Category Archives: 1970-1979

Year 83

1970: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Author/Editor: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Considered one of the best novels ever to be written in Spanish, this work of magic realism tells the story of the imaginary village of Macondo through seven generations of the Buendía family, the leading characters of the saga.

Year 84

1971: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

Author: Robert C. O’Brien

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Winner of the Newbery Medal, and the book that the film “The Secret of NIMH” was based on, this is the story of Mrs. Frisby’s attempts (she’s a mouse) to save her family with the help of rats who have escaped from a laboratory where they acquired super intelligence.

The book is part fantasy, part adventure, and part science fiction.  Beautifully written, it’s on many top children’s book lists.  The book was also supposedly inspired, according to the New York Times, by the work of “Dr. John B. Calhoun, an ecologist who saw in the bleak effects of overpopulation on rats and mice a model for the future of the human race.”

Year 85

1972: The Death of the Automobile

Author/Editor: John Jerome

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Published in 1972, this title could have been written just a few years ago!  The author, John Jerome, was an American writer of non-fiction, best known for his work associated with cars and technology.  The Death of the Automobile is a book focused on the Detroit auto industry, which Jerome called an ecological, economic and engineering disaster.  In the preface, Jerome states:

“ Technology isn’t evil, but the uses of technology often are.  The car is a bad machine – and the solution is not to build a better bad machine, but rather not to build bad machines.  Yet this huge, wealthy nation is trapped with what is virtually a single transportation system, and to suggest simply abandoning that system is to suggest paralyzing the nation.  We have become addicted to automobiles; they have become literally a necessity for sustaining life.  How we became addicted, what the future holds for such an addiction, and how we can escape the trap that the addiction ensures is what this book is about.“

He concludes the book with the following statement:

“When Alan S. Boyd became the first Secretary of Transportation, one of his first official acts was to decorate his new chambers.  On one wall, he hung a large photomural:  it showed a pair of well-shod feet.  It’s a transportation solution that hasn’t had a great deal of technological support in recent years, but it might be the salvation of us yet!”

What do you think Jerome would say about the state of transportation in 2013?

Year 87

1974: The Lives of a Cell

Author/Editor: Lewis Thomas

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Lewis Thomas’s Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher began as a series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine. Once collected into a book in 1974, it won the National Book Award in both Arts & Letters and the Sciences.

This book is a series of brief, insightful meditations, often linking biological questions to human questions—what is a ‘natural’ human? How do we live with germs? Is the earth like a single, busy cell?  But Thomas also speculates about the future of things we interact with daily—HMOs, computer networks. It’s fascinating to see how Thomas thought about these things as they began to affect society and then think about our expectations for the future.

In the mean time, if you’d like to take a look at the life of a cell as we now conceive it, take a quick look at this video of the workings of a cell.

Year 88

1975: The Monkey Wrench Gang & Ecotopia

Author/Editor: Edward Abbey, & Ernest Callenbach

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For 1975, we found two nominees that address very similar concerns but take quite different approaches—The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey, and Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach.

Both address the question of human ecological destruction, and both inspired the growing environmental movement, but each follows a radically different path thereafter.

Ecotopia describes an ecological utopian society, consisting of northern California, Oregon, and Washington, which broke from the rest of the United States and successfully arranged a utopian society that functioned economically and ecologically. At the end of the book, the epistolary narrator is convinced to stay in Ecotopia.

The Monkey Wrench Gang looked at ecological destruction, and wondered what would happen if a small group of citizens took matters into their own hands and attempt to destroy the destroyers. By the end of the book, it’s implied, three of the four central characters may be on probation and at least apparently living law-abiding lives…but the fourth is out there, growing a bigger network of eco-revolutionaries.

Year 89

1976: The Woman Warrior Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

Author/Editor: Maxine Hong Kingston

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Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior is an autobiography, but it’s  more than just an autobiography. She blends folktales with her family’s history in early twentieth century China and her experiences in California.

The Woman Warrior was named one of the most influential books of the 70’s by Time and won the National Book Critics Circle award. Over time, it’s come to be one of the most widely taught texts at the college level, perhaps not surprisingly given the multiple perspectives from which it can be viewed and given Kingston’s focus on constructing a workable identity—a task that is of particular interest during college when one begins to assess and experience what it means to step up and shape one’s adult identity.

Year 90

1977: The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality

Author: Shere Hite

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This landmark publication heralded a new freedom in expression: “Women ages 14 to 78 describe in their own words their most intimate feelings about sex with a new cultural interpretation of female sexuality.” This book reflects women’s thoughts and views about sexuality in a series of personal narratives and stories based on responses to a questionnaire sent to over 3,000 women.

The Hite Report was on the top of the New York Times bestseller list for weeks and sold for just $2.75. Reviewed in Library Journal in 1978, Jo Ann Brooks from the Institute of Sex Research at Indiana University, Bloomington, stated:  “This is the most interesting look at female sexual response, presented by women themselves.”  Library Journal; 7/1/1976, Vol. 101 Issue 13, p1538, 1/8p

While The Hite Report was criticized for its weak methodological basis, it did foster an open and often controversial dialogue on sexuality and opened the way for more advanced research in this area.  What is Hite doing now?  Learn more by visiting her web site.

From the Hite Web site:

The report went on to sell more than 50 million copies. Hite followed it up with a book on male sexuality, in which she addressed the enormous pressure to perform that modern society puts on men. She believes performance-enhancing drugs such as Viagra only compound the problem. But this olive branch proffered to insecure males didn’t slow down the hate campaign that was building momentum, and culminated in a Time magazine hatchet-job that prompted several prominent feminists to rush to her defence. Hite married a German pianist, Friedrich Horicke, 19 years her junior, in 1985, and in 1995 she renounced her US citizenship and took up citizenship of her husband’s home country. The marriage lasted 15 years, but Hite’s love affair with Europe – the place she feels her ideas were more accepted – continues. She has lived in Berlin and Paris, and now lives in London.

As she approaches 70, Hite is still unafraid of stirring up controversy. In 2006, she published the Shere Hite Reader: New and Selected Writings on Sex, Globalisation and Private Life . She still lectures on sex and sexuality, and is currently writing a screenplay of her own life. Her mother was 16 when Hite was born, and she was raised by her grandparents, taking her stepfather Raymond Hite’s surname when she was older. She has no children, but wouldn’t rule it out yet, she recently told the Guardian , saying that older mothers were unfairly stigmatised.

Year 91

1978: The Snow Leopard

Author/Editor: Peter Matthiessen

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The Snow Leopard documents author Peter Matthiessen’s trek across the Himalayas to Crystal Mountain in the Dolpo region. His vivid imagery and detailed descriptions have been described as so complete that “you hardly yearn for photographs”, garnering the book such accolades as the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1980. Matthiessen’s pilgrimage to the Buddhist center of the world and his search for the elusive snow leopard can be seen as a metaphor for his inner personal and spiritual journey. Matthiessen, a follower of Buddhism, also explains many tenets and beliefs of his faith interspersed with descriptions of the land.

Matthiessen never did glimpse a snow leopard. Perhaps appropriately, because then his journey would have been complete.

Year 92

1979: Puget’s Sound A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound

Author: Murray Morgan

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Born in Tacoma, Murray Morgan (yes, the historic downtown Tacoma bridge is named for him) was a preeminent Northwest historian.  He taught Northwest history for many years at Tacoma Community College, and wrote the quintessential history of Seattle, Skid Road. If you’d like to learn more about Murray Morgan, here’s a nice biography.

This book narrates the early history of Tacoma and the South Sound, beginning in 1792 when Peter Puget first explored the south sound by water, and concluding in the early 1900’s.  Based on primary source materials, Morgan is able to bring alive the people and events that shaped the Tacoma region.  This is an important book for anyone who is interested in exploring the history and roots of Tacoma.