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2017 Books for Holiday Gifts and Recently Read by Bill Dahl

As we close in on the final month of 2017 – I get a TON of email/messages/calls this time of year regarding book recommendations for adults and students for gifts for the holidays. I also get inquiries about “What have you been reading Bill?” So, here you go:


I.   Best Book Gifts for the 2017 Holiday Season:  

1.      Timothy EganANY book he has written are superb gifts for the holidays. I have brief reviews of 6 of his 7 on my site ( . Just use the search feature on this site for Timothy Egan…particularly for readers who enjoy tremendous stories about the Pacific Northwest and the American West – stories you have never heard of before. My favorite writer. PERIOD.

2.     Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuvall Noah Harai – just a spectacular treatise on our species.

II.        Recently Read by Bill Dahl (2017)

I am in a three year process (12/31/2017 is the end of year one) writing a non-fiction book. Thus, my reading in 2017 (and 2018 and beyond) is solely focused on research/study and resource materials for this book. Needless to say, my reading and research has been very robust and wide ranging – yet – invigorating in 2017. Some of the works below are 6-800 page tomes. (The list below does not include journal articles, periodicals devoured etc. I have probably left a dozen or so books out of the list below – my apologies to the authors) So, here you go:

Aikens, Melvin C. Connolly, Thomas J. and Jenkins, Dennis L. Oregon Archaeology, Oregon State University Press Corvallis, Oregon Copyright (c) 2011 by C. Melvin Jenkins, Thomas J. Connolly and Dennis L. Jenkins

Allen, Frederick Lewis Only Yesterday – An Informal History of the 1920’s, Perrennial Classics – Published by Perrennial – An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. New York, NY Copyright (c) 1931 by Frederick Lewis Allen

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage – Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, NY, NY Copyright © 1996 by Ambrose-Tubbs, Inc.

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities – Copyright © Benedict Anderson, 2006 published by Verso Brooklyn, NY

Bain, David Haward Empire Express – Building the First Transcontinental Railroad, Copyright © 1999 by David Haward Bain, Viking Penguin – A Member of Penguin Putnam New York, NY.

Bair, Sheila Bull By The Horns – Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street – And Wall Street From Itself, Copyright © 2012 by Sheila Bair, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks – A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, NY

Barnes, Christine Central Oregon – View From The Middle, Copyright (c) 1996 by Christine Barnes and American & World Geographic Publishing Helena, MT

Bernstein, Peter L. Against The Gods -The Remarkable Story of Risk, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, NY Copyright (c) 1996, 1998 by Peter L. Bernstein.

Boyd, Brian On The Origins of Stories – Evolution, Cognition and Fiction, Copyright © 2009 by Brian Boyd, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England

Caldwell, Erskine Some American People, Copyright © 1935 by Erskine Caldwell, Robert M. McBride and Company, New York, NY

Cannato, Vincent J. American Passage – The History of Ellis Island, Harper – An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, NY Copyright (c) 2009 by Vincent J. Cannato

Cashill, Jack Popes & Bankers – A Cultural History of Credit & Debt From Aristotle to AIG, Thomas Nelso Publishers Nashville, TN Copyright (c) 2010 by Jack Cashill

Casti, John L. X-EVENTS – The Collapse of Everything, William Morrow – An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers New York, NY Copyright © 2012 by John L. Casti

Chernow, Ron The House of Morgan – An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, Copyright © 1990 by Ron Chernow, 20th Anniversary Edition, Grove Press New York, NY

Coe, Urling C. Frontier Doctor – Observations on Central Oregon and the Changing West, Oregon State University Press, Third Printing 2003 by OSU Press, 101 Waldo Hall Corvallis OR. Initial printing was 1940 by The MacMillan & Co. New York, NY. Copyright (c) 1940 by The MacMillan Company

Cressman, Luther S  The Sandal and the Cave – The Indians of Oregon, Original publication 1962 by Beaver Books, Portland, OR . Copyright © 1962 by Luther Sheeleigh Cressman, Second printing of Beaver Books edition by Oregon State University Press with permission from Champoeg Press Copyright © 1981 by Luther S. Cressman

Diamond, Jared Guns, Germs and Steel – The Fates of Human Societies, W.W. Norton & Company New York, NY and London, UK Copyright © 199, 1997 by Jared Diamond

Harari, Yuvall Noah Sapiens– A Brief History of Humankind, Harper – An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers New York, NY Copyright © 2015 by Yuvall Noah Harari

Egan, Timothy Lasso The Wind – Away To The New West, Vintage Departures – Vintage Books – A Division of Random House, Inc.,  New York, NY – Copyright © 1998 by Timothy P. Egan

Egan, Timothy The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest, Vintage Departures -Vintage Books – A Division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY – Copyright © 1990 by Timothy Egan

Egan, Timothy The Immortal Irishman – The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero, Houghton, Mifflin Company Harcourt Boston & NY – Copyright © 2016 by Timothy Egan

Egan, Timothy Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher – The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, Mariner Books – Houghton, Mifflin Company Harcourt Boston & NY – Copyright © 2012 by Timothy Egan

Egan, Timothy The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & The Fire That Saved America, Mariner Books – Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Boston & NY – Copyright © 2009 by Timothy Egan

Egan, Timothy The Worst Hard Time – The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl, Houghton, Mifflin Company Harcourt Boston & NY – Copyright © 2006 by Timothy Egan

Galbraith, John Kenneth A History of Economics – The Past as the Present, Copyright © 1987 by John Kenneth Galbraith, Penguin Books LTD New York, NY and London, UK

Graeber, David DEBT: The First 5,000 Years, Melville House Publishing, Brooklyn, NY & London, UK Copyright 2011, 2012,2014 by David Graeber

Grayson, Donald K. Giant Sloths and Sabertooth Cats – Extinct Mammals and the Archaeology of the Ice Age Great Basin, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, Copyright © 2016 by the University of Utah Press.

Gregory, Ronald L Life in Railroad Logging Camps of the Shevlin-Hixon Company 1916-1950, Copyright © 2001 by Ronald L. Gregory , Oregon State University, Department of Anthropology.

Guterl, Fred The Fate of the Species – Why The Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It, Bloomsbury USA New York, NY Copyright © 2012 by Fred Guterl

Haeg, Larry Harriman vs. Hill – Wall Street’s Great Railroad War, Copyright © 2013 by Larry Haeg, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN

Hammond, Bray Banks Politics in America- From the Revolution to the Civil War Copyright © 1957 BY Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Harari, Yuvall Noah Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow, Harper – An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers New York, NY Copyright © 2017 by Yuvall Noah Harari

Hedges, Chris Empire Of Illusion – The End Literacy and The Triumph Of Spectacle, Copyright © 2009 by Chris Hedges, Nation Books New York, NY

Joslin, Les Legendary Locals of Bend, Arcadia Publishing Charleston, SC. Copyright (c) 2016 by Les Joslin

Kaku, Michio Parallel Worlds – A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos, Anchor Books – A Division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2015 by Michio Kaku

Kindleberger, Charles P. and Aliber, Robert Z. Foreword by Robert Solow Copyright 2005 by Charles P. Kindleberger and Robert Z. Aliber; Manias, Panics and Crashes – A History of Financial Crises – Fifth Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey

Klare, Michael T The Race For What’s Left – The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, Metropolitan Books – Henry Holt & Company, LLC New York, NY Copyright © 2012 by Michael T. Klare

Knowlton, Christopher Cattle Kingdom – The Hidden History of the Cowboy West, An Eamon Dolan Book – Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, NY Copyright © 2017 by Christopher Knowlton

Kolbert, Elizabeth The Sixth Extinction – An Unnatural History, Picador – Henry Holt & Company New York, NY Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Lepler, Jessica M. The Many Panics of 1837 – People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis, Copyright ©2013 Jessica M. Lepler, Cambridge University Press,  New York, NY

Lewis, Michael The Undoing Project – A Friendship that Changed Our Minds, Copyright © 2017 by Michael Lewis, W.W. Norton & Company New York, NY

Levy, Jonathan Freaks of Fortune – The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America, Copyright © 2012 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England

Limerick, Patricia Nelson The Legacy of Conquest – The Unbroken Past of the American West, W.W. Norton & Company New York, NY Copyright (c) 1987 by Patricia Nelson Limerick

Limerick, Patricia Nelson – Something In The Soil – Legacies and Reckonings in the New West, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY and London, U.K. Copyright (c) 2000 by Patricia Nelson Limerick

Lo, Andrew W. Adaptive Markets – Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, Copyright © 2017 by Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Lowenstein, Roger America’s Bank: The Epic Struggle To Create The Federal Reserve. Copyright © 2015 by Roger Lowenstein, Published by the Penguin Press, An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Lowenstein, Roger Origins of the CRASH – The Great Bubble and its Undoing, Copyright © 2004 by Roger Lowenstein. The Penguin Group, New Copyright © 2004 by Roger Lowenstein. The Penguin Group, New York, NY.

Mann, Charles C. 1493 – Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Vintage Books – a Division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2011 by Charles C. Mann.

Mann, Charles C. 1491 – New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Vintage Books – a Division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2011 by Charles C. Mann

Mihm, Stephen A Nation of Counterfeiters – Capitalists, Con Men And the Making of the United States, Copyright © 2005 by Stephen Mihm, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England

Morisete, Martin Gabrio Green Gold – The Incomplete, and Probably Inaccurate History of the Timber Industry in Parts of Central and Eastern Oregon From 1867 to Near the Present, Copyright (c) 2005 by Martin Gabrio Morisete, Self published by Martin Gabrio Morisete Post, Oregon

Nelson, Scott Reynolds A Nation of Deadbeats – An Uncommon History of Americas Financial Disasters, Copyright © 2012 by Scott Reynolds Nelson, Vintage Books – A Division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY

Pagel, Mark Wired For Culture – Origins of The Human Social Mind, Copyright © 2012 by Mark Pagel W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY

Partnoy, Frank Infectious Greed– How Deceit and Risk Corrupted The Financial Markets, Copyright © by Frank Partnoy.

Puter, Stephen A. Douglas (S..A.D.) and Stevens, Horace LOOTERS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN EMBRACING A COMPLETE EXPOSURE OF THE FRAUDULENT SYSTEM OF ACQUIRING TITLES TO THE PUBLIC LANDS OF THE UNITED STATES  – Copyright © 1907 by S.A.D. Puter and Horace Stevens – The Portland Printing House Publishers – 1908

Ramsey, Jarold New Era – Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon, Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR Copyright © 2003 by Jarold Lewis

Rifkin, Jeremy The Empathic Civilization – The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis, Copyright © 2009 by Jeremy Rifkin, Penguin Books Ltd, New York, New York

Roberts, Alasdair America’s First Great Depression – Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837, Copyright © 2012 by Cornell University, Cornell University Press Ithaca, NY

Rothbard, Murray N. The Panic of 1819 – Reactions and Policies, Copyright © 1962 Columbia University Press, Ludwig von Mises Institute Auburn, Alabama

Sampson, Anthony The Money Lenders – Bankers and a World in Turmoil, Copyright © 1981 by Anthony Sampson, The Viking Press New York, NY

Sandage, A. Scott Born Losers- A History of Failure in America Copyright ©  2005 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College [Harvard University Press paperback edition

Sinclair, Timothy J. The Masters of Capital – American Bond Rating Agencies and the Politics of Creditworthiness, Copyright © 2005 by Cornell University, Cornell University Press Ithaca, NY and London, UK

Stark, Peter ASTORIA – John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s  Lost Pacific Empire – A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival, ecco – An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers New York, NY Copyright © 2014 by Peter Stark

Thaler, Richard H., Sunstein, Cass R. Nudge– Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Copyright © Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein , 2008, 2009 Published by the Penguin Group New York, New York

Turner, Frederick Jackson, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, Martino Publishing, Mansfield Centre, CT Copyright (c) 2014 Martino Publishing

Ward, Elizabeth B. Redmond – Rose of the Desert, Copyright © 1975 by B. Elizabeth Ward, Midstate Printing, Inc.

White, Richard It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own – A New History of the American West, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma Copyright (c) 1991 by University of Oklahoma Press

Zaslowsky, Dyan and Watkins, T.H. These American Lands – Parks, Wilderness and Public Lands, Copyright © 1983-1994 by the Wilderness Society, Island Press, Washington, D.C.


The Immortal Irishman – The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero – by Timothy Egan – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

This is the sixth book I have read by Timothy Egan in the past three weeks. Up until this book, I was unable to identify a favorite. Enter –  The Immortal Irishman – now my favorite work of Mr. Egan.

The Immortal Irishman

From the days of Irish potato famine, to incarceration on the other side of the Earth in Tasmania, his daring escape from the island prison and relocation to New York City, to leading the Irish Brigade in the Civil War, his appointment as Governor of the Montana Territory, and the circumstances of his suspicious demise – this volume is a panoramic portrayal of the courageous Irish journey – and a man who led them throughout every twist and turn of his amazing life. Egan’s  mastery is on full display in this work. It is simply spellbinding.

This dramatic story simply begs to be replicated on cinema – perhaps – a mini-series vs. a two hour long film – the latter simply would not do justice with the life journey of Thomas Francis Meagher and/or the history of the Irish. I am thinking a multiple season mini-series akin to the recent “Hell on Wheels” production (2011-2016 – AMC) that chronicled the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the U.S.

Luscious history – PERIOD. Spectacular storytelling. Unequivocally unique. Honestly, words fail to express my deep appreciation for this epic contribution to history. The book also provides insights into the enduring attitudes that inhabit the current dialog regarding immigration in the U.S. – and how those attitudes have roots in the distant past of the American story.

If there was a literary rating of six stars (out of five) The Immortal Irishman – The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero by Timothy Egan is a worthy and distinguished winner.

Buy this book!!! Immerse yourself in this story. Learn. Grow. Enjoy! I most certainly did.

This volume now enjoys a prominent place in my home library – as ALL Egan’s works do.



A Book Review of Timothy Egan’s – Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

It’s terribly difficult after finishing the 6th in a series of Timothy Egan’s books to declare a favorite. Yet,   Egan’s  Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis – is -well – it broke my heart.

The life and times of “fanatical” (self described) artists like Edward Curtis are rarely full of fulfilling, float you on air happiness.  Yet, his life had many interactions and endorsements by the day’s rich and famous (Teddy Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan to name two).

A man who attempted to capture the remnants of an ever encroaching genocide of the remaining inhabitants of the western tribes of Native Americans is a noble story. And noble is the way Egan tells it. Yet, it leaves you (the trajectory of Curtis’s life) unfulfilled…as the life stories of so many artists do.

How Egan finds these tales and has the uncanny ability to weave story in and around the real-life characters he portrays – is – well – a mysterious literary talent that I’m unsure if even he could describe it adequately. The book, story, prose, research and Egan’s writing just make you salivate for the next page.

This is an unequivocal FIVE STAR work (which I don’t attribute to most literature I read). It is a treasure – just as the life of Edward Curtis and his enduring work was/is. I am really glad I read this book. You will be too.

I am now on to my 7th Egan book in the past three weeks (which I NEVER do); The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero (2016).

You simply CANNOT understand the American West without Reading Timothy Egan…PERIOD.



Redmond Oregon Needs More Police – NO FEES

Below is the Guest Opinion column I authored that was published in the Bend (Oregon) Bulletin September 29, 2017 and the Redmond Spokesman earlier in the week.

A public Hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon:

On Tuesday evening September 19th, 2017 The Redmond City Council proposed tacking on a “public safety fee” of $6 a month to residents’ monthly utility bills ($72 per annum), raising the cash to add more Police officers to the Department. This is a terribly slippery slope. No City of Redmond resident vote is required to implement this fee.

Cities in Oregon are under siege to address increasing costs and stagnant revenues. While population growth in Redmond is projected to be flat in the near term, City law enforcement resources are, and have been, stretched beyond reason.  While a few Oregon cities have resorted to this type of fee to address resources for public safety, most have done so as a last resort – to avoid debilitating cuts in public safety and emergency services.  Yet, an aggressive leap into levying fees across the board in Redmond without voter approval, where no cuts in public safety resources are anticipated, demands dialog. A prudent person would ask the following:

Where can the City make cuts in the current budget? Have the City and the Police Department exhausted all available grant opportunities to provide funding for additional officers? Has our Congressional delegation in D.C. been consulted regarding available grant resources? What was their response? Are there other revenue streams that might be created whereby the non-resident population of the City of Redmond whose activities demand City law enforcement resources been considered and thoroughly exhausted? What percentage of City of Redmond law enforcement resources are expended on non-residents of the City of Redmond? What is the “sundown date” on such a fee? Are Redmond residents and the business community insulated from any future fee increases and/or fee levying activity by the Mayor and the City Council of this nature?

Utility fees are just that. They are also usage fees based upon actual consumption. The proposed public safety fee tacked onto utility bills is not a usage fee. Furthermore, to relegate community law enforcement staffing resources to a vehicle where wastewater and sewage fees are assessed is down right stinky…this suggestion simply does not pass the smell test.

Maybe Redmond should get out of the golf business…Redmond businesses and residents have borne City utility rate increases of 2%, as identified in the 2015/2016 budget and 3% effective July 2017. When one examines the 2016/2017 City Budget one thing jumps out: Golf Course debt at the beginning of the 2016/17 budget year was $4,812,778 with $419,611 of annual  debt service. Furthermore, the budget reveals: “Over the last several fiscal years, the General Fund has needed to cover the payments on the majority of these debt obligations. The FY 2016/17 budget assumes the General Fund will need to cover about 100% of the bond payments associated with building the golf course over a decade ago.” (p.50. of Redmond 2016/2017 Budget . 2017/2018 Budget is HERE).

Redmond, like many Oregon cities has and continues to have an addictive affection for urban renewal funds. However, there’s a downside to a fiscal focus of this nature – earmarking future property tax revenues to address the urban renewal debt already on the books. Thus, when the Police Department requires more officers to protect the community properly, City management is at a loss for where these funds will be derived. This is shortsighted.

The merit of the need for additional Police Officers for Redmond is unequivocal (although I need to be persuaded about the legitimate need for a “downtown foot patrol”). Yet, proceeding down this slippery slope of assessing fees to utility bills to provide adequate funding for the essential and fundamental public safety resources the community and the Department deserve – well – like I’ve said – demands dialog.

City of Redmond  financial resources have an uncanny inertia for expenditures designed for embalming the past (Evergreen Elementary School acquisition/renovation and ongoing expenditures attempting to re-invigorate a “downtown core,” and an urban renewal funds addiction) vs. planning for the absolute fundamental necessities of the future. The men and women of The Redmond Police Department deserve more personnel, resources, and vastly better financial planning from the City. So do the residents of the City of Redmond, Oregon.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Dahl

A public hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon.

Astoria – John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire – A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival by Peter Stark – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

Riveting. Incomparable suffering. Courage. Stamina. Determination.

Another in a superb series of the history of the Pacific Northwest. A terribly important tale that played a seminal role in the discoveries and exploration of this geographic region – and the lust for wealth that propelled those engaged in this endeavor.

The research here is fantastic. The writing is accessible for all audiences. Frankly, this story is shocking – in far too many ways to recount here. Simply a splendid story that I HIGHLY recommend.

The human drama – the sheer determination to survive when confronted with unimaginable hardship – is a seminal contribution of this work.