The University of Alabama Press

Alabama Fire Ant

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Renaissance Man of Cannery Row

The Life and Letters of Edward F. Ricketts

Edward F. Ricketts, edited by Katharine A. Rodger

This portrait of one of John Steinbeck's closest friends illuminates the life and work of a figure central to the development of scientific and literary thought in the 20th century.

Marine biologist Edward F. Ricketts is perhaps best known as the inspiration for John Steinbeck's most empathic literary characters Doc in Cannery Row, Slim in Of Mice and Men, Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath, and Lee in East of Eden. The correspondence of this accomplished scientist, writer, and philosopher reveals the influential exchange of ideas he shared with such prominent thinkers and artists as Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Ellwood Graham, and James Fitzgerald, in addition to Steinbeck, all of whom were drawn to Ricketts's Monterey Bay laboratory, a haven of intellectual discourse and Bohemian culture in the 1930s and 1940s.

The 125 previously unpublished letters of this collection, housed at the Stanford University Library, document the broad range of Ricketts's interests and accomplishments during the last 12 and most productive years of his life. His handbook on Pacific marine life, Between Pacific Tides, is still in print, now in its fifth edition. The biologist's devotion to ecological conservation and his evolving philosophy of science as a cross-disciplinary, holistic pursuit led to the publication of The Sea of Cortez. Many of Ricketts's letters discuss his studies of the Pacific littoral and his theories of “phalanx” and transcendence. Epistles to family members, often tender and humorous, add dimension and depth to Steinbeck's mythologized depictions of Ricketts. Katharine A. Rodger has enriched the correspondence with an introductory biographical essay and a list of works cited.

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Simple Story Of A Soldier

Life And Service in the 2d Mississippi Infantry

This fast-paced memoir was written in 1905 by 61-year-old Samuel W. Hankins while he was living in the Soldiers Home in Gulfport, Mississippi. It vividly details his years as a Confederate rifleman from the spring of 1861, when at a mere sixteen years of age he volunteered for the 2d Mississippi Infantry, through the end of the war in 1865, when he was just twenty years old and maimed for life.

The 2d Mississippi was part of the Army of Northern Virginia and as such saw action at Bull Run/Manassas, Seven Pines and the Peninsular Campaign, and Gettysburg. Besides being hospitalized with measles, suffering severely frostbitten feet, and being wounded by a minié ball at the Railroad Cut, Hankins was captured by Federal forces and sent to a prisoner of war camp on David’s Island, New York. Later, he was transferred to a South Carolina hospital, returned home on furlough, joined a cavalry unit that fought at Atlanta, and was stationed in Selma, Alabama, when the war ended.

The strength of Hankins’s text lies in his straightforward narrative style virtually free of Lost Cause sentiment. Both Union and Confederate veterans could relate to his stories because so many of them had faced similar challenges during the war. Full of valuable information on a common soldier’s experience, the memoir still conjures the sights, sounds, and smells of warfare.
 


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Speak Truth to Power

The Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer

Written by Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey

On December 11, 1954, Charles Patrick drove to downtown Birmingham to buy a Boy Scout uniform for his son. Christmas traffic around the downtown department stores was heavy, and Patrick circled unsuccessfully until at last a streetside spot opened up and he began to pull in. As he did so, he was cut off by a woman who ordered him out of the way, as she was the wife of a city police officer. Patrick pulled away, remarking, “Ma’am, he doesn’t own the streets of Birmingham.”   

 

Normal low-level urban hassle? Not in 1954 Birmingham, when the woman was white and Patrick black. The woman reported to her husband that a black man had sassed her, and Patrick was summarily arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, and placed in a cell where he was beaten by the husband and another police officer.   

 

Usually that would have been the end of it, but Patrick was not the sort of man to meekly endure an injustice. He found an attorney, went to court to fight the charges, and brought his assailants to justice--as whites, blacks, politicians and the press offered public support.   

 

This book tells the story of Patrick’s quest for justice in segregated Alabama on the eve of the civil rights movement and represents a telling instance of the growing determination of African Americans to be treated fairly, part of the broadening and deepening stream of resolve that led to the widespread activism of the civil rights movement.   

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Spirit Wind

A coming-of-age story set in the isolated, murky swamps of Louisiana
 
When the mighty wind blows through the swamps of southern Louisiana, it changes not only the land, but the inhabitants as well. Just such a wind brought a lone infant into the care of the Chitimacha Indians deep in the Atchafalaya swamp. Raised by the tribal holy man, Storm Rider grows to adolescence as a respected tribal member, steeped in the wisdom and traditions of his adopted people. Their clan competitions, life-cycle rituals, social interactions, and subsistence labors are well explained in this historical novel.
 
When captured by an enemy raiding party, Storm Rider and his nemesis, the village bully, forge a bond that delivers them from danger and charts their futures. Love, hate, friendship, and loyalty ride the dark bayou waters and converge at the sacred Rain Tree. Swamps, hurricanes, cannibals, and unforgettable characters are interwoven as tightly as one of old Cane Basket's watertight baskets in this anthropologically accurate story of American Indian cultures in conflict.

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Winged Defense

The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power--Economic and Military

William "Billy" Mitchell, with a new foreword by Robert S. Ehlers Jr.

This book is the basis for airpower doctrine in the US, and demonstrates  how forward looking Gen Mitchell was even though the technology for conducting air operations was in its infancy  when it was written.  It is essential reading for anyone concerned with airpower history or aerospace doctrine.

William Lendrum "Billy" Mitchell (December 28, 1879 – February 19, 1936) was an American Army general who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force, and is one of the most famous and most controversial figures in the history of American airpower.

Mitchell served in France during the First World War and, by the conflict's end, commanded all American air combat units in that country. After the war, he was appointed deputy director of the Air Service and began to advocate  increased investment in air power, claiming this would prove vital in future wars. He particularly stressed the ability of bombers to sink battleships and organized a series of dramatic bombing runs against stationary ships designed to test the idea that attracted wide notice from the public.

He antagonized many  in both the Army and Navy with his arguments and criticism and, in 1925, was demoted to Colonel. Later that year, he was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing military chiefs of an "almost treasonable administration of the national defense." He resigned from the service shortly thereafter.

Mitchell received many honors following his death, including a commission by the President as a Major General. He is also the only individual after whom a type of American military aircraft is named: the B-25 "Mitchell."

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The Winter Sailor

Francis R. Stebbins on Florida's Indian River, 1878-1888

Edited by Carolyn Frances Baker Lewis

A unique guide to Florida's frontier history along Indian River.

The Winter Sailor is a historical adventure that details the yearly winter travels of Francis R. Stebbins to Florida's Indian River. Stebbins, a writer from Michigan, visited Florida in March of 1878 and became entranced by its pristine beauty. Subsequently, Stebbins and his traveling companions made annual visits to Indian River—until 1888 when tragedy struck and ended Stebbins' yearly journeys.

Being an observant traveler, Stebbins began a series of descriptive articles for his hometown newspaper that chronicled his journeys to the Indian River area. Stebbins's articles tell of his own personal experiences during his leisurely visits, which included such activities as hunting and fishing, studying the natural surroundings, and excavating Indian mounds. What Stebbins enjoyed most was sailing down the river interviewing townspeople and examining local attractions as he went. His articles also detail the lifestyle of the region, food, fashion, industry, history, environment, and changes that occurred over time. Stebbins's articles not only entertained and informed but also became a travelogue for his readers. He inspired northern travelers to go south and visit Florida, which contributed to the beginnings of large-scale tourism in the region.

The Winter Sailor combines Stebbins's 49 articles along with three by his companions, to provide an enjoyable, historical guide. Unique among 19th-century travelogues, this fascinating look into Florida's past documents a decade of change to the Indian River wilderness and becomes Stebbins's gift to the present.

 

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