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NewSouth mourns the passing of Paul Gaston of Fairhope, esteemed Southern historian

Monday, July 29th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

We are sorry to share news of the passing of Paul M. Gaston, civil rights activist and esteemed Southern historian, who died last month at the age of 91. NewSouth enjoyed a long friendship with Gaston, forged over many years and glasses of wine, which extended across the publication of a half dozen of his books. Our relationship with him began in the early days of NewSouth Books, when Gaston had already changed the lives of dozens of students through his astute observations on the 5d0c3a79353b5.imagetrue character of the South and in his activities at the University of Virginia. Gaston was both a superb writer and thinker. He leaves behind many influential works, among them The New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking, now considered a classic. This brilliant work tackles the ways in which socially constructed realities shape historical understanding. Other titles by Gaston include Coming of Age in Utopia, his memoir; Man and Mission: E.B. Gaston and the Origins of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony; and Women of Fair Hope. Historians in Service of a Better South, also published by NewSouth, is a collection of essays written in Gaston’s honor, to which such leading historians as Ed Ayers, Matthew Lassiter, Robert J. Norrell, and many others contributed. This UVA memoriam speaks powerfully to Gaston’s legacy: https://news.virginia.edu/content/memoriam-historian-paul-gaston-early-civil-rights-activist.

American Founders sparks strong response with message about role of African-descended people in shaping our democracy

Monday, July 15th, 2019 by Suzanne La Rosa

The early praise for American Founders by Christina Proenza-Coles was, quite simply, outstanding. The book, which released from NewSouth Books in April, was blurbed by leading American historians who called the work “erudite and balanced, a feat of hemispheric synthesis and understanding” (Ben Vinson III, George Washington University, Dean of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences), and said that “it stands as a model of a new kind1588383318 of hemispheric history” (Joel Dinerstein, Tulane University, Clark Chair of American Civilization), and “gives us a stirring and sweeping history that shows how an appreciation of the freedom struggles of African-descended people changes the whole story of national histories” (David Roediger, University of Kansas, Foundation Professor of American Studies). A starred Publishers Weekly review and praise from Kirkus, Booklist, and others followed. Reviews for the book have been every bit as gratifying. Most recently, The Fayetteville Observer says the book “challenges readers to rethink our national narrative” and boldly states that “African founders helped make America great.” Author Christina Proenza-Coles has been a featured guest on radio across the country, including WOCA in Florida; KPFA in California; and WUNC in North Carolina. Lapham’s Quarterly ran a lengthy excerpt from the work, and the Journal for Blacks in Higher Education spotlighted it on a recent Books of Interest list. The Charlottesville Daily Progress published a special feature on the book and its connections to Virginia. Impeccably researched, this book that proposes a radical rethinking of the American story—suggesting that the narrative about African-descended Americans starts much earlier than is previously understood, even before the founding of our country—should continue to blaze interest and change minds. Amen to that. 

Magnificent new edition of Pickett's History of Alabama released to coincide with state Bicentennial

Monday, July 8th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Much that we know about the years leading up to and immediately after Alabama became a state, in 1819, we take from a single source, Pickett's History of Alabama, and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, from the Earliest Period. The work by Albert J. Pickett, first published in 1851, is considered the very first history of the state. In recent years, Pickett’s History, as it is known for short, has been available chiefly in poor facsimile editions. Even so, the book has been an invaluable resource032-PH Jacket v300 300ppi for scholars studying and writing about Southeastern Indians and the expansion of the young United States into what was known as the “Old Southwest,” the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. To celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial, NewSouth Books has published a superb new edition of the work, The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama. This magnificent volume is made possible by James P. Pate, a scholar in the field, who has devoted almost two decades to a painstaking annotation of Pickett’s original two-volume work. Dr. Pate verified Pickett’s sources; elaborated on the persons, events, and places described; and enriched the work with historical detail unknown when Pickett was writing. The work has also been fully indexed for the first time. The new edition, which carries an introduction by Dr. Pate, combines the two volumes in one and is presented in an attractive and readable wide format: Pickett’s original text and his own footnotes occupy the main part of the page, with annotations in boldface given in the margins. The result pays homage to a book that was described when it appeared nine years before the Civil War as “one of the prettiest specimens of book making ever done in America.” In an article from Alabama NewsCenter, Pate details the importance of republishing Pickett’s History: “For anyone writing about the state of Alabama — and especially the colonial, territorial, or the protohistoric record — Pickett is a very critical source that is not readily available.” (https://alabamanewscenter.com/2018/10/10/picketts-history-alabama-re-released-month/) Praise for the work has come from many quarters. Dr. Ed Bridges, the former director of Alabama Department of Archives and History, graciously calls The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama “its own historic event.” Dr. Pate is one of a dozen writers and historians selected by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission (AL200) to speak about topics related to our state history in this Bicentennial year (https://www.al.com/life/2019/02/alabama-bicentennial-13-authors-to-offer-insights-on-state.html).

Message of reconciliation in The Road to Healing reaches thinkers from Virginia to Paris

Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

The discussion on reparations for slavery and civil rights violations in America has perhaps never reached such a fever pitch as it is during the 2020 election cycle. Just this week, 2020 nominee Cory Booker and author Ta-Nehisi Coates testified before Congress on the necessary justice that reparations would bring to the African American community and the lasting legacy that slavery has in America today. Joining this roiling discussion is Ken Woodley, former editor of the Farmville Herald in Virginia and author of The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Woodley campaigned for civil rights reparations in Prince Edward County after learning that the county closed their public schools in reaction to the Brown vs Board decision. Woodley’s crusade resulted in a state-wide scholarship program for those who had their right to education taken from them, a victory that Julian Bond called the first real civil rights reparations in the United States. Since the release of his book in April, Woodley’s account has brought him into the international conversation on reparations. Woodley’s perspective has been featured on Joshua Johnson’s 1A; the Community Watch program on D.C.’s WPFW; Detroit Today; The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia; and The Richmond Times Dispatch. Woodley was also a guest of honor at a panel featuring former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia and held at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center in Richmond, Virginia. The panel is dedicated to Barbara Rose Johns, a community organizer in Prince Edward County and key figure in The Road to Healing. Woodley’s take on reparations was internationally considered in Le Monde alongside the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. The passion for justice and reconciliation that Woodley holds should be viewed as a basic civil duty, and we commend Woodley for his dedication.

Frye Gaillard tours nationally with A Hard Rain

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

There are many ways in which Frye Gaillard has been a great NewSouth Books author and friend, not the least of which has been his adventurous spirit and willingness to travel with his books. With six in all published by NewSouth (and two more forthcoming), he has had many reasons to be on the road, but interest and critical reviews for his masterwork on the 1960s, A Hard Rain, have brought him opportunities from coast to coast. He’s had wonderful events at such far-flung places as the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, Brown University in Providence, the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Newseum in Washington, DC, JimmyIMG_8606
Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, and David Brower Center in Berkeley, California. And he’s made appearances at a long list of bookstores, including such favorites as Park Road Books, Malaprop’s, Prairie Lights, and Page and Palette, and some new ones too: in Portland, Oregon, he stopped at Rose City Book Pub, where his book talk was wonderfully received. Recently he had the great pleasure to participate in Greensboro Bound, a book festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, organized by Scuppernong Books. Coincidentally, Frye’s program was held at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which occupies the former Woolworth’s building, where the lunch-counter sit-ins discussed in the very first pages of A Hard Rain took place. Frye was moved to be in that hallowed space. And suddenly it seemed as if the miles had returned him to where he’d started with A Hard Rain. Metaphorically speaking, that is. What an amazing journey it has been.

 

Books and BBQ: Preview a Story from L’Chaim and Lamentations by Craig Darch, to be released in August

Friday, May 24th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Whatever your plans for this coming Memorial Day weekend, we hope you make time to spend with a book. Allow us to preview a quite special one NewSouth will publish in August. It’s a collection of short stories titled L’Chaim and Lamentions by Craig Darch. With stirring Jewish inflection, Darch’s work speaks about the value of family and community, exploring universal themes of companionship and loneliness, faith and perseverance. These stories detail the lives of the powerful and confident, but also the struggle of the modest and the determined, people doing the best they can to get by. Blurbs for this book by Craig Darch should whet your appetite. Read this one by Seth Greenland, author of The Hazards of Good Fortune, which we quite like: “Warm, satisfying, and evocative of lost times, Craig Darch’s stories are the literary equivalent of my grandmother’s kugel, with far fewer calories.” Happy holiday! 

New Jack Brooks political bio subject of KSTX story; Nancy Pelosi, others turn out for gala DC book launch event

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

72ppi 1588383210If you think history doesn’t repeat itself, read again. David Martin Davies at Texas Public Radio spoke to author Brendan McNulty about the life of legendary Texas Congressman Jack Brooks, as told in a new book – The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century – exploring how the impeachment proceedings that faced Richard Nixon during Brooks’s tenure in D.C. may bear considering again today (https://bit.ly/2YESCge). Brooks served in Congress under ten presidents in a remarkable career that spanned five decades, mentoring a younger generation of Congressmen and women including Nancy Pelosi. As Speaker Pelosi observes in her blurb for the book, “Jack had no fear of unpopular opinions or of reaching across the aisle to pursue the common good. His principled leadership and political courage, richly chronicled in this first biography of his life, are an extraordinary legacy.” Pelosi, along with the likes of Randy Weber, Brian Babin, Greg Laughlin, and many others in the halls of power, were also special guests at a D.C. launch party this week for The Meanest Man in Congress. The gala is the subject of this fantastic piece in The Hill: https://bit.ly/2HwHpc3.

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Rod Davis wins another award, for lifetime achievement serving veterans

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 by Randall Williams

In the years since 2003 when NewSouth Books published Rod Davis’s first novel, Corina’s Way, we have taken pride and pleasure in seeing him recognized in the literary community for his work as a writer, including as a book critic and columnist. Highlights of his career to date include receipt of a PEN/Southwest Award for Corina’s Way and his induction into the Texas Institute of Letters. Davis added a different kind of award to his portfolio last week, when he received the Bill Pearson Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Association of Veterans Education Specialists. A Vietnam Era vet, Davis co-founded and served as director of the Texas A&M University System’s Veterans Support Office (VSO). The award recognizes “individuals who have made outstanding contributions through constructive participation in veterans’ organizations, thus demonstrating a deep sense of caring for the veteran,” WAVES president Tracy Copeland told the Texas A&M University System News. The News notes that under Davis’s leadership, “the A&M System VSO provided coordination, communication and guidance to the system’s 11 universities and engaged in outreach on veteran education support issues throughout Texas and nation.” Congratulations to Rod on this most-deserved humanitarian honor.

Jacqueline Trimble wins 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize for debut collection, American Happiness

Friday, July 14th, 2017 by Randall Williams

In a bit of great news, American Happiness, recently published by NewSouth Books, wowed the judges of the Balcones Prize, winning the 2016 award for Jacqueline Allen Trimble in the poetry category. The judges at Austin Community College said of her work, “Hers is a refreshing voice. Her poetry is intimate and irony-filled.” They add, “Trimble should never be taken lightly — but, darn it, her poems are so often funny.” Certainly, Jackie Trimble does not take receipt of the award lightly. She was overjoyed about it, especially given the caliber of the poetry award finalists — Claudia Rankine, Bryce Milligan, James Galvin, and Martin Espada — sevand the many greats who were previous winners (Natalie Diaz and Mark Jarmon, to name just two). For Jackie Trimble, the Balcones Award follows receipt of the 2016 Seven Sisters Book Award in the poetry category. The Seven Sisters Book Awards recognize “the stories of women and those who tell them.” The award was established by author Lynne Hinton in 2015.

American Happiness is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite bookstore.

Frye Gaillard adds Jefferson Cup Honor Book for Go South to Freedom, film documentary about Journey to the Wilderness to list of credits

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 by Randall Williams

Award-winning author Frye Gaillard is enjoying a banner year: his book Go South to Freedom has just been named a Jefferson Cup Honor Book for young adult readers by the Virginia Library Association. The Jefferson Cup honors a distinguished biography, work of historical fiction or American history book for young people. Presented since 1983, the Jefferson Cup Committee’s goal is to promote reading about America’s past; to encourage the quality writing of United States history, biography, and historical fiction for young people; and to recognize authors in these disciplines.

News of the award reached Frye as he was on the road filming a television documentary based on his book Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters. Produced by Mike Letcher of Dragonfly Public Media, the program follows the footsteps of Gaillard’s ancestors who fought in the Civil War. In the film Gaillard reflects on the Civil War letters written by his great-great-grandfather and other family members, noting, “My own generation was perhaps the last that was raised on those stories of gallantry and courage. Oddly, mine was also one of the first to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights.” The film is being produced in partnership with The Center for War and Memory at The University of South Alabama for public television.

In other news, Frye Gaillard has just put the final touches on his forthcoming memoir A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope and Innocence Lost. In this book, Gaillard gives us a deeply personal history, bringing his keen storyteller’s eye to this pivotal time in American life. A Hard Rain is due out from NewSouth Books in spring 2018. He is presently at work researching the life of Benjamin Turner for his first illustrated children’s book, a project he’s collaborating on with Marti Rosner. The Slave Who Went to Congress will be released by NewSouth Books in fall 2018.

Go South to Freedom is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.