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Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country
Louisiana’s bayous and their watersheds teem with cypress trees, alligators, crawfish, and many other life forms. From Bayou Tigre to Half Moon Bayou, these sluggish streams meander through lowlands, marshes, and even uplands to dominate the state’s landscape. In Bayou-Diversity, conservationist Kelby Ouchley reveals the bayou’s intricate web of flora and fauna. Through a collection of essays about Louisiana’s natural history, Ouchley details an amazing array of plants and animals found in the Bayou State. Baldcypress, orchids, feral hogs, eels, black bears, bald eagles, and cottonmouth snakes live in the well over a hundred bayous of the region. Collectively, Ouchley’s vignettes portray vibrant and complex habitats. But human interaction with the bayou and our role in its survival, Ouchley argues, will determine the future of these intricate ecosystems. Bayou-Diversity narrates the story of the bayou one flower, one creature at a time, in turn illustrating the bigger picture of this treasured and troubled Louisiana landscape.
The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke
From antebellum times, Louisiana’s unique multipartite society included a legal and social space for intermediary racial groups such as Acadians, Creoles, and Creoles of Color. In Becoming Cajun, Becoming American, Maria Hebert-Leiter explores how American writers have portrayed Acadian culture over the past 150 years. Combining a study of Acadian literary history with an examination of Acadian ethnic history in light of recent social theories, she offers insight into the Americanization process experienced by Acadians—who over time came to be known as Cajuns—during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Hebert-Leiter examines the entire history of the Acadian, or Cajun, in American literature, beginning with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline and the writings of George Washington Cable, including his novel Bonaventure. The cultural complexity of Acadian and Creole identities led many writers to rely on stereotypes in Acadian characters, but as Hebert-Leiter shows, the ambiguity of Louisiana’s class and racial divisions also allowed writers to address complex and controversial—and sometimes taboo—subjects. She emphasizes the fiction of Kate Chopin, whose short stories contain Acadian characters accepted as white Americans during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Representations of the Acadian in literature reflect the Acadians’ path towards assimilation, as they celebrated their differences while still adopting an all-American notion of self. In twentieth-century writing, Acadian figures came to be more often called Cajun, and increasingly outsiders perceived them not simply as exotic or mythic beings but as complex persons who fit into traditional American society while reflecting its cultural diversity. Hebert-Leiter explores this transition in Ernest Gaines’s novel A Gathering of Old Men and James Lee Burke’s detective novels featuring Dave Robicheaux. She also discusses the works of Ada Jack Carver, Elma Godchaux, Shirley Ann Grau, and other writers. From Longfellow through Tim Gautreaux, Acadian and Cajun literature captures the stages of this fascinating cultural dynamism, making it a pivotal part of any history of American ethnicity and of Cajun culture in particular. Concise and accessible, Becoming Cajun, Becoming American provides an excellent introduction to American Acadian and Cajun literature.
A Virginia Community at War, 1861–1867
During the Civil War, the strategically located town of Winchester, Virginia, suffered from the constant turmoil of military campaigning perhaps more than any other town. Occupied dozens of times by alternating Union and Confederate forces, Winchester suffered through three major battles, including some seventy smaller skirmishes. In his voluminous community study of the town over the course of four tumultuous years, Richard R. Duncan shows that in many ways Winchester's history provides a paradigm of the changing nature of the war. Indeed, Duncan reveals how the town offers a microcosm of the war: slavery collapsed, women assumed control in the absence of men, and civilians vied for authority alongside an assortment of revolving military commanders. Control over Winchester was vital for both the North and the South. Confederates used it as a base to strike the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and conduct raids into western Maryland and Pennsylvania, and when Federal forces occupied the town, they threatened Staunton—Lee's breadbasket—and the Virginia Central Railroad. At various times during the war, generals "Stonewall" Jackson, Nathaniel Banks, Robert Milroy, Richard Ewell, Jubal Early, and Philip Sheridan each controlled the town. Guerrilla activity further compounded the region's strife as insecurity became the norm for its civilian population. In this first scholarly treatment of occupied Winchester, Duncan has compiled a narrative of voices from the entire community, including those of groups often omitted from such studies, such as slaves, women, and Confederate dissenters. He shows how Federal occupation meant an early end to slavery in Winchester and how the paucity of men left women to serve as the major cohesive force in the community, making them a bulwark of Confederate support. He also explores the tensions between civilians and military personnel that inevitably arose as each group sought to protect its interests. The war, Duncan explains, left Winchester a landscape of wreckage and economic loss. A fascinating case study of civilian survival amid the turmoil of war, Beleaguered Winchester will appeal to Civil War scholars and enthusiasts alike.
First published in 1865, Belle Boyd’s memoir of her experiences as a Confederate spy has stood the test of time and interest. Belle first gained notoriety when she killed a Union soldier in her home in 1861. During the Federal occupations of the Shenandoah Valley, she mingled with the servicemen and, using her feminine wiles, obtained useful information for the Rebel cause. In this new edition, Kennedy-Nolle and Faust consider the domestic side of the Civil War and also assess the value of Boyd's memoir for social and literary historians in its challenge to our understanding the most divisive years in American history.
A Long, Long Run
Billy Cannon’s name, his image, and his remarkable athletic career serve as emblems for Louisiana State University, the Southeastern Conference, and college football. LSU’s only Heisman Trophy winner, Cannon led the Tigers to a national championship in 1958, igniting a love of the game in Louisiana and establishing a tradition of greatness at LSU.
But like many stories of lionized athletes who rise to the status of legend, there was a fall—and in the case of Billy Cannon, also redemption. For the first time, Charles N. deGravelles reveals in full the thrilling highs and unexpected lows of Cannon’s life, in Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run.
Through conversations with Cannon, deGravelles follows the athlete-turned-reformer from his boyhood in a working-class Baton Rouge neighborhood to his sudden rush of fame as the leading high school running back in the country. Personal and previously unpublished stories about Cannon’s glory days at LSU and his stellar but controversial career in the pros, as well as details of his indictment for counterfeiting and his post-release work as staff dentist at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, unfold in a riveting biography characterized by uncanny success, deep internal struggles, and a champion’s spirit that pushed through it all.
An American Soldier in Occupied Germany, 1945–1946
In his highly acclaimed Not in Vain, Leon C. Standifer recounted his experiences as a small-town Mississippi boy who at age nineteen found himself fighting as a combat infantryman in World War II France and Germany. Binding up the Wounds carries the story beyond V-E Day to describe what the author saw, heard, felt, and learned as a member of the American occupation army in the homeland of its defeated enemy.
Standifer, who served in the 94th Infantry Division in western Germany, the Sudetenland, and Bavaria in the first year of occupation, chronicles that unique and chaotic time from the viewpoint of a typical GI. Germany was an epic landscape of human need, and cities lay in ruins. But the war was over, light and laughter were once again possible, and, as Standifer recalls, “we had a ball during that first year.” Among the things he experienced or witnessed were black-market operations large and small (American cigarettes served as a universal currency, and a few ounces of mess-hall grease or used coffee grounds were valuable commodities); the spectacle of gung-ho officers attempting to turn combat troops into spit-and-polish paraders; the exploitive games played between American soldiers and German women; a gut-wrenching visit to a displaced persons camp; and the difficulties involved in guarding captured soldiers who were no longer the enemy.
Perhaps most revealing, and often surprising, are the attitudes Standifer discovered among ordinary Germans toward the war, the Nazis, the “Hitler times” in general–not only during the occupation, but also decades later when he revisited Germany and spoke with elderly survivors of those times. For there are really two voices telling the tale of Binding Up the Wounds. One is that of the combat-hardened but otherwise naive twenty-year-old who lived the experiences. The other is that of the author as retired college professor looking back over half a century and puzzling out what those experiences meant for himself, for America, and for humankind.
"This is a very valuable reference work, the non-existence of which has long been deplored by Civil War historians. The research, which is impressive, has turned up a considerable amount of detail not generally known, even among Civil War specialists." -- Bell I. Wiley This vital addition to Civil War scholarship is an attempt to rescue members of the Confederate Congress from "postbellum obscurity." Modeled after Ezra J. Warner's two earlier books, Generals in Gray and Generals in Blue, the register contains an introduction describing the makeup of the Confederate Congress, biographical sketches of the congressmen, and a substantial bibliography. The biographical sketches include the place and date of birth, family background, education, means of libelihood, politics, public-service record, and degree of financial and political success of each congressman. The authors describe each congressman's participation in (or opposition to) secession and detail the circumstances of his election to the Confederate Congress. A prominent section of each sketch is devoted to the congressman's activities in the Congress: his position on major issues; his chief interest and the measures he sponsored; and the reason he left Congress. Then, the authors attempt to pick up the lives of the congressmen after the Civil War. The sketches include the place and date of death of each man, as well as the place of burial. Anyone interested in Civil War history will find Biographical Register of the Confederate Congress an indipensable aid.
Praise for David Kirby
"Kirby is exuberant, irrepressible, maniacal and remarkably entertaining.... Okay, let me just say it: he is a wonderful poet." -- Steve Kowit, San Diego Union-Tribune
"Kirby's voice and matter (teaching, literature, traveling, rock 'n' roll, everyday bozohood) are utterly personal and, despite all the laughter, ultimately moving." -- Ray Olson, Booklist
"[Kirby] is a poet who peels away the layers of our skin to show us who we are: our weaknesses, our strengths, and our hilarious obsessions." -- Micah Zevin, New Pages
"The world that Kirby takes into his imagination and the one that arises from it merge to become a creation like no other, something like the world we inhabit but funnier and more full of wonder and terror." -- Philip Levine, Ploughshares
"These poems may be too cool for words." -- Carol Muske-Dukes, New York Times Book Review
Inspired by the carpenter's biscuit joint -- a seamless, undetectable fit between pieces of wood -- David Kirby's latest collection dramatizes the artistic mind as a hidden connection that links the mundane with the remarkable. Even in our most ordinary actions, Kirby shows, there lies a wealth of creative inspiration: "the poem that is written every day if we're there / to read it."
Well known for his garrulous and comic musings, Kirby follows a wandering yet calculated path. In "What's the Plan, Artists?" a girl's yawning in a picture gallery leads him to meditations on subjects as diverse as musical composition, the less-than-beautiful human figure, and "the simple pleasures / of living." The Biscuit Joint traverses seemingly random thoughts so methodically that the journey from beginning to end always proves satisfying and surprising.
In his moving debut collection, Matt Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother's suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. In "Outgoing," the speaker erases his brother's answering machine message to save his family from "the shame of dead you / answering calls." In other poems, once-ordinary objects become dreamlike. A buried light bulb blooms downward, "a flower / of smoldering filaments." A refrigerator holds an evening landscape, "a tinfoil lake," "vegetables / dying in the crisper." Destructive and redemptive, Black Aperture opens to the complicated entanglements of mourning: damage and healing, sorrow and laughter, and torment balanced with moments of relief.