Category Archives: Reviews

Western History Association Conference Preview

The 55th annual conference of the Western History Association takes place this Wednesday through Saturday (October 21-24) in Portland, Oregon, and UW Press is looking forward to celebrating scholarship in the diverse history of North American Wests.

If you will be attending the conference, we hope you will join us for scheduled morning book signings at booth #32 with authors Jen Corrinne Brown (Thursday) and John R. Gram (Friday).

UW Press Director Nicole Mitchell, Senior Acquisitions Editor Ranjit Arab, and Assistant Editor Whitney Johnson will be representing the Press—be sure to stop by to say hello and to check out our latest Western history offerings, including titles in the Indigenous Confluences series.

Here is a sampling of new and recent titles we will be featuring at the conference as well as the book signing details.

Book Signing with Jen Corrinne Brown

Thursday, October 22 at 10 a.m., Booth #32

Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West
By Jen Corrinne Brown

Historian Jen Corrinne Brown demonstrates that the majestic trout streams often considered a timeless feature of the American West are in fact the product of countless human interventions adding up to a profound manipulation of the Rocky Mountain environment.

“[T]his is a well-researched, richly detailed history of trout and trout fishing in the Mountain West that, as the author promises, ‘overturns the biggest fish story ever told.'”—John Gierach, Wall Street Journal

Book Signing with John R. Gram

Friday, October 23 at 10 a.m., Booth #32

Education at the Edge of Empire: Negotiating Pueblo Identity in New Mexico’s Indian Boarding Schools
By John R. Gram
Foreword by Ted Jojola

Greatly expanding our understanding of the Indian boarding school experience, historian John R. Gram reveals how some Indian communities on the edge of the American frontier had a much different experience of federal boarding schools at the turn of the century.

Focusing on Pueblo Indians’ interactions with school officials at the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian Schools, Gram examines how Pueblo parents were able to exercise their agency, often mitigating the schools’ assimilation efforts and assuring the various pueblos’ cultural, social, and economic survival.

Education at the Edge of Empire is a groundbreaking examination that contributes to Native American, Western, and education histories, as well as to borderland and Southwest studies.

Alaska’s Skyboys: Cowboy Pilots and the Myth of the Last Frontier
By Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth

This fascinating account of the development of aviation in Alaska examines the daring missions of pilots who initially opened up the territory for military positioning and later for trade and tourism.

Through personal stories, industry publications, and news accounts, historian Katherine Johnson Ringsmuth uncovers the ways that Alaska’s aviation growth was downplayed in order to perpetuate the myth of the cowboy spirit while the industry catapulted Alaksa onto a modern, global stage.

Empire Maker: Aleksandr Baranov and Russian Colonial Expansion into Alaska and Northern California
By Kenneth N. Owens
With Alexander Yu. Petrov

Aleksandr Baranov receives long overdue attention in this first scholarly biography of Russian America’s virtual imperial viceroy. His eventful life included shipwrecks, battles with Native forces, clashes with rival traders and Russian Orthodox missionaries, and an enduring marriage to a Kodiak Alutiiq woman with whom he had two children.

In the process, the book reveals maritime Alaska and northern California during the Baranov era as fascinating cultural borderlands, where Russian, English, Spanish, and New England Yankee traders and indigenous peoples formed complex commercial, political, and domestic relationships that continue to influence these regions today.

The Tanoak Tree: An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood
By Frederica Bowcutt
Foreword by Frank Kanawha Lake

Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People’s radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bowcutt uncovers a complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree’s fate.

Still valued by indigenous communities for its nutritious acorn nut, the tree has also been a source of raw resources for a variety of industries since white settlement of western North America. This well-researched book will appeal to readers interested in how economics and ecology intersect in tangible ways and how the resulting impacts on the land in turn impact local communities.

American Studies Association Conference Preview

The American Studies Association annual meeting takes place in Toronto, Canada this week and we’re looking forward to another exciting conference. We hope you can join us for a book signing with author Deborah Elizabeth Whaley for Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime. Editor in Chief Larin McLaughlin and Senior Acquisitions Editor Ranjit Arab will be representing the Press—be sure to stop by booth #404 to say hello and to check out our latest American studies offerings.

Here is a sampling of new and recent titles we will be featuring at the conference as well as the book signing details.

Book Signing with Deborah Elizabeth Whaley

Saturday, October 10 at 3:00 p.m.

Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime
By Deborah Elizabeth Whaley

This groundbreaking study of Black women’s participation in comic art includes interviews with artists and writers and suggests that the treatment of the Black female subject in sequential art says much about the place of people of African descent in national ideology in the United States and abroad.

For more information visit the author’s website: http://www.deborahelizabethwhaley.com/#!black-women-in-sequence/c65q

Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice
By Lorraine K. Bannai

Bannai brings an insider’s knowledge to the famous legal case of Fred Korematsu, a man interned by the government under Executive Order 9066, whose conviction was ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court.

 

 

Robert Cantwell and the Literary Left: A Northwest Writer Reworks American Fiction
New in Paperback
By T. V. Reed

The first full critical study of Northwest-born novelist and critic Robert Cantwell, best known for his novel The Land of Plenty, who found himself at the center of the radical literary and cultural politics of 1930s New York. 

 

The Rising Tide of Color: Race, State Violence, and Radical Movements across the Pacific
New in Paperback
Edited by Moon-Ho Jung

Featuring a wide range of scholars specializing in American history and ethnic studies, this powerful collection of essays highlights historical moments and movements on the Pacific Coast and across the Pacific to reveal a different story of race and politics.

 

American Society for Environmental History Conference Preview

The American Society for Environmental History convenes in Washington, D.C. this week and we’re looking forward to participating in what promises to be another excellent and thought-provoking conference. Senior Acquisitions Editor Regan Huff, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series editor Paul Sutter, and Marketing and Sales Director Rachael Levay will be representing the Press—be sure to stop by our booth to say hello and to check out our latest environmental history offerings.

We include here our book signing schedule as well as recent praise these titles have received.

Thursday, March 19 at 10:00 a.m.

Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books / New in Paperback
By Dawn Day Biehler

“[This] exemplary work of interdisciplinary history . . . demonstrates how the ecologies of these pests and the efforts to eliminate them were intertwined with social tensions and political struggles throughout the twentieth century.” —Joanna Dyl, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“In her meticulous and thoughtful analysis of urban environmental injustice, Biehler deftly illustrates how these pests continue to undermine aspirations for modern and healthy living conditions for all.” —Frederick R. Davis, Science

Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
By Lincoln Bramwell
Finalist for the Western Writers of America 2015 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Western Nonfiction

“A cautionary tale of the ecological challenges in transplanting urban sensibilities in the American West.” —Choice

Wilderburbs builds on the idea that human culture inherently shaped residents’ interactions with their environment. Examining this phenomena and communities in detail uncovers the profound environmental consequences for our desire to live in the wilderness.” —USDA Blog

Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books / New in Paperback
By Sarah Mittlefehldt

“Essential reading for anyone seeking to create public designation for hiking or biking trails, or waterways…the book [also] offers a primer on U.S. environmental politics from Progressive Era conservation to 1960s environmentalism and to conservative backlash in the 1980s. It would work for an environmental studies or environmental history or environmental policy class that hopes to decipher these politics.” –Margaret L. Brown, Environmental History, January 2015

“Tangled Roots is a singular achievement—a work of layered, engaging depth likely to stand as the definitive treatment of the Appalachian Trail, one of the most important and overlooked stories in the history of U.S. environmental politics.” –Jerry J. Frank, Journal of American History, January 2015

“Deftly avoiding the traps of both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ history, Sarah Mittlefehldt’s study of the decades-long struggle to create the Appalachian Trail explores the intersection of private activism with public policy at local, regional, and national levels…a welcome addition to the history of U.S. environmental policy and politics.” –Sarah T. Phillips, American Historical Review, October 2014

 Friday, March 20 at 10:00 a.m.

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road
By James Longhurst

Bike Battles offers a significant contribution to both the growing literature on the history of American bicycling and the immense, well-established literature on urban policymaking. It is scholarship written by a sophisticated historian who draws on sources ranging from the traditional to the wonderfully unusual in order to shed light on the changing history of bicycling’s place in American cities.”–Christopher Wells, author of Car Country

“James Longhurst gives us a whole range of new ways to look at those moments of confusion, uncertainty, and rage experienced by anyone who has spent much time on roads shared by cars and bicycles. Bike Battles is academically rigorous but easy and fun to read. This is really my kind of nerdiness. I recommend it for anyone who feels stuck in polarized conversations about how we use our roads.” –Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics

Saturday, March 21 at 10:00 a.m.

Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books / New in Paperback
By William Philpott
Winner of the Western Writers of America 2014 Spur Award for Best Contemporary Western Nonfiction

“The best book yet published on an array of critical topics in Colorado history. . . . what’s more, Vacationland is far and away the most illuminating book yet written on postwar Colorado. Philpott’s research is exhaustive, his prose is elegant but crystal-clear, and his interpretations are almost uniformly persuasive. Vacationland seems bound to earn vociferous praise from scholars. Yet this is also a book that merits widespread attention from general readers. If I were asked to recommend just one work to citizens or visitors seeking to orient themselves to the origins of the contemporary Colorado landscape, this would be it.” –Thomas Andrews, Center for Colorado and the West

Car Country: An Environmental History
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books / New in Paperback
By Christopher W. Wells

“Relatively few academic geographers have focused their research and publishing directly on the automobile and its geographical implications for life in the United States. Yet nothing over the past century has had a greater effect on America’s geography than the public’s evolving dependence on the motor car, and, as well, the motor truck. . . . Christopher Wells’ opus will excite more geographers to focus on automobility as a fundamental factor underlying the American experience.”–John A. Jackle, The AAG Review of Books

“For students and inhabitants of car country, Wells offers a terrific excavation of the sprawlscape that still drives our days.”–Human Ecology

Review Roundup: Newly Restored Edward S. Curtis Film and Book

Just over a century ago, the famed–and controversial–Edward S. Curtis produced a groundbreaking silent feature film, In the Land of the Head Hunters. Made in cooperation with the Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia, this melodramatic feature-length film was the first to star an all-Indigenous cast. It employed innovative camerawork and narrative structure that had yet to be seen in other early motion pictures and was extensively color tinted and toned. At early screenings, it was accompanied by a live orchestra playing an original musical score said to have been based on recordings Curtis made with the Kwakwaka’wakw. Although the film received rave reviews from critics, it was a failure at the box office and was soon forgotten and nearly lost completely.

Over the past decade, Brad Evans and Aaron Glass have worked with the U’mista Cultural Centre and a team of experts to meticulously restore this lost treasure of American film history. In the book, Return to the Land of the Head Hunters, Glass and Evans bring together an impressive slate of anthropologists, Native American activists and community members, artists, musicians, literary scholars, and film historians to recount the complex and challenging process of restoring the film and to discuss its legacy.

Now, after screening in select cities across the U.S. and Canada, the fully restored version of In the Land of the Head Hunters is available on DVD from Milestone Films. Noting the film’s significance, The New York Times and Indian Country Today have reviewed the film on the occasion of its DVD release.

From The New York Times, In the Land of the Head Hunters,’ a Recreated Artifact of Ancient Ways:

Poster for ‘In the Land of the Head Hunters’ by the World Film Corporation.

“Around 1911, Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), the celebrated photographer of Native Americans, began preparations for a six-reel feature about the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) Indians of British Columbia. The movie, a commercial enterprise intended to underwrite the cost of Curtis’s lavish photographic albums, was to be set before the arrival of European explorers and to feature a Kwakwaka’wakw cast. In addition to collecting masks and ceremonial objects, Curtis created a movie location off Vancouver Island, constructing false house-fronts, commissioning totem poles, and having wardrobes of cedar bark clothing woven.

‘In the Land of the Head Hunters’…is the reconstruction of a reconstruction. It preserves an artifact that used a once advanced technology to document a no longer extent way of life, and was itself all but lost to history.

Read the full New York Times review here.

From Indian Country TodayReturn to the Land of the Head Hunters: 100 Years Later, Edward Curtis’ Movie Plays Again:

Filmed in beautiful Northeast corner of Vancouver Island, Canada, the film contains accurate depictions of  Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonies and dances performed decades, and even a century, earlier. As such, despite its fictional narrative, it’s an important document of culture that may have otherwise have been lost […]

According to William Cranmer, hereditary chief and chairman of the U’mista Cultural Society in Alert Bay, Canada, “Many of our old relatives were part of the film and when we saw them as teenagers, that was great for us. We appreciated that the story was told in the way things happened in those early days. We saw the canoes as they were expertly paddled by the people of the day. We saw the way they used the designs on the house fronts and the history of those designs. There is a lot of information that is useful for us today. If Mr. Curtis hadn’t made that film, we wouldn’t see it.”

Indian Country Today: Some aspects of the film have been dramatized and do not depict ceremonies accurately. However, George Hunt, who served as the films assistant director and was the chief of the Kwakwaka’wakw in 1914, left thousands of detailed records of what was done in the film as well as historical documentation.

Read the full Indian Country Today review here.

Watch the trailer for the restored film here and the book trailer here:

Visit www.curtisfilm.rutgers.edu to learn more about the book and the film.

December 2014 News, Reviews, and Events

News

S15-catalog-cover (2)Our Spring 2015 catalog is now available! We’re excited to announce a number of great new titles: a history of bikes and cars battling over rights to the road; the role of Hollywood and black celebrities in the Civil Rights Movement;  an illustrated survey of the work of world-renowned landscape architect, Richard Haag; and much, much more. Browse through our online catalog to learn more about our forthcoming books.

Media and Reviews

Photo by Fotolia/jpldesigns

The Utne Reader website featured an extended excerpt from Lincoln Bramwell‘s book, Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge:

Since the 1950s, a growing number of people have been moving into the once-rural landscapes of the West and transforming them into neighborhoods. In Wilderburbs (University of Washington Press, 2014), author Lincoln Bramwell tells the story of how roads, houses, and water development have transformed the rural landscape from wilderness into suburbia. He introduces readers to developers, homeowners, and government regulators who have all experienced environmental problems while designing and building residential housing in remote locations. This excerpt, which explains how and why these types of communities began, is from the Introduction, “Moving into the Woods.” Read the excerpt.

Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan by Margaret Morton was reviewed in DART: Design Arts Daily:

“A mythical landscape emerges from the dust under the scrubby mountains of Central Asia’s high plateau desert….the strange beauty of these cemeteries is inscrutable.” Read more.

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum by Robin Wright and Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse was reviewed in Museum Anthropology:

“Besides being a beautiful [book], In the Spirit of the Ancestors demonstrates alliances between museums and indigenous peoples and reveals the continuity of “traditional” and contemporary art.” Continue reading