Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Congratulations Loflins!

Brian and Shirley Loflin accepted the 2011 Carroll Abbott Memorial Award at the fall meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas for their book Grasses of the Texas Hill Country. Named for the society's founder, the award is given to books on Texas plants written for a popular audience.

Their photographic guide to grasses gives all who have been frustrated trying to identify these difficult plants an easy-to-use, visually precise, and information-packed field guide to seventy-seven native and introduced species that grow in the Texas Hill Country and beyond.

With a blade of grass in hand, open this book and find:
- Handy thumb guides to seedhead type, the most visible distinguishing characteristic to begin identification
- Color photographs of stands of grasses and detailed close-ups
- Concise information about economic uses, habitat, range, and flowering season
- Quick-reference icons for native status, toxicity, growing season, and grazing response

Read more about Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and order your own copy here!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The First Lady

One of our favorite book blogs, Shelf Awareness recently featured books about the country’s First Ladies. However, they missed a must read! MaryAnne Borrelli’s The Politics of the President's Wife (TAMU 2011) gives both theoretical and substantive insight into behind-the-scenes developments from the time of Lou Henry Hoover to the unfolding tenure of Michelle Robinson Obama.

Borrelli offers compelling counter-perspective: that the president’s wife exercises power intrinsic to her role within the administration. Like others within the presidency, she has sometimes presented the president’s views to constituentsand sometimes presented constituents’ views to the president, thus taking on a representative function within the system. In mediating president-constituent relationships, she has given a historical and social frame to the presidency that has enhanced its symbolic representation; she has served as a gender role model, enriching descriptive representation in the executive branch; and she has participated in policy initiatives to strengthen an administration’s substantive representation.

Read more about The Politics of the President's Wife (TAMU 2011) and order your own copy, now available in cloth, paper and electronic versions, here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Texas Task Force 1 Conquers Fires

Check out this video, which contains actual footage from the battle to gain control of the most devastating fires!

Over three and a half million acres were completely scorched. When the worst wildfire in Texas history erupted, the governor enlisted the help of the Texas Forest Service, Texas Task Force 1, the Texas Engineering Extension Service, and the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M.

Learn more about the Texas Task Force 1 in Bud Force’s Texas Task Force 1: Urban Search and Rescue (TAMU 2011). Force gives readers an intimate picture of Texas Task Force 1 at work, as he follows the team on their major deployments and documents their specialized equipment and training, including time spent at the unique facility known as Disaster City. The result is a lively mix of history, interviews, and photographs that paint a fascinating portrait of these courageous people—and their canine partners—who place themselves in danger in order to save others.

Order your own copy here!

MSC Reopening Quickly Approaches

The Texas A&M Memorial Student Center, referred to by students and staff as the “MSC” is more than just a building. For more than fifty years, the MSC served Aggies as sort of the “living room” of the Texas A&M University campus. Equipped with lounges, dining, and recreational facilities, the MSC played a vital role in the transformation of Texas A&M from an all-male, all-military, rural college to a university internationally recognized for excellence in a variety of fields.

For most current students at A&M, the MSC is more of an idea and a road block than a place of life, activity and honor. Because of the renovations, since 2009 the MSC currently serves the students and staff of A&M as a massive construction site to navigate around to and from classes. Fortunately, the reopening and re-dedication of the MSC is quickly approaching. On April 21, 2012 the new and improved facility will finally serve the Texas A&M campus again. This is a special time because the MSC was originally dedicated on Muster in 1951.

“. . . I am really looking forward to honoring that piece of our history while allowing the Muster events of 2012 to shine and utilize this amazing new space," said Elizabeth Andrasi ’11, President/CEO for the 62nd Memorial Student Center Council. Andrasi, who has been involved in many aspects of the MSC since she was a freshman, shares her insight on what it is like to make important decisions regarding the MSC on behalf of the student body. Read more here!

Once it’s completed the renovated Memorial Student Center will once again become the campus gathering place featuring: state-of-the-art meeting rooms, grand ballroom on the second floor, new lounge and visual arts spaces, new/revamped dining and retail Spaces, redesigned Hall of Honor, 12th Man Hall, an exterior reminiscent of the original MSC, inviting new entrances and beautiful interior decor promoting Texas A&M’s history.

You can view photos of what the MSC has looked like over the years here.

For more information on the progress of the MSC renovations, visit the MSC website. You can find a service or office relocation, look at construction photos and read progress reports.

Author Amy Bacon, Building Leaders, Living Traditions: The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University (TAMU 2009) surveys the development of two functions that quickly became vital to the mission of the Memorial Student Center: its role as a leadership laboratory for students—especially those not in the Corps of Cadets—and its centerpiece location as a place of extracurricular cultural and intellectual enrichment. Bacon demonstrates how the MSC and the traditions that have developed around it blend with the national student union movement in a unique way that enhances the institutional heritage and aspirations of Texas A&M University.

Her attractively illustrated book draws heavily on recorded oral histories, archives, and extensive interviews with key administrative leaders and students, both former and current.
Building Leaders, Living Traditions narrates the story of an institution that has transformed and enriched the lives of thousands of Aggie students and is poised to continue its vital mission for decades to come.

Read more about Bacon, Building Leaders, Living Traditions: The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University and order your own copy here, just in time for the reopening!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Cut, Balance, and Grow"

Governor Rick Perry’s proposed economic plan “Cut, Balance and Grow” would replace the current income tax with a 20-percent flat tax for everyone. His plan also includes changes to Social Security and Medicare.

University of Houston Political Science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus says the idea of a flat tax is becoming increasingly popular. “This has been something that presidential candidates have batted around for the last few election cycles, so I do think it's likely that he's going to pick up a lot of support by doing something like that,” Rottinghaus told KUHF Houston Public Radio News, “Now of course, the details may present more complicated effects, so that some of the things may be less desirable to the more moderate wing of the party to independent voters."

"His positioning in the race gives him a kind of national credibility that every other candidate is also vying for. If you consider Mitt Romney to be the frontrunner and largely to be the kind of moderate voice of the party, then you'd have to think about who is going to be the conservative alternative to that. And so as long as Rick Perry is articulating these sorts of conservative ideals, he's certainly going to be talked about."

Rottinghaus added that voters often have short memories, and Perry's economic plan could be what it takes to overcome the fallout from what many consider his poor debate performances.

Rottinghaus , author of The Provisional Pulpit (Texas A&M University Press), explores concepts such as the important layer of understanding to the issue of how and under what conditions presidents lead public opinion. All modern presidents clearly attempt to lead public opinion; often, due to factors outside their control, they fail. In his book, Rottinghaus explains how and when they succeed.

The Manis Site Produces New Findings

In the late 1970s, an adult male mastodon, a large tusked and extinct mammal, was excavated from a pond at a two acre archaeological dig called the ‘Manis site’ near Sequim, Washington. The distribution of the bones and the discovery that some of the bones were broken suggested that the elephant had been killed and butchered by human hunters. However, no stone tools or weapons were found at the site. The key artifact that was found was what appeared to be a bone point sticking out of one of the ribs, but the artifact and the age of the site were disputed because the technology available today to date and identify the bone did not yet exist.

Today with high-resolution CT scanning and three-dimensional modeling, it was confirmed that the embedded bone was a spear point, and DNA and bone protein analysis indicated the bone point was made of mastodon bone. Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M, and colleagues from Colorado, Washington and Denmark believe the find at the Manis site demonstrates that humans were in the area 13,800 years ago ─ or 800 years earlier than was originally believed. Their work is published in the current issue of Science magazine.

Waters, the author of Clovis Lithic Technology (Texas A&M University Press, 2011), notes “there are at least two other pre-Clovis kill sites where hunters killed mammoths.” ‘Clovis’ is the name given to the distinctive tools made by people starting around 13,000 years ago. The Clovis people invented the ‘Clovis point’, a spear-shaped weapon made of stone that is found in Texas and across the United States and northern Mexico. These weapons were used to hunt animals, including mammoths and mastodons, from 13,000 to 12,700 years ago.

Waters says “the evidence from the Manis site is helping to reshape our understanding of the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, the last continent to be occupied by modern humans.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Silver King

In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled from Washington, D.C. down to the Texas waters of Port Aransas to try his hand at catching a Silver King. The “Silver King” or the Tarpon fish is infamous for its ability to grow to “king” size (the Texas record is 210 pounds, 86 ½ inches). Once caught, these fish are notorious for putting up a fight, jumping in the air, rattling their gills, twisting their massive bodies, and occasionally, even spitting out the offending hook.

Like Roosevelt, Hart Stillwell, a South Texas newspaperman, was also successful in catching a Silver King. Stillwell spent years becoming a skilled Tarpon fisherman. Over the years, Stillwell released most of the Tarpon he caught in order to preserve the sport. Unfortunately, others were not as willing. In the 1970s, Stillwell decided to write a book on tarpon fishing, but the angler pressure, pollution, increased bay water salinity from the damming of rivers, and commercial fishing and shrimping, along with other factors, had just about made the species extinct in Texas.

Though Stillwell passed away before his book could be published, a longtime fisherman and doctoral student at Texas Tech University, Brandon Shuler rediscovered and edited the Stillwell manuscripts. Shuler worked with Texas A&M University Press to get Glory of the Silver King: The Golden Age of Tarpon Fishing published in the spring of 2011. Today, due to conservation efforts and better treatment of the environment, the Silver King once again occupies Texas' coast.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Texas Book Festival Recap!

Austin, Texas was packed with readers, publishers and authors the weekend of the 22nd at the Texas Book Festival. More than 35,000 book lovers attended the various author events and panels. Featured authors included eight Texas A&M University Press authors:

Tom Hatfield, Rudder
Steven Fenberg, Unprecedented Power
T. Lindsay Baker, Gangster Tour of Texas
Susie Kalil, Alexandre Hogue
William (Bill) Welch, Heirloom Gardening in the South
Cynthia Beeman and Dan Utley, History Ahead
John Whorff, Kayaking the Texas Coast

TAMU Press had a HUGE tent full of books and other TAMU authors that came out to support.

Alan Govenar, author of Texas Blues and Kaleta Doolin, author of Fritos Pie

Judy Barrett, author of What Can I Do with My Herbs?, What's so Great about Heirloom Plants? and the forthcoming Recipes For and From the Garden and Alan Govenar, author of Texas Blues

Texas Book Festival also featured a brand new event: “Saturday Night Lit Crawl.” Authors read and signed books at nontraditional literary venues along the stretch of East Austin bars. The Lit Crawl was a huge success. "We thought it was a cool idea, but we didn't expect that many people,” Clay Smith, Literary Director of the Texas Book Festival said.