At the beginning of the twentieth century, the greater Northwest was ablaze with change and seemingly obsessed with progress. The promotional literature of the time praising railroads, population increases, and the growing sophistication of urban living, however, ignored the reality of poverty and ethnic and gender discrimination. During the course of the next century, even with dramatic changes in the region, one constant remained— inequality.
With an emphasis on the region’s political economy, its environmental history, and its cultural and social heritage, this lively and colorful history of the Pacific Northwest—defined here as Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and southern British Columbia—places the narrative of this dynamic region within a national and international context.
Embracing both Canadian and American stories in looking at the larger region, renowned historian William Robbins and Katrine Barber offer us a fascinating regional history through the lens of both the environment and society. Understanding the physical landscape of the greater Pacific Northwest—and the watersheds of the Columbia, Fraser, Snake, and Klamath rivers—sets the stage for understanding the development of the area. Examining how this landscape spawned sawmills, fish canneries, railroads, logging camps, agriculture, and shared immigrant and ethnic traditions reveals an intricate portrait of the twentieth-century Northwest.
Impressive in its synthesis of myriad historical facts, this first-rate regional history will be of interest to historians studying the region from a variety of perspectives and an informative read for anyone fascinated by the story of a landscape rich in diversity, natural resources, and Native culture.