Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New E-Books of Old Favorites

We are continuing to make more of our best-selling books available as e-books. Here are a few to add to your summertime reading list. 

Although generations of readers of the Little House books are familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s early life up through her first years of marriage to Almanzo Wilder, few know about her adult years. Going beyond previous studies, Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder focuses upon Wilder’s years in Missouri from 1894 to 1957. Utilizing her unpublished autobiography, letters, newspaper stories, and other documentary evidence, John E. Miller describes her sixty-three years of living in Mansfield, Missouri.

Indians and Archaeology of Missouri by Carl H. and Eleanor F. Chapman has been recognized in Missouri and nationally as one of the best books of its kind. The Missouri Historical Review called it “simply indispensable.” The Plains Anthropologist added similar praise: “Clearly written and exceptionally well illustrated…it is the answer to the amateur’s prayers.” Archaeology described it as “a boon to Missouri’s many amateur archaeologists, a useful source of information for professionals and interesting reading for the layman.”

Women in Missouri History, edited by  LeeAnn Whites, Mary C. Neth, and Gary R. Kremer, surveys the history of women in Missouri from colonial settlement through the mid-twentieth century. The women featured in these essays come from various ethnic, economic, and racial groups, from both urban and rural areas, and from all over the state. Their stories are told through biographies and through techniques of social history, allowing us to learn not only about the women’s lives individually, but also about how groups of “ordinary” women shaped the history of the state.

In A Creed for My Profession, Ronald T. Farrar provides for the first time a candid look at the remarkable life of Walter Williams, the man who founded the world's first school of journalism at the University of Missouri and perhaps contributed more toward the promotion of professional journalism than any other person of his time. Williams's Journalist's Creed is one of the most widely circulated codes of professional ethics, still in use by journalists today.

Journalism 1908, edited by Betty Houchin Winfield, opens a window on mass communication more than a century ago. It tells how the news media in the United States were fundamentally changed by the creation of academic departments and schools of journalism, by the founding of the National Press Club, and by exciting advances that included early newsreels, the introduction of halftones to print, and even changes in newspaper design.

In A Fatherless Child, Tara T. Green examines the impact of fatherlessness on racial and gender identity formation as seen in black men’s autobiographies and in other constructions of black fatherhood in fiction. Closely examining four works—Langston Hughes’s The Big Sea, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father—Green portrays the intersecting experiences of generations of black men during the twentieth century both before and after the Civil Rights movement.

You can buy any of these e-books from Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Chegg, Ebrary, EBSCO, Google, Kobo, OverDrive, Sony, and the Press’s own web page, where you will also find many more e-books available.

If there are any other University of Missouri Press books that you would like to be able to purchase as e-books, let us know in the comments.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Author Spotlight: W. Scott Olsen

Prairie Sky: A Pilot's Reflections on Flying and the Grace of Altitude
By W. Scott Olsen

Prairie Sky is a celebration of curiosity and a book for explorers. In this collection of contemplative essays, Scott Olsen invites readers to view the world from a pilot’s seat, demonstrating how, with just a little bit of altitude, the world changes, new relationships become visible, and new questions seem to rise up from the ground.

Q: What first drew you to flying?

I have always been interested in flight and flying. Both my mother and father have some background in aviation and their stories were classic inspirations. My mistake was not taking flying lessons when I was very young. I knew I was not going to be a professional pilot, and flying can be expensive, so I avoided the lessons under the guise of being practical and responsible. When I started work on a book about some pilots, however, I knew I had to take a lesson or two just to gain an insight into their world, and I was hooked right then.

Q: Where are you most looking forward to exploring that you haven't yet?

I look forward to exploring almost everything. There is a sense of unfolding and purpose in a life led by curiosity and I find that very attractive.

Q: Your new website has a collection of beautiful photographs that you've taken during your travels. What do you try to capture when you're taking these pictures?

I am not a photographer by any real sense of that word, but I think I do have some ability to frame a shot, to see what in a landscape might be interesting to focus on. This is very much the same insight a writer seeks—to find that or those details that speak louder than others. I am interested in clouds and weather photographs because those things are so transient, so changing. Sometimes what I am doing is preserving a moment’s theater or beauty. With my other shots, what I am looking for is either a moment of insight, or a perspective that reveals something new.

Q: Do you plan to write about places before you visit them, or do you wait for a place that sparks up an inspiration during your visit?

There are a thousand places I want to visit, and I am a writer, so at one level I plan to write about every place I visit. It could be my kitchen.  It could be Rannoch Moor. Sometimes I do get inspiration when I’m on a trip, but more often than not my role during a trip is just detail and impression collecting. When I get home and I begin to sort through the stories and photographs—that’s when I understand what shape the writing might take.

Q: What is your most memorable flying experience?

I own a national and world speed record. Seriously. I did not break a record, I set one. I discovered there was no official record for the fastest flight across North Dakota in the type of airplane I fly (in those days a Cessna 152), so I decided to set that record. It did not matter how fast I flew—no one had done this before. A Cessna 152 is not a fast airplane. I was often passed by trucks and cars on the highways below me. But I set the record. It was a beautiful day for flying.

Q: Have you already decided on your next adventure? 

There are always small adventures and trips coming up, but my current hope for the next book is to return to road-trip stories. I want to make one grand road trip that touches the westernmost, then northernmost, then easternmost, then southernmost points of the North American road system. I will probably do this in my Jeep, but there is a small voice in my work that says take a motorcycle. Who knows. The working title is The Last Great Ride.

Be sure to check out W. Scott Olsen's new website, and check back here frequently for more UMP blog posts!