Tuesday, September 29, 2009

World War II Magazine Reviews "Execute Against Japan

Less than five hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, U.S. naval leaders reluctantly changed warfare tactics, targeting civilian-operated trawlers, freighters, and tankers, as well as military assets.

In his meticulously researched book, "Execute Against Japan:" The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, Joel Ira Holwitt reconstructs development of the U.S. submarine fleet and policies for its use during World War II and explains why this move was illegal.

In a review written by Richard B. Frank (author of Downfall and Guadalcanal), World War II Magazine called "Execute Against Japan" a "splendid work. . . the first comprehensive account of its origins."

Pick up a copy of World War II Magazine to read the review in its entirety.

An excerpt:

"From the nation's founding, 'freedom of the seas' ─ the right of civilian vessels to ply the oceans without interference by belligerents ─ constituted a bedrock principle of American foreign policy. At 5:51 p.m. Eastern time on December 7, 1941, Adm. Harold Stark, chief of naval operations, issued an order that reversed that right: 'Execute against Japan Unrestricted Air and Submarine Warfare.' In 'Execute Against Japan' Joel Ira Holwitt, a U.S. Navy submariner delivers an impressive account of how Stark formulated that order, which authorized American submarines to attack merchant vessels without warning, and in doing so, proved critical to their success. . . "

Joel Ira Holwitt

Oprah Magazine interviews Marion Woodman

Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst and author of The Stillness Shall Be the Dancing: Feminine and Masculine in Emerging Balance (audio), shares her thoughts on power in O Magazine's September issue.

Too often, people confuse power and . . .

"Love. They may think they are in a love relationship with another person, when in reality, they are locked in a power dynamic, wanting to gain control, manipulate, blame, or judge. Power and love are two different things."

See the other titles in the Carolyn and Ernest Fay Series in Analytical Psychology here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Malcolm Quantrill, 1931-2009

Texas A&M University Press mourns the loss of Malcolm William Quantrill, long-time editor of the Center for the Advancement of Studies in Architecture (CASA) book series, Studies in Architecture and Culture.

As series editor, Malcolm shepherded six projects through the vigorous peer review and publishing process at Texas A&M Press. His latest project, an edited volume focusing on Chilean modern architecture, will see print in the Spring, 2010 season.

See more on this series of unique architectural studies, which primarily focus on Latin America, here.

Malcolm was also distinguished professor emeritus in the architecture department of Texas A&M University.

See the following excerpt from his obituary that appeared in the Bryan-College Station Eagle today:

"Malcolm had a passion for living and enjoyed a rich and varied life. . . An enormously sociable man, he had a gift for friendship, nurturing many bonds over decades, often from a great distance. His sparkling wit and wicked sense of humor made him a brilliant conversationalist, and he entertained all those he encountered with a seemingly endless fund of jokes and stories."

The Architectural Project (Texas A&M University Press, 2003), the sixth book in the CASA series.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

J. David Bamberger Wins Leopold Conservation Award

Congratulations to J. David Bamberger of Selah-Bamberger Ranch Preserve in Blanco County for winning Texas Parks and Wildlife's top honor, the Leopold Conservation Award.

Look for the ads in the September issues of Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and Texas Monthy.

Bamberger, a vacuum cleaner salesman and co-founder and CEO of Church's Fried Chicken turned internationally-recognized conservationist, was the subject of award-winning author Jeffrey Greene's book Water from Stone: The Story of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve (Texas A&M University Press, 2007). Bamberger's late wife, Margaret Bamberger, provided illustrations for the book.
". . . Bamberger Ranch Preserve stands as a motivating symbol of the power of private landower conservation. Much like Aldo Leopold, who purchased spent Wisconsin land in 1935 and worked to restore it, Mr. Bamberger's 5,500 acre
ranch near Austin was in poor condition when he purchased it in 1969," the award sponsors wrote, in a brochure distributed during the awards program.
Acclaim for Water from Stone:

"This is a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated portrait of what happened to 'the sorriest piece of land in Blanco County' after J. David Bamberger and his wife, Margaret, rescued an arid, 5,000-acre spread from more than a century of neglect and misuse. . . .─Dallas Morning News

". . . one of the Texas Hill Country's greatest conservation success stories."─Texas Parks & Wildlife

J. David Bamberger, Selah-Bamberger Ranch Preserve

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview with Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill and Ginny McNeill Raska

What was southern life like during and after the Civil War?

In The Uncompromising Diary of Sallie McNeill, 1857-1867, edited and with an introduction by Ginny McNeill Raska and Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill, a female diarist from that period, shares her candid thoughts, observations, and details of her daily life.

Raska and Hill will be delivering a program and signing books tomorrow at the Brazoria County Historical Museum. Click here for details.

". . . these artifacts provide a rich picture of Southern life before, during, and after the Civil War through voices that have not necessarily been heard before."

Here, Hill tells us about Sallie McNeill and her unique perspective on these turbulent times:

Q: Who was Sallie McNeill?

MARY LYNNE HILL: Sallie McNeill,1840-1867, was the granddaughter of Texas planter and slaveholder, Levi Jordan, of Brazoria County. She was one of the first graduates from a Texas institution of higher education, earning her diploma from Baylor University, as a member of the esteemed class of 1858, which included Dora Pettus Hobby, Mary Louisa McKellar Herndon, and Rachel Barry Stewart.

Q: Fascinating! What important insights does this book shed on this particular era? How do Sallie's opinions and ideas stand apart from those of her peers?

MLH: Sallie's reflections on her time and place are similar to those of many of her peers with regard to her sustained spiritual self-examination, as well as her attitudes toward slavery, and eventually, toward emancipation. However, Sallie's diary possesses characteristics that set it apart: her private focus in an era when diaries were often expected to be shared; her college education in a place where educational opportunities were severely limited; and her decision to remain single in a culture where marriage was expected.

Sallie's education was extraordinary for her time, but especially, for her place. In 1850, only one Texas child in five received any instruction at all ─ let alone a college education! I think her education contributed significantly to her decision not to marry. She had several suitors but declared that "Imagination cannot conceive of a worse state than a loveless marriage" and, as she did not find her 'beau ideal," she chose not to marry. Ironically, this is possible only because a man, her grandfather as patriarch, was willing to support this major economic decision of Sallie's ─ even though it was certainly a counter-cultural decision!

Sallie's attitudes about slavery and emancipation are, on one level, what one expects from a white female from a wealthy slaveholding family. However, in her text, because she wrote for herself alone, she reveals that she and her brother, Calvin, often felt like crying out against slavery ─ although, not surprisingly, she never did challenge slavery in any public way, that we know.

Ginny McNeill Raska

Q: Why is it so important that Sallie chose to write for herself?

MLH: Many female diarists of the Southern planter class, such as Mary Boykin Chesnut (A Diary from Dixie), wrote with publication in mind or wrote for their children ─ they expected their work to be read by at least their families, if not also by their larger communities. Sallie's text, which is part of the Romantic movement in American Literature, is a private exploration of her sense of self in relation to her community and her faith . . . and because she does not fear eavesdropping, she is rather candid about herself, others, and the events & issues of the day, including marriage and slavery.

Q: Tell me about the Levi Jordan Plantation in Brazoria, Texas. What role did this project play in your research?

MLH: Levi Jordan purchased 2,222 acres in Brazoria County in 1848, settling there with their daughter Emily and her husband, James C. McNeill, Sallie's parents. Jordan was only one of fifty Texas planters who owned more than 100 slaves. Sugar and cotton were the predominant crops with the plantation housing one of the largest sugar mills in the Texas Sugar Bowl. In 1984, the University of Houston, under the direction of Dr. Ken Brown, began archaeological investigations of the slave and tenant quarters, uncovering one of the richest deposits of African-American artifacts in the Unites States. Several of the carved bone artifacts that were discovered, including the cameo on the dust jacket of the Diary, were included in the Smithsonian exhibit, "Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South."

Ginny McNeill Raska, editor of Diary and descendant of Levi Jordan, worked with Dr. Brown and his students (which ultimately included myself in 1993) through the painstaking process of transcribing the Diary (which is made up of seven individual 'booklets') to discover what it might reveal about the artifacts being unearthed. However, in this process, it also became clear that the Diary was important for its own literary and historical sake.
At the close of the twentieth century, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. asserted that of those who had created "nineteenth-century life, it is the inner lives of women, along with those of people of color, which remain largely terra incognita." The Diary in conjunction with the archaeology begin to shed light on to this terra incognita. While the archaeological investigations revealed life in the Quarters, Sallie's reflections revealed life in the Big House. Together these artifacts provide a rich picture of Southern life before, during, and after the Civil War through voices that have not necessarily been heard before.

Mary Lynne Gasaway Hill

Monday, September 21, 2009

TAMU Press Subject of Short Film

"Collective Imagination" is a new, documentary-style, short-film from Dimensions, the Texas A&M University System's video news series.

Texas A&M University Press Director Charles Backus discusses the press's role of capturing, evaluating, authenticating, editing, organizing, and presenting scholarly and general interest works.

Host Rubén Olague interviews staff, attends launch and faculty advisory committee meetings, and visits with two of our esteemed authors to tell the fascinating story of our press, and the various stages of publishing a book.

Here, Texas A&M University Press Editor-in-Chief Mary Lenn Dixon, discusses the 'So What?' question that is so crucial to our manuscript selection process:

"If they can explain to themselves and to me why it matters that they've done the research they've done, or written the story that they've written, then I can assume it's going to appeal to other people, too. But a lot of times you can just get interested in something and want to know it, but it really doesn't matter in the long run. So, the 'so what' question is a very important one."

View the film in its entirety here.

Rubén thumbs through The Country Houses of John F. Staub (Texas A&M University Press, 2007).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bryan Carlile Discusses Ike Aftermath on KTRK

Tim Heller, chief meteorologist for Houston-based KTRK recently sat down with Bryan Carlile, author of After Ike: Aerial Views from the No-Fly Zone to discuss the immense devastation he witnessed in the wake of the Category 4 storm, one year ago.

In the interview, Carlile speaks candidly about the shock he felt upon seeing the storm's impact on the coast, the striking images he captured, and his thoughts on ongoing recovery efforts.

An excerpt:

"I saw this lone child's toy in what was left of obliterated homes along the coastline of Bolivar. And, it just. . . it hit me . . . I was no longer doing a job, and I felt it emotionally. And, I went, my gosh, these are the remants of somebody's life, and it's there on the beach."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Moss Bluff Rebel by Phil Caudill

Phil Caudill will be discussing his book, Moss Bluff Rebel: A Texas Pioneer in the Civil War at the Austin Civil War Roundtable tomorrow. Click here for details.

In a review, the roundtable called Moss Bluff Rebel an "exceptionally fast and interesting read for anyone interested in the history of Texas, business, the Civil War, or rural Texas life."

An excerpt:

The author, Philip Caudill, has expanded on this sketchy primary material with added research and presented a well-written and fascinating picture of life in southeast Texas from the perspective of a cavalry company commander. . .

Duncan's Civil War experience does provide some interesting insights into the Civil War experience in southeast Texas. The proximity of home and the ability to return there regularly and for extended periods of time probably caused greater morale problems for the Texas troops who actually saw the suffering on the homefront than for the Texas soldiers far from home in Virginia or Tennessee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas at BookPeople

All authors know that book signings can be both transporting and dispiriting events. For a publisher's perfect ten, consider last Friday night's gathering for Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas at Book People in Austin. Food, drink, and passionate conversation involving a book's author (author Pamela Walker), subject (organic farmers and ranchers from around the state), champion (Marla Camp at Edible Austin), and audience (people who enjoy eating local, sustainably-grown food) made for an evening of festivity and inspiration.

Monday, September 14, 2009

After Ike by Bryan Carlile

This weekend marked the one year anniversary of when Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston. The devastating storm ultimately claimed over 100 lives and did more than $24 billion worth of damage.

Houston photographer Bryan Carlile was in a helicopter working as a first responder the day after Ike made landfall, capturing more than 100 aerial photographs of the storm’s grim aftermath. After Ike: Aerial Views from the No-Fly Zone includes these photos, along with Carlile’s eyewitness captions.

An excerpt and sneak peek:

The Texas Gulf Coast feels like home to me. For many Texans, it is both a destination and a state of mind—a place for rest, recreation, and escape, offering solace and peace to all who seek them. Truly, it is a mecca to nature lovers, sportsmen, and tourists.

The Houston Yacht Club.

I have spent countless hours flying above the grandeur of the coast, and I have worked in its marshes and prairies, sanctuaries and preserves. I have studied the coastal landscape for so many years that I can recall its contours by memory. I have soared in its skies, felt its sand between my toes, and held its wildlife in my hands. I’ve hiked, biked, skied, and fished along its beaches. This land offers me a sense of being and a place of belonging. To many of us, the Texas Gulf Coast is a touch point that somehow allows our minds to be free while keeping us grounded.

Debris on Seawall Boulevard.

With a force I pray we never witness again, Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast on September 13, 2008. The days following landfall were challenging, stressful, depressing, and yet I felt exhilarated. The world around me was without power, communication, fuel; people were suddenly rendered homeless and hungry. For those with homes, many felt they could not leave, trapped by the idea of vandalism, theft, or further water and wind damage. Flooded streets prevented travel for others. It was in this frenetic, disorganized atmosphere that I found consolation in a cockpit, escaping the tragedies that had befallen my friends and family by documenting the wrath of Hurricane Ike.─ from the foreword

Crystal Beach

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Judy Alter on Cooking her Way through Life

Judy Alter, very recently retired director of Texas Christian University Press, is a woman of many talents. She's a renowned novelist and author, occasional contributor to the Dallas Morning News, an avid blogger, and remains involved in no fewer than four major organizations in our industry.

Here, she dishes to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen about her latest project, Cooking My Way through Life with Kids and Books (State House/McWhiney Press, 2009), her affinity for Jewish fare, and the three food staples that maintain a permanent home in her refrigerator.

An excerpt:
"I went home and began to write, realizing that my life fell into four distinct cooking periods: a childhood in a very meat-and-potatoes household in Chicago, with a Canadian father who preferred pot roast, no fish, and nothing you picked up in your hands but a mother who was an excellent cook and taught me well. Then I married a Jewish man and moved to Texas--two new cultures, and though the husband is long gone, I love Jewish food. Then there were the years I raised four children as a single parent--the casserole years. And in this final cooking phase, I live alone, entertain often, always experiment on guests and find that cooking is a great relaxation for me."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

People reviews Saving Ben

People Magazine's review of Dan E. Burns' Saving Ben: A Father's Story of Autism (University of North Texas Press, 2009), praises the book as "a wonderful read that will make parents look at their own children, disabled or not-and find so much to cherish."

"Take him home, love him, and save your money for his institutionalization when he turns twenty-one." That was the best advice Ben Burns' doctor could offer in 1990 when the three year old was diagnosed with autism.

In Saving Ben, Burns tells the story of Ben's journey toward recovery and his family's story of loss, grief, and healing.

We've posted the magazine's four-star review below:
At 18 months, Ben Burns babbled, played ball and could climb just about anything. By 5, he had lost all language and spent his days screeching; one psychologist declared him the most profoundly autistic child she had ever seen.
Burns, an English professor, refused to give up his dream of normalcy for his boy, trying every therapy imaginable. He also struggled with his own sexuality and his wife's erratic behavior.
Saving Ben is not a book filled with false hope or bromides.
It is, however, a wonderful read that will make parents look at their own children, disabled or not-and find so much to cherish.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

1900 Storm Still a Testament to Ferocity and Violence of a Hurricane

On the weekend of Sept. 8, 1900, an unnamed storm covered Galveston in a 12-foot storm surge, washing away two-thirds of the city's buildings and killing thousands.

More than forty years ago, John Edward Weems sat down with surviviors of the storm. His book, Weekend in September, recreates that fateful weekend as it was experienced by those who were actually there.

An excerpt:

Saturday (Sept. 8), 4:00-6:00 P.M.

Caught in a Trap

By Four O'Clock, thirteen-year-old Jim Moore and a brother and sister were being pushed in a bathtub toward Unger's grocery, a block away from their home. Jim's father and mother, with a neighbor's help, guided the tub. After proceeding about half a block they reached a comparatively shallow section, and Jim was able to get out and walk.

The Moores had never eaten their dinner, and the table was still set when they abandoned their home. After helping Ephraim Moore unload the groceries, the family had thought of little else except the weather. With the water still rising in the early afternoon, they had brought the groceries from on top of the hay in the basement to the first floor. Then they had taken about 100 frightened chickens, one by one, from roosts in the flooded coop in the back yard to the safety of a second-floor bedroom.

"What'll I do with the dog?" Jim Moore had asked his father after the chickens had been carried upstairs.

"Put him with the chickens!"

After Moore had seen the groceries and chickens safely into the house, he came inside, took off his vest, and hung the garment on a chair. He put the 300 dollars collected for groceries in a bag in the dresser drawer. (Moore never saw the money again.) Then a neighbor came over through the water and asked Moore to help him move his family out of the house.

Moore obliged. He helped the neighbor rip out a copper lined wood bathtub and helped guide the tub, the family in it, through the water to a safer house. After the neighbor's family had gone inside, Moore asked the man to help him evacuate his own family. But the neighbor refused.

"If you don't come help me," Moore told him, "you'll never live to join your family inside that house."

The man pondered the matter for a moment. Finally he chose to help push the tub carrying Moore's three children to Unger's grocery.
Unger's was packed when they arrived. People from several blocks around had gathered there to wait out the storm. At least one soldier from Fort Crockett, about fourteen blocks away, had sought refuge there.

Jim's brother, Walton, had worn his bathing suit over to the grocery store, and now the girls in the crowd were teasing him about it. Walton was abashed, so he slipped out, hoping his parents would not notice, went back home, put on his clothes, and made his way back to Unger's.

Meanwhile, Walter P. Fisher, prescription clerk at a downtown drugstore, was leaving the store to see about his family. Fisher was only halfway home when some men inside a house saw him staggering along the street. Hurriedly, they rescued him from the water. Fisher was near a state of collapse, but after resting inside the house for a few minutes, he insisted on continuing.

"If anything happens to me," he said before he departed, "tell my wife I tried to reach her."

He died in the storm, after going only a short distance. Probably he would have been unable to reach his house anyway; it was so near the beach that, at the height of the storm, it collapsed. Fisher's wife and three children all lost their lives.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gary and Kathy Clark on Big Bend

Planning a trip to Big Bend? In their new book, Enjoying Big Bend National Park: A Friendly Guide to Adventures for Everyone, veteran naturalist Gary Clark and photographer Kathy Adams Clark can help you choose the best hike or drive in Big Bend National Park, based on the season in which you visit, the number of days you have in the park, and your activity, age, and fitness levels.

With the late-September premiere of Ken Burns' new series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea looming on the horizon, the Clarks sit down with Dr. Sharon Colson of Texas A&M University's public broadcasting station, KAMU, to talk about their favorite excursions in Big Bend and the outstanding images Kathy Adams Clark captured there.

See the Clarks' interview on Colson's show, Brazos Valley Magazine, at 8 p.m. tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday, or 5 p.m. Sunday, or view the show online during those times here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pamela Walker on Organic Farming

Five years ago, Pamela Walker embarked on a lengthy book project, traveling the state of Texas to interview and profile eleven viable commercial organic farmers and ranchers.

In a recent interview with Howard Garrett "The Dirt Doctor," Walker discusses why she wrote Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas: Profiles of Organic Farmers and Ranchers Across the State and why she thinks Texans should support local agriculture.

An excerpt:

“All too often I would hear, ‘the kind of farmers you’re looking for don’t exist. Maybe you can find some hobby growers. Maybe you can find some gardeners. You’re not going to find people who make a living in small farming. It just doesn’t happen anymore.’ I knew that wasn’t true. I knew from my travels and from my research here in Texas that there are plenty of them.

"I decided we need to make them more visible. . . That was the beginning of the idea for the book.”

Listen to the interview here.