Monday, August 31, 2009

James Riddlesperger and Anthony Champagne on The Austin-Boston Connection

From the New Deal to the end of the Reagan era, Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives was divided between Massachusetts and Texas.

In a recent interview on Dallas station KERA's Think radio program, James W. Riddlesperger and Anthony M. Champagne, co-authors of The Austin- Boston Connection: Five Decades of House Democratic Leadership, 1937-1989, discuss this unique period in American history and its lasting impact.

An excerpt:

"Members of Congress went to Washington with their families and their entire worldly goods - lock, stock, and barrel. It was not easy to get from Texas to Washington. It was a three-day trip on a train. So, they didn't come home. John Nance Garner often didn't come home during his re-election campaign. He was a terrible campaigner, and the Jim Wells machine in Texas took care of it for him. The result is that these people all knew one another. They were social friends, they were intimate friends, they had to deal with one another on the weekends, because they were each others' intimates. It was not just Democrats from the north and south who got along passively well, but they also had to get along with the Republicans."

Listen to the full interview here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elmer Kelton, 1926-2009

Western novelist Elmer Kelton, a celebrated writer known for novels like The Time it Never Rained, The Day the Cowboys Quit, and The Good Old Boys - which became a Turner Network movie directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones - passed away Saturday. He was 83 years old.

The Texas A&M University Press Consortium mourns the loss of Kelton, who authored 62 fiction and nonfiction books - many which were reprinted by Texas Christian University Press.

"I doubt anyone will come along to fill Elmer's shoes. We'll not see the likes of him again," said Judy Alter, former director of TCU Press. "He knew the life he wrote about, Texas as it was and is, and he had a genuine Texas voice, including the wry, understated humor. But above and beyond his tremendous writing talent, he was a good friend to all who knew him - a man who defined the word gentleman, especially in the cowboy sense. He was never too busy, too rushed to talk to a friend, a fan, anyone who came by. He was truly a good and kind gentle soul. I have lost a friend - and so has Texas."

The Western Writers of America named Kelton the number-one Western writer of all time. This after they voted him seven Spur awards for best Western novel of the year and awarded him the career Saddleman Award. Kelton also garnered four Western Heritage Wrangler awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Click here to see a detailed list of all Kelton's works published by TAMU Press Consortium publishers. TCU Press also has a reprint of Kelton's The Far Country,due out next spring.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pam Walker signing

If the dew-kissed produce on the back cover of Pamela Walker's book, Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas, isn't enough to whet your appetite, her signing at Houston's Brazos Bookstore Sunday ought to do the trick.

The store's Go Local signing and food party at 4 p.m. will offer cooking demos, beer samples, and local farmers' market fare.

Click here to read the excerpt of Walker's book that appeared in the fall issue of Edible Austin.

And, in the spirit of local food, Pamela dished to us about some of her favorite good things to eat in Texas:

Q: What Texas-grown pantry items are you eating in abundance this season? How are you preparing them?

PAMELA WALKER: At this time of year, especially in a year of extraordinary heat and drought, I'm eating vegetables that can take the heat -- eggplant, okra, and black-eyed peas and other southern peas. I like eggplant lightly dusted in flour and gently fried in olive oil. I like okra dusted in cornmeal and fried in canola oil, and I also like it sauteed with onions, garlic and tomatoes. Peas I love simmered many hours in water (until the liquid is dark and roux-like) with a ham hock or two or three smoke-dried tomatoes.

Q: Sounds delicious! When did you become interested in Texas fare and the producers making it?

PW: Since before I can remember, literally. My maternal grandparents were farmers and gardeners, and I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with them from my infancy until I was in my mid-thirties, when they died.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas?

PW: I hope those interested in farming for a living to see that small, independent farming is an economically viable option for a livelihood. Not only can it be done, but it is being done, and the book provides a variety of successful, well established models.

And because we all eat, and I hope my book will help more of us to understand -- as the distinguished writer and farmer Wendell Berry puts it -- that eating is an agricultural act. With every bite we take, we involve ourselves in specific types of farming. The more of us who purchase food from farmers who nurture the soil and preserve natural resources rather than defile and deplete them, the greater our pleasure and nourishment will be and the healthier our natural environment. And not only that, but the likelier we are to preserve and expand good farming and good eating.

Purchasing from local farmers isn't enough, however. As my book's profiles show, policy and regulatory issues generally favor corporate farming over independent farming, to the point of thwarting, sometimes destroying, independent farming. We must change this. We need to make farming and food issues political issues and vote for or against people accordingly. And we need to actively support nonprofit organizations working to expand good farming and public access to good food.

Q: Writing about all this food must have made you hungry on occasion. Tell us about some of the yummy food you sampled on one of your trips.

PW: The simplest meal stands out, a cold, colorful lunch on a very hot July day on a North Texas vegetable farm. The farmers sliced three kinds of heirloom tomatoes -- red, gold, and green -- and served them on olive bread spread with fresh pesto. It was perfect, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.

More Upcoming Events:

Book signing
Friday, September 11, 2009
7 p.m.
Hosted by BookPeople and Edible Austin
BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin

Book signing
Saturday, October 17, 2009
8 a.m.-noon
Austin Farmers' Market

Author appearance and book signing
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Texas Book Festival

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Charles R. Bond, Jr., 1915-2009

Texas A&M University Press mourns the recent loss of Major General USAF (RETD) Charles R. Bond, Jr., author of one of the Press's bestselling military history books, A Flying Tiger's Diary. A memorial service will be held in Dallas Aug. 25.

General Bond, Texas A&M University class of '49, partnered with Dr. Terry H. Anderson, a professor of history at Texas A&M, to complete the manuscript based on the diary Bond kept in a shoebox after serving with Claire Chennault in China. In 1986, Texas A&M University Press published A Flying Tiger's Diary, which is now in its ninth printing.

A Flying Tiger's Diary has earned many accolades over the years. This excerpt is from Military:

"The snarling tiger shark's teeth on the nose of the Flying Tigers' P-40 fighter aircraft have become the hallmark of aerial supremacy, and these first-hand accounts recorded by one of the AVG's foremost aces, will go far toward reminding Americans why."

Monday, August 17, 2009

TAMU Press Blog

Welcome to Texas A&M University Press Consortium blog. We encourage you to visit the blog to find out more about Texas A&M University Press Consortium titles and to hear from its authors. We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.