Reader Comments on 100 Top Books by 100 UW Authors Print

Newest comments are posted at the top of this page.
Updated December 19. 2006

Regarding "100 Top Books by 100 UW Authors," I'm wondering if you overlooked my friend, former roommate and UW graduate of 1960 and 1962, Hamilton Cravens, who is now a distinguished scholar and professor of history at Iowa State University. He is a prolific writer with a long list of academic awards, honors, and achievements. Were his books considered academic titles and so excluded? See:
It was an interesting list, however, and a splendid idea to do.

Alex Blanton, '59
New York

The recent edition of Columns … prompts me to ask as to whether you might be interested in a book that I recently published with McGraw-Hill entitled The Bioterrorism Sourcebook.  I am a 1989 graduate of the M.P.H. program and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. The Bioterrorism Sourcebook is aimed at a general medical and public health audience, but is accessible to the general public as well. … The book, which I co-authored, grew out of a unique experience running the first civilian smallpox vaccination program in over 30 years for the state of Connecticut.
Michael R. Grey,'89
Springfield, Mass.

I was pleased to see Fred Beckey's three volume Cascade Alpine Guide made the list, but I was very disappointed on the omission of Dee Molenaar's The Challenge of Rainier. It is the definitive source on Mt. Rainier's history, geology and climbing record. It has had multiple editions and printings and is still sold in bookstores and in Mt. Rainier park. Molenaar is widely regarded as an icon in American mountaineering history. His book is a must in any serious mountaineering book collection. It is still in most libraries throughout the Northwest and a first edition copy is featured in Tacoma Library's Northwest Room as a valuable book that can only be view on the premises. Molenaar still is sought after as a featured speaker in mountaineering circles.
Robert Bailie, '04

[I am the] author most recently of Searching for Grizzlies and in the past [of] Seya's Song, recipient of a Washington Governor's Writer Award. I always enjoy reading Columns and appreciate hearing what other alumni have done with their lives. So, it was with much interest that I scanned the list of authors in your celebration of 100 UW authors.
While not expecting you to note any of my books, it was disappointing to see that you only had room for one children's author.
I decided to write to you mainly because I just got a wonderful video in the mail that celebrates Ohio authors who write for young readers. That video includes dozens of Buckeyes from a state that celebrates children's literature in many ways not found here in Washington.
As an author, I get to visit many states and to learn a little about how books affect teaching and learning. My experiences in Ohio have given me the feeling that the Columbus area's dominance in football is exceeded only by its dominance in creative teaching and in the celebration of reading by young people.
I often return from a visit to schools in Ohio with new ideas to share with friends here in Washington. Those ideas have resulted in some exciting projects, all of which are grounded in a love for books.
Next time you list Husky contributions to literature, I hope you might visit the upstairs section of the University Book Store and thumb through the many offerings by UW grads. It would be a nice listing, especially during the holidays when we can all find just the right book for a future Husky or two.
Ron Hirschi, '74
Port Hadlock

It was fun to read through the “100 Top Books by 100 UW Authors.” Thought I'd share one that my wife (Katie Woodard, '98) wrote/illustrated that many alumni with younger kids might enjoy: My First Book About DNA.

Dustin Woodard, '97

I just reviewed your list of 100 top books by 100 UW authors. While I extend my congratulations to the authors, I also detect a small hint of bias. 1) The selection committee is heavily skewed towards the arts, administration and library professionals. 2) Thus, their outcome is a lack of equal (or no) representation by business and engineering professors. I firmly believe that authors such as Wendell French, Fremont Kast, James Rosensweig and Cecil Bell, to name a few, have had more influence on the global marketplace than books about the social history of a minority group in Seattle or Everett. The business and engineering students, taught by our outstanding business and engineering faculty, who became national and world leaders are the same people that President Emmert contacts in an attempt to close our funding gap. Do you see the disconnect between the selection committee's decisions and the needs of UW?

Robert A. Zawacki, ’73
Professor Emeritus
Dept. Management & International Business
University of Colorado

Good job picking the books (and a fairly thankless one too, I imagine). I can’t help but suggest the addition of my book, Miss Alcott’s E-Mail, out just this past September. ... What’s it about, you ask? Here are snippets about the book from several sources:

Kit, a former 1960s activist with the Weather Underground, became a mother, a pediatric nurse and turned to Louisa May Alcott for advice about living the rest of her life. The two women’s letters across time show us a Louisa who was no “little woman” and a story which the Washington Post says reads “like a wonderful movie shot with a hand-held camera.”

From the Library Journal review:  “Bakke draws stimulating parallels between Alcott’s life in the 1860s and her own background as a nurse and 1960s antiwar activist. Through Alcott, Bakke explores such issues as feminism, war, transcendentalism, nursing the sick, writing and civil rights. Each chapter begins with a letter from Bakke introducing a new topic, then continues with historical and biographical information about Alcott, her contemporaries and her times. By mixing Alcott’s biography with intriguing phases of her own life, Bakke successfully underscores that social struggles continue.”

From the Booklist review:  “Alcott fans will enjoy the biographical essays and keen manner in which Bakke assumes Alcott’s voice and connects two distant eras. Readers interested in the 1960s protest movement will also find much to consider in Bakke’s frank assessments of her own turbulent young adulthood.” Much more is on my website

My UW degrees are a master’s in nursing in 1981 and a master’s in public health in 1988.

Kit Bakke, ’81, ’88

Just wanted to share that I enjoyed the “100 Top Books by UW Authors” article. I graduated from the UW with a literature degree in 1988.  After living overseas for several years I returned to the US on the heels of 9-11 and wrote my first book titled Muslims Next Door (Zondewrvan, 2004).  All to say, Muslims Next Door was selected as “one of the top ten spiritual books in 2005” by the Detroit Free Press.  The Seattle Times and the UW’ s new diversity magazine Viewpoints also wrote positive reviews. As the daughter of an Iranian, Muslim father and American, Christian mother, the goal of my book is to build bridges by dispelling fear and suspicion toward American Muslims and to help develop relationships on our college campuses, work places and in our communities.

Shirin Taber, ’88
Foothill Ranch, Calif.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s Seattle parade (probably an unfortunate figure of speech given your recent record-breaking month of deluge), and I don’t want to seem churlish, but your recent “100 Top Books by UW Authors” seemed, from this distance, to be very Seattle-centric. I realize you have probably been inundated by people unhappy that their own books didn’t make the “cut,” so I thought a while before deciding to blow my own horn.

It helped a great deal to have a Seattle address for that list. I have an Omaha address now, but I have published 24 books, some of them seminal in their field, several in languages other than English. The easiest way to get a short list may be, … or (for the whole list) WorldCat, a worldwide digital library catalogue on FirstSearch.

I suspect that other people who attended the UW but have since gone far afield also were screened out even of minimal consideration when this list was compiled. After all, we all know that the UW has alumni all over the world—and you should perhaps have brought us into the selection process for this list, instead of relying mainly on a local committee.

… It was great to see my academic advisor (Bill Ames), and several people with whom I once worked and went to school, on the all-star team. You may, after all, have a stronger lineup than you’ve ever suspected. Life east of Snoqualmie Pass is good.

Bruce E. Johansen, ’72, ’79
Frederick W. Kayser Research Professor
School of Communication
University of Nebraska at Omaha

I noticed I was not mentioned in your “100 Top Books” edition. I am a graduate of the UW and I am also a published poet. My poetry has been published in many literary journals and anthologies including the Seattle Review.  You can check out my books on my website <> and with my publisher < >. Paz y luz.

Thomas Gayton, ’70
San Diego

You have compiled an impressive list of authors associated with UW. Apparently, you limited the list to bona fide graduates or faculty. If that was your rule, you omitted several talented authors who attended but did not graduate. For example, Frank Herbert (Dune), Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace), and Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues). In 1946, Herbert was one of only two creative writing students who had already sold any work for publication. Ketcham attended in 1938, and dropped out after one year. Robbins was a graduate student for one quarter in 1962. I would like to see a similar list of famous authors who choose not to graduate.

Chuck Watson, ’65

I was looking over your list of 100 top books by UW authors and was stricken by the omission of arguably the greatest science fiction book of all time. Where is Dune, by Frank Herbert, a Tacoma resident and UW grad?
Paul Vogl

Editor’s Note: Frank Herbert was a UW student but he did not receive a UW degree. When we determined the criteria for the list, one of the rules for alumni authors was that they had to have a UW academic degree. For a look at all the criteria, please see “Book Report,” an editor’s blog on making the list.

Thank you for posting your list of the top 100 books from UW authors. Not sure what the criteria is for qualifying as a “top book”—and not trying to upstage anyone of my fine colleagues, but I’ve had two books published and No. 3 is to be released in July 2007 (you might do a name search at Amazon or Google). Coach Don James endorsed my first book, One Small Sparrow. I’d rather not get the recognition—but it would be wonderful to have the charity organization birthed in Seattle ( as a result of our story get in front of our fellow alums. Sparrow Clubs USA is truly a Seattle story and I’m honored to be a Husky—(even though we live in Oregon)! Thanks for your due diligence.

Jeff Leeland, ’80
Bend, Ore.

I have not read any of the books listed but several interest me. I have read a very good book by John Barnett, ’52, titled How to Feel Good as You Age. Barnett presents a lot of good advice for us as we progress through life. I think his book should be included in the list.

Eugene Hall, ’52, ’54

Speaking of books, please note that The Fly-Fisher’s Craft has been published this year by Lyons Press (an imprint of the Globe Pequot Press). Contact or for copy and information. … This historical book returns to the forgotten skills of the antique angler and the history of hook making, horsehair and gut fly lines and early fly tying.

Darrel Martin, ’71

Congratulations on the Columns article on books by UW people. Most appropriate and interesting.

Thanks for publishing your criteria for selecting the 100 top books. I am one of the UW graduate (Mechanical Engineering, 1944) book authors who didn’t make the cut. I used my first book, Crackpot or Genius, A Complete Guide to the Uncommon Art of Inventing, as a text in teaching inventing off hours at the old UW Experimental College and other venues. That book did not qualify under several of your criteria, but let me talk about my second published book as it relates to those criteria.

This book is The Revolutionary Dualmode Transportation System. It is online and free in its entirety at

… The transportation system it describes will largely solve our worldwide transportation problems and will greatly relieve our coming energy shortage and markedly reduce the rate of global warming. Realistic people who are not familiar with this development usually refuse to accept these multiple promises. … In Chapter 2, “Quotations About Dualmode Transportation,” there are 15 quoted people, who include two UW engineering professors plus other UW grads, joined by more in many states and countries. The foreword to the book was written by UW Engineering Professor Emeritus J. B. Schneider. I am one of 50 or more (that we know of worldwide) independent inventors and developers of the dualmode concept.

In reviewing books Columns had little way of even knowing of the existence of this book, or of the system it describes. That is just the problem, not only locally but globally. If humanity had had dualmode transportation a few decades ago, we would currently be in far less of a mess in the areas of transportation, energy and excessive CO2. This book was put online and free because of the great need to get as many educated and concerned people as possible to read it and start demanding that dualmode transportation be evaluated immediately by appropriate organizations nationally and globally.

Your 100-books selection criteria … did not include the relative importance of the books. I and others will argue that this book will be more important to the future of mankind than any other book in the selected list. Strong words? Yes. I am usually a reserved person, but this coming breakthrough converts many pessimists (regarding these very serious global crises) into optimists.

This is the only book that has been written on dualmode transportation so far. Further, as a public service, would you provide a book review of The Revolutionary Dualmode Transportation System in Columns? This would be especially appropriate since University of Washington graduates and professors, plus Boeing people, have probably played a larger part in this innovative work to date than any other group worldwide. Most of those involved in this effort have no financial interest in it: We are donating our time because “someone has to do it.”

I sense many questions in the minds of readers of this message. You will find most of the answers in the book, which was written primarily for nontechnical readers.

Columns is a great magazine. Keep up the good work.

Francis D. Reynolds, ’44

Send your comments to and please provide your address, phone number and graduation year.