• David Frazier's memoir of Vietnam, "Drafted!", is multilayered - from the days of war in the 60s to return visits as a photography - and as complex as the place itself.
From local to national, to around the world. From inside the home to speculative. From fact to fiction - though we do take care about which is which.

Note the new book to the right by Nathalie Hardy – Merry is Optional, Christmas Chaos with the Hardy Boys.

If you liked Raising the Hardy Boys, Nathalie’s first collection of columns about motherhood, you’ll want to pick up on this one right away.

The new book is out in e-book (Kindle) format only, but easily ordered through Amazon.com. Click on the book cover and it will take you right there.

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Former Idaho 2nd District Judge John Bradbury read The Intermediary by Lin Tull Cannell, and offered this comment about it:

Lin Tull Cannell’s book, The Intermediary, William Craig among the Nez Perces, is a prodigiously documented, well written and much needed account of a man who played a pivotal role in the Nez Perce people’s struggle to keep their land and their traditions. As the beaver market collapsed in 1839 – 1840 mountain man Craig brought his Nez Perce wife Isabel and their children to the heart of Nez Perce country at Lapwai Creek.
Cannell describes the Indians’ complicated relationship with the missionaries that led to the killing of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, Craig’s role during the treaty negotiations if 1855, the Cayuse and Yakima wars that followed and resulted in his eviction from Lapwai. Craig returns and continues his role as a true intermediary as the gold discovery in the Clearwater hastens the white migration into the Nez Perce reservation and forces a new treaty.
This is a balanced account of the era that ushered in the changes that forever altered the lives of the Nez Perce and of a man who finally gets credit for his role. It brings new and refreshing insight to the fate of the Nez Perce people and the cast of characters who were a part of it. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Inland Northwest.

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Crossing the Snake page page

Crossing the Snake, the collection of Randy Stapilus columns about Idaho over the last decade, is now published, and we’re highlighting it with a tour around northern Idaho this coming week.

A tour around southern Idaho will follow a few weeks after that.

We’ll be stopping by Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, St. Maries, Moscow, and Lewiston, from Monday through Wednesday.

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On the Cusp of Chaos page

The third Ridenbaugh Press book by W. Scott Jorgensen is out, and Jorgensen is traveling around the state, speaking to groups in communities large and small – and selling copies as he goes. Next week, he’ll have a book signing at the Oregon State Capitol.

From the Introduction.

This book has three main themes. It’s a look inside Oregon’s state capitol, its urban-rural divide and the last days of former Governor John Kitzhaber’s administration.

The main title refers to the tensions that exist in these settings and the challenges faced by our public institutions and the people in them. It’s about everything that goes into keeping it all going on a daily basis.

This work consists of observations from inside and outside the capitol as I made my way around the state, and the very obvious disconnects between what happens in those places. It also includes various columns I’ve written and some speeches I’ve given that matched those general themes.

Every effort was also made to include those concepts in the front and back cover art. I wanted to capture the feel of being outside of the capitol and looking in, as well as from the inside looking out to represent that sense of duality.

I also realized, as this book was coming together, that I had several pictures that could shed further light on the look and feel of the capitol building during a legislative session. Those are included in a photo section in the middle of the book.

One of my other goals in writing this was to make sure that no more than half of it took place in Salem. There are chapters from literally all over the state to further illustrate the many differences all over.

What follows is a look at two regular legislative sessions, one special session, one short session, a primary election and a general election, all of which took place in the space of two and a half years.

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The Stuck Pendulum page

The book Paradox Politics was written in 1987 and 1988, and published in that latter year – which, as this is written, was 27 years ago. Considering that it was intended as a current, up to the minute, review of Idaho politics and how it had gotten that way, that makes it heavily out of date now.

It’s been out a long time, but it’s not entirely forgotten. While most of its sales came in the 80s, it has sold copies ever since; Amazon has moved copies this year. That’s nice to see. What’s less easy to contemplate is that some of those people may think that Idaho politics in this new century is anything like what it was in the last one, and that would be a problem, because it isn’t. I think, generally, it holds up as a good review of the subject as of the time it was written. And I think it may have helped prompt a spate of Idaho political memoirs and biographies that cropped up in the years following.

But since then, much has changed.

Hence, The Stuck Pendulum. It’s a standalone book that also functions as an afterword – even a coda – for that earlier one, intended to bring up to date people who may have relied on Paradox for a look at Idaho politics. It doesn’t unearth a lot of secrets and not much in it will come a a big surprise to people who have followed Idaho politics in the last quarter-century or so. But for those new to the subject, or who may have wondered what has happened since 1988, I think it can be useful.

I have gotten requests from time to time for a sequel for Paradox, and it’s not just the passage of time that has increasingly made the point compelling. As the title suggests, Idaho politics, which once wandered across the political spectrum, driven by an electorate often willing to take a flyer on something different and didn’t trust anyone too damn much, has changed, locked in place, adjusting if at all only to whatever seems to be the hardest right alternative at hand.

How it got there, and especially after how it changed so drastically right after the best Idaho Democratic election year in a generation (1990), is much of the subject of The Stuck Pendulum. But there are overviews of more, of the Larry Craig incident, the fierce battles in the first congressional district and the recent splinters in the Republican Party.

For the moment, it’s priced for free, so get your copy if this sounds like your area of interest. We’ll attach a price (not a hefty one, though) a little later.

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Some of the reviews coming in so far for Chris Carlson’s Eye of the Caribou.

” “Eye on the Caribou” is an outstanding historical review of the Alaska Lands Bill and all the people involved in its creation and then its passage. The author gives me more credit than I perhaps deserve but he also does a remarkable job of remembering and noting the contributions of the thousand fathers and mothers. He properly notes the ultimate credit deservedly goes to President Carter.”
Governor Cecil D. Andrus (44th Secretary of the Interior)

“In terms of land and wildlife conservation, it gets no bigger—anywhere on earth—than the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. At his side every step of the way was Cecil Andrus—the architect, the Capitol Hill advocate, and the spokesman who, like so many of us, was fired by the understanding that here we could, for once, do conservation on a vast, ecosystem-wide basis, and do it right the first time. Chris Carlson was there every step of the way and provides in this book the rich detail only an insider can provide.”
Doug Scott, Lobbying Director, Alaska Coalition – 1976-1980

“No other conservation measure can match the Alaska Lands bill for sheer size and importance. Chris Carlson was there, side by side, with Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus helping to manage the prolonged effort to protect Alaska’s wild and untouched spaces. Oil, mining and other business interests resisted aggressively, but in the end the collaborative effort by President Carter, Andrus, the ad hoc Alaska team assembled by Andrus and key environmental leaders prevailed. “Eye on the Caribou” is a must read for political leaders, environmentalists and community organizers who seek to protect open spaces. It is a lesson about the need for endurance, compromise and collaboration. All in all, a great reflection about Alaska and politics.”
– John Hough

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We’ve just released Chris Carlson’s new book Eye on the Caribou. he in turn released this column today.

Former President Jimmy Carter, the best ex-president this country has ever had, is suffering from terminal liver cancer and could be crossing the Jordan River soon. He is now 90 years old and just finished his 25th book. The Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has become a model for the good works a former president can do both in this country andaround the world.

Without question the top achievement legislatively from the four years President Carter held the wheel was passage of the Alaskan lands legislation which overnight doubled the size of the National Park system and the Fish and Wildlife system of bird refuges. Almost 100 million acres, including entire ecosystems received protection.

I have a new book out, Eye on the Caribou, published by Ridenbaugh Press that tells the inside story of the critical role played by former four term Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus in securing the historic legislation while serving as President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of the Interior.

I’ve long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history, so I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy.

This new book joins a well reviewed biography (Cecil Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor) on the governor published in 2011, and a book of 13 essays (Medimont Reflections) in 2013 that covered other issues and political figures Governor Andrus and I worked on during my 40 years of public involvement.

Andrus has always been quick to say that “success has a thousand fathers and mothers” and has especially singled out the Alaska Coaliton and the critical role played by Chuck Clusen, Brock Evans and Doug Scott for their contribution to successful passage of the legislation.

Future historians will find some heretofore little known jewels of information in this latest book. For example, during the summer of 1978 when Andrus and President Carter spent four days fly fishing and floating the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River, they settled on the fall back strategy of President Carter using his authority under the Antiquities Act to make the largest national monuments in history. They guessed correctly this would bring the Alaska delegation back to the bargaining table to undue the more restrictive form of protection monument status requires.

Other examples of anecdotes in the book include a heretofore unreported 1979 secret meeting between Alaska Governor Jay Hammond and Secretary Andrus in which the two by themselves spent a day fishing at some of Hammond’s favorite fishing sites in and around Lake Clark and Lake Iliamna. The two would set aside their fishing rods from time to time, get out their maps and pretty much settled on the boundaries of the soon-to-be new additions to the Nationl Park Service and to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s system of bird refuges.

The book also details the massive cross-over vote in 1980 orchestrated by the late Senator Ted Stevens to defeat in the Democratic primary his senatorial colleague, Mike Gravel. Stevens held Gravel directly responsible for the circumstances leading to his wife Ann’s death in a plane crash on December 4th, 1978.

The book also details the adverse impact the legislation had for the owner of a properly proven up mining claim owned by a partnership that included a Spokane exploration geologist, Wallace McGregor.

Even universally acclaimed legislation can still have adverse impacts on some people, and while Mr. McGregor’s dispute with the Park Service over his inholding is complex the fact remains that 40 years have gone by without any compensation to them for a de facto taking.”

The book retails for $16.95 and is now available directly from the publisher, Ridenbaugh.com, or Amazon.com, or directly from the author, or at your nearby Hastings outlet in Idaho and at Aunties in Spokane, as well as The PaperHouse in St. Maries.

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It’s a good idea to know a subject well before you write a book about it.

But once you have written that book, you have a powerful piece of validation that says, “This guy is an expert on this subject.”

Academics long ago locked in the idea of books as offering significant evidence, if not exactly conclusive proof, of expertise in a specific field, and not just through the principle of “publish or perish.” An academic thesis or dissertation is a document that for practical purposes is a book, whether published as such or not, normally submitted as a central piece of work toward receipt of a master’s or doctoral degree.

Less formally, books can serve as specific indicators that a person knows a good deal about a subject, often of use to other people. They demonstrate not only a base of knowledge, but a way of thinking about and organizing that knowledge – and an ability effectively to communicate that knowledge.

Don’t imagine that traditional publishing approaches are the only way this can happen: Self-publishing can demonstrate this expertise too.

As marketing strategist Dorie Clark wrote recently in Entrepreneur magazine, “Because of self-publishing’s increased legitimacy, it’s become a viable branding strategy for entrepreneurs who want to establish themselves as thought leaders. . . . Working with a commercial publisher still has some reputational advantages, but if your market niche is small, the mainstream publishers likely won’t be interested, anyway, so self-publishing is a great option.”

It happened to me.

In the mid-1980’s I was a newspaper reporter covering politics in Idaho, and I often heard stories about the bits and pieces, the anecdotes and personalities, that made up that scene and the activities that guided the state. I decided to collect this background about state politics, a mass of stories and personalities and issues and ideas, that had been grist for statehouse insiders only, and record it in book form.

As Clark suggested, the market niche – the subject of political history in one small state – was small enough that traditional publishers probably wouldn’t be interested. (Realizing that, I didn’t submit the project to any.) Instead, seeking out advice from other self-publishers I knew in the area, and getting counsel and other help from local book sellers, I wrote and published it myself. Inside the (small) Idaho marketplace, the book “Paradox Politics” became a bestseller.

At the time I was one of about a dozen journalists whose main work involved covering state government and politics, and many have come and gone since. But as author of “the” book on Idaho politics, long after leaving newspaper reporting, I often have been sought out for quotes, appearances, speaking, guest analysis and other activities. All of that is traceable back to that first book, and other books about Idaho I’ve written since.

Book-writing expertise can work in other directions, too: The research you do specifically for a book can turn you into an expert on that book’s subject, even if you hadn’t been at the beginning. In that way, authorship can take you into life experiences you never expected.

Your choice of subject does make a difference. In my case, I wasn’t one of a dozen writers delivering books on the same topic: I had the topic nearly to myself. If your subject is more popular, your prospective audience may be larger but you’ll also be one of a crowd competing for attention. Some subjects are more compelling – or “sexier” – than others. But if an audience exists for the book, it can exist in other ways as well, for public speaking, consulting or other activities.

One other suggestion: Don’t try to cram everything you know into one book. You’d make the book ungainly and probably poorly organized. And besides, you want to have enough additional ideas left over for your next book.

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More than a dozen years ago, three of us – Mark Stubbs, James Weatherby and Randy Stapilus – worked together to develop a reference to help people understand and learn how to navigate Idaho government, politics and society. We called it the Idaho Citizens Guide.

It got enthusiastic response in some quarters, and strong letters of recommendation from two former governors – Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt – and contributions from some of Idaho’s most successful travelers of public territory: elected officials, lobbyists, judges, business people, attorneys.

But it dropped from sight, went out of print, and few copies of it probably remain.

Looking at it again, in a different political age, we concluded that a whole lot of it is as valid now as it was then. Some of the details have changed, but many have not, and the principles, ideas and advice in it remain as solid now as it was then.

So, back in print – the Idaho Citizens Guide. Go to the book’s page for more information, and be sure to check out the sample pages.

And then order a copy for your bookshelf. You may be surprised how often you consult it …

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