Short Takes: recent news and reviews

We are reprising a regular feature from our old blog with this new Short Takes post. We will regularly highlight reviews and other news about our books or the Press in general. This week: a starred review of Eighty-Eight Years by Patrick Rael; more coverage of our groundbreaking photo/essay collection about the Civil War, Lens of War; a fabulous review in Nature for The Curious Mister Catebsy; and more.

First, we’d like to congratulate Julian Hoffman, author of The Small Heart of Things, and the editors of and contributors to Thoreauvian Modernities. Both titles have been listed as finalists for the 2015 Asle Book Awards!

Rael examines the long, slow death of slavery in the United States, masterfully showing how each event is connected and letting us in on secrets that textbooks never mentioned. . . There are not enough superlatives to describe the wealth of information in this book and the bright, clear way in which it is taught. Just buy it.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Lens of War: Exploring Iconic Photographs of the Civil War
Edited by J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher

Lens of War is refreshingly episodic and individualized, with the best essays being deeply personal, Montaignean explorations of why the war still matters to individuals today. . . Above all, Lens of War teaches readers how to view photos with keen historical eyes, warding off the temptation to fix them as unmediated, static, or ahistorical—in a word, dead.”

Los Angeles Review of Books


The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds
Edited for the Catesby Commemorative Trust by E. Charles Nelson and David J. Elliott, Foreword by Jane O. Waring

[T]his comprehensive, lavishly illustrated work illuminates the many ways in which Catesby changed how the natural world was perceived and portrayed, suggesting for the first time a dynamic ecological relationship between flora and fauna. . . will stand for many years as the best critical analysis of his work, and of the groundbreaking natural science that his curiosity inspired.”


“The 22 essayists who contributed to The Curious Mister Catesby do especially good work placing Catesby in an historical context, describing not only the naturalists who influenced him (and the ones he, in turn, influenced) but the worlds—Old and New—in which he lived.”

—Doug Childers, Richmond Times Dispatch


Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change
by Susan Cerulean Photographs by David Moynahan

In all the clamor and controversy surrounding the issue of climate change, many voices have been raised—voices of reason and science, voices of skepticism, voices denouncing the skeptics and voices defending them.

What’s missing from the heat of this Babel is a voice of the spirit, one that speaks from the heart with both love and knowledge to make the big bugaboo issue personal and intimate. Where is the voice that parses what climate change means for one whose soul is bound to and nourished by the coast, specifically our fragile and beautiful and exquisite piece of the Gulf Coast?

With the publication of her new book Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change, writer, naturalist and activist Sue Cerulean provides that voice. In prose that’s both elegant and elemental, she invites us to see the chain of islands—Dog, St. George, Little St. George and St. Vincent—that dangle off the northern Gulf Coast through her eyes. She takes us to their shores and into their interiors, explores their histories and posits their future.”

Tallahassee Democrat


Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives
Edited by Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Stephanie Cole, and Rebecca Sharpless

For anyone interested in the real women who built Texas while struggling against long odds, it is revelatory reading.”

Dallas Morning News


America’s Darwin: Darwinian Theory and U.S. Literary Culture
Edited by Tina Gianquitto and Lydia Fisher

By looking at textual responses to Darwin’s work in the United States, America’s Darwin contributes to a deeper understanding of how specific reactions and interpretations were formed in connection to American culture.”

American Studies Journal

McAndrews  has two main wishes for What They Wished For: to encapsulate the socio-political generational changes undergone by the historically mostly immigrant Catholics on the American periphery as their successors became contemporary Catholics mostly firmly established in the American center, and how these changes  impacted presidential elections. His narrative arc contrasts Catholic delight in successfully electing John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic president to their nonchalant rejection of the third (Al Smith trounced by Herbert Hoover in 1928 was the first) Catholic presidential candidate, John Kerry.”

—James R. Kelly, Catholic Book Review

A review from the Washington Independent Review of Books picked Honest Engine as a April 2015 Exemplar for National Poetry Month’s Best Picks.


Honest Engine
by Kyle Dargan

These poems are a touchstone for future readers about important issues—small public debates –an awareness of society’s demise. There are two separate hearts here: One; a criticism of our present state of affairs—a country struggling with oppositions—and two; a love for a country he cannot deny is his.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

“Is all pain—physical, political, existential, romantic, traumatic—just a different shade of the same thing? . . . [Honest Engine] look[s] head-on at an end that stretches out beyond our imaginations, at the middle spaces between life, memory, and death. But they also address the pain of racial hatred and the pain that masculinity can confer when bravado goes unchecked. . . Dargan’s poems. . . sing to other men about their masculine myopathy, urging them to stand against their own privilege: ‘turn the drum mallet/upon yourself—not to batter/but to dig down and excise/whatever within your head whirs/at this pitch that will kill you.’ The instrument becomes a weapon, a necessary pain to interrogate patriarchy.”

Washington City Paper

Silkey’s book provides a fresh perspective on a well known figure… it is a book based in deep research, yet boasts a compelling story for readers.”

—Kevin Krein, Northfield News

Carol Booker, editor of Alice Dunnigan’s memoir Alone atop the Hill, spoke recently with Georgia Public Radio’s On Second Thought.

There are many, many iconic items that are appealing to the reader—they certainly were to Mr. Wray. . . There are so many Confederate artifacts shown in this book that it makes the reader really have a hard time understanding how one man could gather so much in a relatively short span of 25 years. . . It is a veritable encyclopedia on the arms of the Confederacy and would make for a wonderful addition to the library of the arms collector whether he is interested in the Civil War or the Confederacy.”

Arms Heritage Magazine

Bellingham Review wrote an intimate review on our National Poetry Series winning title: What Ridiculous Things We Could Ask of Each Other this month. University of Oregon’s UO Today also interviewed poet Jeffery Schultz about his acclaimed book and future proceedings.

schultz_whatridiculous_pThese poems contain possibilities and observations, askings and responses. They gesture towards infinite moments of requests and multiplicities of answers. These poems scope out a world through its continuities of radios, kitchen tables, morning coffee with subpar rolls, cars with subwoofers, cancerous off gasses, chemical coatings, and auras of substations.”

—Katelyn Kenderish, Bellingham Review

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