Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Not Largest in US

In a news conference with Pepperdine's Joe Hahn and Kenny Franks, author of Early California Oil, discuss the largest oil leak ever, not in the Gulf, but in California. To see the video, click here.

Franks tells the history of oil in California from 1865 to 1940 through vivid photographs illustrating the early exploration to the boom years of the twentieth century.
Early California Oil is available on Amazon and more information can be seen here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spanish Water, Anglo Water author featured in Texas Observer

Charles Porter, author of Spanish Water, Anglo Water was featured in this month's Texas Observer. For more on his book, click here.

For more information on the Texas Observer, go to

Monday, June 28, 2010

Publishers Weekly Review of SMU Press's One Day the Wind Changed

"The lone characters in Daugherty's (Desire Provoked) 16 loose-limbed, well developed stories brave a sense of isolation as big as the arid Texas landscape they mostly inhabit. Many of these characters find themselves chafing against an unpopular decision like the architect in "Purgatory, Nevada" who in 1945 risks losing his bride, his reputation, and his professional integrity for the "fascinating challenge" of creating a ghost town in the desert for the Allies to test the effects of a spectacularly lethal firebombing. In the similarly smartly hewn tale "Magnitude," the beleaguered first-person director of the Dollman Planetarium has to break it to the visiting middle-schoolers that there is some doubt about Pluto's being a planet, sending the children into paroxysms of disappointment. A besotted young grad student hangs on disastrously to his infatuation with a stunningly manipulative girlfriend in "The Saint," while the drifting narrator and native of Oklahoma City in "The Republic of Texas" finds himself back among a community of hate-filled secessionists the week after Timothy McVeigh is put to death. With their strong sense of historical context, Daugherty's stories are stirring and relevant."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Klaus Nigge's photos featured in National Geographic

In Nigge's forthcoming work, Whooping Cranes, he captures the beauty and essential mystery that have led humans the world over to include cranes in their earliest myths and legends.

A recent article in National Geographic featured Nigge's photographs of the whooping crane. The article can be seen here.

Kathy Moran, senior editor of natural history for National Geographic, said "Klaus Nigge's photography captures the rarely seen behavior and astounding grace of whooping cranes. More importantly, it gives voice to the cranes' continuing struggle for survival."

For more on Klaus Nigge's book, click here. His photographs can be seen on his website, and in the National Geographic Image Collection.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

25 years later: Lonesome Dove

This month's Texas Monthly features a cover story about the 25th anniversary of Lonesome Dove. It is characterized as "our Gone with the Wind," an enduring tale of adventure, friendship and the western frontier. For more on the Texas Monthly cover story, click here.

TexasMonthlyReads is a new blog by John Spong and magazine that welcomes Larry McMurty's novel as its first review. Spong writes that "they were able to explain it in terms of the history of Texas, the myth of the West, and McMurtry's career. It was like being back in a college lit class, and almost as much fun as rereading the book."

University of North Texas Press, one of the Texas A&M University Press' consortium partners, has the first major book in twenty years to examine the life and work of Texas' foremost novelist. Mark Busby's Larry McMurtry and the West: An Ambivalent Relationship is available here.

Related titles that may be of interest:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

HRI Panel to be Broadcast Live on Internet

The third of four panels the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is holding to discuss the long-term impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster on the world’s sixth-largest body of water will be broadcast live over the Internet on Ustream tomorrow (Friday, June 18), from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Harte Research Institute, Conference Room 127.

Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico author John Wes Tunnell Jr will speak on comparisons between the Deepwater Horizon spill and the 1979 Ixtoc I oil spill in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico.

Celebrated oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Sylvia Earle, is speaking on putting the Gulf oil spill in a world perspective. Earle is the author of the foreword to both Tunnell's Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico and Jesse Cancelmo's Texas Coral Reefs. Earle has recently been quoted in many articles and publications about the current issues facing the Gulf of Mexico and will be attending the independent TEDxOilSpill conference in Washington DC at the end of this month.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. The meeting can also be viewed on the Internet by going to and clicking on “TAMUCC HRI Panel Discussion on Gulf Oil Spill.” The final panel in the series will be held on Friday, June 25.

The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies supports and advances the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico through research, public policy initiatives and public education. Advisory board members represent leaders in academia, industry, and conservation from the United States, Mexico and Cuba.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Guest Blogger: Alan J. Watt -- Fortieth Anniversary of Historic Contract between Farm Workers and California Growers

Guest Blogger: Alan J. Watt

This summer will mark the fortieth anniversary of the historic signing of a binding contract between the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee–later the United Farm Workers–and most of the table grape growers in California. On July 29, 1970, after a grueling five-year struggle, farm labor leader Cesar Chavez and grower John Guimarra, Sr., sat down at a table and signed the contract in the Filipino farm workers’ union hall in Delano, California. Standing behind them were Catholic clergy who had served as mediators.

This arbitration team served as the last of three religious expressions playing pivotal roles in this victory. The other two were the pan-Protestant National Migrant Ministry and Chavez’s use of Mexican devotional piety. During various stages of the table grape strike, each religious entity provided support without which the farm workers could not have achieved their hard-won goal.

In September of 1965, Filipino farm laborers called a strike and were soon joined by Mexican-American workers. Immediately, the Migrant Ministry supported the workers’ demands for higher wages and better working conditions. It was an ecumenical ministry originally conceived, funded, and operated by middle-class women belonging to the moderate arm of the Social Gospel and had maintained a presence among farm workers from the 1920s. It provided traditional support, including food, clothing, health care, and religious education. Later, however, it undertook a more aggressive approach, advocating for legislation to improve the lives of farm laborers. In the 1960s, it adopted yet another tack, calling itself a servanthood ministry and thus operating at the beck and call of the farm worker union. Without the organization’s support in the early months of the strike, it would have failed.

Chavez himself was largely responsible for tapping into another religious expression to promote the movement, namely, Mexican devotional piety. More accurately, he creatively combined it with elements of the civil rights struggle, for example, the 1966 planning and execution of a march from the union headquarters in Delano to the state capitol in Sacramento. The very name of this event, “Pereginacion, Penitencia, Revolucion,” spoke to the intent to appeal to various segments of the general population. First, this event was likened to a Lenten pilgrimage. Second, it was a penitential act among farm workers, who were harboring feelings of resentment and hate toward the growers. Third, it was an act of self-determination, by which the union protested against the growers, the governor, and other interests. Another example of Chavez’s use of popular religion was his first public fast in 1968. Again, its ostensible purpose was to quell threats of worker violence and otherwise maintain the moral high ground. The union’s headquarters was converted into a virtual shrine, and the room in which Chavez held his fast became a monastic cell. Once again, witnesses identified with at least one of the meanings of the fast. For many Catholics, it espoused the ideals of Franciscan self-denial. For the Mexican faithful, it was a reminder of their own suffering. For the general public, it was regarded as a nonviolent means to effect social change, in which Chavez took a cue from the African-American civil rights movement.

Finally, the Bishops Ad Hoc Committee laid the groundwork for final negotiations. Representing the prolabor wing of the Catholic Church, it was able to approach the growers, who were primarily second-generation Catholics from Italy and Yugoslavia and who, in spite of strained relations, were still on speaking terms with California bishops.

Thus, all three of the aforementioned religious expressions aided the union to reach a binding contract with growers. They were by no means sufficient factors in the success of this event, but were certainly necessary factors.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Debra Monroe is On the Outskirts of Normal

"Debra Monroe's adoption of a black baby puts her On the Outskirts of Normal" read page 78 of this May's edition of Vanity Fair. Monroe has also recently been featured in the Austin Chronicle.

Monroe grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Texas in 1992. She is the author of two collections of stories, The Source of Trouble, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award, and A Wild, Cold State, and two novels, Newfangled and Shambles. She teaches at Texas State University and lives in Austin, Texas.