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Sons of the Profits: There's No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901

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30 review for Sons of the Profits: There's No Business Like Grow Business. The Seattle Story, 1851-1901

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    An interesting, and informal, history lesson about the founding of Seattle (and to a lesser extent, Tacoma and the state of Washington). Generally speaking, Speidel tells an interesting story. However, the story is constantly having to fight against Spiedel's horrendous writing. He writes in a way that mirrors casual speech if that speech were affected by annoying mannerisms. One of his favorite things to do is to end a paragraphy with an ellipsis and then complete the sentence in next paragraph. An interesting, and informal, history lesson about the founding of Seattle (and to a lesser extent, Tacoma and the state of Washington). Generally speaking, Speidel tells an interesting story. However, the story is constantly having to fight against Spiedel's horrendous writing. He writes in a way that mirrors casual speech if that speech were affected by annoying mannerisms. One of his favorite things to do is to end a paragraphy with an ellipsis and then complete the sentence in next paragraph... Just like this. Had this book seen the hand of a qualified copy editor, it would be a fantastic book. Unfortunately, the style of writing gets in the way of the story so much that it damages the quality of the complete product. If you're into Seattle history, give it a read. Otherwise, skip it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melody Daggerhart

    Finally, I am back from my venture into publishing to offer some reading reviews. Normally, I read and review only fiction. But because I've learned first-hand how important reviews are to authors, I've sort of promised myself that I would try to review every book I read from now on, including non-fiction. Sons of the Profits is a book about the founding fathers of Seattle. I came across the book after doing the Seattle Underground tour, otherwise I probably would not have gone hunting for it on Finally, I am back from my venture into publishing to offer some reading reviews. Normally, I read and review only fiction. But because I've learned first-hand how important reviews are to authors, I've sort of promised myself that I would try to review every book I read from now on, including non-fiction. Sons of the Profits is a book about the founding fathers of Seattle. I came across the book after doing the Seattle Underground tour, otherwise I probably would not have gone hunting for it on my own. (Note to self: creepy underground tours with funny guides is an excellent book marketing strategy. Now all I need is a creepy underground to associate with my book and some funny tour guides.) I also happen to be a history buff, so I wasn't completely hoodwinked into buying it. Seattle is one of my favourite cities, so I wanted to learn more about my adopted state's most famous skyline. While I highly recommend the tour, the book was not a disappointment because it was written in the same plain-humoured style as the tour itself. The book addresses each of the top dogs that most people consider to be the founding fathers of Seattle, along with a few people who most historians overlook as being important to the city's beginnings and growth. A religious man, a drunk, and a madame go into a bar, and … tell me if you've heard this one before because that pretty much sets the tone for how the book tells the tale. Speidel digs into primary and secondary documents to get a complete picture of the men and women, and how they interacted with each other, to scheme their way into building one of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest. There's a lot of history there that the textbooks probably won't teach. And while the numbers can be boring (because, well … numbers), it's the stories between the numbers that made this book an interesting read. My favourite chapter was "The Archeology of the Skid Road". For starters, did you know that the term "skid row" came from skidding lumber down Seattle's muddy, steep streets to Yesler's Mill? I have no idea how that jumped to meaning "homeless and from Hell", but then again, after reading about Seattle's "ruins" I have an idea that's what early Seattle was like. Check out what a mud hole it used to be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skid_row . "The 'ruins' of Seattle are not as old or famous as those of Pompeii, but they're the only ones we've got. They have the further advantage of being here and not off across an ocean some place. The Pompeiians couldn't have buried their city without considerable contribution from Mt. Vesuvius. Ours was a do-it-yourself project." (Speidel, 213) "Only Christ could have walked on half of Maynard's streets. They were under water. And what a headache his City Hall would have been for engineers! It was on a solid foundation of slippery, blue clay on the side of a cliff. The Civic Center he visualized would have been on a slope of about sixty degrees. Denny's vision was interesting, too. His dreamed-of "broad highway"of northwest-southeast streets went from three feet above high tide to a hundred and forty above, with a corresponding ninety degree drop to the beach and seven ravines in twelve blocks. Only a mountain goat could have enjoyed the fifty-degree angle of his east-west streets." (Speidel, 216) Considering how the interior streets of Seattle look today, I had to laugh at this because I just can't imagine them being any steeper. But Spiedel repeatedly points out that Seattle was the least suckiest place to build a city on the Puget Sound, and then gives us all the details of what went wrong – everything from Native American wars to exploding toilets. I'm almost disappointed someone hasn't written a TV series about life in Seattle in the 1800's. It could include the tale of the unexploded shell left after the Indian war (in which Chief Seattle held back about 4,000 native people from stomping white ass) and Dexter Horton. "Dexter Horton was the town's first banker. And one day he backed up to warm his rear end at a stump that was being burned for a land clearing project. A shell had been deposited in the stump some years earlier by the Ship of War "Decatur". The "Decatur's" gun was known to the Indians as a "boom boom" because it went "boom" when a shell left the ship and went "boom" again when it landed in the middle of one of their strategy meetings. Well, the one that landed in Horton's stump had only gone "boom" once during the Indian war. It boomed the second time for the benefit of the banker's backside … sending him sprawling and causing Seattle's banking business to be conducted from a standing position for the next few days." (Speidel, 222) Overall, I'd give this book four stars out of five. It had some grammar and typographical errors in it – but otherwise it is an informative, entertaining read, especially when compared to most books on economic history and city foundations. It hasn't necessarily restored my faith in the American spirit of the west. If anything it confirms what bastards the gold rush and land grab pioneers were. But it is an honest look at how the major cities in the Washington territory got their humble beginnings from the most unlikely people in some rather unlikely ways.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pierre Stolte

    An interesting history of Seattle that is (sadly) very poorly written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    This is an entertaining and irreverent look at the founding of Seattle up through shortly after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. The author, who spent decades giving Seattle underground tours, uses a folksy tone to humanize and poke fun at the founding fathers of Seattle, whom he calls the Sons of the Profits. It's mostly a collection of biographical vignettes, and Speidel approaches his job of biographer with a particular bent. "This is the story of how the fellas who built Seattle made their mon This is an entertaining and irreverent look at the founding of Seattle up through shortly after the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. The author, who spent decades giving Seattle underground tours, uses a folksy tone to humanize and poke fun at the founding fathers of Seattle, whom he calls the Sons of the Profits. It's mostly a collection of biographical vignettes, and Speidel approaches his job of biographer with a particular bent. "This is the story of how the fellas who built Seattle made their money," Speidel writes on the first page of his history. To his credit, he rarely deviates from this thesis, and never misses an opportunity to call bullshit on beloved Seattle myths, especially pertaining to the founding fathers' supposed cooperation and magnanimity for the public good. In Speidel's informed opinion, every one of the great men (Denny, Yesler, Maynard, Boren, Terry, et al) was a self-interested bastard out to make a buck at all costs. In fact, Henry Yesler's chapter is titled The Bastard, and I can't say he doesn't live up to his name. Yesler once sued the city of Seattle to avoid having to pay the $5,000 tax he had agreed to pay to plank the dirt streets in order to prevent any more young children drowning in the giant puddles -- and he won, establishing the legal precedent that Seattle was in violation of its charter and was therefore not legally a city. It took a special act of Congress to restore Seattle its charter, and in the meantime Yesler's legal assholery prevented the city from passing any levies to run public services. This in turn led to the city's utter reliance on liquor license fees and fines paid by prostitutes and gambling dens to finance the general budget. One of Speidel's pet topics is how important an industry prostitution was in the city's early years, not only filling the public coffers, but also arguably saving Seattle's economy after the Union Pacific named Tacoma its railroad terminal. While all rail traffic was going through Tacoma, the city, which was a company town, refused to turn a blind eye to brothels as Seattle had for so long. This brought the lumberjacks (the primary profession in the Pacific Northwest at the time) into Seattle to spend their money, not Tacoma. Speidel argues that the prostitution efforts of the head pimp, a man named Pinnell who isn't mentioned in many history books, were almost single-handedly responsible for keeping Seattle afloat during this difficult economic time. Sons of the Profits is at its best when Speidel keeps his vignettes short and to the point, which he manages to do pretty well with the biographical portions. He strays off course a little bit in the longest chapter of the book, The Establishment, which is actually the convoluted history the rail connections in the Pacific Northwest. But with that one major aside, most of the book is composed in these digestible chunks, and were very educational as well as entertaining. This book is probably only of interest to people from the area, since so much of the pleasure of reading comes from learning how much the city and its landscape have changed since its founding. But anyone with an historical bent should consider picking up this well-researched local history.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Gross

    I recently went on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour in Seattle and decided to buy his book to learn more about Seattle's interesting past. The tour itself was fun but kind of loose with the historical facts. The book was less fun and maybe not as loose with the facts? It's hard to know. Mr. Speidel's book has become like a part of Seattle's history in itself, so in that regard I'm glad I got it. However, he's kind ridiculous. He finds himself far more hilarious than I do, uses lots of cliches and I recently went on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour in Seattle and decided to buy his book to learn more about Seattle's interesting past. The tour itself was fun but kind of loose with the historical facts. The book was less fun and maybe not as loose with the facts? It's hard to know. Mr. Speidel's book has become like a part of Seattle's history in itself, so in that regard I'm glad I got it. However, he's kind ridiculous. He finds himself far more hilarious than I do, uses lots of cliches and tired/weird metaphors, and has some interesting views about women and their place in the world. I did enjoy many parts of the book, particular parts that referenced Vancouver, WA and it's history because I've spent a good bit of my life there. I didn't know Vancouver was originally going to be the capital of Washington. I also enjoyed brief snippets about Port Townsend, since it's one of my favorite places to visit. The parts Bill seems to focus on in this book are the parts I'm least interested in. I wanted to know more about the women of Seattle and Lou Graham in particular, and I would have liked more information about Seattle's part in the Alaska gold rush. I could have done with a lot less of arguing about the mother-f-ing railroad. I understand how important the railroad would have been to the people in these frontier towns but if I had to read one more damn word about that nonsense over the railroad I would have thrown the book out the window. The best parts of the book are the quirkier and weirder aspects of Seattle's history, like exploding toilets and civic-minded prostitutes. Bill gave us way more of his opinion on things than I would have cared for, it was difficult to keep track of what was happening when, and it's disheartening to learn that Seattle set woman's suffrage back thirty years, but all in all it was entertaining.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I live in Seattle and everyone who visits me has to go on the Speidel Underground Tour with me. I've lived here 12 years now and hadn't gotten around to reading this book. It's GREAT!!!! Not only do you learn a lot of great Seattle history, but Speidel's irreverent, crazy writing makes you ENJOY learning history. For instance According to legend, when Maynard, Seattle's first bona-fide drunk, arrived with a proposal to set up a salmon-salting business those who already had land "gladly" moved th I live in Seattle and everyone who visits me has to go on the Speidel Underground Tour with me. I've lived here 12 years now and hadn't gotten around to reading this book. It's GREAT!!!! Not only do you learn a lot of great Seattle history, but Speidel's irreverent, crazy writing makes you ENJOY learning history. For instance According to legend, when Maynard, Seattle's first bona-fide drunk, arrived with a proposal to set up a salmon-salting business those who already had land "gladly" moved their stakes to make room for Maynard, and he ended up with a claim running from King Street north three blocks to Yesler Way. That's the legend I had always accepted - until recently when I checked out the facts. It's true that the south boundary of Boren's claim was moved from King Street north three blocks to Yesler Way, and it is true that this included almost all the level land in the city. However, Boren had left Seattle a week before Maynard's arrival to pick up his cattle in the Willamette Valley. Just walking the distance between Seattle and Portland would take two weeks, let alone driving a herd of cattle. So Boren was out of town when that great phenomenon of this city can into being. He was en route to the Willamette Valley. The "Seattle Spirit" was born...... When Denny gave BOREN'S land to Maynard! I love it! Speidel's thesis here (if it can be said he HAS a thesis)is that Seattle (and probably most other towns) are never settled or grown on philanthropy but on profits - how much money can be made.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I was very excited about this book. I bought it after the amazing "Seattle Underground" tour, which was super funny and witty and interesting. This book was sold at a gift shop at the tour location, so I went for it. It was such a disappointment. Yes, I get it - Seattle's history is not glorious or grand, especially in the early days, and the founding fathers wanted money and nothing else. OK. But the author makes jokes in every - literally every single one - paragraph. I felt that his jokes got I was very excited about this book. I bought it after the amazing "Seattle Underground" tour, which was super funny and witty and interesting. This book was sold at a gift shop at the tour location, so I went for it. It was such a disappointment. Yes, I get it - Seattle's history is not glorious or grand, especially in the early days, and the founding fathers wanted money and nothing else. OK. But the author makes jokes in every - literally every single one - paragraph. I felt that his jokes got more paper than the facts he was telling. And the quality of those jokes... Does calling a hanging of an Indian a "necktie party" sound funny to you? Or do you find hilarious the story of how the person who was hanging the Indians was declared innocent despite of admitting himself that he was guilty in front of the court? Well, that's the level of the humor in the book. Not all the jokes were that bad, but this was where I stopped reading. We did bad things as a society and we still do. And there were funny stories that got "glorified" later because we wanted "founding fathers" to be grand, in Seattle and all over the world. However, making bad jokes about bad things is definitely not a way to tell history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    When in Seattle, I went on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour and had a blast. It was informative, irreverent and fun. They talked up this book quite a bit, so I bought it too. It's a very interesting period in Seattle's history, but the book (in my opinion) is so poorly written that it's hard to follow. The stories are told in a folksy voice and were laden with dated slang, clichés and more ellipsis ... than ... should ... be ... legally ... allowed. "They all got, like, you know - sick." "I don't k When in Seattle, I went on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour and had a blast. It was informative, irreverent and fun. They talked up this book quite a bit, so I bought it too. It's a very interesting period in Seattle's history, but the book (in my opinion) is so poorly written that it's hard to follow. The stories are told in a folksy voice and were laden with dated slang, clichés and more ellipsis ... than ... should ... be ... legally ... allowed. "They all got, like, you know - sick." "I don't know what would have happened to Seattle in the earlier years without that piece of yeast called Charlie Terry, but he was like a Chinese pursued by seventy thousand devils..."

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Bill Speidel has a fun, colloquial style. Reading this book is like listening to an eccentric uncle spin yarns. I read this book mostly while was riding the bus around Seattle - a great way to see the streets around me a different way (Speidel gives the stories of many of the men our for which our streets are named). The narrative is not strictly chronological, but rather follows the stories of particular personalities or the play-by-play of Seattle's most famous battles. Though this history is Bill Speidel has a fun, colloquial style. Reading this book is like listening to an eccentric uncle spin yarns. I read this book mostly while was riding the bus around Seattle - a great way to see the streets around me a different way (Speidel gives the stories of many of the men our for which our streets are named). The narrative is not strictly chronological, but rather follows the stories of particular personalities or the play-by-play of Seattle's most famous battles. Though this history is far from comprehensive, the author has chosen his favorites, the more colorful snapshots, the anecdotes you will love to share with your family when they visit.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eden Hazardelirium

    This book was my introduction to the seediness of the American story of colonization. It's an excellent introduction, too, with a sense of humor that historical nonfiction rarely has. Nearly two decades after reading it, it's still on my bookshelf. This book was my introduction to the seediness of the American story of colonization. It's an excellent introduction, too, with a sense of humor that historical nonfiction rarely has. Nearly two decades after reading it, it's still on my bookshelf.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    An interesting look at the underbelly of Seattle's history, as well as an interesting look at how the city has changed since the book was published in the 60s. An interesting look at the underbelly of Seattle's history, as well as an interesting look at how the city has changed since the book was published in the 60s.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    A very clever way to make history hard to put down. Humorous from start to finish, much like the tours in Seattle itself, it’s a fun way to get knee deep in pioneering days

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Canfield

    Sons of the Profits provides readers with a look at the early history of the city of Seattle. Author William C. Speidel utilizes a quirky writing style that makes this book unique; he pokes fun at many of the city's founders in an effort to humanize them in a way nonfiction books sometimes fail to do. As the title indicates, much of the book focuses on the economic foundations of Seattle. The early rivalry between Portland and Seattle to see which city could become the Pacific Northwest powerhous Sons of the Profits provides readers with a look at the early history of the city of Seattle. Author William C. Speidel utilizes a quirky writing style that makes this book unique; he pokes fun at many of the city's founders in an effort to humanize them in a way nonfiction books sometimes fail to do. As the title indicates, much of the book focuses on the economic foundations of Seattle. The early rivalry between Portland and Seattle to see which city could become the Pacific Northwest powerhouse is fun to read about, as were the integral connections between the already established banking powerhouse of San Francisco and the fledgling outpost of Seattle. Arthur Denny is the central character in a cast of men anxious to make their imprint on the growing Puget Sound city, acting as a chief promoter of Seattle for several pivotal decades. Alongside Charles C. Terry (who would found one of the Puget Sound's first general stores), Denny both wittingly and unwittingly spends the middle of the nineteenth century laying the foundation for the Emerald City's explosive future growth. At one point, it briefly went by the name New York as promoters wanted to put "visions of glory" in the minds of those who heard it mentioned. (The book only covers its beginnings in 1851 through 1901). Railroads are a primary focus of Seattle's development, forming almost a character of sorts in and of themselves. The squabbles over railroad routes--which cities they would pass by, where they would end-are a running controversy throughout the story of the region's early growth. Railway moguls like Henry Villard can create or break cities simply by the decisions their companies make. The Northern Pacific Railway, the Great Northern, Union Pacific, and long shot efforts like the Seattle, Walla Walla & Baker City Railroad are critical factors in determining which towns will boom and which ultimately go bust. The Seattle Establishment/The Sons of the Profits (as Speidel terms them) owe as much to Seattle's fortuitous location at the center of the Puget Sound as their own foresight for its emergence as the city it is today. At one point its population was less than Tacoma, which seemed poised early on to become the dominant player in the Washington territory. The mill built by early city father Henry Yesler stands alongside the railroads as an important early contribution to the placement of Seattle on the proverbial map. The discovery of gold in Alaska was equally as pivotal: Seattle was the natural jumping off point for expeditions headed to Alaska. The efforts of Reverend Daniel Bagley to ensure Seattle's selection as the site of Washington territory's official university combined with these other two factors to turn it into a regional powerhouse. The city's geography forms an interesting digression. Much of present day Seattle was underwater in the mid-1800s, with sections of town that formerly were islands only accessible by boat now able to be accessed by road owing to the water being filled in. The work of architect Nels Jacob Ohm in regrading the city and the efforts undertaken to raise sections of it (initially by sawdust, waste products, and dirt before concrete was utilized) beyond the reach of tideflats make for unexpectedly interesting reading. The raising of parts of the city like Pioneer Square by as much as eleven to twelve feet resulted in the creation of a substantial underground area that exists under Seattleite's feet today. Storefronts right near each other existed at varying elevations thanks to the extensive efforts at reengineering the city's ground to avoid flooding. The Great Fire of 1889 provided an opportunity to rebuild much of the city, and according to Speidel it was built back much better and more modern than before. Anecdotes like this, as well as stories about the city's one-day "Indian War" and the women of the night whose houses of ill repute helped form a Seattle-based nightly gathering spot for nearby miners and loggers in the city, make Sons of the Profits a quirky but informative book. This book is not your typical historical read, but the author did his homework when it came to providing a strong understanding of Seattle's growth and those who made it happen. It is a surprisingly engaging work of nonfiction and will be immensely enjoyed by those who love discovering new nuggets of information on unexplored topics. -Andrew Canfield Denver, Colorado

  14. 5 out of 5

    Philip Cosand

    This is the book that many people in Seattle have. The book makes a deal of how it has been censored from libraries. We all know about this book. Yet I have never met anyone who actually read it. The book is old. It was written 6 years after the World's Fair. Two years before men walked on the moon. So even for a history book, it is severely dated. (One would hope that much of the information Speidel used has been digitized and made more available now.) The biggest problem with the book is Speidel' This is the book that many people in Seattle have. The book makes a deal of how it has been censored from libraries. We all know about this book. Yet I have never met anyone who actually read it. The book is old. It was written 6 years after the World's Fair. Two years before men walked on the moon. So even for a history book, it is severely dated. (One would hope that much of the information Speidel used has been digitized and made more available now.) The biggest problem with the book is Speidel's snark. It is pervasive and inescapable. The very topic is evidence of the problem. Speidel talks about those that made a financial contribution to the land. If they bought a plot, they will get a mention. Those that choose public service, community endeavors, or simply want to help; well, they don't count. Money talks. So the millionaires get the spotlight. Speidel loves to inject himself into what I was hoping would be an historical tale. He injects "I" quite often. He discusses his research. How he feels this guy deserves a statue. The experiences he has. I prefer my history to be less opinionated and more factual. Yet, there are facts to be found. If we believe Speidel's words, he spent years researching this. There is a lack of credibility in the style, but the research seems to have crept in too. There are things to be learned. The number of streets that were named after rich men in downtown is disturbing, but believable. Washington was responsible for Seward buying Alaska? Washington was going to be called Tacoma at one point? Huh. The research is interesting. I would simply prefer another voice and tone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Interesting look at Seattle's history from 1851-1901. Heavily weighed down by the writing style, seeped in 1960s "folksy charm," dramatic storytelling, and a generous sprinkling of white male-centricism. It was often difficult to follow the information because of the author's inserted commentary. The book is organized around the "sons of the profits" - Denny, Yesler, Terry, Mercer, Leary, Doc Maynard - surnames immortalized in our downtown thoroughfares. A lot of interesting history: Alki Point Interesting look at Seattle's history from 1851-1901. Heavily weighed down by the writing style, seeped in 1960s "folksy charm," dramatic storytelling, and a generous sprinkling of white male-centricism. It was often difficult to follow the information because of the author's inserted commentary. The book is organized around the "sons of the profits" - Denny, Yesler, Terry, Mercer, Leary, Doc Maynard - surnames immortalized in our downtown thoroughfares. A lot of interesting history: Alki Point was the original city site unless it was discovered to be far too windy... The great fire of 1889 that allowed the city street to be reorganized...the fierce competition centering around railroad routes that pitted Tacoma, Olympia, Portland and Seatttle against each other.. the statehood of Washington and Alaskan purchase (and gold rush). I'd like to read more history of the area that is arrange chronologically rather than based on personalities (of the author and founders)!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth

    Colloquially written books can be entertaining and this had its moments but assuming he self-edited this book, it showed. Not that there were typos but some chapters were utterly cringe-worthy and borderline racist and sexist, the historical (and mostly interesting) aspects aside. I do feel that I came away with a more vivid understanding of the conditions in which the city of Seattle was born (and borne); its rivalries with Tacoma and Portland, its struggles to get a railroad terminus, and some Colloquially written books can be entertaining and this had its moments but assuming he self-edited this book, it showed. Not that there were typos but some chapters were utterly cringe-worthy and borderline racist and sexist, the historical (and mostly interesting) aspects aside. I do feel that I came away with a more vivid understanding of the conditions in which the city of Seattle was born (and borne); its rivalries with Tacoma and Portland, its struggles to get a railroad terminus, and some sense of humanity for the names and neighborhoods that dot the city now: Denny, Bell, Boren, Yesler, Stuart, etc etc. Would I recommend it? It depends. But I don't think it's for anyone who is not interested in the history of Seattle or at least one man's interpretation of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Al "Tank"

    I picked up this book during an underground tour of Seattle. What made the "underground" is related to the fire that burned down the early town and the fact that it was built on the mud flats at first. Read the book to find out what they did about it and why the original town's bowels were controlled by the tides. The founding and the growth of the town was due mostly to greed (hence the title) and Speidel tells the story in a light-hearted manner that left me chuckling many times. Even the "prof I picked up this book during an underground tour of Seattle. What made the "underground" is related to the fire that burned down the early town and the fact that it was built on the mud flats at first. Read the book to find out what they did about it and why the original town's bowels were controlled by the tides. The founding and the growth of the town was due mostly to greed (hence the title) and Speidel tells the story in a light-hearted manner that left me chuckling many times. Even the "professional and business" ladies are included, especially a prominent madam of the time. And yes, there are a few stuffed shirts to balance out the cast of characters. It's a large book, but worth the time to read. I've read it twice and might live long enough to do so again.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Clemens

    Cynical story of the settlement and growth of seattle. At times this is funny, at other times deadly dull. I guess it depends on what interests the reader. The dry humor does improve the readability, compared to some of the other historical accounts. Overall, it outlines a shameful process and sheds light on the shady aspect of the growth of a city. The only thing that makes me feel better about Seattle's back story is to realize that it is no different that most of the back stories of human soc Cynical story of the settlement and growth of seattle. At times this is funny, at other times deadly dull. I guess it depends on what interests the reader. The dry humor does improve the readability, compared to some of the other historical accounts. Overall, it outlines a shameful process and sheds light on the shady aspect of the growth of a city. The only thing that makes me feel better about Seattle's back story is to realize that it is no different that most of the back stories of human society, including present day American politics. I try not to take it personally.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Reardon

    2019, #9a Picked this up right after finishing up the tour of the Seattle Underground, and I got exactly what I paid for: breezy local history with plenty of colorful stories and snark. A side benefit was getting a sort of rough education in 19th-century boosterism and corruption (which are usually the same thing), plus lots of juicy details about the northern transcontinentals. It can be a little difficult to keep track of all the names; the places usually make sense if you reference a map.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shay Freeman

    Was in Seattle and took the tour of the underground city - for it very interesting. The book started out very interesting but because so many of the names were not familiar and the formatting it was very tough finish. When I was almost ready to quit he wrote about the madam so I was able to hang on to the finish

  21. 4 out of 5

    Angelam

    Interesting story telling but a book forever stuck in the 50's mindset. It is very much told from the perspective of a white man who makes light of women and non-whites being exploited and minimizes their contributions. Still, its worth reading as he tells the gritty history of Seattle not shared in school books. Interesting story telling but a book forever stuck in the 50's mindset. It is very much told from the perspective of a white man who makes light of women and non-whites being exploited and minimizes their contributions. Still, its worth reading as he tells the gritty history of Seattle not shared in school books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I was excited to read a non-academic history of early Seattle, but Speidel's tone misses "informal" and skates on over to "incomprehensible" far too often. I found large chunks of this book barely understandable, and every chapter could have been paired down. The book still could have had a conversational tone, but the rambling needed to be checked. I was excited to read a non-academic history of early Seattle, but Speidel's tone misses "informal" and skates on over to "incomprehensible" far too often. I found large chunks of this book barely understandable, and every chapter could have been paired down. The book still could have had a conversational tone, but the rambling needed to be checked.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily Capella

    It was a collection of very interesting stories, but very long-winded in parts making it hard to get through. Often times there are overly long lists of names/places/dates, or the author makes 'jokes' that kind of pull you out of the story. Remove that superfluous fluff and I think I would have both finished it faster and enjoyed it more. It was a collection of very interesting stories, but very long-winded in parts making it hard to get through. Often times there are overly long lists of names/places/dates, or the author makes 'jokes' that kind of pull you out of the story. Remove that superfluous fluff and I think I would have both finished it faster and enjoyed it more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    The other John

    This one's a snarky history of the beginnings of Seattle, written by the founder of the Underground Tour. Mr. Speidel has an entertaining mix of irreverence and respect for Seattle's founders. It's a book well worth checking out. This one's a snarky history of the beginnings of Seattle, written by the founder of the Underground Tour. Mr. Speidel has an entertaining mix of irreverence and respect for Seattle's founders. It's a book well worth checking out.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Funny history of Seattle. I enjoyed the book especially at the beginning. In the second half of the book the list of characters became too long and Seattle looked more like a modern city and was thus less interesting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liz Breen

    Some very interesting pieces of history marred by bad writing and poor organization.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paige McClurg

    This book gave a good history of the founding fathers of Seattle. It was hard to follow and confusing in many parts.

  28. 4 out of 5

    gabrielle

    I found this book very hard to follow and ultimately couldn't finish it. I found this book very hard to follow and ultimately couldn't finish it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donna Siebold

    Seattle had an interesting beginning, outlined here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I cannot deal with the way this guy writes.

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