Faculty Authors Showcase their Works at the 16th Annual Texas Book Festival

tbf_logo_brownBook lovers, foodies, artists and scholars will partake in an annual rite of fall here in Austin: The Texas Book Festival. The 16th annual Texas Book Festival will take place in and around the Texas State Capitol and nearby venues on Oct. 22-23.

The lineup includes more than 250 authors, an eclectic mix of top literary names, bestselling novelists, political and nonfiction notables, cookbook superstars, Texas writers, children’s authors and promising newcomers.

The talent pool also includes University of Texas at Austin faculty authors. Here are just a handful of professors who will be presenting their books this weekend:

H.W. Brands, the Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History

0292723415“Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It”
Saturday, Oct. 22, C-SPAN/Book TV Tent

In “Greenback Planet” (University of Texas Press, Oct. 2011), Brands recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power – and the enormous risks – of the dollar’s worldwide reign.

030774325X“The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield: A Tragedy of the Gilded Age”
Sunday, Oct. 23, Lone Star Tent

In “The Murder of Jim Fisk” (Anchor, May 2011), Brands traces Fisk’s extraordinary downfall, bringing to life New York’s Gilded Age and some of its legendary players, including Boss William Tweed, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Go to the Texas Book Festival website for the full summary of both books.

0820340375“A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food,” by Elizabeth Engelhardt, associate professor of American Studies
Saturday, October 22, Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.030

Engelhardt’s “A Mess of Greens: Southern Gender and Southern Food” (University of Georgia Press, Sept. 2011) offers a different perspective, taking into account industrialization, environmental degradation, and women’s increased role in the work force, all of which caused massive economic and social changes. Engelhardt reveals a broad middle of Southerners that included poor whites, farm families, and middle- and working-class African Americans, for whom the stakes of what counted as Southern food were very high. Go to the Texas Book Festival website for the full summary.

1608194809“The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us,” by James Pennebaker, professor and chair, Department of Psychology
Saturday, October 22, Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.016

What do Quentin Tarantino and William Shakespeare have in common? They both write their men like men and their women like men. How can you tell when someone’s being straight with you? They use more verbs, more details (numbers, dates, figures) and more personal pronouns (I, me, etc.). And for the liars: more positive emotion words. These are only a few of the insights found in “The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us” (Bloombsbury, Aug. 2011), James W. Pennebaker’s far-ranging work on the use of life’s “forgettable words” and their many hidden meanings. Go to the Texas Book Festival website for the full summary.

Check out the official book festival website for a complete schedule of book signings, panel discussions, author interviews, cooking demonstrations and more.

“Liberty’s Surest Guardian” Author Draws New Model for Nation-Building

suri_newsreleaseSince the days of the American Revolution, nation-building has been deeply embedded in America’s DNA. Yet no other country has created more problems for itself and for others by pursuing impractical reconstruction efforts in war-torn nations, argues Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

In his new book “Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama,” Suri examines more than 200 years of U.S. policy to explain the successes and failures of nation-building operations. From Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War, to Japan and Germany after World War II, to the ongoing rebuilding of Iraq, he draws lessons from past mistakes and offers a plan for moving forward.

According to his analysis, the key to successful nation-building is to follow five principles:

Partners: Nation-building always requires partners; there must be communication between people on the ground and people in distant government offices.

Process: Human societies do not follow formulas. Nation-building is a process which does not produce clear, quick results.

Problem-solving: Leadership must start small, addressing basic problems. Public trust during a period of occupation emerges from the fulfillment of basic needs.

Purpose: Small beginnings must serve larger purposes. Citizens must see the value in what they’re doing.

People: Nation-building is about people. Large forces do not move history. People move history.
Suri recently sat down with ShelfLife@Texas to discuss the book and its implications for American politics at home and abroad.

cvr9781439119129_9781439119129

Why is nation-building a part of American DNA?

The founding of the United States in the late 18th century was a radical nation-building project. A small group of people living in British North America sought to create a new kind of government in a vast territory that was representative, free and unified. Their success became the expectation for all American politics at home and abroad to this day. Americans continue to assume that others want to live with a similar kind of government. Americans continue to believe that a world with similar governments will be safer and more prosperous. From the late 18th century to the present, the basic American vision of change is nation-building on the American model.

In your book, you provide examples of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. What do you hope your readers will take away from the concept of starting small to serve a larger purpose?

In a time of deep partisanship and difficult economic circumstances, too many people (especially students) believe that change is impossible. Too many people think they have to accept the world as it is. That is wrong! The record of history shows that people, especially young people, can improve the world by bringing diverse citizens together to work on common problems. This has been the American experience with nation-building, when it has worked best. We need serious nation-building at home and abroad today. I remain optimistic that our young citizens are poised to become another generation of nation-builders.

Could you give me an example of a mistake that is often repeated in America’s history of nation-building? And what we are getting right?

A common mistake is to seek simple shortcuts to nation-building. This often involves empowering a “good dictator” who Americans hope will push a society to change. That almost never works. “Good dictators” are quickly corrupted, they inspire resistance, and they always lose touch with the world of their citizens. Nation-building is a slow process, it requires the kinds of patience and institution-building that Americans often neglect.

Americans are idealists about cultural cooperation. Almost alone, Americans tend to assume that culture is not destiny; that diverse citizens can work together. Most other societies assume otherwise. Americans have consistently sought to build pluralistic nations of diverse peoples at home and abroad. That is the positive side of nation-building. It is the best alternative to cultural ghettoization.

In your book, you examine the failures of American nation-building in Vietnam during the Cold War. Which of the “Five Ps” (the five principles of nation-building) went missing during this turning point in history?

Many scholars, especially at The University of Texas at Austin, have written great books on Vietnam. I draw on their work to argue that Americans were intoxicated with their perceived power in the 1950s and 1960s. They thought they could change societies unilaterally. American efforts in Vietnam failed because Americans neglected the needs, desires and capabilities of the Vietnamese living in both the North and the South. This was nation-building doomed to failure.

As one of your “Five Ps,” you state that problem solving is an essential part of nation-building. How does this principle factor into the United State’s nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

In Afghanistan and Iraq the United States was not prepared to solve the problems that dominated the lives of most citizens. The people of both societies wanted security and an improved standard of living. The United States overthrew the oppressive governing regimes, but it did not improve security or living standards in the first years of both occupations. In fact, things initially got worse for most citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Which principle do you think President Barack Obama should focus on as he works to extricate U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan?

As the United States withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan it must build productive partnerships with local groups and regional powers in both areas. The United States must re-double its efforts to support institutions that will contribute to stable, participatory and uncorrupt government. The United States must support nation-building, led by local and regional actors.

Watch a video on YouTube about the concepts explored in Suri’s new book “Liberty’s Surest Guardian.”


About the Author:
A leading scholar of international history and global affairs, Suri is the first holder of the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. “Liberty’s Surest Guardian” is his fourth book.

Texas Institute of Letters Selects “Quest for Equality” as Most Significant Scholarly Book for 2010

Equality_webHistorian Neil Foley’s book, “Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity” (Harvard University Press, May 2010) was selected by the Texas Institute of Letters as the most significant scholarly book for 2010.

“Quest for Equality” examines the complicated relationship between African Americans and Mexican Americans in Texas and California during World War II and the post-war era.

Named by the Huffington Post as one of the 17 “best political and social awareness books of 2010, “Quest for Equality” provides a historical context for understanding many of the issues that divide Latinos and African Americans today.

In 2003, the census announced that Hispanics had become the nation’s largest minority group, while the percentage of African Americans had declined in many cities. This includes seven of the 10 largest cities in the United States — New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio.

As a result, the book addresses: Will Latinos displace African Americans from positions of power locally? And what are the prospects for black-brown coalition politics when more than half of all Hispanics identify themselves as “white” in the 2010 census?

Today African Americans and Latinos have found common ground over issues such as de facto school segregation, unequal school financing, immigration reform, racial profiling, redlining, and the prison-industrial complex — challenges, Foley argues that remain central concerns of contemporary American life.

Foley is an associate professor in the Department of History and American Studies. He was honored at the Texas Institute of Letters’ annual awards banquet in Dallas on April 30. The Texas Institute of Letters was established in 1936 during the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas to foster and promote Texas literature. The state’s oldest literary organization, it has held competitions for outstanding achievements in literature since 1939.

“Beyond El Barrio” Symposium and Book Signing

847881Despite the hyper-visibility of Latinos and Latin American immigrants in recent political debates and popular culture, the daily lives of America’s new “majority minority” remain largely invisible and mischaracterized. Editors Frank Guridy (University of Texas at Austin), Gina Pérez (Oberlin College) and Adrian Burgos, Jr. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) assemble a collection of essays in “Beyond El Barrio” (NYU Press, Oct. 2010) — that together, provide analyses that not only defy stubborn stereotypes, but also present novel narratives of Latina/o communities.

The book has a lot of University of Texas at Austin ties. Four of its 10 scholars who contributed essays are from the university and the cover art is inspired by Rhthmo del Pueblo, a print in the Serie line run by the university’s Center for Mexican American Studies.

The Center for Mexican American Studies, and the Departments of American Studies and History will host a symposium and book signing for “Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America.” The panel will include contributors Gina Pérez (Oberlin College), Frank Guridy, Cary Cordova and John Mckiernan-González (University of Texas at Austin).  Contributor Deborah Paredez (University of Texas at Austin) will moderate.

The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 16, at the San Jacinto Conference Center, Room 207 AB, located on the first floor of the San Jacinto Residence Hall (SJH), at the corner of 21st Street and San Jacinto Boulevard.  Entrances can be found on 21st Street and facing the Brazos Parking Garage. Public parking is available in the Brazos Parking Garage (BRG), 210 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Winners of the Fourteenth Annual Hamilton Book Awards Sponsored by the University Co-operative Society

9780674023512-lgThe winners of this year’s University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards were announced on Wednesday, October 20, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. The Hamilton Award is one of the highest honors of literary achievement given to published authors at the University of Texas at Austin. Chairman of the University Co-operative Society, Dr. Michael H. Granof hosted the event and announced the winners. President Bill Powers of The University of Texas at Austin presented the awards.

The Hamilton Awards are named in honor of Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regent Chair-Emeritus in Law. Hamilton was chair of the Co-op Board from 1989 to 2001, and was in large measure responsible for the Co-op’s uncommon growth and profitability during that period.

The $10,000 Grand Prize winner of the Hamilton Book Award was:

Shirley E. Thompson, Department of American Studies
“Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans” (Harvard University Press)

There were also 4 winners who took home $3,000 runner-up prizes:

Oscar G. Brockett, Department of Theatre and Dance
“Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States” Published by Tobin Theatre Arts Fund (University of Texas Press)

Huaiyin Li,
Department of History
“Village China under Socialism and Reform: A Micro-History, 1948-2008”
(Stanford University Press)

Robin D. Moore, Butler School of Music
“Music in the Hispanic Caribbean” (Oxford University Press)

Richard R. Valencia, Department of Educational Psychology
“Chicano Students and the Courts: The Mexican American Legal Struggle for Educational Equality” (New York University Press)

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian William H. Goetzmann Dies

41E1B2M6M6LHistorian William H. Goetzmann, professor emeritus of history and American studies, died Sept. 7 at age 79.

A specialist in the American West, Goetzmann won both the Pulitzer and Parkman prizes in 1967 for his seminal book “Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West.” He later authored with son William N. Goetzmann “The West of the Imagination,” which became a PBS series in 1985. His most recent book “Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism,” focuses on American intellectual, political and literary history from the United States’ birth to the end of the 19th century.

Goetzmann chaired the History Department from 1968 to 1969, directed the American studies program from 1964 to 1980 and retired in 2005 as the Jack S. Blanton Chair in American Studies and History.

A native of St. Paul, Minn., Goetzmann earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from Yale University, where he met Tom Wolfe, who presented the Texas Book Festival’s lifetime achievement award, the Bookend Award, to Goetzmann in 2001.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12 at St. Austin’s Catholic Church, 2026 Guadalupe Street in Austin.

Visit the Department of American Studies website or the Department of History website for more information about Dr. Goetzmann.

New to the Shelf: Fall 2010 Sneak Preview

In just a few short weeks summer will be over. Time to say goodbye to the extra daylight, daytrips to the coast and weekend barbecue parties. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Why not escape from those end-of-summer blues with a good book? Here’s a sneak peek at some forthcoming reads that will be hitting the shelves this fall.

colossus
“American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900”
(Doubleday, Oct. 2010)
By H.W. Brands, the Dickson Allen Anderson Centennial Professor of History and Government

During the 30 years following the end of the Civil War, America as we know it began to take shape. The population boomed, consumption grew rapidly and the national economy soared. In “American Colossus” Brands provides a historical account of America’s transformation into a land of consumerism and massive industry. Chronicling the efforts of such tycoons as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan, Brands describes how early American capitalists altered the shape of America’s economic landscape.

const
“The Endurance of National Constitutions”
(Cambridge University Press, Oct. 2009)
By Zachary Elkins, assistant professor of government, Tom Ginsburg, James Melton.

Why do some constitutions last for generations while others fail quickly? In “The Endurance of National Constitutions,” Elkins and Ginsburg describe the key components constitutions need to survive. Their research reveals that constitutions generally endure if they have flexible amendment systems, are drafted with highly participatory processes, and are extensive and precise. The authors joined several other constitutional scholars to advise the Kenyan leaders who recently drafted a new national constitution in August.

ben“Race, Sport and Politics: The Sporting Black Diaspora” (Sage, Sept. 2010)
By Benjamin Carrington, assistant professor of sociology

Why do people commonly assume African Americans dominate professional sports? How did golf pro Tiger Woods and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams become pioneers in sports history? These are some of the questions Carrington grapples with in his new book “Race, Sport and Politics.” Presenting a postcolonial overview of sport’s role in enforcing racial stereotypes, Carrington shows how the industry of sport changes ideas about race and racial identity.

troubled“The Troubled Union: Expansionist Imperatives in Post-Reconstruction American Novels” (Ohio State University Press, Sept. 30 2010)
By John Morán González, associate professor of English

In “The Troubled Union,” González presents a historical account of post-Reconstruction novels. Combining a literary analysis with cultural studies, González highlights the importance of the domestic novel form, with its emphasis on women’s self-representation, and the revolutionary plot of courtship and marriage. The book includes dramatic narratives from such authors as Henry James, Helen Hunt Jackson and María Amparo Ruiz de Burton.

H.W. Brands’ “American Dreams” Book Signing, June 16

American_Dreams“American Dreams” mean different things to different people, but for historian and University of Texas at Austin Professor H.W. Brands, it’s the title of his latest book. “American Dreams: The United States Since 1945” (Penguin Press, June 2010) takes a historical journey from the end of World War II to the Obama administration.

“After spending a lot of time dealing with the nineteenth century, I decided to return to the twentieth – and, not coincidentally to that part of American history I’ve lived through (most of it, anyway). It’s almost like writing a memoir,” says Brands of his latest endeavor.

Beginning his story with a victorious America  — a nation arising more powerful after WWII and with the Great Depression a thing of the past –anything seemed optimistically possible. He tells the story of what comes next, interweaving six decades of our nation’s triumphs and woes: from its politics and war to its culture and society.

In a recent review, The Economist coined the book as “…a primer or refresher on America—from the Vietnam War to the civil-rights movement to the space race to the sexual shenanigans of Bill Clinton—this is a crisp, balanced and easily digestible narrative.”

Covering a lot of historical ground, Brands says what he finds the most interesting is the emergence of technologies (cable TV, cell phones, the Internet) that put people in instant touch with the whole world, with each other, and with the knowledge that humans have amassed over centuries.

“My students and children have a hard time understanding how their elders, including me, lived without this stuff,” Brands says. “And I had to remind myself how we did.”

Brands hopes his readers will take away an appreciation that most of the problems we face today are similar to problems we’ve faced before.

“We’ve always managed to find our way through,” Brands says. “This is no guarantee we’ll find our way through again, but it gives reason for hope.”

Brands will have a book signing at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 16 at BookPeople located at 603 N Lamar Blvd Austin, Texas.

Historian Emilio Zamora's Book Acknowledged as Best in Texas

zamora_claimingrights-195x300Historian Emilio Zamora has been named a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), in addition to winning its annual Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for best book on Texas for his work “Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas: Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II,” (Texas A&M University Press, 2009).

The award bears the name of the late Tullis (UT alumnas, B.A. ’24 and M.A. ‘27), who was one of the first women on faculty in the History Department.

In addition, The Texas Institute of Letters presented him with its Scholarly Book Award this spring. Zamora brings focus to his study with the overarching argument that wartime concerns in Mexico-U.S. relations raised the issue of race to a hemispheric level of importance and encouraged Mexican workers to continue their call for equal rights. It will remain relevant to scholars and policy makers in the present as questions about immigrant labor, Mexican Americans, Mexico-U.S. relations and discrimination continue to draw our attention.

Historian Emilio Zamora’s Book Acknowledged as Best in Texas

zamora_claimingrights-195x300Historian Emilio Zamora has been named a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), in addition to winning its annual Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for best book on Texas for his work “Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas: Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II,” (Texas A&M University Press, 2009).

The award bears the name of the late Tullis (UT alumnas, B.A. ’24 and M.A. ‘27), who was one of the first women on faculty in the History Department.

In addition, The Texas Institute of Letters presented him with its Scholarly Book Award this spring. Zamora brings focus to his study with the overarching argument that wartime concerns in Mexico-U.S. relations raised the issue of race to a hemispheric level of importance and encouraged Mexican workers to continue their call for equal rights. It will remain relevant to scholars and policy makers in the present as questions about immigrant labor, Mexican Americans, Mexico-U.S. relations and discrimination continue to draw our attention.