Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Author explores Van Gogh's spiritual journey

ROROTOKO's cover interview for today is with SUNY Press author Cliff Edwards and focuses on his new book, The Mystery of The Night Café, which explores the spiritual vision of Van Gogh’s painting The Night Café. Here's a snippet:

I hope readers will treat it as a mystery to be solved, and will evaluate each of the clues I find and present. Here we have one of the few paintings Van Gogh both signed and titled, a painting he described as “one of my only works with deep meaning.” The mystery is how one painting inside a café for poor workers and misfits can serve as a key to the artist’s spiritual journey.

Edwards provides a fascinating look into his approach to writing this book, which will surely whet your appetite to read the book and solve the mystery of The Night Café yourself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with Troy native and author Richard Selzer

The Albany Times Union recently ran an interview with Troy, NY native and SUNY Press author Richard Selzer.

In his letters, Selzer refers to his native city as "my beloved Troy," and still considers himself a Trojan even though he has lived in New Haven, Conn., for 50 years. A retired surgeon and professor of surgery at Yale, the author published his first book of essays about medicine in 1973. Locally, he may be best-known for his 1992 memoir, "Down From Troy", in which he draws the city in luscious glory.

Selzer's two new books include the novel Knife Song Korea, which details a tumultuous year in the life of a young surgeon during the Korean War, and Letters to a Best Friend, a collection of correspondence between he and writer, actor, painter, and filmmaker Peter Josyph.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Woodstock's Aftermath

Joel Makower recently postsed a bit of a Woodstock wrap up over on his blog. As he says,

While much has been written about the festival, not much has been said about the aftermath. That story, as I chronicled as part of my 1989 oral history book and audiobook, just republished, is almost as tangled and intriguing as the story of the festival itself: How the four young co-producers untangled themselves from lawsuits among themselves and with scores of others. How Warner Bros. made off with the film and music rights, with barely nothing going to the musicians or producers. How the local townspeople around the festival site never got over the experience, in both good and bad ways.

Joel also includes an excerpt from his book that focuses on the unheralded story of Max and Miriam Yasgur, the dairy farmers who rented their land for the festival.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Vera and the Ambassador's new website

As a follow up to the wonderful review for Vera and the Ambassador that we posted the other day, be sure to visit the book's new website. You can learn more about Vera and Donald Blinken, read an excerpt from the book, and listen to and read assorted interviews, press, and reviews.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vera and the Ambassador reviewed

American Foreign Policy Interests recently reviewed Vera and the Ambassador. We've pasted in the entire, glowing review below.

This is an exceptional book by two exceptional people, Vera and Donald Blinken, who set a high standard of achievement in a difficult ambassadorial assignment.

Donald served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from March of 1994 until November of 1997. An investment banker and patron of the arts with a solid understanding of foreign policy issues, he was ideally suited to serve in the strategically important country of Hungary as it underwent a difficult transition from communism to democracy.

Vera Blinken, a former special assistant for the arts and cultural affairs to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and member of the Board of the International Rescue Committee, was proof that an ambassador’s wife can make a real difference. Hungarian born and fluent in the language, she was able to help Donald interpret the not always easy to comprehend Hungarian patterns of behavior.

Donald had two great achievements during his years in Budapest. He played a critical role in persuading the Hungarian government to accept the U.S. military base in Taszar, essential for U.S. participation in the NATO peacekeeping operation in Bosnia, which also paved the way for Hungary’s eventual entry into NATO. Equally important, his persistent yet diplomatic advice at the highest levels of the government was essential in moving Hungary to free market reforms after years of stultifying state controls.

Vera transformed what had been a somewhat dreary embassy resident, making it an exciting intellectual and cultural center for Hungarian leaders and visiting Americans. She also founded PRIMAVERA, the first breast cancer screening program in Central and Eastern Europe. She was, in every sense, a perfect coambassador.

It was a fitting tribute to Donald and Vera that each of them was awarded Hungary’s highest honor, the Middle Cross of the Order of Merit, something unprecedented for a husband-wife team.

Donald and Vera alternate in recounting the details of their Hungarian experience. They do it in a very frank and personal way, telling of both frustrations and triumphs, so that the reader gets to understand what running an embassy is like and why ambassadors are important.

At a time when President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are seeking to revitalize American diplomacy, this book by the Blinkens provides timely and inspiring testimony of how a dedicated and capable ambassadorial team can advance the interests of the United States.

- Richard N. Gardner, Professor of Law and International
Organization, Columbia University

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Author's perseverance pays off with Frances Folsom Cleveland bio

The Courier-Tribune (North Carolina) has published an early review of Frank, our upcoming biography of Frances Folsom Cleveland. The book is the first full-length bio of America’s youngest, and perhaps most underrated, First Lady. In the article, author Annette Dunlap describes what went into writing the book and how her perseverance paid off in this meticulously detailed account of the First Lady's life.

You can preorder Frank now; it will be published in October.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Author Spotlight: Barbara Seals Nevergold

Barbara Seals Nevergold has had an amazing year with the success of Go, Tell Michelle, which she coedited with Peggy Brooks-Bertram. You can keep track of Barbara's and Peggy's continuing adventures promoting the book over at their blog; as you'll see, they're extremely hardworking, which is a big reason why the book took off like it did.

Buffalo State Insider recently ran a wonderful profile on Barbara that explores where she's come from and what she's accomplished.

Barbara and Peggy have a number of events on the horizon, which you can find our events calendar.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodstock: here, there, and everywhere

Woodstock: The Oral History author Joel Makower had a busy week, appearing in a number of articles on Woodstock as we approach the anniversary weekend. Here's a sampling:

ABC News ran a reflection on Woodstock the other night, which you can watch at their website. The segment includes interviews with a handful of people who were there, including David Crosby. Joel was interviewed and quoted in the companion online article. Here's a choice bit:

"Woodstock created a can-do spirit among the generation," said Makower. "People came together under the unpleasant circumstances and helped everyone else and survived what everyone outside the festival grounds dubbed as a 'disaster.'"

Joel was also quoted in The Houston Chronicle piece that asks "Does Woodstock mean anything after 40 years?" The Kansas City Star runs down a very thorough list of Woodstock books, including ours. Joel is also quoted extensively in articles in the Louisville Courier-Journal and Gloucester County Times, and the book is featured in articles in the Canton Daily Ledger and on the website Tonic—the place where good lives, don't ya know. We're happy to see the book on a fun site like that.

Joel tells us there's another radio interview coming next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, enjoy an anniversary weekend filled with celebrations and reflections.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Woodstock's 40th

So we're just about there—the 40th anniversary of Woodstock is right around the corner. While you celebrate this weekend—with a copy of the oral history in hand, of course—you may also want to check out some of the following Woodstock-related events, shows, articles, etc.

This Saturday, the site of the original concert will host an anniversary blowout, featuring some of the same performers who were at the original, including Levon Helm, Canned Heat, Ten Years After, and Mountain.

The Times has a review of a new VH1 Woodstock doc set to air this weekend. In the piece, Mike Hale writes

How this intelligent, straightforward film ended up on the network of “Megan Wants a Millionaire” and “Daisy of Love” is a mystery, but we should just be grateful to VH1 for broadcasting it.
Sounds like it might be worth checking out...if you can sit through all of the "Daisy of Love" commercials that are bound to run during it.

We also found a couple of dissenting voices out there this morning, with regards to all this 40th anniversary celebrating stuff. Over at the Huffington Post, Nathan Hegedus has heard enough about how great Woodstock was. He offers a cynical, GenX reply to all the hubbub, you could say. And Mark Hosenball writes for Newsweek that he was there and even he's tired of the nostalgia trip everyone's riding right now.

So however you chose to celebrate—or ignore—the anniversary this weekend, we hope you have a groovy time doing it, man. Sorry, couldn't resist. Now here's Jimi to play us out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Woodstock legend lives on

Joel Makower, author of Woodstock: The Oral History, 40th Anniversary Edition, was interviewed by Tom Keyser for a piece in the Albany Times Union. Here's the article from yesterday's paper; look for Joel on page two.

The book also appears in Newsday's weekend feature, A Festival of Books about Woodstock. Good to see the book keeping company with all of the other Woodstock product out there! If you haven't yet ordered a copy yourself, you can do so here.

You are currently reading one of the 100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs

The kind folks over at Online School were keeping tabs on us (and lots of other blogs), it seems. They named us one of the 100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs. We made the list under the Academic Press category. Thanks, Online School! So, while we pat ourselves on the back, check out the rest of their list and discover some great book blogs.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Joel Makower interviewed on Woodstock (again!)

As the 40th anniversary of that little festival in upstate New York approaches, author Joel Makower has been busy with interviews. Last week he was interviewed by KTRS St. Louis and KIRO Seattle. Listen to the KIRO Seattle interview, in which Joel tells some colorful stories about Woodstock and the process of putting together his definitive oral history. There will be more interviews in the near future, and we'll keep you posted on them here.

Joel's also been blogging about Woodstock over on his blog. You can catch Joel, Arlo Guthrie, and Country Joe McDonald in vintage interview clips from 20 years ago when Joel was promoting the first edition of the book, along with audio clips from the audiobook. He's also written a great piece about the famed Woodstock Baby.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book signing pics

L to R: James Peltz (SUNY), Harvey Flad, Laurie Searl (SUNY), and Clyde Griffen.

We've been away for a while, but we're back and ready to share some photos from a book signing for Main Street to Mainframes: Landscape and Social Change in Poughkeepsie, by Harvey K. Flad and Clyde Griffen. The signing and reception took place in late July at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, New York. Interested individuals from the around the region and as far away as Nicaragua (yes, that Nicaragua!) traveled to town to celebrate the authors and their book.