Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Book Review: GOD'S SECRETARIES by Adam Nicolson: HarperCollins 2003
The Making of the King James Bible
The year is 1603: Elizabeth I, Queen of England has finally died in her querulous old age. She had no children; her 37-year-old nephew James Stuart, King of Scotland, is next of kin. England as a whole is looking forward to a prosperous future, and is receptive to the joining of the two kingdoms.
After decades of war, and religious differences between Church of England, Catholics, and Scottish Presbyterians, James saw his own royal duty to be a peacemaker. Since the invention of the printing press a hundred years earlier, many translations of the Christian Bible existed, each opposed---often violently—by the beliefs of other Christians. King James decided to convene scholars representing all major viewpoints to make a version approved by the Crown.
King James and Richard Bancroft (Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England) drew up rules for translators, At least fifty men took part in the new translation, divided into six groups, three assigned to the Old Testament, one to the books of the Apocrypha, two to the New Testament. Most were church leaders, chiefly Church of England, some from the opposing Puritans, some Scottish Presbyterians, a few were university officials of Oxford, Cambridge, or Westminster. England's Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, was a main organizer of the effort and assistant to the King. Work began in 1604; and they published it in 1611.
London was not entirely a holy city during this period. A terrorist plot to blow up parliament almost succeeded. The wife of one translator eloped with another man and her husband forcibly took her back, to wide publicity. Shakespeare was writing his plays. 120 colonists leave to establish the first town in Virginia; Henry Hudson seeks a North-West Passage to China; a group of Puritans will soon set sail on the Mayflower, seeking religious freedom in America..
The King James Bible, with its memorable verses, together with growing literacy in the English-speaking nations would be a “Christmas gift” lasting the next four hundred years and counting. The English language is continually changing as time goes on, but new ways of responding to the Bible stories constantly appear.
Excerpt from the King James Version (KJV):
“And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will toward men.” (from Luke, chapter 2. King James Bible)
Examples of new ways of understanding the meaning in more modern English:
“O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight” (Phillips Brooks)
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor ornery people like you and like I -
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky.” (Appalachian Carol, John Jacob Niles)
I questioned her plan to move from northern Montana to Colorado in the middle of winter, and in the eighth month of her first pregnancy.
“Joe found work down there, and we need to stay together.” She seemed satisfied with her answer.
“What will happen if you go into labor in the middle of a Wyoming blizzard?” I asked gently. “Cars do break down sometimes, you know. If you must go, at least take the bus.”
“Can't afford it until we get a paycheck.” She smiled at the rusty clunker parked outside. “Joe just finished rebuilding the engine. And we'll carry a blanket. God'll get us there!”
The odds were strong against Jesus being born safely that night long ago. Mary must have had misgivings about the whole thing. Would a midwife be available? Or would the only person around be her husband? He was a good carpenter, but he didn't have much experience in assisting childbirth.
But when there are no alternatives to taking risks, the knowledge that God is with us can sustain us in our endeavor. And God-directed endeavors can change the world. (From “The Workplaces of Christmas”)
Baby Jesu . . . I'm a poor boy, too . . .
I have no gift for you . . . Shall I play for you . . .On my drum. . .
And he smiled at me . . . Me and my drum . . .
(from Carol of the Drum, translated by Katherine Davis)
Each gives from what we have.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
September, 1939: Four days after Hitler's German army, the Wehrmacht, sweeps across Poland's borders, Polish forces are still defending Warsaw but the outcome is only a matter of time. Captain Alexander de Milja is carrying out his orders to destroy government documents, when he is summoned by a Colonel Vyborg.
“We want to offer you a job, but I emphasize that you have a choice. The nation is defeated, but the idea of the nation mustn't be. If you want to die on the battlefield, I won't stop you. Or, come work for us.” Vyborg is in Military Intelligence, and must get Poland's gold bullion reserves out of the city before the Germans' blockade is complete. Captain De Milja's assignment: take command of the six-car Pilava local train to it's usual destination, thirty miles away, and keep going, around the east end of German-occupied Czechoslovakia, and onward to the Romanian border, where the gold (hidden under the floorboards) will be forwarded to Poland's government-in-exile in Paris.
This is no easy task. Crowds of refugees struggle to get aboard; German warplanes are scouting for anything that moves, bandits roam the countryside, and Romania is 300 miles away. De Milja succeeds, however, and returns to Warsaw under fake ID.
He finds a printer and a pilot willing to take risks; They shower Warsaw with thousands of leaflets signed by Britain's air force. “We'll be back soon, and next time we won't be dropping leaflets. Give the Germans hell any way you can. Long Live Poland! Tenth Bomber Wing, RAF.” The small plane is back in its hangar before the Gemans can detect it.
The Germans' plan for Poland's future is quite simple: deliberate devaluation of the currency, replace the judges, direction of labor, registration of everybody. The Germans would know who and where everyone is. And would control where you work and how hard, and at what pay. “The essential mechanics of slavery.”
What the Germans find they cannot control is the safety of the trains crossing Poland to their then-ally Soviet Russia, their main source of crude oil. That's where De Milja and his colleagues operate. Incendiary devices attached to Russian oil tank cars, exploding at random. Bombs in iron ore shipments, set off by the heat when dumped into a German blast furnace.
The war in western Europe heats up, with the German end-run around France's massive Maginot Line, defeating the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk. The Polish Government-in-exile, now in London, transfers de Milja to Paris, where he had studied in student days. Different ID, different work, even a different assigned mistress. His job: cultivate contacts, gather information on German activity, especially on “Operation Sealion”, the planned invasion of the British Isles. Starting from where? Location of canals, number of barges, destination of trains, empty cargo ships at anchor. Take only 15 minutes to transmit in code, or German radio direction finders can locate and eliminate the operator.
Logic would launch the attack from Calais where the English Channel is narrow. De Milja focuses on that area after getting word that Germany will stage an invasion rehearsal. By mid-September, all trains to Calais and Boulogne are suspended. Military traffic only. De Milja and his superior, General Fedin explore the Calais waterfront, question bartenders, observe barges and tugboats.
The British offer a “rehearsal” of their own, based on information transmitted by de Milja's radio operator just before the Gestapo detects her location and arrests her. The first attack comes at 10:15 pm, Beaufort bombers. The Germans are waiting for them and respond with antiaircraft fire. The second attack comes at 11:16 and meets another firestorm. “One last thing to try,” says De Milja,and leaves his observation point to go down among the dock wreckage, its flames partially canceling the harbor's black-out. He locates a freighter, the Malacca Princess, whose name and cargo he recognizes from clandestine harbor records. He boards and accosts the lone watchman, a young Indonesian. The boy is cooperative; he has a family somehere, and this isn't his war.
They hear distant bombs hitting harbors up the coast, Nieuwpoort, Ostend. When they hear the third wave of planes approaching, they put all the ship's light switches to the 'on' position, and run for their lives. One plane's torpedo finds the Malacca Princess,and by the light of it's burning cargo, 100,000 gallons of naphtha, the planes have no trouble seeing every ship in the harbor. Operation Sealion never happens—Hitler's first defeat. As author Furst expresses it, Germans are brave, and not afraid to die. But they are afraid to fail.
Having extended his empire from France to Poland, and from Norway to North Africa, Hitler now attacks Soviet Russia, meeting initial success until the Russian winter sets in, and America begins its active role in the World-wide war.
Alexander de Milja is redeployed, back to his native Poland and the new eastern front.
Polish officers do not give up.
In some ways, this is a difficult book to read. Polish spelling can be hard to pronounce for those accustomed to English. And at close range, the realities of war and the lives that people must choose in order to survive, conflict with our own perceptions of patriotism and national glory. But In addition to being a best selling “spy thriller”, Mr. Furst's novel offers some deeper thoughts for the reader to ponder. Having a good world atlas on hand also helps follow the action.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Mr. Cohen is a local author (Missoula, MT), and proprietor of Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, who writes and illustrates books chiefly about Alaska and Canada. This book is a succinct and documented story about the World War II campaign in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. It is the only time in the past 200 years in which American soil has been invaded by hostile soldiers on the ground.
The author writes several pages of text in each of his seventeen topical chapters, but each chapter also has perhaps twice that many full pages of vivid photographs and maps, with brief explantory comments.
Bought from Russia in 1867, the average American thought it a waste of the seven million dollar price. It had fish, and fur, and for a brief period a gold rush, but that was about all. Only in the 1930's did Canada and the USA begin to see war coming, and realize that Russia, Japan, and even Europe were much closer by the Polar route than by the wide oceans that separated us at warmer latitudes.
The attack on Pearl Harbor not only destroyed much of USA's Pacific Fleet, but was a wake-up call on the vulnerability of all Alaska and the west coast to invasion. A highway far enough inland to be safe from hostile aircraft was needed to move troops and supplies to Alaska through intensely cold and mostly uninhabited land. Access to fuel required yet more roads. Military and naval bases were needed; there was only one in all of Alaska. The Alcan Highway—1,200 miles, 133 bridges and 8,000 culverts---opened (though still primitive) in eight and a half months in 1942.
Meanwhile, Japanese forces had occupied the Philippines, were reaching for Australia, and advancing across the Pacific Islands. The turning point in the overall war came in June of 1942, when Japan's radio code was deciphered by the Allies. American Naval Intelligence learned that four Japanese aircraft carriers would attack Midway Island on June 4th. American carriers were waiting for them and sank all four, leaving airborne Japanese pilots no place to land. Japan sent two other carriers toward Alaska to attack the new U.S. base there at Dutch Harbor, leaving the Japanese with little naval power in the South Pacific.
J apan did however succeed in occupying the islands of Attu and Kiska with around 9,000 men for a year. The purpose was to build a base to protect Japan's northern flank, and provide a possible route to invade Canada and United States. However, the battle of Midway had changed the balance of power, and the new American P-38 fighter-bomber proved superior to the Japanese “Zero”. Japan could still supply their Alaskan base by submarines, but subs couldn't carry the heavy equipment needed to complete their airfield on Kiska Island. Unable to defend against increasing American air power, Japanese destroyers raced in under cover of thick fog and evacuated Kiska. The battle to retake Attu lasted nineteen days, and was one of the first landing-craft invasions of the war; the Americans finally won, at great cost in lives on both sides.
The Japanese were not the only problem in the Aleutian campaign. Distance was another: Attu, the most western Aleutian Island is only 650 miles from the northernmost Japanese home bases, but 1,800 miles from mainland Alaska at Cold Harbor. Russia lost most of its air force when its former ally, Nazi Germany, attacked it. After America officially joined the Allies in December, 1941, it could build and fly “lend-lease” fighter planes and bombers via Alaska to Russian Siberia without danger from Axis forces. (Russia did not declare war on Japan until after the atomic bomb.) A route was set up from Great Falls, Montana through Edmonton Alberta, Whitehorse Yukon, and Nome Alaska, where Russian pilots would take over.
Violent weather caused more casualties than battle. Thanks to a warm Pacific current, Aleutian ports are ice free, but often fog-bound and stormy. The PT boats, so useful in the South Pacific while America was rebuilding its Pacific fleet, were tried in the Aleutians but were found useless in the rough seas. .And Alaska is cold This writer recalls reading a historical marker on the Alcan Highway commemorating a day so cold that the antifreeze froze in its containers.
By 1944 and 1945, the fighting in the north was mostly over, avoiding the massive death rates to both American and Japanese civilians and military in those years. But the war had positive effects on western Canada and Alaska: the building of infrastructure and economy might have taken decades longer, if the war had not happened. And Canada might not have been able to send most of its troops to win in Europe if required to defend its vast northern wilderness alone.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Book Review: A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; non-fiction Knopf
This journalism team (husband and wife) has received Pulitzer Prizes for their work twice (1990 and 2009.) The present 2014 book is about people who think and work outside the box, for the benefit of humanity. The brief and fascinating chapters cover many more individuals and groups than can be summarized in a brief review. I have selected three as representative:
THE PERFECT PRODUCT: CHEAP, CLEAN WATER.
Yuri Jain, at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., was aware of the problems India has in supplying clean water to its more than one billion citizens. Public water systems are poorly maintained, and most people must boil their drinking water to avoid diarrhea and other life-threatening diseases.
Even though Unilever sold no water purification products anywhere in the world, he and his team pushed the corporation to develop a product meeting high standards of performance: filter out bacteria, parasites and viruses, portable and stand-alone, needing no electricity, fuel or other outside energy source, simple enough for the uneducated to operate—put water in, get water out—and shut off automatically when the filter can not take any more dirty water.
In 2004, Unilever introduced “Pureit” producing safe drinking water at about ½ cent per liter, with the initial cost of $35. For those in poverty, the company partners with local groups, the Grameen Bank for example, to furnish microloans,. Unilever itself is not a philanthropy, but appears to be doing its best to provide a reliable product at the lowest possible cost. Their goal: “to provide clean drinking water to hundreds of millions of people by 2020.
A DOCTOR WHO TREATS VIOLENCE
Dr. Gary Slutkin had spent his career freeing San Francisco of a tuberculosis epidemic, dealing with a cholera epidemic in Somalia and AIDS in Africa, where he had to hire local translators to ensure communication with his patients. Now, after job burnout and a failed marriage, he returned to his native Chicago, looking ahead. He began studying inner-city violence and noted the similarity in its spread with the contagious diseases he had worked with: “exposure among susceptible people with low resistance or compromised immunity". Like with his patients in Africa, he needed interpreters who spoke the local “street language”, and 'violence interrupters'—someone respected among the street gangs—often ex-cons with a long rap sheet, who can stop violence in its tracks.
He cites a dramatic episode where a wife has killed her husband in self defense. She's in jail, but his gang members want vengeance and are gathering outside her apartment to shoot it up. Five kids and their grandmother are inside, and Grandma calls the neighborhood 'violence interrupter'. “China Joe? This is Linda Harris. The Vice Lords, they're bangin' on my door. Come quick or we'll all be dead!”
China Joe, and some drug dealers he was counseling when the call came, arrive to find a crowd of angry Vice Lords. He and the dealers tell them,“You know you got no business messing with someone's family! Two of those kids are Brown's own! You ain't helping him, you're hurting him!” China Joe could soon knock on Linda's door and tell her “You're safe now.” He remembered later, “They were just acting out of emotion. Once you talked to them, they knew it was the wrong thing.
Working on the principle that urban violence is not solely a moral problem nor a criminal issue, Dr. Slutkin likened it to a disease epidemic spreading among people of low resistance. His organization Cure Violence, in neighborhoods of Chicago with high crime rates and vulnerability, has met with such success that its program has been used in many parts of the USA and other countries.
ABSENCE FROM WORK OR SCHOOL
Elizabeth Scharpf's studies at Harvard Business School led her to investigate tropical Third World countries where she discovered a common problem: Sanitary pads are unaffordable, so women and schoolgirls stay home out of sight at their “time of the month”. One explained, “What if I get called to the blackboard, and I have a stain on the back of my skirt?”
After graduating, Ms. Scharpf began designing a company to manufacture “cut price sanitary pads for Africa and Asia, distributed by local women themselves, on a franchise system.” The cheapest pads in Rwanda, for example, made in China, sold for $ 1.10 for a pack of ten. Her own team of villagers, agriculture experts, and textile engineers researched locally available materials and found that banana trunk fibers really soaked up coke (their substitute for blood.) They engineered a biodegradable sanitary pad costing sixty cents for a 10-pack, still too costly for many women. The team organized 'Sustainable Health Enterprises' (SHE) a supply chain of 600 small-scale banana farmers, mostly women. Aid groups will help fund distribution at schools and refugee camps.
Problem solved? Although girls appreciate the help with menstrual hygiene, one study suggested that bicycles would help more girls attend school; another suggested that aspirin for the menstrual cramps would be more effective. Not every good idea proves successful.
Kristoff and WuDunn best sum up their philosophy of the source of new innovations by observing, “Earl Warren, as chief justice of the Supreme Court, had a huge impact on ending segregation. But so did Rosa Parks.”
Friday, December 16, 2016
Book Review: A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute (fiction) Pan Books, 1961
London attorney Noel Strachan's client, Douglas Macfadden, has just died. A search for his heirs turns up only one, niece Jean Paget, age twenty-six, a typist in a London office. She is amazed to learn she has inherited fifty-three thousand pounds [in present day dollars, a seven-figure amount.] “It means I'll never need to work—unless I want to,” is her reaction.
She ponders her options for several weeks and finally tells him, “I've made up my mind what I want to do first of all. I want to go to Malaya, Mr. Strachan. To dig a well.”
She tells him about her childhood; her father had worked for a British plantation in Malaya [a British colony back then]; and she had learned the Malayan language as a child. In 1939 when World War II broke out she applied for a job with her father's former employer and was accepted.
She was 21 when Japan joined the war and soon the Japanese army occupied all of Malaya. British citizens were taken prisoner. The Japanese sent the men to labor camps, but Japanese commanders had no camps for women and children; they were marched from one area to another. In the first six months, the group of forty that Jean was in had shrunk to eighteen. She was caring for a one-year-old whose mother had died, and she had walked some 400 miles. At one point they met a couple of Australian prisoners, truck drivers, who helped them by stealing some chickens from the Japanese.The Aussies were caught, and the Japanese captain had one, Joe Harmon, beaten and literally crucified. The women were forced to watch, and then were sent on yet another march.
Eventually even their Japanese guard died of fever. The surviving women realized they would all die if nothing changed. Jean, the only one fluent in Malay, spoke with the headman of the village they had reached, offering that the women would work in the rice fields with the village women, in exchange for food and shelter. They stayed in that village three years till the war ended.
Now financially free, she wants to offer a gift especially for the village women, who must travel a mile to fetch drinkable water. The village women unite to convince their husbands to accept Jean's gift. Well digging is a special skill, calling for several men from the town of Kuantan, the place where Jean had been forced to watch Joe's death. The well diggers remember the event, but say the man did not die. Japanese military tradition required the executioner to grant the prisoner's dying wish; Joe had defiantly demanded a beer, and there was none in town, so the captain could not allow him to die.
Now, six years later, she delays going back to England and instead goes to Alice Springs, Australia, Joe's last known address. Alice Springs is a beautiful town with plenty of water, jobs, shops, just as Joe had described to her. He has moved on, however, and now manages a cattle station near Willstown, in the Gulf area. She travels by the weekly plane, and finds it a miserable place to live. There is nothing to do there; most girls can't wait to leave and find jobs in Australia's coastal cities. With the women gone, it's hard to attract men to work in the cattle stations. Joe isn't there either; a letter from attorney Noel Strachan brings the surprising news that Joe is in England looking for her. He has just found out that the baby she always carried on her hip in Malaya was not her own, and that she is single. He traced her through a previous address, and was referred to Strachan.
Strachan is a good judge of character; professional ethics prevent him from telling Joe where she is, but says she is traveling in the Orient, and he will write her about Joe. Meanwhile, he arranges contact with cattle experts in England to give Joe a chance to study the latest methods of cattle management while he waits for her reply.
Jean and Joe finally meet at the airport in Cairnes; each barely recognizes the other from six years ago, now that they were both recovered from their war experience. They spend a weekend at a small resort on the Great Barrier Reef getting re-acquainted. They both agree they want to get married, but there are matters to discuss first:
Joe knows in his heart that Jean would never be happy in a town like Willstown. She knows Joe will not be happy giving up the ranch he has built up. Her solution: “We'll have to do something about Willstown.”
Jean has studied how girls growing up in Willstown might be persuaded to stay. One old man shows her a gator skin he hunts and tans. Alligator shoes and handbags are one of the items her employer in London dealt with. She realizes that Willstown with its cattle and gators and carpenters has all the raw materials for upscale women's shoes. Her own efforts are amateurish, but remarkable enough to catch the interest of the townspeople, and even her London employer when she mails him a pair. She proposes a plan to Strachan, her trustee, if he will allow a withdrawal of part of the principal trust to invest. First, build a shop for local girls to make alligator shoes. Second, build a shop to sell ice cream, magazines, cosmetics for the girls and people in and around Willstown. She already has been talking with a girl she met in Alice Springs who is willing to come. Third, construct small reservoirs to retain the rainwater that all comes in two months of the year, and thus enable expansion of the cattle herds.
Strachan and Mr. Peck, Jean's former employer, confer about the shoe business. Peck has an experienced supervisor willing to come to Australia for a year to get manufacture on a professional level.
Jean has the first two projects up and running before the rains begin in December. But she hasn't figured on a rivalry that threatens their very lives.
Friday, December 2, 2016
COEUR d'ALENE DIARY by Richard G. Magnuson; The First Ten Years of Hardrock Mining in North Idaho; Binford & Mort Publishing 1968
Mr. Magnuson was an attorney in Wallace, Idaho with a life-long interest in local history. He writes in diary format, putting events in chronologic order, but presents a great many threads of dozens of miners and the mines they worked in. Ranging in size from mere prospect holes to some more than a mile deep, they have produced massive amounts of silver, lead, zinc, gold, copper, and a host of chemical by-products over the past 130 years.
Other than a few Catholic missionaries to the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe, one of the first explorers of the area was Army Captain John Mullan, charged with building a six hundred mile road connecting Fort Benton, on the Missouri River, with Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia. The one thing he did not want was any gold discovery to distract his 100-man road crew in 1859. It was not until Andrew Prichard and his partners discovered gold in a tributary of the Coeur d'Alene River's North Fork in 1883 that a gold rush started, drawing men from all over the West to what is now the town of Murray, a thirty-mile trek from the nearest railroad at Thompson Falls, Montana. The Mullan Road, built twenty-four years earlier was now little more than a muddy trail much of the time.
Small-time prospectors with only a shovel and gold pan apparently didn't do well on the North Fork; you needed a sluice box with water running through it to catch the heavy gold flakes in its ridges to make much profit. Some men moved to the South Fork finding veins in the rocks, not of gold, but of silver and lead. The towns of Burke, Mullan, Gem and Wallace grew up around some of these early mines, the Poorman, Tiger, Morning, and many smaller operations. Extraction of ore from hard rock involved drilling by hand, in tunnels lit by candles. Ore could be transported in sacks on a wagon to Cataldo Mission, some thirty miles west, transferred to a river barge, then transferred again to the railroad near Spokane Falls, another forty miles dowstream. Shipping in railroad car lots had to wait until the railroad finally reached Wallace and Mullan, around 1888.
In August, 1885, Noah Kellogg received a grubstake (food and equipment) valued at about $18.50, plus a mule,f rom two men in Murray, who sent Noah to explore the South Fork area. The first several weeks, he hadn't much success. Then, twelve miles west of Wallace, up Milo Gulch, as local lore has it, his jackass wandered away. He picked up a rock to throw at it. The weight of the rock made him look more closely: it was high grade galena (lead sulfide) which in this region has a significant percentage of silver also. It became the biggest mine of all, the Bunker Hill, original entrance about 4,000 feet elevation, eventually reached downward to below sea level.
But it wasn't all skittles and beer from then on; in 1887,when a Portland financier bought the Bunker Hill and several nearby properties for $650,000, Noah fought his grub stakers over who would get how much (Noah received $150,000 in cash and stock. A promoter had staked out the water rights in Milo Creek, and was also awarded a portion, as were the lawyers.
The Blake brothers arrived from Maine too late for the gold rush, but staked out farmland in a meadow up Big Creek. They happened to discover a vein of silver ore so rich it didn't need milling. They filled a wagon with it by hand and took it to town every two months, getting $75 to $400 per ton. Their Yankee mine was re-named the Sunshine when they later sold it, and became the nation's largest silver producer, up to seven million ounces per year.
Most of the 42 chapters deal with ordinary town development, and progress in the mines. The local economy turned from mineral exploration to mine production in the mid-1880s--stockpiles of ore piling up while awaiting the arrival of the railroad. Public water distribution came to Wallace, The first electric lights, the first electric drills, then compressed air to power the drilling. The telegraph came, as did miners' union labor. Fires destroyed several towns. , Miners' blew up mills, bringing in the national guard and martial law. Seemingly infinite amounts ore are still in the ground even a century later. A man sold his 1/4th interest in the Lucky Friday Mine for $750 in 1887. Over a century later, the Lucky Friday is still a major silver producer with workings extending two miles below the surface of the ground.
Magnuson ends his history of the early mining days with an astute observation: “The pride of a miner in his work provides the glue that holds it [mining] together, and the miner's sense of humor is the softening agent that keeps it from drying out and breaking up.”
The reader may find an interesting supplement to Mr. Magnuson's account of mining in Idaho's Silver Valley by reading Bankson and Harrison's book, “Beneath These Mountains” a more personalized portrait of some twenty of the prominent people of the early mining days. Both books were written in the 1960's