Monday, March 25, 2013

Prominent Figure in New TAMU Press Book Receives Overdue Medal of Honor

 After 60 years and through the determination of prisoner of war friends and author William C. Latham, Father Emil Kapaun will be posthumously receiving a Congressional Medal of Honor next month.

In 1953, when their guards finally released them, POWs walked south carrying a grim-looking, hand-carved, almost 4-foot-long, hand-carved crucifix, from North Korea to South Korea. First they were debriefed by Army officers. Then they carried the crucifix to the war correspondents standing nearby. They said they had a story to tell. They talked for a long time, holding the crucifix like a relic. Within hours, people all over the world heard about a daring and resourceful priest from Kansas who had been murdered by the Chinese guards. His name was Emil Kapaun.

Kapaun’s father was a Czech farmer from Kansas. Before Kapaun joined the Army as a chaplain, he was a priest in his little hometown of Pilsen. Kapaun was recklessly brave on many battlefields, dragging wounded soldiers through machine gun fire, getting a tobacco pipe shot out of his mouth, saving dozens of lives in the battle of Unsan, where he was captured. Kapaun saved hundreds of lives in the camps, making homemade pans so prisoners could boil water to stave off dysentery and stealing food from the guards to feed the starving prisoners.

On Jan. 16, 1954, a story in the Saturday Evening Post brought Kapaun’s heroism to a worldwide audience. But this was not enough; years passed, old soldiers began to die, and people began to lose hope.
Around 2002, Bill Latham entered the picture. Latham began noticing the name “Kapaun” in papers he collected. At reunions, Latham thought there was something wonderful about how soldiers talked about him. They said to him that Kapaun should have received the medal. The old soldiers’ passion for their friend touched Latham. After he heard about Todd Tiahrt’s failed application, he called the congressman’s office. Tiahrt’s staff told Latham that in 2002, Tiahrt had recommended to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that Kapaun be awarded the medal. Rumsfeld rejected it because of lack of “substantiating evidence.” Latham suspected there was plenty of substantiating evidence. He now went to find it.

Read more on how the story unfolds here. For more on Latham’s new book, in which Fr. Kapaun figures prominently, click here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

University Press EBook Sales Soar

According to the Association of American Publishers, university presses showed among the highest percentage growth in ebook revenue, climbing a cool 77% in November. Although there is an e-slowing in other publisher categories, university press ebooks acquired total sales of $900,000 that same month.

Is this the end for physical books? I wouldn’t bet on it. University hardcover and paperback sales combined came in at $9.5 million.

Read more about ebook sales here.

--Madeline Loving

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Court Finding on Whooping Crane Deaths Warns of More Federal Involvement in Water Management, River Expert Says

If the state of Texas wants to continue to use surface water for economic development purposes, it must also protect the environment, river expert Andrew Sansom told State Impact last week.
His comments came on the heels of a federal court's finding that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality -- an agency charged with safeguarding the state's natural resources --was responsible for the deaths of 23 rare whooping cranes.
The federal judge said the TCEQ's management of water flows into the Guadalupe River caused salinity levels to rise by not allowing enough freshwater into the river.
Whooping cranes are a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Late Friday afternoon State Attorney General Abbot’s request to stay the ruling on TCEQ water management was denied, according to The Aransas Project, the plaintiffs in the case.
Jim Blackburn, author of The Book of Texas Bays, represented the Aransas Project in the case.
Sansom, head of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, presented expert testimony for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against TCEQ. He is also editor of two Texas A&M University Press book series focusing on Texas rivers and conservation leadership.
He told State Impact he hoped the decision would put a spotlight on the issue of environmental flows as lawmakers debate funding for the state water plan.
“I think that what we’ve seen in this ruling is a warning that if we don’t get serious about protecting the environmental flows in our rivers and streams, than we invite the federal government to become involved in the management of surface water in every basin where endangered species are present,” Sansom said.
TCEQ officials have said they are considering an appeal. In a statement, the agency called the case "an unconstitutional attempt to use the Endangered Species Act as cover for rewriting the Texas Water Code."
Click here to read the full story on State Impact Texas.
For more on whooping cranes --including a tableau of rare images taken by National Geographic photographer Klaus Nigge -- check out Whooping Crane: Images from the Wild.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Photographing Big Bend National Park

I think most people would agree that pictures of the stars and the night sky are some of the most remarkable photographs we can capture. Yet, these amazing photos are some of the hardest to take. However, with the help of Kathy Adams Clark’s new book Photographing Big Bend National Park, you too will be able to photograph your own wonders of the night sky. In each subsection, Clark guides readers step-by-step through simple, intermediate, and advanced options for taking that specific set of photos, as well as listing the best season for capturing that style of photo.
Although we may find it difficult, Clark states that “photographing at night is not hard” (p. 102). She also lists ways of “painting” stationary objects with light resulting in a surreal photo.
She goes on to explain how to take pictures of moving vehicles at night, which leave either white or red trails of light. She focuses her photography on the tunnel at the Rio Grande Village.
Next, Clark moves to taking pictures of the moonrise and the moonset especially when it is a full moon. Full moons happen every month so you will have plenty of opportunities to practice this photo.
Star trails are next on the list. Ultimately, photographers “take multiple photos, stack them together in layers and, using software, blend the layers. The finished photo shows the light from the stars trailing through the sky” (p. 112).
Lastly, Clark focuses on capturing photos of the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live. The best photos of this are produced when there is a dark sky with no moon.
For more on Clark’s new book Photographing Big Bend National Park, click here.
Enjoy your newfound talent and happy photo hunting!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wearing Green on St. Patrick’s Day?

Why is it lucky to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? The tradition dates back to the man for which the holiday is named—St. Patrick—the most recognized patron saint of Ireland.

Although little is known of St. Patrick, we do know that he was born to a wealthy British family near the end of the fourth century. When he was 16, Irish thieves raided his family’s estate and took him as prisoner. He was transported to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity, working as a shepherd. It was during his captivity that Patrick became a Christian.
Later on, Patrick escaped and walked 200 miles back to Britain. He was then guarded by visions and dreams by angels—who told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Because Patrick now knew the customs and language of the Irish people, he used their customs as a way of preaching the gospel.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 because it is believed that Patrick died on this day. It is a religious feast holiday that celebrated his life as a saint—and has now evolved into a holiday filled with feasting, parades, and wearing lots of green.
Why the color green? Originally the color associated with St. Patrick was blue—but the rolling green hills of Ireland and the green shamrock Patrick used to represent the Trinity, have made the color of St. Patrick’s Day change to green. Also, the United States began to display its connection with Ireland by wearing green.

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day, and don’t forget to wear green!
--Madeline Loving

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Break Reading List

With spring break just around the corner for many schools, what better way to spend the break than with a good book? Whether you are lying on the beach, tanning at the pool, road tripping to another town, or taking it easy at home, TAMU Press has a great selection from our Spring 2013 book season.
We’ve compiled a list of 5 favorites for you to dive into over the break, and we hope you find them just as fantastic as we do! 
Do you love wildlife, the outdoors, national parks, or traveling? Wildlife Watching in America’s National Parks hits all three interests and more. Authors Vequist and Licht, two veterans of the National Park Service, target 12 animals that have been imperiled and at risk, but are now protected within the National Park System. Showcasing one species for each month of the year, Vequist and Licht pair each species with a specific national park, and give detailed information about the animals’ habitat, where it can be found, and more information about other parks.

Plan on taking lots of memorable images over spring break? Photographing Big Bend National Park by Kathy Adams Clark is your complete guide, providing practical information for photographers of all skill levels. Frequent Big Bend traveler Clark offers this handy and beautiful guide, complete with striking images, to maximize the photographic experience of Big Bend National Park. Each chapter provides a tutorial on camera basics, as well as an excursion to well-known locations within the park.

Spring break is the perfect time for a road trip (it’s not too hot yet!), and History along the Way is the perfect accompaniment for a Texas road
trip. Authors Utley and Beeman recount the narratives behind and beyond more than 100 Texas roadside markers. This book gives readers an intriguing and expanded look at the details, challenges, and lives commemorated by the words cast in metal on these wayside markers scattered across the Lone Star landscape. Filled with helpful maps,
colorful photographs, and informative side bars, History Along the Way
is guaranteed to inform, amuse, and intrigue.

Although waterfowl hunting season is mostly over in Texas, it is never
too early to increase your knowledge for next year’s season! Practicing biologists Johnson and Lockwood have put together a beautifully illustrated guide that describes the life histories of 45 species of ducks, geese, and swans that live in Texas. They have included photographs, informative distribution maps, and a helpful source list to accompany species description. Birders, biologists, landowners, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and all those interested in health and preservation of
coastal resources will enjoy and learn from this book.

For those of you more interested in biographies, politics, history, or the American presidents, The Leadership of George Bush – now available in paperback -- fits your interests. Author Roman Popadiuk served in the
Bush White House from 1989 to 1992 as deputy assistant to the
president and deputy press secretary for foreign affairs. He was closely involved in the day-to-day decisions made during the Bush
administration. Popadiuk examines the ways in which the personal leadership style of George Bush influenced the formation and execution
of policy in this important and influential volume.
--Madeline Loving

TP&W Photo Contest!

Texas Parks & Wildlife is hosting a photo contest this month featuring Texas state parks! Whether you’re an amateur or professional, Texas A&M University Press has some great books for honing your state park photography skills.
First up is Kathy Adams Clark’s new book Photographing Big Bend National Park: A Friendly Guide to Great Images. Professional nature photographer and frequent Big Bend traveler Kathy Adams Clark offers this handy and beautiful guide to maximizing the photographic experience of this visually stunning landscape.
Photographing Big Bend National Park begins with a tutorial on the basics of light meters, shutter speeds, and f/stops, featuring practical, hands-on-camera exercises and answers to common questions. The chapters that follow take readers on six excursions to well-known locations within the Big Bend National Park. A primer on night photography (including “light-painting” and star trails) is also included.
Each chapter features instructions for photographing various subjects at the site using simple, intermediate, and advanced techniques; information on the best seasons to photograph; and tips designed to benefit the novice.
Photographing Big Bend National Park not only provides practical information for photographers of all skill levels, it also offers a visual feast of striking images. Nature lovers, photographers, and anyone who loves this remarkable national park will treasure this latest book from veteran writer and photographer Kathy Adams Clark.
Second is Greg Lasley’s Texas Wildlife Portraits. Award-winning photographer Greg Lasley has been taking pictures of wildlife for thirty years, and although he has photographed some of the most exotic creatures and remote places on earth, in Greg Lasley’s Texas Wildlife Portraits he gives homage to his favorite place for photography: his home state. With more than 100 stunning color photographs, this book reflects Lasley’s penchant for the state’s insect life as well as his long affection for Texas birds. In addition, many hours of patient waiting or the happenstance of a chance encounter have yielded fine images of Texas mammals and reptiles in their habitats.
With an introduction about the man behind the camera, from there, photographer’s comments and insightful photo captions help vividly re-create the moment each image was shot—what the animal was doing, what the photographer was thinking.
For more on the contest, check out TP&W’s news release.
Good luck and happy photo hunting!
--Paige Bukowski

Monday, March 4, 2013

USS Monitor, Unknown Civil War Soldiers to be laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery on March 8

 The identities of USS Monitor crew members have been in the news recently, as officials prepare to lay to rest the remains of what are believed to be the Civil War ironclad’s final occupants on March 8.

“These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement last week. “It’s important we honor these brave men and all they represent as we reflect upon the significant role Monitor and her crew had in setting the course for our modern Navy.”

The two sailors were aboard the Monitor when it sank upside down in a gale off the North Carolina coast on December 31, 1862, 10 months after its battle with the Confederate CSS Virginia. While most of the crewmen escaped, several men perished and the bodies of the others were never recovered.

The two unidentified men — an older sailor, about 35 years old, who walked with a limp, wore a gold ring and often had a pipe clenched between his teeth, and a younger man, about 21 years old, with a broken nose and mismatched shoes — were trapped in the turret.

More than a century later, their almost-complete skeletons were found, one on top of the other, amid a tangle of huge guns and debris. “It’s extraordinary on a number of levels,” said David W. Alberg, superintendent of NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. “There’s something comforting to know that, no matter what you go through, what sacrifice you make, that the nation’s promise to look after you, bring you home and honor you is as good 150 years later” as it is was back then. “Here we have two men who were lost in a storm, forgotten by even many of their descendants,” he said. “But the nation’s never forgotten.”

The study of the sailors’ bones yielded DNA but few other clues. The identities of all the other lost Monitor sailors are known, and many crew members are depicted in old photographs, but it was not known which identities might go with the recovered remains.

Last year, at the Navy Memorial in Washington, experts from Louisiana State University displayed clay facial reconstructions of the two men, based on models of their skulls. Experts hoped that the clay images might, through public exposure, provide leads to the sailors’ identities.

On March 7, representatives from the Navy and NOAA will escort the remains from the military’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, where the bones have undergone study, said a Navy spokeswoman, Lt. Lauryn Dempsey.

The funeral, scheduled for March 8, will mark 40 years of research into the Monitor by the Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA, and many other organizations. The sailors will be borne to their graves in two caskets on a horse-drawn caisson during an interment ceremony at 4 p.m.

Officials said the case will remain open, should further information be discovered.

More information available here.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekend Road Trip to Austin?

From February 1-June 30, the Civilian Conservation Corps will be on display as a special exhibit at the Bob Bullock State History Museum in downtown Austin, Texas. Once dubbed the “Tree Army” by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the CCC display will include photographs, maps, postcards, original CCC-fabricated furniture, camp newsletters that were located throughout parks in Texas, and much more.
The CCC was established as part of F.D.R.’s New Deal package during the Great Depression. A few of the major projects the CCC completed includes helping to build roads, lodges, bridges, trails, cabins, and recreation halls in hundreds of state, local, and national parks across the United States. It was designed to help open new jobs for the many young and unemployed men during the harsh economic depression. 
TAMU Press has published a book about the CCC and its influence on state parks, specifically focusing on its impact on Texas State Parks. Click here to see more about the book, Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, written by Cynthia A.Brandimarte, with Angela Reed.