Friday, February 27, 2009

"...hopeful journey of rebellion and reconciliation."

Millions of Americans were able to attend college through the efforts of the aristocratic New England Senator Claiborne de Borda Pell. Some of this background and family story are told in our new book, We Used to Own the Bronx, by Eve Pell. As Eve traces her absorbing journey from debutante to working mother, from the upper crust of the East Coast to the radical activists of the West, from a life of wealth and privilege to one of trying to make ends meet, she provides exceptional insight into the complex issues of social class in America.

Praise for the book:

“Eve Pell gives us a fascinating glimpse into a secret world of unfathomable wealth and privilege. Hers is an unexpected and ultimately hopeful journey of rebellion and reconciliation.” — Jane Fonda

“An intriguing look at a world of arcane, white-gloved ritual and great privilege by a writer rebellious enough to leave it behind, wise enough to know that doing so is no quick and simple matter, and aware enough to know that the alternative worlds she discovers have their own moral complexities as well.” — Adam Hochschild

Meet Eve Pell at the following readings:

March 11, 7 pm at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA

March 20, 7 pm at Books Inc. in San Francisco

May 5, Bartow Pell Mansion Museum, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, NY (times TBA)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Reason for Crows

In The Reason for Crows: A Story of Kateri Tekakwitha, Diane Glancy tells the story of a seventeenth-century Mohawk woman’s interaction with her land, the Jesuits, and their religion. The book was recently reviewed by Christianity Todaylisten to the podcast of the review today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Italian American Experience

Anthony V. Riccio, author of The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories, now available in paperback, sent us some information on "Immigrant Voices," his very own radio show on WPKN Bridgeport (89.5 on the dial). Take it away, Anthony...

"Immigrant Voices" is a radio broadcast on WPKN Bridgeport which offers the listening audience the chance to hear oral history interviews with elderly Italian Americans from Boston and New Haven.

Each show will take as its theme a chapter from The Italian American Experience in New Haven and Recollections of an Italian American Neighborhood with Italian American storytellers who describe their experiences as immigrants in the rural farmlands of Italy, their arduous journeys to the new world in steerage class, how they clung to old world traditions and superstitions, their working experiences on production lines of mammoth factories during an age of urban industrial expansion, how Italian women toiled in terrible sweatshops for the success of future generations, and how their American-born children served in wars becoming loyal Americans and gradually assimilated into the American mainstream.

Regional Italian music transported to America by Italian immigrants from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s is also part of this broadcast and folk songs—ballads, love songs, and dances from Calabria, Campania, and Sicily—will be played and their themes translated and discussed for the listening audience.

Anthony tells us that he is planning his second show for sometime in March, entitled "Voices from The Great Depression." Visit for more information.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Over at Tikun Olam, Richard Silverstein has written a fascinating review of our forthcoming book, With an Iron Pen: Twenty Years of Hebrew Protest Poetry. Silverstein makes some intriguing connections between the title (which is taken from a quotation from Jeremiah) and Kafka's In the Penal Colony. He also compares the Israeli Occupation with "the harrow of Kafka’s story in that it etches both the sin and punishment directly onto the bodies of Israelis and Palestinians alike." We highly recommend you read this wonderful review.

With an Iron Pen is a groundbreaking collection of forty-two Israeli poetic voices protesting the occupation of the West Bank. For more on the book, visit our website.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's sign of the apocalypse

We stumbled upon this review this morning and we had to share it with you. Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher has cowritten a new book called, naturally, Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream. One leaky pipe at a time.

Now, if it's possible that you didn't get enough of Joe back in the fall when he (and the media's and both campaign's manipulations of him) hijacked the U.S. presidential election, then this is the book for you. For the rest of us, I think this PopMatters review sums it up neatly:

Back to the seemingly ordinary tale of Joe the Plumber, who, according to the book’s insert, has become “an American folk hero and the ultimate icon of the working class.” Woody Guthrie is probably rolling in his grave. Tabback and Wurzelbacher paint Joe as a Panglossian figure – always willing to lend a helping hand and open his door to his neighbors. Well, perhaps if his neighbors are also pro-Israel, pro-Christian, neo-conservatives. And such is the damning irony of this book. The authors have the audacity to go to great lengths to show how “American” Joe is and how he’s like everyone else, but he’s not: he has a very specific, very narrow point of view of American politics that can only be shared by one demographic at the intersections of race
(Caucasian), gender (male) and location (Midwest).

We also love the review's headline: “Freedom Isn’t Free! It Costs At Least $24.95.”

Thanks to Bookforum for alerting us to this.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Proud Legacy

Today's featured title in our celebration of Black History Month is Black Soldiers of New York State. Military historian Anthony F. Gero examines the history of the valiant service of New York’s African American soldiers. Gero tells of their two centuries of struggle and triumph, beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing until 1950, when the U.S. Army and New York’s National Guard became integrated.

Learn more at our website about this important part of our state's and our nation's history, largely untold until now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln's 200th

In continuing our dual themes of the week—the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and President Obama and his inauguration—here's an interesting article from Salon about how Lincoln might vote if he were alive today. Michael Lind looks at how everyone, from Obama to the GOP, are aligning themselves with Lincoln and his politics today. He looks at Lincoln's views on issues from his era and makes reasonable assumptions of how the former president might feel about today's pressing issues—many of which aren't as different as you might think from those of Lincoln's era.

So are we all Lincolnians now? Maybe not. It's perfectly reasonable to ask what political movements and factions today would attract someone with Lincoln's political values. Lincoln was not King Arthur, living in a wholly alien society. Many of the issues of the mid-19th century—from the role of the federal government in the economy to whether America is a Christian nation to evolution vs. creationism—remain issues in the early 21st century.

Check out our new book, Lincoln's Veteran Volunteers Win the War, for additional reading on Lincoln's presidency as it related to four Union soldiers from the Hudson Valley and their "unflinching belief in home, family, country, and duty."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author shares his Inauguration experience

SUNY Press author Dustin Ells Howes attended the Presidential Inauguration and was kind enough to share both his thoughts on the historic event and some of the photos he snapped that day. Dustin's new book, Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics, will be available in October.

I've followed politics for all of my life, and like a lot of political scientists that habit turned into my profession. One of the major questions of political science is the nature and character of power and one of the preeminent political theorists of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt argues (controversially) that power consists of people acting in concert. Arendt seems to suggest that "real" power is different from the actions of "the mob" or militaristic demonstrations carefully gauged to show deference to a single leader. Instead, she identifies power as drawing strength from plurality and difference, that it "appears" when people are together in public space and that it involves a degree of unpredictable creativity that we associate with freedom and liberty.

I have had a number of experiences where it seemed to me as though this kind of power was being exercised. However, none of those experiences quite compare to the sense of effectiveness I felt at President Obama's inauguration. American democracy has had its ups and downs. With the 2000 election only eight years past, one could be excused for being a skeptic of the Founders' system. And even when elections work properly, there are strong arguments in favor of the idea that Americans do not so much choose their leaders as choose from among a set of people who are acceptable to the "the real" powerbrokers.

From where we stood, I could not see Obama or even a jumbotron. So instead, we listened to and looked around at the people who were there. The inauguration was a moment that gathered together and expressed the relief, frustration and joy of an extraordinary breadth of people. The civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, the hip-hop generation, church groups, college students, fiscal conservatives, curious people from around the world, soldiers, artists, scientists, and gay rights activists (who showed despite Rick Warren, but who didn't forget to turn away when he spoke). And of all these, most striking perhaps were the multi-generation families -- navigating with grandmother in a wheel chair through a crowd of thousands, with a 2 and 4 year old trailing just behind.

I expect that President Obama will disappoint a number of people who attended the inauguration, myself included, when he attempts to use violence to achieve things that are best achieved when the sort of power that brought him into office appears. However, I am encouraged in the thought that because of the long shot nature of his candidacy he will not soon forget what the power of the people can accomplish.
All photographs taken by Dustin Ells Howes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

D. Reid Ross in the Denver Post

Durango, Colorado resident and Lincoln's Veteran Volunteers Win the War author D. Reid Ross was interviewed in yesterday's Denver Post. Read the interview here.

Ross will be speaking at a series of upcoming events, all in the greater Boston area.

Saturday, February 14
The Lincoln Group
Bridgewater, MA

Monday, February 16
Cape Cod Civil War Roundtable
Yarmouth, MA

Thursday, February 19
Civil War Roundtable of Greater Boston
Waltham, MA

Lincoln's Veteran Volunteers Win the War

With this Thursday, February 12th marking the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, now is an appropriate time to read our new book, Lincoln's Veteran Volunteers Win the War. The book chronicles the Civil War experiences of four brothers from New York’s Hudson Valley. Author D. Reid Ross (grandson of one of the brothers) provides vivid descriptions of soldiers’ attitudes toward President Lincoln and emancipation, courage and performance on the battlefield, the hardships of army life, the role of the Veteran Volunteers, and the Grand Review in Washington, D.C. after the end of the war.

Edwin C. Bearss, author of Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War, said the book is a “A major breakthrough in Civil War history.”

D. Reid Ross is a retired urban planner and family historian and has published many articles on the American Civil War and his family’s history. The book was a true labor of love, for which Ross spent three decades researching. During that time he visited more than one hundred libraries, pored over hundreds of manuscript collections, and read more than one thousand Civil War and other historical publications, personal memoirs, diaries, and letters. Ross will participate in a number of celebratory events organized by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

For more on the journey that Ross took to research and write this highly personal book, read this interview with the author.

Explore the website for the Civil War Preservation Trust, where you can find links to a number of Civil War blogs and online communities.

Also check out the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission site for a comprehensive compendium of Lincoln bicentennial information and events.

Friday, February 6, 2009

AWP in the Windy City

Are you attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual meeting in Chicago? It runs from February 11–14 at the Hilton Chicago and we'll be there. Stop by and browse Excelsior Editions and SUNY Press titles on display at booth #115.

On Saturday, February 14 at 2:00 pm, we'll be celebrating the release of Where We Find Ourselves: Jewish Women around the World Write about Home, edited by Miriam Ben-Yoseph and Deborah Nodler Rosen, The Reason for Crows: A Story of Kateri Tekakwitha, by Diane Glancy and Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry, edited and translated by Tsipi Keller. All of the aforementioned authors and editors will be available to sign copies of their books.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Celebrate Black History Month

All month long at we'll be featuring a selection of our titles in African and African American Studies. We'll try to feature a book or two from time to time on the blog as well, with links to the book page for more info. Today we have two for you: What's Wrong with Obamamania?, which explores the meteoric rise of Barack Obama with far-reaching—and disturbing—shifts in black leadership in post–Civil Rights America; and Go, Tell Michelle, our brand new collection of letters written by African American women to Michelle Obama.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Far out

Along with being a trippy homage to the old Roger Dean Yes album art, our new Mind, Body, Spirit e-catalog is also a fine place to explore our extensive collection of titles in yoga, new age, spirituality, tantra, Judaism, and the body, to name only a few.

Align your mind, body, and spirit today with a visit to our website to order a few choice titles from this colorful new catalog.