Friday, September 5, 2014

Texas Aggies Go to War: Belgium Museum to Tell Story of Aggies Who Fought in World War II's Battle of the Bulge

 Although the historic Battle of the Bulge is approaching its 70th anniversary, the conflict is not ancient history to the residents of Bastogne, nor do they intend to let it become so to their descendants.

"Their town is really a living museum to their being saved," John A. Adams, Jr. '73 recently told Texas Aggie magazine.

Adams is project historian for the "Texas Aggies Go to War" exhibition set to open in Bastogne in December -- an exhibit that will trace five Aggies from A&M student life in the 1930s to their post-war successes and struggles.

He is also co-author of a book by the same title upon which the exhibit is based, published in 2005 by Texas A&M University Press. Written with historian Henry Dethloff, the book compiles the impressive war record of Texas A&M.

The main objective of the exhibition, said Christophe Gaeta, exhibition designer, is telling the younger generation of visitors, including locals, that a soldier in a black-and-white picture is not just a soldier.

The Bastogne exhibit will feature displays on the lives, service and careers of Aggies Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder '32, Capt. Joe E. Routt '37, Maj. James F. Hollingsworth '40, Lt. William M.
Peña '42, and Lt. Turney W. Leonard '42.

Read more on the exhibit in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Texas Aggie magazine.

For more on A&M's World War II record and service, check out the biography of James Earl Rudder: Rudder: From Leader to Legend and Texas Aggie Medals of Honor: Seven Heroes of World War II.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ancient Skeleton Steeped for Years in Lawsuits, Controversy Finally Freed to Share Secrets

In the summer of 1996 two college students were wading in the Columbian River in Kennewick, Washington when they stumbled upon a skull.

While clearly old, the skull did not appear Native American, according to reports. But when experts sent a sample off for carbon dating, they discovered the remains were more than 9,000 years old.

Kennewick Man: The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton, edited by Douglas W. Owsley and Richard L. Jantz (TAMU Press, 2014) reveals for the first time the results of the scientific study of this remarkable find.

"The book recounts the history of discovery, presents a complete inventory of the bones and explores every angle of what they may reveal," wrote Douglas Preston in a cover story for the Sept. issue ofSmithsonian Magazine.

"Three chapters are devoted to the teeth alone, and another to green stains thought to be left by algae. Together, the findings illuminate this mysterious man’s life and support an astounding new theory of the peopling of the Americas."

But, the scientists' journey toward examining and studying the specimen was not an easy one. Says Preston, "If it weren’t for a harrowing round of panicky last-minute maneuvering worthy of a legal thriller, the remains might have been buried and lost to science forever."

Read the full article, which features details on the secrets Kennewick Man has revealed and continues to reveal about the first Americans, interviews with key researchers including Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution, numerous images, and details on the lawsuit that kept the skeleton under wraps for years here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Is Indicted on Charge of Abuse of Power

"The last Texas governor to face criminal charges was James E. “Pa” Ferguson, who was indicted in 1917 by a Travis County grand jury on embezzlement and eight other charges. His case also involved a veto that stirred anger: Mr. Ferguson vetoed the entire appropriation to the University of Texas because it had refused to fire certain faculty members. The state Senate voted to impeach him, but he resigned first."

Read more in the UNT Press book by CAROL O’KEEFE WILSON:

In the Governor’s Shadow: The True Story of Ma and Pa Ferguson

In 1915 Governor James Ferguson began his term in Texas bolstered by a wave of voter enthusiasm and legislative cooperation so great that few Texans anticipated anything short of a successful administration. His campaign was based on two key elements: his appeal to the rural constituency and a temporary hiatus from the effects of the continuous Prohibition debate. In reality, Jim Ferguson had shrewdly sold a well-crafted image of himself to Texas voters, carrying into office a bevy of closely guarded secrets about his personal finances, his business acumen, and his relationship with Texas brewers. Those secrets, once unraveled, ultimately led to charges brought against Governor Ferguson via impeachment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mission Blue Producer Discusses Working with Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

The new documentary Mission Blue -- currently available on Netflix -- charts the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle. Earle edits books in the Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota series, sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and published by Texas A&M University Press.

The books, written by top researchers in Gulf of Mexico studies, evaluate topics such as biodiversity, economic factors, geology, and more.

The TED blog recently sat down with Mission Blue producer Fisher Stevens, who said he set out to make a film about the Explorer in Residence's work and ended up becoming fascinated by her.

Read his interview here.

Find more on the Gulf of Mexico books and others in the Harte series here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Press Supporter, Author Contributes World War I Book Series to Cemetery at Foot of Belleau Wood Battle Site

Texas A&M University Press supporter and author Fran Vick recently contributed books in the C. A. Brannen Series on World War I -- named for her father -- to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France.

The 42.5-acre cemetery sits at the foot of Belleau Wood, site of the key World War I battle that occurred during the German 1918 Spring Offensive. The Aisne-Marne American Cemetery houses the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley that year.

The C. A. Brannen Series books, will add to an already significant collection of World War I books and materials used for research and general interest at the cemetery site.

Vick and her brother, Joseph Patrick Brannen, established the book series with Texas A&M Press in honor of her father, an A&M graduate who fought in the war. His book Over There: A Marine in the Great War, headlines the series.

Study of 13,000-Year-Old Clovis People Still Important in Light of Evidence that Colonization of Americas Predates Era, Texas A&M Researcher Asserts

New research and the discovery of multiple archaeological sites predating people previously thought by experts to be the first Americans provide evidence that the Americas were first colonized at least 14,000 years ago.

In its September/October issue, Archaeology Magazine queries archaeologists on where research has led to date.

Over the past 15 years, the consensus in the archaeology field, according to the magazine, has gradually moved beyond the idea that Clovis -- hunter-gatherers who crossed from Siberia to Alaska and populated the Americas 13,000 years ago -- "came first."

Nonetheless, Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University, told Archaeology Magazine that Clovis is still important.

Texas A&M University Press, 2014
"But, we have to realize that there were people here before. Now we have to determine how long before Clovis people were here, who they were, what kind of technology they carried, and how they migrated through the continent and settled the empty landscapes."

The Center for the Study of the First Americans continues to analyze Clovis and other findings through its Peopling of the Americas Publications, published by Texas A&M University Press.

In the new volume Clovis: On the Edge of a New Understanding, edited by Ashley M. Smallwood and Thomas A. Jennings, due out in December, researchers provide their current perspectives of the Clovis archaeological record as they address the question: what is and what is not Clovis?

Continue reading the Archaeology Magazine article to discover how archaeologists are now answering key questions, like who were the earliest Americans, and how and when did they get here?

Texas A&M University Press, 2011

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's Up for Some Blues Activism in Dallas?

In mid-July, the Dallas Morning News published an alarming piece about the fading blues scene in the city since several years ago. As difficulty in supporting viable performance venues mounts, the blues appears to be a dying institution in the "Big D." Nourished in Dallas, longtime and up-and-coming musicians travel elsewhere to make a living, and the blues milieu continues to be on the decline. Yet that blues cloud may hold a silver lining involving crowd jostling, open air, and a lineup of artists...

Author of Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound and Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas, Alan Govenar prescribes a free annual blues festival to this sad case of the blues in Dallas. Like the one Chicago puts on annually, the music festival would help to revitalize interest and support in one of the cradles of the blues, a fact that few Dallasonians even realize. As a musical hub of the genre from the turn of the century to the '90s, Dallas seems especially promising for the project given that many veteran blues musicians already reside there.

As the co-creator of the musical Blind Lemon Blues, Govenar pays tribute to the blues institution Blind Lemon Jefferson, the very same subject with which he opens his 2008 book Texas Blues. Firmly situating Dallas as a focal point of the musical tradition with local greats like Jefferson and Aaron "T-Bone" Walker, Govenar colorfully narrates the vibrant story of how the rustic blues sound exploded into a national phenomenon and took on its distinctive Texan flavor. As an oral history of Texas blues with both breadth and depth, the work reads more like a collection of personal anecdotes fully-illustrated with rare photographs of blues artists.

Govenar's 2013 publication Deep Ellum further demystifies the ways in which the eastern periphery of Dallas functioned historically as a breeding ground for the musical talent of Jefferson, Walker, and others with the clash of white and black music forging a hybrid blues style. Adding to the cultural diversity of the city and region, the rise and fall of the neighborhood as a blues hotbed turned entertainment district parallels the plight of the blues scene since its 1990s high point.

Perhaps Dallas really does need a free blues festival comparable to the annual Chicago Blues Festival to turn around a blues scene in dire straits. The battle to keep the blues alive has reached a critical point. With so much at stake, isn't it something worth fighting for?

-L.G. Miranda