Monday, March 17, 2014

University of Missouri Press Staff Favorites

Clair Willcox

Power at Sea by Lisle A. Rose

Among the dozens of books from our list that I claim as favorites, there is a special place for those that endure a protracted, difficult birth but ultimately thrive.  When Lisle Rose first sent me a draft of more than 1,200 pages for what eventually became Power at Sea, the author and I faced the problem of how to reshape such an ungainly manuscript into separate volumes so that each would appeal to a particular readership.  That daunting task not only required substantial restructuring, it also meant extending the narrative beyond the Cold War into the last decade.   Fortunately, the author was willing and capable, and the result was worth all the trouble.  Perhaps the most comprehensive recounting of naval power during the twentieth century, Power at Sea won the prestigious John Lyman Book Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History and was a main selection of the History Book Club.

Greg Haefner

Lucky That Way offers a compelling and well-written account of one family’s experience dealing with the illness and death of a loved one. Readers will find unparalleled emotional transparency and power in Pamela Gerhardt’s writing, drawing them into her story as if it were their own.

Tracy Tritschler

I enjoyed reading about the childhood experiences of someone that grew up in similar circumstances as my grandparents, in a small town not too far away from where they lived. I gave a copy to my grandparents who took turns reading it aloud to each other, reminiscing about their pasts the whole while. It gave them great joy to share those remembrances with each other while reading the book which is what a good book is all about. Not only can you learn from a book but you can relate to the material in a personal way as well.
Lyn Smith

Sporting Lives is fascinating and well written.  It gives an interesting look at the autobiographies of some famous athletes and then analyzes common themes and patterns in their lives and sporting experiences.

Gary Kass

The author of this unclassifiable book--part history, part memoir--tells how his immigrant Russian father became one of the main architects of the Social Security program. Abe Epstein--journalist, author, and organizer--worked tirelessly to see Social Security enacted and then perfected, even as he himself was cast aside by FDR for political reasons. At the same time, the author describes the joys and disappointments of growing into adulthood with a work-obsessed father and eccentric mother, Henriette, who in her nineties was still fighting for recognition of Abe’s accomplishment.

Jane Lago

Gathering the Family by William Holtz

In the thirty-plus years I’ve worked at the Press, there are many books that I consider favorites. But there is only one case in which I purchased 20 copies upon publication in order to give a book to family and friends: William Holtz’s Gathering the Family, a wonderfully lyrical exploration of the meaning of family and identity.

Kirk Hinkelman

Firstly, I must echo Jane’s pick Gathering the Family.  My second pick is The Art of the Missouri Capitol by Bob Priddy and Jeffrey Ball.  It is one of the first books that I began to spend time with at the Press and it is truly magnificent in size and content.  Priddy and Ball give a very thorough examination of the art and sculpture of our Capital building inside and out.  Nothing escapes their inspection and study—even the sculpted flagpole bases.


Kristi Henson

The Wild Mammals of Missouri by Charles W. Schwartz and Elizabeth R. Schwartz

Groucho Marx once quipped, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” While I’m sure it would be too dark to read The Wild Mammals of Missouri inside any of the animals featured in the book, this fabulous volume features beautiful drawings of the outsides and, yes, insides of the animals collected therein. Plus, it’s just really cool. If you’ve read this recommendation and would like a copy of The Wild Mammals of Missouri to call your very own, email me at with the name of your favorite wild mammal in the subject line for your chance to win a copy. Seriously.

Sara Davis

Mississippi History by Steve Yarbrough

An occupational hazard of editing is acquiring more books than I will ever be able to shelve, stack, or store.  And so I’ve learned to reject, to donate, to lend, to—in the helpful words of a museum curator—deaccession items from my collection. Steve Yarbrough’s Mississippi History has traveled in a front-of-the-U-Haul “KEEP” box through four moves and survived countless reorganizations.  Yarbrough is funny, wise, and generous to both his characters and his readers.  If you’ve not read his work, and you’re thinking of buying one of his books, I’ll warn you now, you’re going to need to clear some shelf space in the KEEP section.