Short Takes: News and Reviews

Lots of great coverage of our books to share this week. Also some award and event news we’d like to share. So without further ado…


We’d like to congratulate Susan Cerulean. Her book Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change has won the gold 2015 Florida Book Award for nonfiction! Check out the press release for more information on runners-up, winners in other categories, and prize details.

Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives edited by Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Stephanie Cole, and Rebecca Sharpless has won the Texas State Historical Association’s 2015 Liz Carpenter Award. The award will be presented at the Women in Texas History luncheon, Thursday, March 3, at the 2016 annual meeting in Irving, TX.

The Politics of Urban Water: Changing Waterscapes in Amsterdam by Kimberley Kinder has been shortlisted for an International Planning History Society book prize and will be announced with the winning title at the upcoming conference IPHS in Delft, Netherlands on July 20th.

Local events:

If you find yourself in Atlanta next Saturday, March 12th, you should stop by the Atlanta History Center. UGA Press author Valerie Frey will be doing a presentation from her book Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions at 10:30 a.m. Check out the Atlanta History Center’s website for ticketing and location information.

Athenians, mark your calendars for 5:00 p.m., March 24th. The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is hosting an event with UGA Press author Paul Sutter at Ciné. He will be talking about his new book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies: Providence Canyon and the Soils of the South.


Lawrence J. McAndrews breaks new ground by examining the role of Catholics in presidential politics and policy from 1961 to 2004. In What They Wished For, McAndrews. . . time describes the political behavior of Catholic voters and interest groups and assesses the degree to  which each president gave Catholics “what they wished for.” With the aid of extensive research in polling data, Catholic pressure group records, archival materials in presidential libraries and the national archives, and newspaper and periodical literature, McAndrews deftly limns the role of Catholics, taking full account of the manifold divisions among them, in the typically complex and often contingent character of presidential policy-making on faith-based issues. . . . What They Wished For is a tour de force by a master historian that should find a wide audience among students, scholars, and general readers alike.”—U.S. Catholic Historian

“This is a singularly important book. . . . What the author has accomplished that is new and indeed groundbreaking is a carefully charted and eminently readable narrative that explores how US Catholics shaped the national conversation with both presidential candidates and elected chief executives about three crucial issues central to both politics and theology: war and peace; social justice; and what believers call the ‘life issues’ abortion, capital punishment, end-of-life care, etc. Quite astonishingly, no one had undertaken such a crucial study before. McAndrews has undertaken precisely this mammoth task of marshaling a mind-boggling amount of detail and has done so masterfully; indeed, his book is now required reading for political historians, American religion scholars, and all the policy wonks and would-be wonks in the DC Beltway.”—The Journal of Religion

What They Wished For. . . provides an excellent study of not only American Catholicism but American religion and politics. McAndrews successfully uses the office of the president to shine light on issues and developments that ran, and still run, far beyond the walls of the Oval Office.”—Presidential Studies Quarterly

In this first book-length account of this key election (and post-election constitutional crisis), the authors immerse readers in the historical record, incorporating an array of primary source documents and interviews with key figures. . . . The result is a fine piece of research on a consequential election during the South’s transitional period.”—Choice



Virginia Women:
Their Lives and Times
Edited by Cynthia A. Kierner and Sandra Gioia Treadway

This volume is particularly interesting because it examines nineteen women in seventeen essays during a time when sources for most of these women are difficult to find. Collectively, these authors do a wonderful job of gathering available records and reconstructing the social and political culture structures surrounding their lives to provide readers with new perspectives on historical narratives.”—Virginia Magazine

This study’s focus is on groups often overlooked by scholars of the feminist movement in areas not normally considered hotbeds of feminism. . . . Blair’s argument that scholars must look beyond a narrowly self-defined group of feminists when exploring women’s activism in the late twentieth century is a significant contribution to the growing body of literature that seeks to expand the definition of feminist activity.”—American Historical Review

In an ambitious synthesis, Patrick Rael sets out to place the history of slavery’s demise in the United States within the larger context of its death in the Atlantic World. Other historians have increasingly made connections between slavery in the Atlantic and the United States, though Rael does much more than make connections—he succeeds at showing the strong similarities between Atlantic slaveholding societies, while at the same time explaining why the United States retained a strong interest in slavery longer than almost anywhere else. By focusing on slavery’s slow death, starting with Vermont’s constitutional prohibition of slavery in 1777 and ending with the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, Rael reveals much about how the institution survived in the United States while it crumbled across Latin America and the Caribbean.”—Arkansas Historical Quarterly


After Montaigne:
Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays
Edited by David Lazar and Patrick Madden

The collection is accessible and invites readers to dip in anywhere, to read all or only a few. Reading these ‘covers’ alongside Montaigne’s originals would make an engaging activity for aspiring essayists or composition students. This entertaining, vibrant collection belongs its inspiration, the work of Montaigne.”—Choice


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

It is not the aim of this book to make a sustained argument or historiographic intervention. And yet the contributors do uncover the extent to which photographs have variously preoccupied, inspired, and even challenged us as historians—and the degree to which they have informed our interpretations. Too, they reveal that photographs so often capture for us the war’s inherent contradictions. . . . As the editors point out in their suggested readings list, those in search of ‘a broader theoretical perspective’ or the ‘technical details’ of Civil War photography will be better served elsewhere. But Civil War aficionados looking for personal and sometimes poignant reflections on the war’s participants and their legacies will want this book on their coffee tables.”—Civil War Book Review

Confederate Odyssey. . . opens up the question of what and why museums collect and the responsibility institutions have to document their collections, taking every possible opportunity to make those collections accessible to the public. The documentation begun by Mr. Wray has allowed present staff to build on his critical initial knowledge and thus to relate the pieces in the collection to their places in understanding the challenges facing the Confederacy and how it met them. As such, the catalogue points up opportunities facing public institutions in their collecting and utilization of historical artifacts.”—Blue & Gray Magazine


Georgia Women:
Their Lives and Times
Edited by Ann Short Chirhart and Kathleen Ann Clark

The eighteen essays in this second volume of Georgia Women: Their Lives and Times illuminate the diverse ways that women of the state contributed to the world in which they lived. In their introduction to this collection, editors Ann Short Chirhart and Kathleen Ann Clark do an excellent job of providing historical context for the individual essays. Beginning with Lugenia Burns Hope, a progressive African American reformer, and ending with writer and activist Alice Walker, the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the book reveals a broad and rich history of the women themselves, as well as the times and places they were active. Together, the essays show Georgia women participating in and influencing the dramatic changes that were under-way during the twentieth century. . . . Georgia Women is a well-researched and finely written collection that should be a valuable resource for both students and scholars, particularly those interested in women’s, Georgia, and southern history.”—Journal of Southern History

The ideas and arguments developed throughout Latining America: Black-Brown Passages and the Coloring of Latino/a Studies are extremely provocative. A careful reading of the main text and the footnotes are required. The 99 pages of footnotes that expand upon the introduction, four main chapters and the epilogue are indicative of the multiple conversations, convergences and divergences that inform our understanding of new subjectivities. An engagement with theoretical frameworks and projects that place black and brown ‘passages’ in conversation in Latina/o studies will welcome the transformative possibilities these encounters engender. The work reveals how Latina/o studies theorizes and makes sense of social life and the everyday beyond the confines of disciplinary boundaries to create new forms of knowledge.”—Latino Studies

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