for Trying Home.

Photo Credits for Trying Home.

About the author

Justin Wadland works as a librarian at the University of Washington Tacoma Library. He holds an MLIS from the University of Washington and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. His reviews and creative writing have appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Believer, Crab Creek Review, and other publications. After growing up in Michigan and Vermont, he now lives with his wife and two sons in Tacoma.

Visit Justin Wadland's website

Read more about this author

View an excerpt here.

Life at Home: Shelter

"By bringing together oral histories, photographs, and a play by Eugene O'Neill about Vose, Wadland crafts a history that creatively exposes the problems Home faced in the second decade of the 20th century. In a captivating historical narrative, Wadland weaves together a wealth of archival material and a provacative first-person reflection on the author's contemporary research. . . . Trying Home represents a fresh view of Home and an engaging contribution to public scholarship."

-- Jonathan Bowdler, Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Those interested in the history of utopian communities, anarchism, or the Pacific Northwest will find a fascinating and enlightening read, but the addition of Wadland’s own journey will make this book appealing to a general audience as well. Seeing how the ideas and events that shaped Home also impacted Wadland proves that there is more to learning about history than mere dates and facts."

-- Christine Canfield, Foreword Reviews

"Trying Home . . . is a useful and insightful illustration of the anarchist movement and life in the southern Puget Sound in the early twentieth century -- well written, and well researched. Broader or parallel studies of international communities in the Pacific Northwest should include it."

-- Mattias Olshausen, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Volume 116, Number 2

"Wadland has done an admirable job of making the history of Home readable and accessible to both popular and scholarly audiences."

-- Benjamin J. Pauli, Anarchist Studies, 23.1

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