Monday, January 12, 2009

Confederacy of Ambition (I recommend it)

I've read histories of Olympia and of early Washington Territory, but nothing like Confederacy of Ambition. Really good book. William Winlock Miller showed up in Olympia in 1850 and the path of his life is pretty much the path of Olympia for the next 26 years. If he didn't have a hand in it, we probably don't remember it.

The Google Books version has a pretty healthy preview, so I'd suggest thumbing through it before you check the book out from the library.

It reminds me a lot of the communal history told through a single person type format that was Skid Road.

Also, reminds me of the questionable scholarship that goes into a lot of local histories. I pretty much trusted what I read in CoA, mostly because the author wrote the book based on all of the correspondence of the topic of the book. Therefore I'm pretty sure that while William Winlock Miller was a general in a marginal sense (served as quartermaster for the Territorial Volunteers), he did not serve in the Civil War and was not a hero.

Actually, he never even left the west coast during the war at all. Also, while Winlock is named after him, Millersylvania State Park is named after another Miller.

All of these facts (Civil War reference, Winlock and Millersylvania) are all packed into one paragraph in the local history book "Olympia High School."

Anyway, if you like Olympia history, read CoA.

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