Here’s a roll call of books, leaning toward non-fiction and recent publishing dates, that allows us to better understand Seattle from a variety of angles.
• Shaper of Seattle: Reginald Heber Thomson’s Pacific Northwest, by William H. Wilson, 2009. There is no understanding Seattle without a working knowledge of what city engineer Reginald H. Thomson (or, “That Man Thomson,” as he titled his autobiography) wrought. Decently written with photos.
• No-No Boy, by John Okada, originally published 1957. This classic novel about a young, Japanese-American who refused to serve with U. S. forces in World War II is a watershed book in the
history of local literature. • Answering Chief Seattle, by Albert Furtwangler, 1997, explores the provenance of Chief Seattle’s famous speech. Fascinating detective work.
• The Eighth Lively Art, by Wesley Wehr, 2000. Wehr, artist, musician, paleobotanist, among other pursuits, died in 2004. He was the Boswell of the pre-and post-World War Ii artistic generation hereabouts, taking notes as conversations among painters, poets and assorted Bohemians unfolded.
• Seattle in Black and White, by Joan Singler, Jean Durning, Bettylou Valentine and Maid Adams, 2011. A no-punches-pulled account of the Civil Rights struggle in 1960s Seattle by four local members of the Congress of Racial Equality. And they name names.
• Seattle Geographies, edited by Michael Brown and Richard Morrill, 2011. This multidisciplinary approach to understanding a city, with graphs and charts and
literary insight, is indispensible.
• ‘Native Seattle,’ by Coll Thrush, 2007. The assistant professor of history at the University of British Columbia has done much for Seattle’s memory by tracing its Native American footprint.
• ‘Skid Road,’ by Murray Morgan, 1951. The best history of Seattle up until that time by a masterful storyteller.