Oregon’s History: People of the Northwest in the Land of Eden
Athanasios Michaels, Portland Community College
Copyright Year: 2020
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
Conditions of Use
For a short text, it’s impressive how well this book covers Oregon’s history. I am not a historian, but, to my knowledge, I believe this book covers key eras, dynamics, and narratives in a balanced way. In fact, it’s laudable that this book is... read more
For a short text, it’s impressive how well this book covers Oregon’s history. I am not a historian, but, to my knowledge, I believe this book covers key eras, dynamics, and narratives in a balanced way. In fact, it’s laudable that this book is actually much more comprehensive, and balanced, than books many times longer. The author clearly put thought into how much space to dedicate to different subjects here, by dedicating space to the history of Native Americans pre-contact, and the long history of settler colonialism central to Oregon history. Likewise, the book covers racial exclusion and the oppression of marginalized people, including Black Americans and Asian Americans.
I’m not a historian, and so I don’t feel I’m qualified to answer this question. That said, here are two observations. First, the author writes with such authority and never appears biased when writing about aspects of Oregon history that I’m familiar with. On the other hand, I would have liked to have seen more sources either cited in-text or mentioned in a “notes” or “further reading” section at the back of the book. Not only would this help the book’s credibility, but would also facilitate further study.
One of the great strengths of this book is its relevance. I see it staying relevant for years to come.
This book is impressively clear. The prose is consistently engaging, precise, and readable. In covering such a broad scope, it would be easy for the book to fall into abstraction, but the author includes quotes, examples, and narratives that elucidate the most important concepts.
Style, terminology, and approach remain consistent throughout.
Each chapter of this text could stand alone as an assigned reading, which is very much appreciated.
The organization of this text contributes to its flexible modularity. By presenting chapters that are organized around themes, the book avoids the kind of awkward changes in subject that could come from a text attempting to be more strictly chronological.
It would improve the readability of the pdf if there were more whitespace at the headings of the subsections within chapters. Aside from that, it’s very readable in terms of formatting and layout, both in the online book and the pdf. It may be an issue on my end, but, using Chrome, I could not get the hyperlinks for the footnotes to work, either in the pdf or the online book.
Not only is the book free of grammatical errors -- it’s in a clear, readable style generally free of any wordiness or ambiguity. Very well-written.
Compared to many other texts about the history of the American West, this book does a much better job of covering the dark history of racial exclusion, white supremacy, settler colonialism and oppression of marginalized people.
Athanasios Michaels has crafted an excellent book here. I look forward to assigning portions of it to my first-year college writing students, and I’m sure I will return to it in my own personal study of history.
This is an insightful overview of national social and cultural history seen through a regional lens. It would be appropriate for a survey U.S. history course with an emphasis on local Oregon history. The textbook explores Oregon history within... read more
This is an insightful overview of national social and cultural history seen through a regional lens. It would be appropriate for a survey U.S. history course with an emphasis on local Oregon history. The textbook explores Oregon history within these general categories: indigenous peoples and landscapes, colonization, Manifest Destiny, the genocide of Native Americans, the white supremacist ideology behind the settler colonization of Oregon, and the West at large, the Civil Rights Movement, the World Wars in Oregon, the Cold War, the counterculture movement, the end of the 20th century and beyond. Well-researched quotes add vivid detail.
The textbook is factually accurate with all sources and quotes cited.
This book is a much-needed cultural and social history of Oregon as this state, and many others, grapple with its origin myths and racist past. The book accomplishes this in a factual, even-handed manner providing a deep-dive into Oregon history while also elucidating the nation's history. The text will not easily become obsolete or need major updates.
The text is clear, well-written, and engaging.
The humanist perspective of the textbook honors the history of various ethnicities and marginalized identities in Oregon, while exposing the racist past of the expansionist, heroic pioneer myth. This perspective, terminology and framework are made clear in the introduction and transparently presented throughout.
The chapters are sequential and similar in length. The material holds one's attention as a narrative, so could be easily read by a non-major. Individual sections can be presented on their own or to supplement other materials in a course.
The chapters flow clearly and logically. It would be helpful to have more descriptive, bolded, sub-headings within each chapter to bring the reader's attention back to an area to reread or review. In addition, more and various images could be used to illustrate content and context. There was also one caption, under the painting, "American Progress", that could be changed, as it was written in the language of the time, not the language of the textbook.
The PDF version worked well, and the chapters were easy to access from the Table of Contents side bar.
This textbook is well-written. I noticed only a few minor punctuation errors.
The text is exemplary in its perspective and inclusion of a variety or races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
This is a timely, engaging, relevant book that will be useful for students in a number of disciplines.
The author does a good job at providing an overview of Oregon history. While many topics are explored in overview mode, some are covered more in-depth, and I found it to be a fascinating read. You get the big story along with selected tidbits of... read more
The author does a good job at providing an overview of Oregon history. While many topics are explored in overview mode, some are covered more in-depth, and I found it to be a fascinating read. You get the big story along with selected tidbits of deeper explanation. There is a search feature which allows the reader to look up topics easily. Some points of regional importance may be missing, but in a book of this type and length, what the author accomplishes is giving the reader an easily digestible and accessible picture of Oregon's history.
There is an appendix at the end of each chapter. Wording in certain parts indicates some bias, but there is clearly an effort to bring many diverse perspectives into the narrative.
Extremely useful and the first one of its kind that I have seen for Oregon- this text is just what I have been wanting for my GED Social Studies courses. The GED SS test is very broad in scope, focused on US History, and this text would be a wonderful supplement to put history into a more local context for students.
Very clear and easy to read text. The format is accessible and engaging.
Text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
One of my favorite things about this text is the format and how accessible it is to students. The sections are easily readable and I envision using this text as a supplement to my US History curriculum. It's not overwhelming and has clear subheadings, which when used with the search, would help students navigate easily to particular sections.
Section titles are clear and presented in chronological order. Subheadings within sections are clearly labeled with topic/key people. Very easy to find information on specific people/places/events.
Contents clearly marked by chapter/section, and a bar pops up along the bottom of the page which allows you to go forward or backward to the next section without scrolling back to the top.
Very few grammatical errors.
This text covers very complex and often disturbing history in a respectful way, bringing in stories and voices from a variety of perspectives.
I plan to use this text as a supplement in my class- I am excited to see a resource of this kind that is Oregon-specific. Students were especially engaged in history when there was a more 'local' connection- discovering New Deal WPA murals in the local post office, learning about the history of local tribes in our area, the person behind the place name, etc. This book will be a great addition to class as we work through US history, providing students with local context. An excellent resource!
Table of Contents
- 1. Origins: Indigenous Inhabitants and Landscapes
- 2. Curiosity, Commerce, Conquest, and Competition: Fur Trade Empires and Discovery
- 3. Oregon Fever and Western Expansion: Manifest Destiny in the Garden of Eden
- 4. Native Americans in the Land of Eden: An Elegy of Early Statehood
- 5. Statehood: Constitutional Exclusions and the Civil War
- 6. Oregon at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
- 7. The Dawn of the Civil Rights Movement and the World Wars in Oregon
- 8. Cold War and Counterculture
- 9. End of the Twentieth Century and Beyond
About the Book
This “open textbook” is a social and cultural history of the people of Oregon representing powerful figures from the dominant Euro-American culture, the marginalized and oppressed, and social and political reformers who shaped the historical legacy of the state. It is a story of the diverse array of immigrants who helped build the state and strengthen it. The title is a recollection of the racial fantasies that European-American settlers created in their expansionist vision of the West and the state of Oregon. Initially the Oregon Territory was built on intolerance and racial exclusivity, but eventually Oregon embraces its diversity, but not without struggle and heartache. Our journey through the past starts with an essential question, “Who are the people of Oregon?”
About the Contributors