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University of North Texas Press

University of North Texas Press

Website: www.unt.edu/untpress

The University of North Texas Press was founded in 1987. The Press publishes in the humanities and social sciences, with special emphasis on Texas history and culture, military history, western history, music, folklore, multicultural topics, criminal justice, natural and environmental history, culinary history, women's studies, and an annual poetry and short story prize competition.


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University of North Texas Press

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Let's Do Cover

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Let's Do

Rebecca Meacham

In the nine stories of Let’s Do, various calamities strike ordinary Midwesterners, who cope with a mixture of good intentions and ineptitude. Balancing humor with painful clarity, author Rebecca Meacham pulls readers into the lives of characters who struggle with—and more often against—change. “Rebecca Meacham has one of the freshest voices I've encountered in a long time. Blatantly wise, she creates stories that are deliciously subversive, brave and outrageous, reminiscent of a young Alice Hoffman. As the lives of her characters get derailed, they move with the damaged grace of walking through broken glass on tiptoe. This is a writer whose words speak with emotional resonance about the resilience of the human heart—a beautiful, authentic talent who knows that when you turn life upside down, you get good measures of both trouble and laughter, a lesson the very best writers recognize early.”—Jonis Agee, judge

Life and Death in the Central Highlands Cover

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Life and Death in the Central Highlands

An American Sergeant in the Vietnam War, 1968-1970

James T. Gillam

In 1968 James T. Gillam was a poorly focused college student at Ohio University who was dismissed and then drafted into the Army. Unlike most African Americans who entered the Army then, he became a Sergeant and an instructor at the Fort McClellan Alabama School of Infantry. In September 1968 he joined the First Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Within a month he transformed from an uncertain sergeant—who tried to avoid combat—to an aggressive soldier, killing his first enemy and planning and executing successful ambushes in the jungle. Gillam was a regular point man and occasional tunnel rat who fought below ground, an arena that few people knew about until after the war ended. By January 1970 he had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and been promoted to Staff Sergeant. Then Washington’s politics and military strategy took his battalion to the border of Cambodia. Search-and-destroy missions became longer and deadlier. From January to May his unit hunted and killed the enemy in a series of intense firefights, some of them in close combat. In those months Gillam was shot twice and struck by shrapnel twice. He became a savage, strangling a soldier in hand-to-hand combat inside a lightless tunnel. As his mid-summer date to return home approached, Gillam became fiercely determined to come home alive. The ultimate test of that determination came during the Cambodian invasion. On his last night in Cambodia, the enemy got inside the wire of the firebase, and the killing became close range and brutal. Gillam left the Army in June 1970, and within two weeks of his last encounter with death, he was once again a college student and destined to become a university professor. The nightmares and guilt about killing are gone, and so is the callous on his soul. Life and Death in the Central Highlands is a gripping, personal account of one soldier’s war in Vietnam.

Life in Laredo Cover

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Life in Laredo

A Documentary History from the Laredo Archives

Robert D. Wood

Based on documents from the Laredo Archives, Life in Laredo shows the evolution and development of daily life in a town under the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Isolated on the northern frontier of New Spain and often forgotten by authorities far away, the people of Laredo became as grand as the river that flowed by their town and left an enduring legacy in a world of challenges and changes. Because of its documentary nature, Life in Laredo offers insights into the nitty-gritty of the comings and goings of its early citizens not to be found elsewhere. Robert D. Wood, S.M., presents the first one hundred years of history and culture in Laredo up to the mid-nineteenth century, illuminating--with primary source evidence--the citizens’ beliefs, cultural values, efforts to make a living, political seesawing, petty quarreling, and constant struggles against local Indians. He also details rebellious military and invading foreigners among the early settlers and later townspeople. Scholars and students of Texas and Mexican American history, as well as the Laredoans celebrating the 250th anniversary (in 2005) of Laredo’s founding, will welcome this volume. “Although there have been a number of books on the history of Laredo, this particular study is far more thorough than any previous work. Life in Laredo is imaginatively organized, exceptionally well researched, and well written. No individual knows the Laredo Archives as well as Robert Wood, and his knowledge and understanding are readily evident. This book will be of interest to anyone studying the history of the Texas-Mexico border, Texas colonial history, or just Texas history in general.”--Jerry D. Thompson, author of A Wild and Vivid Land: An Illustrated History of the South Texas Border and Laredo: A Pictorial History

Life of the Marlows Cover

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Life of the Marlows

A True Story of Frontier Life of Early Days

Revised by William Rathmell. Edited with an Introduction and Annotations by Robert K. DeArment

The story of the five Marlow brothers and their tribulations in late nineteenth-century Texas is the stuff of Old West legend (and served to inspire the John Wayne movie, The Sons of Katie Elder). Violent, full of intrigue, with characters of amazing heroism and deplorable cowardice, their story was first related by William Rathmell in Life of the Marlows, a little book published in 1892, shortly after the events it described in Young County, Texas. It told how Boone, the most reckless of the brothers, shot and killed a popular sheriff and escaped, only to be murdered later by bounty hunters. The other four brothers, arrested as accessories and jailed, made a daring break from confinement but were recaptured. Once back in their cells, they were forced to fight off a mob intent on lynching them. Later, shackled together, the Marlows were placed on wagons by officers late at night, bound for another town, but they were ambushed by angry citizens. In the resulting battle two of the brothers were shot and killed, the other two severely wounded, and three mob members died. The surviving brothers eventually were exonerated, but members of the mob that had attacked them were prosecuted in cases that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The original 1892 edition and expanded reprint of 1931 are both quite scarce. Later writers drew upon Rathmell’s account when telling the story of the Marlows, but all accounts were slanted sympathetically toward them, given the same bias by Rathmell. Now Robert K. DeArment, a noted historian of outlaws and lawmen of the West, has sifted through the evidence and presents herein an objective, annotated edition of Life of the Marlows , which contains extensive clarifying and corrective footnotes and an index. Now the complete story can be told and readers can judge for themselves: were the Marlows as law-abiding as Rathmell claims? Or was the mob reacting with justified anger?

A Life on Paper Cover

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A Life on Paper

The Drawings and Lithographs of John Thomas Biggers

Olive Jensen Theisen

John Thomas Biggers (1924–2001) was a major African American artist who inspired countless others through his teaching, murals, paintings, and drawings. After receiving conventional art training at Hampton Institute and Pennsylvania State, he had his personal and artistic breakthrough in 1957 when he spent six months in the newly independent country of Ghana. From this time forward, he integrated African abstract elements with his rural Southern images to create a personal iconography. His new approach made him famous, as his personal discovery of African heritage fit in well with the growing U.S. civil rights movement. He is best known for his murals at Hampton University, Winston-Salem University, and Texas Southern, but the drawings and lithographs that lie behind the murals have received scant attention—until now. Theisen interviewed Dr. Biggers during the last thirteen years of his life, and was welcomed into his studio innumerable times. Together, they selected representative works for this volume, some of which have not been previously published for a general audience. After his death in 2001, his widow continued to work closely with Theisen, resulting in a book that is intimate and informative for both the scholar and the student.

Life with a Superhero Cover

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Life with a Superhero

Raising Michael Who Has Down Syndrome

Kathryn U. Hulings

Over twenty years ago, in a small Israeli town, a desperate mother told a remarkable lie. She told her friends and family that her newborn child had died. That lie became the catalyst for the unfolding truth of the adoption of that same baby—Michael —who is, in fact, very much alive and now twenty-two years old. He also has Down syndrome. When Kathryn Hulings adopted Michael as an infant, she could not have known that he would save her life when she became gravely ill and was left forever physically compromised. Her story delights in how Michael’s life and hers, while both marked by difference and challenge, are forever intertwined in celebration and laughter. With candor and a sense of humor, Life With a Superhero wraps itself around the raucous joy of Michael’s existence with his four older siblings who play hard and love big; how Kathryn and her husband, Jim, utilize unconventional techniques in raising kids; the romance between Michael and his fiancée, Casey; the power of dance in Michael's life as an equalizing and enthralling force; the staggering potential and creativity of those who are differently-abled; and the mind-blowing politics of how Kathryn navigated school systems and societal attitudes that at times fought to keep Michael excluded from the lives of kids deemed “normal.” No other books about the parenting experience outline what to do when, say, a child runs across the roof of a tri-level house pretending he can fly, or shows up in a 7th grade social studies class dressed like Spiderman, or calls 911 when his girlfriend breaks his heart. But, as Michael’s mom, Kathryn has been trying to figure how to be a mother in just such circumstances—sometimes with success, sometimes with dismal failure—for over two decades.

The Light Crust Doughboys Are on the Air Cover

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The Light Crust Doughboys Are on the Air

Celebrating Seventy Years of Texas Music

John Mark Dempsey

Millions of Texans and Southwesterners have been touched over the years by the Light Crust Doughboys. From 1930 to 1952, fans faithfully tuned in to their early-morning and, later, noontime radio program, and turned out in droves to hear them play live. The Doughboys embodied the very essence of the “golden era” of radio—live performances and the dominance of programming by advertising agencies. Their radio program began as a way to sell Light Crust Flour. Their early impresario, W. Lee “Pappy” O'Daniel, quickly learned how to exploit the power of radio to influence voters, and he put that lesson to good use to become a two-time Texas governor and the model for Pappy O'Daniel in the movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? But the group was more than a way to push flour; the talented musicians associated with them included Bob Wills and Milton Brown, each of whom receive credit for founding western swing. With the demise of their regular radio program, the Light Crust Doughboys had to remake themselves. Trailblazers in western swing, the Doughboys explored many other musical genres, including gospel, for which they were nominated for Grammys in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002. They continue to play together with versatility and wide-ranging talent—“official music ambassadors of the Lone Star State” as declared by the state legislature in 1995. Their legendary banjo player, Smokey Montgomery, was with the group for sixty-six years before his death in 2001. For the first time, here is the story of the Doughboys phenomenon, from their debut broadcast to their contemporary live performances. This is a rich slice of Texas musical and broadcasting history. Included inside is a bonus CD containing seventy-two minutes of Doughboys music, from early studio recordings to contemporary tunes.

Living in the Woods in a Tree Cover

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Living in the Woods in a Tree

Remembering Blaze Foley

Sybil Rosen

Living in the Woods in a Tree is an intimate glimpse into the turbulent life of Texas music legend Blaze Foley (1949--1989), seen through the eyes of Sybil Rosen, the woman for whom he wrote his most widely known song, “If I Could Only Fly." It captures the exuberance of their fleeting idyll in a tree house in the Georgia woods during the countercultural 1970s. Rosen offers a firsthand witnessing of Foley’s transformation from a reticent hippie musician to the enigmatic singer/songwriter who would live and die outside society's rules. While Foley's own performances are only recently being released, his songs have been covered by Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine. When he first encountered “If I Could Only Fly," Merle Haggard called it “the best country song I've heard in fifteen years." In a work that is part-memoir, part-biography, Rosen struggles to finally come to terms with Foley's myth and her role in its creation. Her tracing of his impact on her life navigates a lovers' roadmap along the permeable boundary between life and death. A must-read for all Blaze Foley and Texas music fans, as well as romantics of all ages, Living in the Woods in a Tree is an honest and compassionate portrait of the troubled artist and his reluctant muse.

The Mason County

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The Mason County "Hoo Doo" War, 1874-1902

David Johnson

Post-Reconstruction Texas in the mid-1870s was still relatively primitive, with communities isolated from each other in a largely open-range environment. Cattlemen owned herds of cattle in numerous counties while brand laws remained local. Friction arose when the nonresident stockmen attempted to gather their cattle, and mavericking was common. Law enforcement at the local level could cope with handling local drunks, collecting taxes, and attending the courts when in session, but when an outrageous crime occurred, or depredations in a community were at a level that severely taxed or overwhelmed the local sheriff, there was seldom any other recourse except a vigilante movement. With such a fragile hold on civilization in these communities, it is not difficult to understand how a “blood feud” could occur. During 1874 the Hoo Doo War erupted in the Texas Hill Country of Mason County, and for the remainder of the century violence and fear ruled the region in a rising tide of hatred and revenge. It is widely considered the most bitter feud in Texas history. Traditionally the feud is said to have begun with the intention of protecting the families, property and livelihood of the largely agrarian settlers in Mason and Llano counties. The truth is far more sinister. Evidence shows that the mob was contaminated from the outset by a criminal element, a fact the participants failed to recognize. They believed they were above the law. They were not above vengeance. The feud began in 1874 with the rise of the mob under Sheriff John Clark, but it was not until the premeditated murder of rancher Timothy Williamson in the spring of 1875, a murder orchestrated by Sheriff Clark, that the violence escalated out of control. His death drew former Texas Ranger Scott Cooley to the region seeking justice, and when the courts failed, he began a vendetta to avenge his friend. In the ensuing months, Sheriff Clark used the mob to secure his political position by ambushing ranchers George Gladden and Moses Baird, which drew gunfighters such as John Ringo into the violence. As more men were killed, new forces joined the spiral of death. Local and state officials proved powerless, and it was not until the early 1900s that the feud burned itself out. Johnson has proven a diligent researcher in locating information concerning the Hoo Doo War. Using contemporary newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, and official reports, he analyzes the myths and legends surrounding the feud and presents the unvarnished truth of what happened in Mason County. This book is the definitive account of the Hoo Doo War, as well as a case study in frontier violence of the bloodiest kind.

The McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona Cover

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The McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona

An O.K. Corral Obituary

Paul Lee Johnson

On a chilly October afternoon in 1881, two brothers named Tom and Frank McLaury were gunned down on the streets of Tombstone, Arizona, by the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. The deadly event became known as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and in a quirk of fate, the brothers’ names became well-known, but only as bad men and outlaws. Did they deserve that reputation? The McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona: An O.K. Corral Obituary explores this question, revealing details of their family background and the context of their lives on the frontier. Paul Lee Johnson begins their story with the McLaury brothers’ decision to go into the cattle business with an ambition to have their own ranch. When they moved to Arizona, they finally achieved that goal, but along the way they became enmeshed with the cross-border black market that was thriving there. As “honest ranchers” they were in business with both the criminal element as well as the legitimate businesses in Tombstone. Another principal in this story was an older brother, William, who set aside his law practice in Fort Worth to settle his brothers’ affairs, and associated himself with the prosecution of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. Despite his efforts, the Earps and Holliday were exonerated, and the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” became the opening salvo of a feud that took several more lives. Johnson has interviewed family descendants and mined their sources, government correspondence, and letters that have never before been published to reveal the human lives behind the storied events. For the first time the events of the O.K. Corral gunfight are presented from the viewpoint of the McLaurys, two brothers who lost their lives and reputations, and a family who tried in vain to find restitution.

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