Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Texas Medical Center President to Retire After 28 Years

Dr. Richard Wainerdi has experienced a lot during his 28 years as President of the Texas Medical Center. However, he not foregoing everything he loves. In an interview with Houston Chronicle medical reporter Todd Ackerman, Dr. Wainerdi admitted he is “going to keep [his] hand in a lot of different things…but at 81 years of age and 28 years as president, [he thinks] it’s time to turn the reins over to someone else.”
 
In 1984, Dr. Wainerdi accepted his position as President and CEO after retiring from the Gulf Oil Corporation. However, prior to his tenure there, he spent a previous 20 years at Texas A&M University founding the Texas A&M University's Nuclear Science Center, the Activation Analysis Research Laboratory, the German Synfuels Technology Retrieval Program, the Center for Energy and Mineral Resources, the University's College of Medicine, as well as numerous other programs.
 
Texas A&M University Press author, Frederick C. Elliott, documents many of the changes TMC has experienced over the years in his book The Birth of the Texas Medical Center: A Personal Account (Texas A&M University, 2004). His book reveals the human side to this dynamic organization. Dr. Wainerdi said “Dr. Elliot’s book provides a unique perspective of the creation of the Texas Medical Center. His insight into this historically significant process is of great value to all of those who want to understand how what is now the largest medical center in the world came into being. He was more than simply an observer, he was a vital participant and leader in all that occurred.”
 
For more on Elliott’s book, click here.
For more on the interview, click here.
For more on Dr. Wainerdi, click here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Museum Offers Macabre Opportunity

 
On December 30th  and 31st, the Mariners Museum in Virginia is offering an unusual opportunity—six winners of an auction will be able to step inside the USS Monitor turret on the anniversary of its sinking, 150 years ago. This Civil War warship has an incredible 120-ton wrought iron revolving gun turret. The individuals bid in an online auction offered by the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary which ended on December 2. In addition to the turret, the Museum also houses the USS Monitor’s vibrating side-lever steam engine and two XI-inch Dahlgren shell guns and their gun carriages.


To find out more about the history of the USS Monitor and its excavation, TAMU Press’ book USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage by John D. Broadwater gives its full history. With lavish illustrations, photographs, and site drawings, USS Monitor can be enjoyed by naval warfare buffs, professional involved in maritime archaeology, or Civil War aficionados. Broadwater is a retired chief archaeologist from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Singing Jesus of Boquillas Canyon


A largely unknown place at the knees of North America, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands region stands at political crossroads. The development of the border wall dividing this region -- a sprawling landscape that has seen the birth of jaguars, the budding of saguaro cactus and the footsteps of a million migrants -- has sparked hot debate, as it relates to illegal immigration, international politics, and the drug war.

In her new book Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, andthe Border Wall (Texas A&M University Press, 2012) author and photographer Krista Schlyer gives voice to a lesser-known aspect of the debate ─ the wall’s destructive impact on wildlife.

Schlyer explains in unforgettable images and evocative text how the wall has not only disrupted the ancestral routes of wildlife; it has also rerouted human traffic through the most pristine and sensitive of wildlands, causing additional destruction, conflict and death ─ all without solving the original problem.

Here, Schlyer – whose previous work has appeared in National Parks, Defenders, National Geographic, and many other publications – explains why experiences in the borderlands region prompted her to devote “most of her working and waking hours to documenting, researching, understanding and communicating the ecological underpinnings of a decades-long failure to craft smart, realistic border and immigration policy.”

For more information on Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall, visit www.tamupress.com or view the book trailer here.

 
By Krista Schlyer

A dusty trail meanders along the Rio Grande into Boquillas Canyon, a cleft carved by the river between land that is now Texas on one side, and Chihuahua on the other. On that trail there sits a scratched-up old plastic jar beside a note weighed to the ground by a rock. The note reads, “The Singing Jesus. Donations, please.”

In late October I came across this curious note and jar in Big Bend National Park. Intrigued but having no money in my pockets, I walked on down the trail and set up my camera to capture the light as it stole into the canyon corridor. While I was working, out of the silence came a voice singing from the other side of the river, near the small village of Boquillas in Mexico. My eyes followed the singing voice to the figure of a man, Jesus I immediately assumed, who was crooning a Spanish song I knew well, “Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay. Canta y no llores.” I considered his distant figure briefly and continued working while he sang.

After a moment, I stopped suddenly and listened more intently. Jesus’ voice had begun reverberating off the canyon walls. It traveled to the north side of the canyon in the US and back again to Mexico. Once this symphonic loop was started, it continued as long as Jesus continued singing. And I was riveted, enveloped and arrested, as  I so often am in the borderlands, by the music of two worlds coming together and alive within the landscape.

It was this convergence of cultures--both wild and human since this international border also spans a natural north-south transition between the temperate and tropical zones--that had first drawn me to the US-Mexico border. On this most recent trip to the borderlands I encountered some old friends and made some new ones, including Jesus, all of them reminding me why I started this work five years ago, and why I wrote Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall.

It all began with a couple of bison bulls who serendipitously crossed the international border at the exact moment I was flying a few hundred feet above them in a small twin-engine Cessna research plane. Wildlife scientist Rurik List, who I had been trailing for a story about a long-lost herd of wild bison found in the arid grasslands spanning New Mexico and Chihuahua, had explained to me the dire predicament a border wall would pose for transboundary wildlife species. But seeing these bison cross the international border en route to their main food resources in New Mexico changed my theoretical understanding of migration pathways, and changed my life. Since that day most of my working and waking hours have been devoted to documenting, researching, understanding and communicating the ecological underpinnings of a decades-long failure to craft smart, realistic border and immigration policy. About the waste of taxpayer money on endless enforcement and infrastructure; about the wildlife who will die if they cannot reach food and water resources on both sides of the border; about the jaguar, ocelot and other imperiled wildlife, whose trajectory toward extinction within our borders will be hastened by choked-off migration corridors; about the more than 5,000 human migrants who have died traversing the borderlands since the 1990s.

My work in the borderlands has unearthed countless stories and images of heroics and heartbreak along the border, many of them contained in the pages of Continental Divide, published last month by Texas A&M University Press.  Some of those stories I am just now learning or will continue to learn in the future, like that of the Jesus and the people of Boquillas.

This trip to Big Bend was my fourth in 10 years to one of the nation’s most isolated national parks, indeed one of the most isolated regions of any sort, in the United States. The trip was going to be short, just a brief stop to observe and document any changes that had taken place since the last time I visited in 2011. As is always the case when I travel to the US-Mexico borderlands, I found much more than I was looking for.

The note written by Jesus was one of dozens that dotted the trail along the Rio Grande. Most of them were written by Mexican artisans and were accompanied by small craft works, caricatures of local flora and fauna fabricated from wire and beads. Beautiful works of art, these scorpions, roadrunners and flower sculptures were accompanied by notes that asked for donations to be placed in plastic cups and coffee tins. This wasn’t always the entrepreneurial approach of the local artists. Prior to 9-11, the town of Boquillas had a thriving trade with the many tourists that came to Big Bend and across the river to Mexico. I myself had walked across the river in 2001 and eaten dinner, prior to the closing of the border later that year. I have often considered the cultural loss for both sides of this border, when the government shut down access, and I remember that first crossing as one of my favorite moments in life. But it wasn’t until this most recent trip that I came to understand the grave economic consequences of that decision by the US government. Boquillas is a small village, hours from the nearest city or border crossing. The lives of people here, the education of their children, their health and well-being depended on tourists and a passable border. One decision made two-thousand miles away cleaved their connection to the United States and eviscerated their economy.

Today, Mexican people cross the river at night or when the coast seems clear, they place their work, and their donation jars, and hope that visitors will engage in trade that was commonplace and essential to their lives. The US Border Patrol calls the craftwork ‘contraband’ and forbids US visitors to buy it. But the artisans keep coming, keep leaving their work, keep checking their plastic jars.

The Singing Jesus has taken a different approach. It would be a hard case to make for the border patrol to call a song contraband--though not unthinkable in the current reality. Jesus sings and hopes people will hear him and his endless echoes and place some money in the jar.

Having no money in my pockets, I was all set to bypass his jar but he stopped singing and made the ask.

            “Will you leave some money for the Singing Jesus?”

            “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t have any money with me.”

            He paused for a moment and asked, “Do you have food?”

I looked through all my pockets and my camera bag and all I could find was a piece of candy. I held it up to him, still standing across the river.

            “Will you put it in my jar,” he asked.

            I did.

            “Do you have more food in your car?”

I said I did and watched as he jumped with quick desperation into his canoe and paddled across the river. His demeanor changed as he approached the US shore, his eyes darting about looking for border patrol or park police. I followed him quickly toward the parking lot, on the way he told me how the closing of the border had crushed the village economy, and how he had heard and kept hoping that the border would soon reopen. When we reached the parking lot, he hid behind a rock--getting caught would have serious consequences for him. When border patrol catches crossers from Mexico here, they don’t just allow them to cross back, they arrest them and cart them to a city crossing hours away. Most have no money to get back home.

I grabbed a bag of food and a jug of water from my car, and walked back to the trail, handing it to Jesus. I thanked him for his song and watched him disappear quickly into the canyon.

The story of the people of Boquillas is one that our policy makers and many members of the public need to hear. It is one of many thousands of stories about human and wild communities all along the border that are at the mercy of a federal policy that seems to serve no constituency but continues to be fueled by a politics of misinformation and fear. In hopes of getting these stories to those who need to hear them most, I am seeking funding to purchase a book for every member of Congress and key people in the White House. For the bison, the artisans and visitors to Big Bend, and the Singing Jesus of Boquillas Canyon.        

Click on the Krista Schlyer's fundraising link here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Frito Pie at the Smithsonian?


Kaleta Doolin, TAMU Press author and granddaughter of Fritos founder C.E. Doolin, recently appeared at the Smithsonian food exhibit in Washington, D.C. The Fritos story was included in a section titled, “Snack Nation.” The museum displayed many “Fritos” collectibles, including the Frito kid figurine, a corn-shell shaper and fryer, some photos of Casa de Fritos, a Fritos display from 1950, the covers of the Recipes and Menus for Buffet Entertaining with Fritos by Daisy Dean, and a photo of the production line in Los Angeles.

Doolin was present at both the press conference and a book signing of her book, Fritos Pie: Stories, Recipes, and More (TAMU Press, 2011) after the private opening of the exhibit.


To see pictures and read more about TAMU Press author Kaleta Doolin’s honor at the Smithsonian, check out the Dallas Morning News website.

--Madeline Loving

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The First Thanksgiving: Fact or Fiction?


Think you know everything there is to know about Thanksgiving and its traditions? What about the first Thanksgiving—was it really an event that we have seen depicted in paintings and school textbooks? Probably not. Americans have adapted and changed the celebratory holiday even further from the “traditional” Thanksgiving to fit their own preferences. These can include gathering with family and reminiscing on all the things their thankful for, running a turkey trot race, watching football, or even eating Mexican food.  However you celebrate Thanksgiving, you can learn the truth behind the myths associated with the first Thanksgiving. We’ve provided a few below!


Myth #1 The Pilgrims dressed in black and white, wore pointy hats and bonnets, and had gold square belt and shoe buckles.
No one really knows where we got this image from. Although the Pilgrims wore black on Sundays, they wore other colors every other day. These included green, white, gray, and brown. Another false image America has produced is the attire of the Native Americans. They covered up a lot more than what America depicts in its Thanksgiving décor. It was freezing cold in the Northeast during the fall—they were fully covered!

Myth #2 The first Thanksgiving meal was served on a big, long table on many large serving dishes.
The first Thanksgiving “meal” was not a sit-down occasion. It was a celebration that lasted over the course of 3-4 days. The food was eaten sporadically; whenever someone was hungry. It wasn’t on a long table eaten with plates and forks either—they didn’t have forks. The food was placed on any flat surface available, and diners grabbed what they wanted and ate with their hands.


Myth #3 The Pilgrims and Indians ate Turkey on the first Thanksgiving.
There probably aren’t too many people who still eat what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving. Although it’s possible they could have eaten Turkey on the first Thanksgiving, there is no evidence to support it. The only thing historians know for sure they ate was “venison and wild fowl.” It is quite possible there was dried fruit and corn there as well. But there were no potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey, dressing, or pumpkin pie, that’s for sure!


Myth #4 The Pilgrims and Puritans were the same thing.
They most definitely were not the same thing. The Pilgrims came on the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth. They came in search of riches, a utopian land, as well as for religious reasons. A decade later, the Puritans came and lived in Boston. The Puritans came solely to be able to practice their religion freely. They believed there was hope in church reform, unlike the Pilgrims. They both share in common their hate for the Church of England.

 
Myth #5 Thanksgiving was about family.
The first thanksgiving was not a family affair. It was a multicultural gathering. All that is recorded is by the Plymouth Colony Governor, Edward Winslow, who wrote that the colony had dinner with Chief Massasoit and 90 of his men.

To read more on these popular Thanksgiving myths, check out the Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day Myths on the History News Network website.
 
 
Happy Thanksgiving from TAMU Press!
 
--Madeline Loving

Friday, November 16, 2012

Best of TAMU Press

Best of University Press: Charles Backus Edward R. Campbell ’39 Press Director

1. Race?  Debunking a Scientific Myth, by Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle (2010)
Named to the shortlist of the Royal Society's Winton Prize for Science Books and praised by American Scientist as "a beautifully presented book, elegantly reasoned and skillfully written," this volume by eminent authors at the American Museum of Natural History is an exemplary distillation of best scientific research for a general audience, creating a forceful argument that "race is little more than skin deep in scientific terms."

2. The Country Houses of John F. Staub, by Stephen Fox, photographs by Richard Cheek (2007)
Aside from the book's magnificent photographs and exquisite production standards, this award-winning volume does more than recount the important and distinctive work of Houston's favorite architect.  It also provides a brilliant and perhaps the fullest social history of that city's emerging elite during the twentieth century.

3. The Two Thousand Yard Stare: Tom Lea's World War II, by Tom Lea, edited by Brendan M. Greeley Jr. (2008)
This book offers the unforgettable images and equally compelling words of Tom Lea, created during his World War II assignments as an artist-correspondent for Life magazine, from the North Sea to the South Pacific.  It is a beautifully edited and designed volume, a haunting evocation of war through art.

4. With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution, by José Enrique de la Peña (1997)
If there is a single book for which Texas A&M University Press is widely noted, it is probably this translated eyewitness account of the fundamental battles from which Texas emerged as an independent state.  It is also one of the few university press books to earn both commendations and death threats for its publisher.

5. The TOS Handbook of Texas Birds, by Mark W. Lockwood and Brush Freeman (2004)
This rich resource, compiled in association with the Texas Ornithological Society, is the Texas birders' bible—and, because Texas is such an important birding mecca, an authoritative source for ornithologists throughout North America and the world.

Best of TAMU Press:

Best of University Press: Dianna Sells, Financial Manager, TAMU Press

1.      If I remember correctly, the first book released for publication was Storms Brewed in Other Men’s World (TAMU Press 1981)  by Elizabeth John. This is the first book that I remember being released and the beginning of my career with the Press; so, I would choose it because it is symbolic of my career and the successful publishing program of TAMU Press.
 
2.      Then, I would choose Texas Heartland because of the printrun & the design process involved.  Second book published, also in 1975.
I said that we would have to reprint the book within 3 months and we ran out in that timeframe; no one believed me.  James (Jim) Bones was a perfectionist and he had the pages and redid the entire book when Ray accidentally sent him the markup without keeping a copy.  Ray, our designer, had to redesign the entire book. 
3.      Then, I would have to choose BlackJack by Frank Vandiver.  He was such a pleasant person to work with and it began our military history presence.  Frank became the president of Texas A&M University.   At one point, Frank and his wife, Margaret, lived downstairs in our old office building, the board of directors building.

4.      Then, I would choose With Santa Anna in Texas.  The introduction to our Texas History list.  A seller to this day and a notable history book that has stood the test of time.  Third release, in 1975.

5.      Of course, there would be the Centennial History of Texas A&M and the PictorialHistory of Texas A&M, because they established our Centennial Book Series and were the first history books published by the press.


6.      And, then I would choose E M (Buck) Schiwetz portfolio and books.  He was the Texas A&M artist in residence when I came to work at the Press.  He was commissioned to paint the buildings, so we decided to put together the Aggieland Portfolio, which was not a book, but prints of the paintings. He lived down stairs in the old board of directors’ building, the original building in which Texas A&M University Press was housed.  I would spend my lunch hour watching Buck paint and we would go to McDonalds and eat a Big Mac together.  He was such a character and would tell me his life stories.  I remembered the story he told me about a lady coming up to his dinner table one night at a nice restaurant in Houston and she asked him to sign her napkin.  He was “not very happy” about it.  He couldn’t even eat lunch alone.
 
So, when we had the big gathering of authors for a signing at the library we had many an author there.  I walked up to Buck in this large audience and said, “would you please autography my hand?”  He laughed and signed it with a permanent marker.  Then, author and Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale grabbed my other hand and signed it also with a permanent marker.

7.      Grasses of Texas by Frank Gould.  Frank was a wonderful teacher and leader in this field and a contributor of permanent knowledge

8.      I would have to choose the Tom Lea book, The Two Thousand Yard Stare, because of his many talents and the fact that he created the TAMU Press logo.  He was such a wonderful person to meet and know and a talented, well-known artist.

9.      And, I can’t forget about Leon Hale’s books because he was an Amazing Writer and a personal friend to me.
Now as for some of my recent favorites—
10.  DOUGWELSH, I have been an avid fan of his for decades because I love gardening.

11.  Heirloom Gardening in the South—Welch and Grant

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Best of TAMU Press

Best of University Press: Kyle Littlefield, Promotional Design and Electronic Marketing Manager


The author's recollection of meeting Somerset Maugham -- one of the author's literary heros -- struck a chord with me. Having the occasion to meet a few of the people I looked up to as a teen, it brought to the surface those nervous feelings of wanting to register on that person's radar and say the right things in the fleeting moment you have with him or her. 
 

It's amazing how much you can learn about people and culture through the study of the lowly potato. 


I love the photos of the abandoned movie theaters in Texas featured -- some of them constructed in incredibly opulent taste. The contrast between the evident disuse and the obvious splendor that the theaters offered when they were still shiny says much more than words can. Although the author does a good job in his own right as well.

4.      Lighthouses of Texas

When I think of Texas I don't immediately think "Lighthouses" -- and I grew up on the coast. T. Lindsey Baker does his usual excellent job of exploring his subject showing that Lighthouses are as "Texas" as oil wells. Also the paintings are quite peaceful. 


Unless you are a Burroughs scholar, you probably don't know much about his time in Texas and Mexico other than the infamous "William Tell" episode. The author unearths new material, fleshing out this little-known time in Burroughs’s life and how it shaped him and his writing as he tried to move beyond it.

The Value of a University Press--University Press Week 2012


As a tribute to AAUP’s University Press Week, Texas A&M University Press and 24 other university presses are partaking in a nation-wide blog tour. These blog entries highlight the importance of university presses as well as their influence and contribution to readers everywhere. We are pleased to have author Loren Steffy guest blogging for us as part of the University Press Week blog tour. The tour continues today at  Georgetown University Press. A complete blog tour schedule can be found here!
 
“The value of a university press, like an ancient shipwreck, can't be measured in dollars or commercial success.”

Loren Steffy’s publishing relationship with Texas A&M University Press began with his late father J. Richard Steffy – an electrician and shipmodeling enthusiast with no formal education, who ultimately changed the emerging field of nautical archaeology in the 1970s.

Here, as we celebrate University Press Week the Houston Chronicle business columnist and author of The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, describes his personal journey as an author with Texas A&M University Press.

My career as an author began with a smirk.

I was having dinner with one of my father's former colleagues, and he asked if I had considered writing a book about my father's amazing journey from a small town electrician with no formal college training to the world's foremost authority on ancient ships.
 
I told him I thought it was a great story, but outside of the field of nautical archaeology, my father was an unknown. Who, I asked, would publish such a story? He replied with a wry grin but he said nothing.

The next day I got an email from an editor at the Texas A&M University Press. She said she'd heard “through the grapevine” that I might be interested in writing a book about my father. If so, the press would love to publish it.

Now it was my turn to grin. Many years before, when I was still in high school, I told my father I intended to be a writer someday. He told me when I had something I thought was good enough, I should let him know. His contacts at the A&M Press would be able to help me get published.

My father developed a long-running relationship with the Press during an academic career that took him from non-degreed lecturer to MacArthur Foundation fellow to emeritus professor. He wrote two books for the Press and contributed to numerous others.

I quickly realized there was no better home for my book. The editors knew my father's work, which was a huge advantage. My father rebuilt ancient ships that had been rotting on the bottom of the sea for centuries. It's an arcane field, but one with which the editors were already familiar. I didn’t have to explain, for example, that nautical archaeology was not treasure hunting or that my father had no interest in the Titanic or that he never searched for Noah’s Ark.

My book, The Man Who Thought Like a Ship, was published as part of an ongoing series of nautical archaeology books. The editors at the Press not only understood the field, they knew how to target the marketing for the book – what associations to approach, when key conferences were held.

After the book was published, my father's smirking colleague told me how happy he was it had all worked out. It was, he said, the perfect fit. I couldn't agree more.

As if to underscore that point, the book's publication prompted an important discovery. My father got into nautical archaeology as a hobby. He built models of ancient ships using techniques that would later become the basis for his research methods.

I wrote about one of his earliest models, an Egyptian ship, in the book, but I never knew what happened to it. I discovered some letters in my research that indicated it may have been donated to a museum in Philadelphia and later discarded.

After the book was published, I was contacted by a woman in Philadelphia who'd worked with my father years ago. She offered to check with museums in the area to see if the model might still exist.

A few days later she called to say it was sitting in a storeroom, where it had been for almost 50 years. The museum had been unsure what to do with it. I arranged to travel to Philadelphia, pick up the model, and return it to Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M. Beginning in the spring of 2013, it will be used to help students, who still study my father's work, better understand how he developed his methods.

Without the publication of the book, this rare find – one of only four of my father's models that still exist – might have been lost forever.

The value of a university press, like an ancient shipwreck, can't be measured in dollars or commercial success. Commercial publishers may deal in popular books, in books that can make money. University presses specialize in the books that need to be published – important stories that might otherwise never be told.

My father's story is one of scientific discovery, but it is far more than that. It's the story of a man who dared to pursue his dreams. It's a tale of perseverance, of failure, of heartbreak and of achievement. It is, in other words, a human story. Without a university press, it never would have been told.




           

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Best of TAMU Press:

In Our Opinion…

As part of our ongoing celebration of University Press Week, we’ve asked a few members of our spectacular staff to curate a list of their all-time favorite books from Texas A&M University Press.

Check back to the blog over the next few days to read about our favorite books, and why we can’t get enough of them!

Shannon Davies, Louise Lindsey Merrick Editor for the Natural Environment

1.. Called by one reviewer a “spectacular celebration,” Coastal Texas: Water, Land, and Wildlife by John L. Tveten (1982) confirmed the press’s commitment to the Gulf coast; established a foundation for books of fine nature photography and writing; and launched an author who would become one of the state’s most respected, prolific, and beloved naturalists. Two decades later, the press held another celebration with the publication of three volumes of Tveten’s essays written in his almost quarter-century tenure as the nature columnist for the Houston Chronicle. The forerunner to a wide selection of books on the coast, Coastal Texas helped pave the way for the long-running and successful series Gulf Coast Books, supported by Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

2. We are grass. From Frank Gould’s best-selling Common Texas Grasses (1979) to his classic books, The Grasses of Texas and Grass Systematics (with Robert Shaw) to Shaw’s own recently published, definitive Guide to Texas Grasses (2012), Texas A&M Press recognized early on what Texas ranchers had long admitted: they don’t raise cows; they raise grass. Grasses of the Texas Hill Country (2006) by Brian and Shirley Loflin was the first book to feature full-color photographs of Texas grasses, welcoming a lay audience into the beautiful and essential world of grass.

3. Chimney Swifts by Paul and Georgean Kyle represents to me the best kind of university press publishing: an authoritative book for the public, about something no other publisher would consider, by authors no one else would approach, on a topic that could change forever the way humans view the world they live in.

4. With the publication of Texas Wildlife: Photographs from Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine (1982) the press began a long relationship with TPWD that produced original best-selling and indispensable volumes such as Hummingbirds of Texas and Rare Plants of Texas as well as the forthcoming Texas State Parks and the CCC by Cynthia Brandimarte. This book was also the debut volume of the Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series, which has since supported almost 50 titles.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Did You Know?


Fun Facts: University Press Week

·     There are over 130 university presses across the world.

·    The Texas A&M University Press was founded in 1974 under the direction of Texas A&M University president and chancellor Jack K. Williams. The first director of the press, Frank H. Wardlaw, had previously helped to establish the University of Texas Press and the University of South Carolina Press.     

·    The first University to publish its own book was in 1455 when Gutenberg and Fust printed the Bible, twenty-three years later, in 1478, a commentary on the Apostle's Creed was printed at Oxford University

·    Following the September 11th attacks, AAUP established its "Books for Understanding" program in recognition that scholarly presses publish knowledge that often cannot be found anywhere else. Now featuring a list of 85 need-to-know topics—and growing apace—the books represented provide deeply researched information on issues and events of international import. Whether the topic is North Korea or water rights in the Southwest, a university press book has the answers, and the questions, you are looking for.

·    AAUP (Association of American University Presses) member presses produce more than 12,000 works per year, in both print and digital form. It is also AAUP's 75th anniversary this year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

25 Presses Kick Off University Press Week with a Blog Tour

The Association of American University Presses will celebrate University Press Week November 11-17. This week long celebration started in the summer of 1978 when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a University Press Week “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship.”

In the spirit of collaboration that pervades the university press community, Texas A&M University Press and 24 other presses will come together for a blog tour during University Press Week. This tour will highlight the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society. Bloggers include authors, book review editors, university press staff members, interns, booksellers, and university press advocates.

Harvard University Press kicks off the tour on Monday, November 12, and it continues coast-to-coast with stops in Canada and Hawaii before ending on Friday, November 16, at Oregon State University Press. The tour comes to Texas A&M University Press’s blog on Thursday, November 15, with a post by Loren Steffy, Houston Chronicle business columnist and author of The Man Who Thought Like a Ship. Download a complete University Press Week blog tour schedule at: http://ht.ly/eSUum.

In addition to the blog tour, the AAUP and other member presses are planning several features and events for University Press Week. To celebrate University Press Week, Texas A&M Press will also open its doors for a book sale Wednesday and Thursday, November 14 and 15. For more information, visit www.tamupress.com.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Inspires Journey to Other Side of the World

TAMU Press authors Walt and Isabel Davis could not have known that the contents in their book Exploring the Edges of Texas (Texas A&M University Press, 2010) would inspire an adventure taken halfway across the world. One particular reader, Christopher Poteet, found certain interest in a story about the Red River Meteorite, which was found in Texas in the 19th century. As legend goes, chunks of the Red River Meteorite somehow found their way to Calcutta, India. Fascinatingly, reader Poteet was traveling to Calcutta the following week, and decided to try and track down the missing pieces of rock.

As Poteet explains in an email sent to the Davises: " . . . thus an adventure was born. And so, using your research as a road map, I contacted Yale University, gathered a little more info, and was soon on the teeming, filthy, glorious streets of Calcutta in search of a sacred rock stolen from an indigenous tribe in Texas almost 200 years ago. I had very few leads and no actual contacts, but with a sense of purpose and a capacity for drinking lots of milky sweet tea, I was confident that I would close this Circle. (Though the actual logic of why I was looking for this meteorite, and what exactly this Circle was, got more twisted with each telling.)
And so, to cut to the chase; Mission Accomplished. Pics attached.”


Poteet found what he was looking for, and authors Walt and Isabel Davis can take the credit for inspiring his adventure!

--Madeline Loving

Friday, October 26, 2012

Texas Book Festival Featured Author and Artist: Margie Crisp, author of River of Contrasts


Margie Crisp has traveled the length of Texas’ Colorado River; which rises in Dawson County, south of Lubbock, and flows 860 miles southeast across the state to its mouth on the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay. She lives and works near Elgin, Texas, and is both a writer and artist whose lithographs, hand-colored linocuts, drawings, and paintings are in private and public collections throughout Texas, the United States, and Mexico. She is a former writer in residence at the Thinking Like a Mountain Foundation in Fort Davis, Texas.

TAMUP: What or who inspired your paintings?

MC: The art work in my book River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado are all original prints: linocuts and lithographs.  This sounds confusing at first but by original prints, I mean traditional hand-pulled prints (not giclee or offset commercial printing).  Another reason for creating prints is that I wanted to reference the rich tradition of natural history printmaking.  From Napoleon's expedition to Egypt to John James Audubon's lithographs and engravings, artists and scientists have created prints that not only contained important details about habitat and life history, but also were stunningly beautiful works of art at the same time.  While I can't predict how people will react to my art, I am satisfied that I created a portrait of the Colorado River, in both word and image, that can be referred back to--whatever the future holds for the river.

TAMUP: What are you looking forward to most about having your art featured at the Texas Book Festival?

MC: Honestly the greatest pleasure I've had as the 2012 Texas Book Festival artist has been the attention it has brought to my book and to TAMUP.  The talent, support, and enthusiasm of the Press and the River Series (supported by the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University) made the book possible.  Second to that, is that it has given me additional opportunities to talk to the public about the Colorado River of Texas and its future.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Texas Book Festival Featured Author: Thomas Kreneck, author of Del Pueblo: A History of Houston's Hispanic Community


Thomas Kreneck is associate director for special collections and archives at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library and Joe B. Frantz Lecturer in Public History at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. He is also the author of Mexican American Odyssey: Felix Tijerina, Entrepreneur and Civic Leader, 1905–1965, published in 2001 by Texas A&M University Press.

TAMUP: What or who inspired you to write your book?

TK: A lifetime of interest in the Mexican American experience, my experiences as founder and head of the Mexican American Archival component at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC), and a profound belief that everyone should have a basic understanding of Houston's Hispanic community as the fourth largest concentration of Hispanics in the United States compelled me to write this book.

TAMUP: What are you looking forward to most about being one of the 200+ authors featured at the Texas Book Festival?

TK: I look forward to reviewing the other literature at the TBF, meeting the other authors, and especially interacting with those persons interested in my book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Texas Book Festival Featured Author: Ron Rozelle, author of My Boys and Girls Are in There: The 1937 New London School Explosion



Ron Rozelle is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and author of several previous books including Into That Good Night, A Place Apart, Sundays with Ron Rozelle, Touching Winter, and The Windows of Heaven. He currently resides in Lake Jackson, Texas.



TAMUP: What or who inspired you to write your book?


 

 RR: I became interested in the New London school explosion because I had heard about it all my life. My hometown of Oakwood is just 80 miles away. My father, who was the school superintendent in Oakwood, went there to help the night of the disaster.



TAMUP: What are you looking forward to most about being one of the 200+ authors featured at the Texas Book Festival?

 

RR: I really look forward to meeting readers face to face at the Book Festival; this is my third one, and, of course, to seeing old friends and meeting other authors.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Texas Book Festival Featured Author: George Bristol, author of On Politics and Parks


George Bristol, of Austin, was a consultant on the Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The 2009 winner of the Pugsley Medal honoring champions of parks and conservation, he was also a writer-in-residence at the Thinking Like a Mountain Foundation in Fort Davis, Texas. Bristol was also winner of the 2000 PEN Texas Literary Award for Poetry, the First Annual Texas Land & People Award (2007), the Terry Hershey Award (2008), and the Nature Conservancy of Texas Lifetime Achievement Award (2008). In 2008, he received a leadership award from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
 
TAMUP: What or who inspired you to write your book?
 
GB: The inspirational who is a list as numerous as the chapters in the book. From childhood to the present I have been blessed with people and places that added something special to the mix that is George Bristol. But, specifically I must give credit to Dick and Joanne Bartlett who set up a writer-in-residence program in the remoteness of West Texas. I was fortunate enough to be selected for a two month stent. That gave me the time to pull a number of pieces I had written over a period of time into a coherent whole with a stated goal of tying them to my work on parklands, national and state, and conservation. That was easy to do, because I have felt over time that events, mentors, places and people all contributed to my concentrated work in conservation over the past 15 years or so. What success I have had is because I was given and taught the tools to compete in any situation that called for a solid knowledge of organization, fundraising and respect for ideas of others.
 
TAMUP: What are you looking forward to most about being one of the 200+ authors featured at the Texas Book Festival?
 
GB: To be able to move freely among the many great writers who will > attend the Texas Book Festival in 2012 is gratification enough for being selected as a featured author. I have gone to most of the Festivals over the years and often longed to go up to a writer, but was thwarted by time and schedule. Now I will have many opportunities to do so and I plan to take full advantage of the situation.