Do Your Holiday Shopping this Saturday at the Humanities Texas Book Fair

flyer_email-copyBooks make great gifts, especially for those “hard to buy for” people on your list. So take a break from the mall and head on over to the Humanities Texas annual Holiday Book Fair this Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the historic Byrne-Reed House.

Twenty-one authors will be available to visit with the public and sign copies of their latest books, which Humanities Texas will offer for purchase at a discounted price. Proceeds will go to the Bastrop Public Library, which suffered losses to its collection during the September wildfires.

The lineup includes:

H.W. Brands, the Raymond Dickson, Alton C. Allen and Dillon Anderson Centennial Professor

1Brands_GreenbackPlanetIn “Greenback Planet,” Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. In The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield, Brands traces the downfall of a notorious New York City figure and brings to life New York’s Gilded Age. More…

Oscar Casares, associate professor of English

1Casares_Amigoland“Amigoland,” set on the South Texas border with Mexico, is the story of estranged brothers Don Fidencio Rosales—querulous, nearly 92 years old, and living in a nursing home—and Don Celestino, twenty years his junior and newly widowed, who finds himself somewhat ambivalently involved with his young cleaning woman, Socorro. The housekeeper is a catalyst for the brothers reconnecting, and the improbable trio takes off on a bus trip into Mexico, where the siblings hope to settle a long-standing dispute about how their grandfather arrived in the U.S. and Socorro hopes to find clarity in her unlikely romance. The trip stirs up powerful issues of family and pride and about how we care for the people we love. More…

Don Graham, the J. Frank Dobie Regents Professor of American and English Literature

1Graham_StateofMindsIn “State of Minds,” Graham brings together and updates essays he published between 1999 and 2009 to paint a unique picture of Texas culture. In a strong personal voice—wry, humorous, and ironic—Graham offers his take on Texas literary giants ranging from J. Frank Dobie to Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy and on films such as “The Alamo,” “The Last Picture Show,” and “Brokeback Mountain.” More…


James Pennebaker, the Regents Centennial Liberal Arts Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology

1pennebaker_james“The Secret Life of Pronouns” examines how and why pronouns and other forgettable words reveal so much about us. Partly a research journey, the book traces the discovery of the links between function words and social and psychological states. Written for a general audience, the book takes the reader on a remarkable and often unexpected journey into the minds of authors, poets, lyricists, politicians, and everyday people through their use of words. More…

Jeremi Suri, the Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy

1Suri_JeremyNation-building is in America’s DNA. It dates back to the days of the American Revolution, when the founding fathers invented the concept of popular sovereignty—the idea that you cannot have a national government without a collective will. The framers of the Constitution initiated a policy of cautious nation-building, hoping not to conquer other countries, but to build a world of stable, self-governed societies that would support America’s way of life. In “Liberty’s Surest Guardian,” Suri looks to America’s history to see both what it has to offer to failed states around the world and what the nation should avoid. More…

L. Michael White, the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins and the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins

1White_ScriptingJesusIn “Scripting Jesus,” White challenges us to read the gospels as they were originally intended—as performed stories of faith rather than factual histories. White demonstrates that each of the four gospel writers had a specific audience in mind and a specific theological agenda to push, and consequently wrote and rewrote their lives of Jesus accordingly—in effect, scripting Jesus to get a particular point across and to achieve the desired audience reaction. More…

Park for free in the St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church’s large lot on the northwest corner of 15th and Rio Grande Streets, and enjoy coffee and a bake sale of donated and homemade treats. Go to this website for more information about the authors and their books!

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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.

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.

H.W. Brands Named Pulitzer Prize Finalist

H.W. Brands, professor of history at The University of Texas at Austin, was among the 93rd annual Pulitzer Prize finalists. He was nominated in the category of biography or autobiography for his book “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

This is the second time Brands has been nominated for the honor. Brands was also named as one of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominees, which will be announced during a ceremony on April 24, kicking off the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

The biography details FDR’s experimentation with The New Deal and his revolutionary efforts to save democracy during the Great Depression and World  War II.

What Obama Can Learn from FDR

The Feb. 12 issue of The New York Review of Books highlights a selection of new works about Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, including “Traitor to His Class” by UT Historian H.W. Brands.

In the story “A Revolutionary President,” Russell Baker suggests the blooming of FDR books “…probably has a lot to do with Barack Obama’s assuming the presidency at a moment of economic breakdown just as Roosevelt did seventy-six years ago.”

The New York Review of Books isn’t the only media outlet to take note of the Obama-FDR connection. Brands has spoken about the lessons FDR’s presidency holds for the Obama administration in a number of commentaries and interviews.

Check some of the stories:
• CNN: “When a black man was invited to the White House,” Nov. 6.
• NPR: “What Obama Can Learn from FDR and Reagan,” Nov. 20.
• PBS NewsHour: “Lincoln, Roosevelt Presidencies Offer Lessons for Obama,” Nov. 27.
• MarketWatch: “In Obama’s inaugural speech, crisis is opportunity,” Jan. 16.
• Detroit Free Press: “Nation has high expectations for Obama,” Jan. 17.

Brands’ FDR Biography Hits Bookstores Tomorrow

History Professor H.W. Brand’s new FDR biography “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (Doubleday, 2008) hits bookstores tomorrow.

For insight on Brands’ inspiration for the project, check out book editor Jeff Salamon’s interview with the historian in the story “TR, FDR, and Ph.D.’s: Two Austin historians discuss all things Roosevelt” from the Nov. 1 issue of the Austin American-Statesman.

Brands heads out on a nationwide book tour for “Traitor to his Class” this week. Visit his Web site for more info on cities and tour dates.

Austinites: If you missed Brands’ talk at the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople will host a signing for “Traitor to His Class” next Monday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Professors Slated to Appear at Texas Book Festival

Professors and alumni from The University of Texas at Austin will share their expertise on topics ranging from the U.S. economic crisis to political figures in American history at the 2008 Texas Book Festival Nov. 1-2 at the Texas Capitol.

“Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt”
Author: H.W. Brands
Professor, Department of History
When: Sunday, Nov. 2, 2-2:45 p.m.
Where: Texas State Capitol: House Chamber

H.W. Brands offers an illuminating portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life and career. The biography details FDR’s experimentation with The New Deal and his revolutionary efforts to save democracy during the Great Depression and World War II. Brands is author of “Andrew Jackson, “Lone Star Nation” and “The Age of Gold.” He was a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for “The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin.”

“Dolph Briscoe: My Life in Texas Ranching and Politics”
Author: Don Carleton
Director, Center for American History and J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History
When: Saturday, Nov. 1, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Where: Texas State Capitol: Senate Chamber

Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe tapped Don Carleton’s narrative writing expertise to author his memoir, highlighting his life and career in Texas politics. Briscoe describes his days as Texas’ largest individual landowner and cattle rancher, his years in public office and his education at The University of Texas at Austin. Carleton has collaborated on books with Walter Cronkite and Waco Entrepreneur Bernard Rapoport.

“The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too”
Author: James Galbraith
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs and Department of Government
When: Sunday, Nov. 2, 12:30-1:15 p.m.
Where: Texas Capitol: Extension Room E2.014

James Galbraith’s compelling, timely work covers hot-button issues, such as the free-market economy, the subprime crisis, economic and social disparities and the future of the dollar. The expert economist dissects conservative economics and conventional liberalism, stimulating debate across party lines about the mistakes made within the U.S. economy. Galbraith is author of six books and contributes to the American political magazines, including Mother Jones, The American Prospect, The Nation, The Texas Observer, as well as op-ed pages of major newspapers.

“Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research”
Author: Thomas O. McGarity, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law
When: Sunday, Nov. 2, 3-3:45 p.m.
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room, E2.012

Thomas McGarity and co-author Wendy Wagner, Joe A. Worsham Centennial Professor in Law at The University of Texas at Austin, expose how scientific data are distorted by the government, provoking questions about possible poisons that industrial technologies leave in our air and water. The book examines how federal regulatory agencies “bend” damaging research to fit their needs, and offers a case for reforms to safeguard health and environmental hazards. McGarity is a former editor of the Texas Law Review and is the author of “Workers at Risk: The Failed Promise of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” “The Law of Environmental Protection: Cases-Legislation-Policies” and “Reinventing Rationality: The Role of Regulatory Analysis in Federal Bureaucracy.”

“The Necessity of Theater: The Art of Watching and Being Watched”
Author: Paul Woodruff
Professor, Department of Philosophy and Dean, Undergraduate Studies
When: Sunday, Nov. 2, 3-3:45 p.m.
Where: Texas State Capitol: Capitol Extension Room E2.016

From runway fashion shows to football games, Paul Woodruff examines the definition of live drama. Building the case that humans have an innate need to watch and be watched, Woodruff explains how theater brings together essential human elements, such as love, conflict and justice. Woodruff has translated such classic thinkers and writers as Plato, Sophocles and Thucydides. He is the author of “Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue” and “First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea.”

The Texas Book Festival was founded in 1995 by former first lady Laura Bush to promote reading and honor Texas authors. Sessions are free and open to the public. Proceeds from books purchased at the festival benefit the state’s public libraries.