Newsletter of the Friends of the Heppner Library

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VOLUME #1 ISSUE #1: Fall 2017
November 2, 7PM:
Heppner Elementary Gym: An Evening With Rinker Buck, author of The Oregon Trail

In the Middle Of - p. 2
Ida Farra's Kitchen - p. 4
Lost 'Til Found - p. 5
Editor's Pick - p. 6
BookMarker - p. 8

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Comanche Moons and the Root of American Exceptionalism

book reviews by Pat Struthers

Comanches: The History of a People
-------T.R. Fehrenbach (Anchor, 1974)

Empire of the Summer Moon
-------S.C. Gwynne (Scribner, 2010)

If there is one overriding principle an amateur historian should follow, it is this: Never rely on one opinion. I began my self-propelled addiction to history with the Vietnam War; a more contentious subject is hard to imagine. A study of America at war explains how seldom arrogance has served us well. The roots of that crippling fault can be seen most vividly in the tragic history of Native Americans.
Choosing between two Texans authors, both writing about the Comanche peoples, is a troubling. Comanches: The History of the People by T.R. Fehrenbach (1974) and S.C. Gwynne's Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches (2010) both cover the same basic subject, but with completely different approaches. The first is an honest and thoroughly balanced history, while the second is a popular biography.

Fehrenbach documents, in convincing detail, the bloody, decades-long battle between the Comanches and the various European invasions: the dynamic and then decadent Spanish Empire; the merchants and traders of France; and lastly the restless, anarchic citizens of post-revolutionary U.S.A. and the Republic of Texas.

European notions of logic, morality and law crashed into a culture founded on personal honor, pride and traditional imperative, thus creating a tragic recipe of misunderstanding and duplicity. Fehrenbach contrasts the hypocrisy beneath American and Texan excuses to justify treaty violations with the unwritten but authentically democratic motivations of the Plains peoples.

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In the Middle Of: Comanche Moons (cont.)
Like Gwynne, Fehrenbach writes enthusiastically about the exploits of the Texas Rangers and he convincingly documents their long war against the Comanches; he carefully compares their policies with those of citizen 'militias' and the U.S. Army. He demonstrates how deeply the "Winning of the West" scarred the cultures and psyches of all its participants, and finally distorted American ideals, permanently, by ignoring the realities of Native American priority and African slavery. The reader is left to ponder the bloody, back-and-forth nature of the Western expansion as the root of Texan and American exceptionalism. Finally, he recognizes the basic flaw in the American legal system, first noted by De Toqueville, and its ultimate result: a democracy for the affluent and established rather than the 'created equals'.

With Empire of the Summer Moon, Gwynne went with biography instead, and the genre led him to his first mistake. His initial chapters barely mention the Comanches at all, but instead focus upon the state of affairs in the Plains in the early 1870's, a time when the U.S. government had, once again, time and resources to pursue, as Gwynne puts it, "the final solution" in regard to the Plains tribes, of which the Comanches were the most recalcitrant.

The tone is set early with tales of manifestly destined settlers as hapless victims and vengeful persecutors of an equally stubborn and increasingly radicalized native adversary. Gwynne can't avoid a military glorification of either force, as if combat alone justifies their historical significance. This tendency obscures the underlying motivations of both sides and distracts the reader from reaching any historical conclusions.
Gwynne's book tells us nothing about the conflict that we don't already know from Fehrenbach's book and side steps the difficult task of presenting the plight of the Comanches, and that of all the native peoples of the West, on their own terms. Fehrenbach spends a third of his time on that subject. Empire, finally, obscures the underlying context and over-emphasizes the glory, excitement and atrocity.

Depending too much on secondary sources of settlers, and government officials and not enough on ethnographic and native commentary, Empire implies that history is and should be written by the victors; that due to a lack of character possessed by more 'noble' tribes, the Comanches were unaccountably and irretrievably vicious and duplicitous. Lastly, the biographical mode leads the reader to conclude that the outcome would have been worse for the Comanches if the noble, half-white Parker had not led the last remnant of his people to their 'destined' peace with the civilized invaders.

A more carefully historical perspective, as taken by Fehrenbach, allows the reader more sympathy, paradoxically, with both sides. Gwynne's work only perpetuates the popular, and arrogant, notion that destiny trumps any claim of culpability for the decimation of indigenous peoples.

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Norway : Kylling med karve

(Chicken with Caraway Seeds>

Cut chicken into serving size pieces, flour well with equal parts of flour and potato flour, and season with salt and pepper.
Brown in hot shortening. You will find that Potato flour gives an especially nice brown color.
Add caraway seeds which have been crushed with a pestle to release more of their flavor.
Add the chicken stock or bouillon and 1 cup of the sour cream. Be sure cream is at room temperature, or it will curdle when added to hot chicken.
Put in covered casserole and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) for 1-1/2 hours.
Just before serving, add remaining cup of sour cream. Serves 4.

Cooking with a Foreign Accent
Lake Publishing Co. (1952)

Ingredients for Kylling med karve:
  • 1 large young hen
  • Flour
  • Potato flour
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Shortening
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or bouillon
  • 2 cups sour cream

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In 1963 Ballantine Books published all 22 titles of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan. Beginning with Tarzan of the Apes, it was first published in the pulp magazine, All-Story Magazine in October of 1912.
So popular was the character that Burroughs continued the series into the 1940s with the sequels.

Twenty- one of the 22 Ballantine paperbacks were discovered by FOHL last spring and were tagged and stored away.
Titles: Tarzan of the Apes through Tarzan of the Foreign Legion (21 paperbacks)
Overall Grade: Good to Very Good
Suggested Donation: $22.00

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Editor's Pick: Apples to Oregon
a review by BIBLIOS editor Phil Pacheco
Apples to Oregon, Being The Slightly True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes and Cherries (AND CHILDREN) Across the Plains
by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004)

In anticipation of Rinker Buck's visit to Heppner, and the close of harvest season, we recommend Apples to Oregon, now available at the Heppner Library.

Deborah Hopkinson's wise narrative is heroic in a pleasing and powerful way. The acclaim it has earned stems from the carefully drawn main character, Delicious, from child to courageous pioneer. This "slightly true" tall tale follows her family's overland adventure from Salem, Iowa to Portland with hundreds of fruit tree seedlings, and never forgets the significant meanings of their undertaking.

The book, designed for young readers, is exceptional in its visual display of the journey and the boundless beauty that awaits them.

Nancy Carpenter's illustrations are panoramic in style and that encourages young readers to think big and imagine the wild outdoors, and its accompanying joys and dangers. The whimsy of her drawings and subtlety of facial expressions are hard to forget, and the story will answer and open up discussions on horticulture and Oregon history.

As harvest time ends, and holidays not far away, Apples to Oregon may ultimately inspire some young mind to orchard management. However, and simply put, it's a beautiful book with much to recommend, not least, its timely subtext of entrepreneurship and inspiring work ethic.

Author Rinker Buck Visits Heppner
on November 2nd at 7PM at the Heppner Elementary School Gym

"History almost everywhere is tragic and ironic, but in America the contrasts are more stark because we set such high ideals."--Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

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NEW - Available at the Heppner Library

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
by Mathew Sullivan (Scribner-328 pp)


Lydia has a complicated backstory that she doesn't want anyone to know about. Estranged from her father, and with no other family to speak of, she finds solace in her workplace, the amazing Bright Ideas Bookstore in Denver, Colorado.

Not only does she have the job of her dreams, she happily lives with her boyfriend, and has found a family in her coworkers. But when an unexpected tragedy occurs at the bookstore, to one of her favorite customers, she finds an unexpected connection to her past.

Unable to let the mystery go unsolved, she pursues the truth, but in so doing, starts to unravel her past, risking exposure to those she's been hiding from.

Email editor Phil Pacheco at for a free subscription, renewal, article submission or for book donations.

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