Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Texas A&M Press Leader in Texas History Titles Since 1974

This week, University Press Week, Texas A&M University Press and 36 other presses unite for the AAUP’s second annual blog tour. The tour highlights the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society. Schedule your week's reading with the complete blog tour schedule here:

Texas A&M Press Leader in Texas History Titles Since 1974

Since Texas A&M University Press opened its doors in 1974, it has maintained a reputation for bringing scholars and the reading public groundbreaking works in Texas history.

Among the press’s first published books was With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative of the Revolution by José Enrique de la Peña and translated by Carmen Perry. The journal of the officer on Santa Anna's staff unleashed a fury of emotion and an enduring chasm between some scholars and Texans, reporting the capture and execution of Davy Crockett and several others.

The book sparked heated dialogue on a much-debated topic in Texas history, sparking international controversy. In the years that followed, Texas A&M Press books and authors have delved into the state’s ethnic history, with titles such as preeminent historian Bruce Glasrud’s African Americans in South Texas History and University of Texas historian Emilio Zamora’s Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas.

Texas A&M also has acquired books that reflect the state’s natural and cultural heritage, such as Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by Dallas documentary producer Alan Govenar and A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl Hunting: The Decoys, Guides, Clubs, and Places, 1870s to 1970s by petroleum geologist Robert Sawyer.

Here, Charles Porter, a Texas historian, water rights expert and author of the forthcoming book Sharing the Common Pool: Water Rights in the Everyday Lives of Texans, reflects on the press’s long-standing commitment to publishing leading titles in Texas history.

The past and continued success of Texas A&M University Press is a product of its people, their dedication to developing the truth, and their diligence in steadfast and fair assessment of the work of all writers.

The continuing contribution of the Press to the exploration of Texas history and so many other topics represents the most complete fulfillment of the duties of truth, accuracy, and fairness an academic press owes the public.

I was fortunate to join the Press as an author in 2009 with my first book Spanish Water/Anglo Water: Early Development in San Antonio. My book was a culmination of years of field research on the formation of the historic water rights of Spanish Colonial Texas and how these rights were recognized, modified over history, and how the basic legal concepts remain alive in Texas law today.

The Press rigorously reviewed the book before publication. Their reviewers’ commentary and suggestions improved and made my work much more significant. From their rigorous process and support, my book earned two major awards.

I am proud to say my newest book, Sharing the Common Pool: Water Rights in the Everyday Lives of Texans, will be published by the Press in 2014. The same thoughtful and professional approach by the Press and their reviewers took a work of four long years to a level which will make an important contribution to Texans as we struggle to face and overcome our drought-related problems. Texas A&M University Press offers a portfolio of readable yet rigorously peer-reviewed academic books that make a most significant contribution to the understanding of life in Texas today and in the past.

Through their fifteen active funded series on the history and culture of Texas, “the Press” as it is affectionately known, provides an inquiring public the opportunity to learn an interdisciplinary working knowledge of the people of Texas today and how historically they formed their community.

Readers around the world find the Press their go-to-source for sound research and no-holds-barred expert commentary on life in Texas. For both native-born Texans and others either considering a move to the state or undertaking some business or personal dealings with Texans from afar, the Press’s series on history and culture gives the in-depth insight people need to make educated judgments about their future relationship with Texas and Texans.

Just one example of the depth of the Press’ studies are the books they publish about the City of Houston. The Press offers more than fifty books about the United States’ fourth largest city, the energy capital of the world. The books offer the reader an all-encompassing analysis of this most important world city through the lens of its art and architecture, its horticulture and environment, its urban planning and engineering, including its historical human and political interface. The books answer the questions of how Houston and Houstonians came to be and who they are now.

Books such as Marquerite Johnston’s Houston the Unknown City 1836-1946, Suzanne Turner’s and Joanne Seale Wilson’s Houston’s Silent Garden: Glenwood Cemetery 1871-2009, Frederick C. Elliott’s The Birth of the Texas Medical Center, Robert D. Bullard’s Invisible Houston: The Black Experience in Boom and Bust, and Dwight D. Watson’s Race and the Houston Police Department, 1930-1990: A Change Did Come, are examples of the Press’ invaluable educational resources that illuminate not only the core of the city’s successes and problems, but Houston’s heart and soul as well.

The discerning reader learns that the Press never shies away from a discussion about the disappointments in Houston’s past or the city’s current challenges. The reader gains enrichment from these books because they accurately portray the reality of Houston from all perspectives. From this credible evidence, the reader can make fully informed decisions about any subject pertinent to their interest in Houston.

The Press’s efforts to seek and publish expert interdisciplinary views of issues in the African American community, in the Hispanic community, and about women in Texas form a laudable tribute to the courage their editors and directors show in confronting society’s trials and tribulations openly, accurately, and compassionately, not only in Texas but also across America.

The state, local, national, and international awards won by the Press’ publications are numerous. Here are just three recent examples of the hundreds of awards Press authors have won over the year. Steven Fenberg’s Unprecedented Power: Jesse Jones, Capitalism, and the Common Good won the 2012 Carr P. Collins Award presented by the Texas Institute of Letters. Ken King and Alfred Richardson’s Plants of Deep South Texas: A Field Guide to the Woody and Flowering Species won the 2012 Donovan Stewart Correll Memorial Award presented by The Native Plant Society of Texas.



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