eliot hall crew 1926 image

Students outside Eliot Hall 1926.

Reviews

“Sheehy’s Comrades of the Quest is an excellent example of the rich, contested, and multivoiced history of our nation. It shuns the celebratory, self-congratulatory approach of most college histories and, as a result, offers a fascinating glimpse into the broader history of higher education from 1911 to 2011. The issues debated and discussed at Reed were faced by colleges and universities across the country. Sheehy has succeeded in telling the story of Reed in a way that reflects the engaging and contested spirit often present throughout its history.”

— Marilyn McKinley Parrish, Oral History Review


“A great read . . . . anyone with an interest in higher education, campus politics, free speech, intellectual history, or the history of Portland should find it fascinating.”

—Sandy Polishuk, The Oregon Historical Quarterly


“Sheehy captured the spirit as well as the history of Reed. That’s a remarkable achievement.” 

— Richard Danzig ’66, former Secretary of the Navy


“Sheehy made the smart decision to let the Reedies speak for themselves and tell their own stories, something they love to do. . . . There is no attempt to censor or sanitize, and the bright, opinionated Reed community come through loud and clear.”   

— Jeff Baker, The Oregonian


Comrades of the Quest is a first quality oral history - the best I've ever read - and it should serve as a template for any other college, university, or cultural institution that wants to let its own people tell the story. In a remarkable feat, Sheehy . . . brilliantly interweaves the stories into a narrative that reads like a novel. Sometimes the stories are straightforward; sometimes profound; and sometimes they conflict in Rashomon-like style, with Sheehy being savvy enough to leave the reader to judge for himself what really happened.”

— Steve Falk, Reed Class of 1983


“Reading Comrades of the Quest is sort of the echt-Reed experience — whole text, primary source, keep reading, you'll get there. One could also use it to say, stun a charging moose with one swift clout, then go back to this fascinating and enjoyable piece of oral history.”

— Will Swarts, Reed class of 1992


“A great book that skillfully weaves hundreds of disparate oral histories into a coherent historical account.”

— Michael Munk, author of The Portland Red Guide


“John Sheehy's monumental work will not only provide rich pleasure to those who know the place from the inside but could well serve as a model document for all those interested in the history of American higher education.”

— Roger Porter, author of Bureau of Missing Persons: Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers


“John Sheehy's totally remarkable new book is not just a great history of the college, but an amazing trip through American social history . . . A remarkable piece of work and a real gift to the Reed community.”

— John Kroger, president, Reed College; author of Convictions: A Prosecutor's Battles Against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves


“Seeing Reed as, from the start, a vulnerable, shifting, complex set of opposing forces, within & without, and moving through time is all very enlightening. The book is almost impossible to put down.”

— Porter Abbott, author of The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative


"I just cannot put it down. The book is fascinating on so many levels — the clash and melding of personalities, the evolution of the Reed educational system, the conflict between administrative authority and faculty self-rule, the evolution of student self-rule, and the coming of age of every generation of Reedies. This is really a great book, and I believe that every Reedie — and every person interested in the life of the mind — will read it with delight."

— William Nicholson '78


Comrades of the Quest is as dramatic as the best of fiction, beginning with a complex and doomed central character —William Trufant Foster, the 31-year-old visionary idealist and first president of Reed College. It’s a great story, brilliantly constructed and told from multiple and brief, always shifting, points of first-person view. The story never lags.”

—Robin Cody, author of Ricochet River and Another Way the River Has


“Clearly and logically organized, each chapter moves with a sort of free-association style, with one subtopic overlapping and blending into the next, which makes page-turning reading. In the process, we get a compelling portrait of cultural radicals and intellectual conservatives interacting to mold the history of a fascinating educational institution whose wide influence has far outweighed its small size.”

—Carl Abbott, author of Portland in Three Centuries


“John Sheehy has a wonderful grasp on why Reed is such an important, unique, and almost magical place.”

—Jim Kahan, Class of 1964


“Years in the making, this book is well worth the wait. Comrades of the Quest provides the raw, dramatic, underground history of Reed through the voices of those who lived through it. You will never look at the college the same way again.”

—Chris Lydgate ’90, editor of Reed magazine


“I'm going to recommend this book for years to come to people who start new to Reed as faculty, staff, and as students (once they are graduated!). This is first-rate original historical work that shows tremendous craft.”

– Jay Dickson, Reed College English professor