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Portland Confidential

Saturday, May 22, 2010
I just finished reading Portland Confidential. A fun book, and a quick read, it chronicles organized crime in Portland in the mid-20th century.

I first heard about the book on one of the rambles that I do; one of my favorite ramble guides knows everything about Portland and enjoys sharing some of the stories from this book as we pass the locations in which they took place. Of course, hearing the stories made me want to read the book!

Portland Confidential, thanks to infibeam for hosting the image

As I mentioned, it's an easy read, 187 pages - but a hefty chunk of that is period photographs. The stories, which flow together, are well-written. Of course, there were plenty of characters and names and, occasionally, it was hard to keep track of which minor character was doing what.

On of my favorite lines in the book:
By order of the attorney general himself, the investigation was conducted by the Oregon State Police, who, then as now, were probably more suited to chasing down speeding motorists than dissection systematic institutional corruption
I'm not going to lie - I laughed at that bit. Written in a casual, informal tone, the book's main failing is that it seems to try just a little to hard to make the crime in Portland sound more intense than it really was at the time. Sure, we got a write-up in Time and some national news coverage, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking we were a Chicago or really anything out of the ordinary. Still, for those of us who wake up in love with our city, it's a fun book to read.


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