Thursday, September 29, 2011

US-Mexico Borderlands

The primaries and 2012 presidential race are quickly approaching, and hot button issues like immigration are at the center of the discussion. The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey compiled “Inside Intelligence: Bordering on...” depicting insiders’ predictions regarding how Rick Perry might do in the primaries and/or presidential race, focusing on the controversial subject of immigration.

Read Ramsey’s collection of verbatim comments regarding Perry’s support for in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, Perry's call for a ban on sanctuary cities and his opposition to a border fence here.

If you are interested in borderlands history and natural history; immigration and environmental policy and politics; and conservation of wildlife and natural resources Krista Schlyer’s Continental Divide: Borderlands Wildlife, People, and the Wall (TAMU 2012) belongs on your bookshelf.

Writer and photographer Krista Schlyer contends that the remoteness of the borderlands of the United States and Mexico from most U.S. citizens’ lives, coupled with a news media focus on illegal activity and drug violence, has left many people with an incomplete picture of the southern reaches of four states as well as the northern states of Mexico. Yet, as she shows in Continental Divide, a largely unknown natural area stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico provides safe haven for many wild species of plants and animals.

Documenting the changes to the ecosystems and human communities along the border as the wall was built, Schlyer realized that the impacts of immigration policy on wildlife, on landowners, and on border towns were not fully understood by either policy makers or the general public. The wall destroyed the ancestral routes of wildlife at the same time it re-routed human traffic through the most pristine and sensitive of wildlands, causing more destruction, conflict, and death without solving the original problem.

In her photo essay, Schlyer helps readers understand the full impact and consequences of a policy debated and formed far from the site of its implementation. Her photographs and experiences bring home how much is at stake, whatever one thinks of the efficacy of building walls between nations.

Copyright: Krista Schlyer

Look for Krista Schlyer’s Continental Divide: Borderlands Wildlife, People, and the Wall in Fall 2012 from Texas A&M University Press.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

October brings award-winning books!

Congratulations to two Texas A&M University Press authors!

Holy Ground, Healing Water (TAMU 2010) by Donald J. Blakeslee is the recipient of this year’s Ferguson Kansas History Book Award. The award is from the Kansas Authors Club, for the best book on Kansas history by an author who is a resident of Kansas. Blakeslee will be presented the award at the 2011 Annual Convention and Writers Conference in Coffeyville on Saturday, October 8, 2011.

In Holy Ground, Healing Water: Cultural Landscapes at Waconda Springs, Kansas, anthropologist Blakeslee traces the usage and attendant meanings of this area, beginning with prehistoric sites dating between AD 1000 and 1250 and continuing to the present day. Addressing all the sites at Waconda Lake, regardless of age or cultural affiliation, Blakeslee tells a dramatic story that looks back from the humdrum present through the romantic haze of the nineteenth century to an older landscape, one that is more wonderful by far than what the modern imagination can conceive.

Read more about Holy Ground, Healing Water and order your own copy here!

Tejanos in Gray (TAMU 2011) by Jerry Thompson is the recipient of this year’s Clotilde P. García Tejano Book Prize. The Clotilde P. García Tejano Book Prize is awarded to books about Tejano heritage that bring attention to the history and contributions of Tejanos. Thompson will receive the award at this year’s Texas State Hispanic Genealogy and Historical Conference, hosted by Los Bexarenos Genealogical Society, Thursday, Sept. 29 – Saturday, Oct. 1 in San Antonio, Texas.

Gathered for the first time in this book, the forty-one letters and letter fragments written by two Mexican Texans, Captains Manuel Yturri and Joseph Rafael de la Garza, reveal the intricate and intertwined relationships that characterized the lives of Texan citizens of Mexican descent in the years leading up to and including the Civil War. The letters, translated by José Roberto Juárez and with meticulous annotation and commentary by Thompson, deepen and provide nuance to our understanding of the Civil War and its combatants, especially with regard to the Tejano experience. Historians, students, and general readers interested in the Civil War will appreciate Tejanos in Gray for its substantial contribution to borderlands studies, military history, and the often-overlooked interplay of region, ethnicity, and class in the Texas of the mid-nineteenth century.

Read more about Tejanos in Gray and order your own copy here!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Texas Task Force 1 sent to help Bastrop wildfires

Four deaths, more than 1,000 ruined homes and thousands of forced evacuations. The fires across Texas are some of the most devastating wildfire outbreaks in state history. Two deaths occurred just about an hour south of the Press’s office and warehouse in Bastrop, Texas.

As firefighters become stretched to their limits, Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to deploy the elite Texas Task Force 1 to help locate more victims of the wildfires in Bastrop.

Read more about their deployment in this ABC News article. In an ABC News segment, Diane Sawyer commented “one family is losing their home every four minutes to the fire.” Watch the full segment, featuring interviews with victims of the Bastrop fires.

With blazes still continuing to move, the presence of Texas Task Force 1 in Bastrop is crucial.

Texas Task Force 1 is made up of a dozen search dogs and over 100 members. Their previous deployments include New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New York after the attacks of September 11.

Bud Force, a commercial and editorial photographer specializing in search and rescue, is author of Texas Task Force 1: Urban Search and Rescue (TAMU 2011). His new book gives readers an intimate picture of Texas Task Force 1 through photographs, interviews and history.

Read more about Texas Task Force 1: Urban Search and Rescue and order your own copy here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TAMU Press author comments on new Texas laws

Guns, speed limits and respectful language were just some of the issues being covered in over a hundred new Texas laws that were enacted last Thursday. Brandon Rottinghaus, author of The Provisional Pulpit: Modern Presidential Leadership of Public Opinion (TAMU 2010) commented on the immense number of new laws in the Star-Telegram: “These laws are a lot of small things that might add up to be something big." Rottinghaus,assistant political science professor at the University of Houston, sees a “fairly conservative agenda that manifested in the grouping of these laws.”

Read the rest of the Star-Telegram article featuring more comments from Rottinghaus and brief samplings of many of the new laws here.

Interested in what else Rottinghaus has to say? Check out his book The Provisional Pulpit:Modern Presidential Leadership of Public Opinion (TAMU 2010). He focuses on the ability of the White House to influence, shape, and even manipulate public opinion. Rottinghaus develops a simple theory of presidential leadership, arguing that presidential messages are more likely to be received if there are fewer countervailing agents or messages to contradict the president’s message. Order your own copy and find reviews, summaries and pricing here!

Texas Legacy Project

A city dweller’s vacant lot . . . A rancher's back forty . . . A hiker's favorite park . . . When the places that we love are threatened, we can be stirred to action. In Texas, people of all stripes and backgrounds have fought hard to safeguard the places they hold dear.

To find and preserve these stories of courage and perseverance, the Conservation History Association of Texas launched the Texas Legacy Project in 1998, traveling thousands of miles to conduct hundreds of interviews with people from all over the state. These remarkable oral histories now reside in an incomparable online and physical archive of video, audio, text, and other materials that record these extraordinary efforts by veteran conservationists and ordinary citizens to preserve the natural legacy of Texas. These stories have been combined to create the extraordinary book, The Texas Legacy Project: Stories of Courage and Conservation (TAMU 2010) edited by David Todd and David Weisman.

Louie Bond of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine summarizes the special diversity of the book in her recent article in the September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine: “Where else can you find enlightenment from ornithologists and grocers, musicians and ranchers, game wardens and politicians, writers and clergy?”

Read more of Bond’s article in the September issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

For more details about The Texas Legacy Project visit the Press’s website. Order your own copy now!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Check out the trailer for TCU Press’s upcoming novel Steplings by CW Smith.

Order your own copy of Steplings here!

Bats of Texas A&M?

Health and safety officials recently reminded Texas A&M students, faculty, and staff to watch out for the significant number of bats on campus.

Did you know the state of Texas is actually home to more than 30 species of bats -- the most diverse fauna of any other state in the U.S.?

In November, the TAMU Press will release its publication of Bats of Texas by Loren K. Ammerman, Christine L. Hice, and David J. Schmidly.

With all new illustrations, color photographs, revised species accounts, updated maps, and a sturdy flexible binding, this new edition of the authoritative guide to bats in Texas will serve as the field guide and all-around reference of choice for amateur naturalists as well as mammalogists, wildlife biologists, and professional conservationists.

The introductory chapter of this new edition of Bats of Texas surveys bats in general—their appearance, distribution, classification, evolution, biology, and life history—and discusses public health and bat conservation. An updated account for each species follows, with pictures by an outstanding nature photographer, distribution maps, and a thorough bibliography. Bats of Texas also features revised and illustrated dichotomous keys accompanied by gracefully detailed line drawings to aid in identification.

Looking to survive the "bat take-over" at Texas A&M? Want to learn more about this unique mammal? Trying to identify the furry creature lurking in your classroom? Reserve your copy of Bats of Texas now!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pan Am and Flying Down to Rio

ABC Television is launching a new show at the end of September called "Pan Am."

The series centers on the exploitation of Pan American Airways stewardesses. The show is said to follow the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963. Watch the trailer here!

In 2004, TAMU Press author, Rosalie Schwartz recounted the exciting early years of Pan American Airways, its launching of routes to Latin America, and the airline's importance to FDR's Good Neighbor policy in her book Flying Down to Rio.

Schwartz uses the 1933 RKORadio Pictures production “Flying Down to Rio” to examine the interplay of technology and popular culture that shaped a distinctive twentieth century sensibility. The musical comedy connected airplanes, movies, and tourism, ending spectacularly with chorus girls dancing on the wings of airplanes high above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Hollywood fantasy capped three decades during which airplanes and movies engendered new expectations and redefined people's sense of wellbeing, their personal satisfactions, and their interpersonal relations. Wilbur and Orville Wright flew their airplane in 1903, at the same time filmmakers began to project edited, filmed stories onto large screens. Spectators found entertainment value in both airplane competitions and motion pictures, and movie producers brought the thrill of aviators antics to a rapidly expanding audience. Meanwhile, air shows and competitions attracted large crowds of tourists. Mass tourism grew as a leisure time activity, stimulated in part by travelogues and feature films. By 1930, the businessmen who envisioned transporting tourists to their destinations by airplane struggled to overcome the movie-exaggerated association of flight with danger.

Schwartz weaves these threads into a story of human daring and persistence, political intrigue, and international competition. From Wilbur and Orville to Fred and Ginger, Schwartz’s narrative follows the fortunes of aviation and movie pioneers and the foundations and growth of Pan American Airways and RKORadio Pictures, the two companies that came together in Flying Down to Rio.

By the end of the twentieth century, aviation, movies, and mass tourism had become powerful global industries, contributing to an internationally-connected, entertainment-oriented culture. What was once unthinkable had now become expected.

Order your own copy of Flying Down to Rio by Rosalie Schwartz here!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Xtreme Hummingbird Lovers

With spectacular images for birders and nature enthusiasts at every level, Hummingbirds of Texas with Their New Mexico and Arizona Ranges reveals the enormous appeal of this tiniest and shiniest of birds.

Authors Clifford E. Shackelford, Madge M. Lindsay, and C. Mark Klym showcase the 19 different hummingbird species that have appeared in the New Mexico and Arizona regions. Magnificent color photographs and original artwork aid in identification and accompany descriptions, range maps, and abundance graphs for each species.

Read more about Hummingbirds of Texas and order your own copy here!

For those “xtreme” hummingbird lovers, make sure to check out the Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza in Lake Jackson, Texas this September 10th and 17th from 8:00 a.m. to noon. For more information visit the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory website or call (979) 480-0999.