Join us in store with authors David George Gordon and MaryAnn Barron Wagner with a new edition of their book HEAVEN ON THE HALF SHELL: The Story of the Oyster in the Pacific Northwest

Friday, June 16th at 5:30pm

There will be a short reading/presentation, a Q&A and some time to chat and maybe a signing!

For more information, email

Heaven on the Half Shell, a new book published by the University of Washington Press in partnership with Washington Sea Grant, is a thoroughly researched history of the Pacific Northwest oyster.

Starting with the earliest evidence of sea gardens and clam beds from 11,500 years ago, this book covers the history of oyster cultivation through contemporary aquaculture in coastal Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, northern California, and southeastern Alaska.

Generations of oyster farmers, Native and non-Native, have weathered many challenges to continue the harvest. Their vivid individual accounts are braided together with significant history, such as the major contributions of Japanese immigrants prior to World War II and the 1994 Rafeedie decision that affirmed shellfish harvesting rights held by Northwest tribes. The book also sheds light on the innovations that made oysters an enduringly popular food, from the creation of so-called sexless oysters that could be consumed year-round to breakthroughs in contemporary oyster cuisine.

Now fully updated and expanded—and chock-full of “oysterabilia”—this classic text shares new insights on emerging challenges to the oyster farmer’s life as well as increased coverage of the roles of women and contemporary tribes in building this cultural tradition, past and present. Newcomers and aficionados alike will also be delighted by the carefully selected recipes, both historic and contemporary, from the region’s top chefs. As the old saying goes, when the tide is out, the table is set.

David George Gordon is author of 22 books on topics ranging from slugs and snails to sharks and gray whales. He previously served as science writer for Washington Sea Grant. Samantha Larson is science writer at Washington Sea Grant. MaryAnn Barron Wagner is the lead for communications at Washington Sea Grant.

Event date: 
Friday, June 16, 2023 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Event address: 
315 5th Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Heaven on the Half Shell: The Story of the Oyster in the Pacific Northwest By David George Gordon, Samantha Larson, Maryann Barron Wagner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780295750781
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Washington Press - April 11th, 2023

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