Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New York's 400th

Recently, the rebuilt Onrust was joined by a replica of Henry Hudson's Half Moon and other vessels in a flotilla on River Day, a quadricentennial celebration along New York's Hudson River. The Onrust was originally built by a stranded Dutch crew in America in 1614. The Half Moon is an 85-foot replica of the ship Henry Hudson sailed while exploring the Hudson River in 1609.

SUNY Presser Greg Smith watched the flotilla arrive in Albany and snapped some beautiful pictures. For more on New York's 400th celebration, check out the official site. We've even put together a collection of SUNY Press titles to celebrate the anniversary as well. Now enjoy some lovely photos from River Day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Woodstock: With a little help from my friends

It's been too long since we posted another Woodstock 1969 video, so we're going to remedy that right now. Today's video features an iconic performance by Joe Cocker, singing the heck out of the Beatles classic "With A Little Help From My Friends." Cocker took the original's sing-songy melody from Ringo Starr and proceeded to grab it by the throat and sing it to within an inch of its life. It's an astonishingly intense performance, but one you'd expect from a wild English blues-rock singer like Cocker. This was back when Cocker and others like Rod Stewart, Steve Marriott, and Steve Winwood elevated blue-eyed-soul singing to an art form. We hate when people say this sort of thing, but in this case it may be true: they don't make 'em like Cocker and the rest of those guys anymore.

Also, for those of us of a certain age, our first experience with Cocker's version was hearing it as the opening theme to The Wonder Years. Did Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper ever make it to Woodstock?

In Woodstock book news, the recent Publishers Weekly feature on all books Woodstock (including ours), along with our other publicity efforts, have lead to a small flurry of activity around the book. Look for some more interviews with author Joel Makower in the very near future (including one on this blog), and some possible events for the book tied into the 40th anniversary celebrations taking place this summer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Faces of Warhol

The Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri recently acquired 151 Polaroids and prints as a gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The Columbia Daily Tribune ran a feature on the exhibit and Warhol. SUNY Press author Elisa Glick was interviewed for the article for her opinion on Warhol's enduring, yet often perplexing, level of fame. It's a great piece on Warhol's influence not only in the art world but also in the Warholian world we are all living in today.

Elisa's new book, Materializing Queer Desire: Oscar Wilde to Andy Warhol, uses iconic dandy and queer figures to explore relationships between homosexuality, modernism, and modernity. The book, available in August, can be pre-ordered now.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stephen Colbert vs. Donald Crosby, or, how our author wound up on The Colbert Report, albeit briefly

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
ThreatDown - Uighurs & Donald H. Crosby
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

Were you watching The Colbert Report last Thursday evening? If so you may have seen a quick nod to SUNY Press author Donald Crosby and his 2002 book, A Religion of Nature. Seems that another gentleman named Donald Crosby wrote a persnickety letter to Newsweek about Colbert, asking "Who the hell is Stephen Colbert? And who cares?" So how did Colbert reply to this slight? By mining it for comedy gold, of course: he named Donald Crosby as threat #1 in his regular Threatdown segment. Turns out Colbert runs the internet's biggest Donald Crosby fansite. Who knew? That's where he mentions the different Donalds that he features on the site—including our author! Look for a quick flash of our Donald Crosby's face and the book cover while Colbert mentions the book.

Okay, it's a minor nod, but we're smiling anyway. If anyone from the show is reading: we have plenty of authors who would make great guests, including our own Donald Crosby, of course. And trust us, Stephen, he knows who you are.

The fun with Donald Crosby starts around the 3:05 mark of the video. Enjoy.

Author Spotlight: Mari Ruti

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of posts spotlighting SUNY Press authors. Today we're featuring Mari Ruti, author of the new book, A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living. In it, she explores the following questions: How are our lives meaningful? What is the relationship of loss to creativity? How can we best engage and overcome our suffering? Mari's psychoanalytic perspective on “the art of living” focuses on ever-evolving processes of self-fashioning rather than defining a fixed sense of self. Peter L. Rudnytsky praised Mari and the book: “Ruti’s bracing postmodernist sensibility is well ballasted by genuine open-mindedness and even a refreshing dash of humanism."

Mari's studies took her from Brown to the University of Paris and Harvard; from international development to sociology, and eventually comparative literature after she became increasingly interested in contemporary theory and philosophy. Her work targets the intersection of critical theory, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy. Plus, she also had the privilege of studying psychoanalytic theory with the legendary Julia Kristeva at the University of Paris.

Currently, Mari is Associate Professor of Critical Theory at the University of Toronto, and she splits her time between Toronto, Hawaii, and the East Coast. Visit Mari's newly launched website, which, she informs us, is still a work in progress. So far, much like her work, it's contemporary and quite eloquent.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Memories of a golden era in the Bronx

We Used to Own the Bronx is still going strong: check out this recent piece by Michael Thomas of New York Social Diary. Turns out Michael escorted author Eve "Topsy" Pell to the Spring Dance at Exeter in 1953! He even says, of Eve, that "No young woman of that time was prettier or brighter or carried off long white gloves with greater aplomb."

Michael goes on to list a few other high society connections between them, and then discusses what makes Eve's memoir such a success, writing "how totally right it gets its subject matter, both as to fact and as to tone." Michael's rave review is also full of great photos from the book, so check it out today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Journey back to the Civil War

“A major breakthrough in Civil War history.”
— Edwin C. Bearss, military historian and Civil War scholar

Have you ever wondered about what your ancestors did and why? If so, you will find inspiration in the story of D. Reid Ross and his journey into the past. He didn’t set out to write a book, but what he discovered compelled him to do so. Since childhood, he had heard about his grandfather fighting in the Civil War, being captured and imprisoned in Andersonville. He wanted to know much more.

He discovered that Veteran Volunteers, including his grandfather and two of his brothers, reenlisted, rather than going home, so they could continue to fight. Because of their experience and combat skills, they were exposed to the greatest dangers in battle after battle, and their regiments suffered the highest casualty rates of the entire Union army. Ross was amazed that despite all that had been written about the Civil War, the story of Lincoln’s bravest and most dedicated soldiers has been ignored.

Why did they reenlist, and continue to risk their lives?

Ross read hundreds of soldiers’ letters, diaries, memoirs and government records in search of the answer. The quest took him thirty years, and led him to the common threads among Veteran Volunteers, particularly their anti-slavery convictions and their loyalty to Lincoln. From the beginning when they first enlisted, they fought for the twin goals of saving the Union and ending slavery. Those discoveries left him no option but to tell their story in Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War: The Hudson Valley’s Ross Brothers and the Union’s Fight for Emancipation.

The book explores the religious ideals and family traditions, allegiance to Abraham Lincoln, and moral imperative that left Veteran Volunteers no choice but to continue fighting until they won the war. It reveals, too, their profound sacrifices for their beliefs: injuries, debilitating disease, near starvation, imprisonment, even death. In the Ross family alone, one brother was killed, another blinded, another deafened, and the fourth held captive in five Confederate prisons. Their parents were crippled with rheumatism, and without their sons’ help during the war, they lost the family farm to foreclosure. Yet none of them wavered in their commitment to fighting for emancipation and preservation of the Union.

This story is an inspiration to all who believe in the principles on which the United States was founded and a timely reminder that our nation’s ability to overcome profound challenges depends on the dedication and sacrifices of its people.

Ross earned his undergraduate degree from Washington University. After serving as a gunnery officer in the Pacific during World War II, he earned a master’s degree in urban planning at the University of Chicago and did post-graduate work in England. He worked in urban planning in Chicago, Milwaukee; Providence, Rhode Island; Cincinnati; St. Louis; and Madison, Wisconsin. He also taught graduate courses part-time at three universities. After retiring, he earned a master’s degree in American History at the University of Wisconsin and has published numerous articles about the Civil War and his ancestors.

He and his wife, Sari, live in Durango, Colorado.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Share your Woodstock memories with the Grammy Museum

We've been away for a few days and are still catching up on everything from the past four or five days. However, we saw this call for Woodstock stories from the Grammy Museum and wanted to share it with all of our Woodstock fans out there:

"We’re asking people who attended Woodstock or were involved in any way to help us put the show together, by lending their own artifacts, photographs, and memories," explains Katie Dunham, the museum's Spokesperson. "We’re looking for muddy sleeping bags, ticket stubs, handmade crafts, whatever tells the story through the eyes of the people who witnessed one of the most significant cultural moments in American music history."

Looks like fun. Feel free to continue sharing your Woodstock stories with us here as well. Only a few short weeks until Woodstock: The Oral History drops. The book is currently featured in a Publishers Weekly piece collecting all of the books that will be available this summer in celebration of the 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poets on the Edge

Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry was recenty reviewed in the Jerusalem Post. The review is full of praise for the collection, as well as for editor and translator Tsipi Keller. Here's a snippet:

This new anthology of Hebrew poetry in translation has two special strengths - tremendous depth and a personal touch. In terms of depth, it moves far past the familiar big names of Hebrew poetry, or at least those names familiar to English-language readers. Sure, there's Yehuda Amichai, the most famous of recent Israeli poets, who has been widely translated by everyone from Ted Hughes to Leon Wieseltier to the team of Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld; there's Dahlia Ravikovitch, who is also fairly well-known, but there's also a slew of rarely translated or never-before-translated names that have a good chance of redefining the world's image of what Hebrew poetry is.
Read the entire review here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Twenty West Awarded Gold Medal Ippy Award

The Thirteenth Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published titles, recently named Twenty West: The Great Road Across America, by Mac Nelson, as a 2009 Gold Medalist in the Travel Essay category.

Entries for this year’s competition came from 44 U.S. states, 8 Canadian provinces, and 6 countries overseas. Nearly 2,000 independent authors and publishers submitted 3,380 books to the contest. The “IPPY” was launched in 1996 as the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles. The 2009 IPPYs where presented to winners in 65 subject categories and to 20 regional categories for the best fiction and nonfiction titles from across North America.

Click here for a complete list of the winners and finalists.

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York Sings Concert/Lecture Series

Musicologist Jerry Silverman is celebrating the publication of New York Sings: 400 Years of the Empire State in Song with a concert/lecture program series honoring the people, places, and events of New York's history through a remarkable collection of songs. Silverman will share fascinating facts and stories about the songs, their composers, and the history and people described in his book. The events will take place at the Albany Institute of History & Art (June 14), the Zadock Pratt Museum (August 29), and the Hudson River Museum (October 11). These three events are supported by a generous grant from the New York Council for the Humanitites. To learn more about Jerry Silverman and listen to some of the songs from the book, please visit his website.

Also, this Sunday, June 7, at 1:30 pm, Jerry will be presenting a free concert of songs from the book in the Carriage House at Lyndhurst, off Route 9 in Tarrytown, New York. The concert will be part of an all-day (10–5, rain or shine) celebration of the Hudson River in conjunction with the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial.

For more information on all of these events, please visit our Events Calendar.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Woodstock Invasion

Leading up to the release of Woodstock: The Oral History, 40th Anniversary Edition, we're hoping to run some personal recollections of that historic event from SUNY Press staff, colleagues, friends, family, etc. We encourage you readers to share your memories of Woodstock with us as well: drop us a line in the comments section, as some of you have already done.

Today we kick things off with a piece from our Director, Gary Dunham. We're calling it "The Woodstock Invasion." Enjoy.


Those long ago August days of the Woodstock Festival signaled clear, profound change for villagers and farmers in rural New England, a change heralded by fear and the threat of invasion more than love and music. Growing up on a small farm in the Maine mountains, I remember those specific days vividly. The usually rutty dirt road winding up the mountain to our village of eighteen people was being paved for the first time, at last, cars would not need to be left at the base of the mountain in the spring while the mill workers trudged a long, muddy road home. As the unfamiliar smell of hot tar drifted up the mountain, my family one afternoon scrambled for hours through the surrounding woods looking for a stray pig.

Despite the excitement at home, all the talk by my parents and older relatives centered on Woodstock. Yes, the festival was taking place some six hours to the faraway south in the Catskills, a place traditionally out-of-sight, out-of-state, and out-of-mind for those I grew up with. But this particular event mattered because it unsettled my folks and many townspeople as a larger, more complex world drew in around them. I remember overhearing talk of Woodstock a number of times, including my father muttering to one uncle and a few friends that “the damn hippies had come into the mountains, taken over a farm, and, by the Jesus, they might try to do the same thing here (pronounced hee-uh).” Men even talked of forming militias to roust the hippies if they tried to move into the western Maine mountains (I am not kidding). Woodstock shattered the innocence for us rural New Englanders that country lives were separate and safe from the rapid, sometimes rabid changes going on around us in the cities during the late 1960s. Woodstock changed us by breaching the divide we had always drawn between urban and rural. Slogan-ridden protests, unfettering drugs, unwashed long hair, and bewildering music were no longer someone else’s world, someone else’s problem. The invasion had begun.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Woodstock, in their own words

We've been sharing a lot of Woodstock-related videos and links with you lately, in celebration of the July publication of our 40th Anniversary Edition of Woodstock: The Oral History. You may have noticed that we're not the only ones celebrating 1969 at the moment. This being the 40th anniversary, there are books on Woodstock popping up all over the place, along with new websites, concerts, movies, etc. What makes our book stand out in this crowd of tie-dyed nostalgia sweeping the nation? For one thing, ours provides the definitive oral history of the concert—from its planning stages through the event itself and beyond. Joel Makower interviewed a wide array of people to put together this book: producers, musicians, film crew, security, concessions workers, agents, locals, and even the Merry Pranksters. The following are just a few of the people who were there that contributed their amazing stories to the book: Wavy Gravy, Michael Lang, Miriam Yasgur (who, along with her husband Max, owned the land on which the festival was held), David Crosby, Chip Monck, Richie Havens, and the late Abbie Hoffman. This Anniversary Edition contains first-hand accounts that have not been diluted by time or, um, anything else, for that matter. The stories were still fresh in the minds of those who lived them when Joel did the work for this book, and it shows, like in the following account, where Wavy Gravy describes the moment where hippies were first introduced to granola:

When I announced breakfast in bed, we were introducing hippies to granola, really for the first time. But we didn’t make it exactly right. I think the oats weren’t toasted enough, but still, what we tried to do was go around with Dixie cups full of granola and so that wasn’t just some rant that I was running. We were actually going for it.
Hippies + granola have gone in hand in hand for so long that we never imagined there was a time when they hadn't. Mind blowing.

So pre-order a copy of Woodstock today and enjoy the most realistic history of the mega-concert, from before the time that memories were either lost of embellished. This is Woodstock, raw and honest.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vera and the Ambassador in Quest Magazine

Vera and the Ambassador has received a nice write-up in Quest Magazine. The magazine does not have a website, so we've included the two-page piece above. Just click on the pages to expand them into a more reader-friendly size.

Woodstock's Green Connection

Joel Makower, author of Woodstock: The Oral History, recently talked with the folks at Woodstock Story. The article focuses on Joel's work as a strategist on clean technology and green marketing, and how the challenge of preserving our natural resources must be met by not only those in the trenches of the green movement, but also by big businesses.

Read the entire piece and also check out the book's featured page on their site while you're there. Then surf Woodstock Story for a bit—it truly is jam packed with loads of information about Woodstock.

Woodstock is available from SUNY Press for pre-order now.