Alison Owings is the author of three stereotype-challenging oral-history based books, her latest being Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, a survey of what a wide variety of Native people have to say about contemporary life, and say with passion and humor. A starred review in Publishers Weekly says her interviews “achieve a remarkable level of intimacy,” and that “this engrossing, affecting book should be mandatory reading in American History classes.”
People interviewed include individuals from the Hopi, Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), Kiowa, Lakota, Lemhi-Shoshone, Lumbee, Navajo, Ojibwe, Osage, Passamaquoddy, Pawnee, Penobscot, Yakama, Yup’ik, and Yurok nations… and a Hawai’ian.
Before writing books, Alison wrote television news, most memorably for CBS anchors Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Roger Mudd, Bob Schieffer, Ed Bradley, Hughes Rudd, and Charles Kuralt.
Her work preceding Indian Voices was Hey, Waitress! The USA from the Other Side of the Tray, comprised of profiles of American waitresses across the country, from high ends to low ends, from Chez Panisse to the Great American Waffle House. Hey, Waitress! begins with a chapter, Slices of American History, that includes an interview with one Ima Jean Edwards, a waitress at the Greensboro, NC Woolworth’s on the day the 1960 sit-in began.
Her first major work, a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” is Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich.
All three books are in print, in hard and soft cover, as well as available on Kindle, and are frequently used in university courses.
Alison is also the author of a book that took approximately a half hour to write. That is the tongue-in-cheeky The Wander Woman’s Phrasebook: How to Meet or Avoid People in Three Romance Languages. It has just been reissued with a snazzy new cover as an e book by Untreed Reads.
Alison June Owings, the daughter of Kenneth Brown Owings and Alice Case Roberts Owings, grew up in East Orange and Chatham, New Jersey and Strafford, Pennsylvania. She was graduated from the American University in Washington, DC with a BA in journalism and attended Freiburg University in Germany her junior year.
Her work in television news, as well as documentaries, began at ABC News in Washington, DC, then at WRC TV in Washington, and WNBC TV in New York, before she went to write for the big boys at CBS TV. Since moving to northern California, she free-lanced at several local stations.
While living and working in Washington, she founded “Don’t Tear It Down,” an organization aimed at saving old buildings — large and small — and neighborhoods. Its best-known success was saving The Old Post Office Building, which became the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Arts before its latest incarnation in the making, as a luxury Trump hotel. “Don’t Tear It Down”‘s name was later changed to the DC Preservation League (www.dcpreservation.org). In April, 2011, it celebrated its 40th anniversary. “The Founder” was happily in attendance.
Alison is an enthusiastic if seemingly forever beginning-to-intermediate practioner of yoga, clogging, and poker. She lives in California with her first husband, Jonathan Perdue.