News and Reviews

REVIEWS

Drawing Fire; A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II

Review in Publisher’s Weekly: “…Echohawk movingly recalls the language and warrior traditions he and his fellow Native soldiers followed—and, in one episode, humorously recalls fake ones they invented to intimidate insolent German captives. This excellent and fascinating account is a unique contribution to the literature of WWII.”

 

Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign

Review in New York Journal of Books: “The translation is excellently done, with copious footnotes and annotations by the authors on their reasoning for choosing certain English translations for Clausewitz’s strategic thinking, particularly his major themes such as the schwerpunkt, or center of gravity, a term he frequently used to describe the concentration of forces for an attack that have long been debated among Clausewitz scholars.”

 

Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Unpublished Opinion in Brown v. Board

Review in The Review of Politics: “…we should be grateful that he has now made Jackson’s opinion so easily accessible, along with background material on the Court’s struggle to do the right thing in Brown. ”

 

AUTHORS

Mark Harvey, featured in The Washington Post

 

Robert Rebein, featured on Kansas Public Radio

 

Mark Eberle, featured on Kansas Public Radio

 

Greg Weiner, Op-Ed featured in The New York Times

 

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, featured on The University of Illinois website

Lana Wirt Myers (The Diaries of Reuben Smith) Q & A

In 1854, after recently arriving from England, twenty-two-year-old Reuben Smith traveled west, eventually making his way to Kansas Territory. There he found himself in the midst of a bloody prelude to the Civil War, as Free Staters and defenders of slavery battled to stake their claim. The young Englishman wrote down what he witnessed in a diary where he had already begun documenting his days in a clear and candid fashion. As beautifully written as they are keenly observant, these diaries afford an unusual view of America in its most tumultuous times, of Kansas in its critical historical moments, and of one mans life in the middle of it all for fifty years.

Lana Wirt Myers speaks about her experience editing the book…

When did you first have the idea to work on The Diaries of Reuben Smith?

My first introduction to Reuben Smith’s diaries happened forty years ago when I was a graduate assistant in the Special Collections Department of Wichita State University’s library. While I was organizing the manuscript collection of Kansas poet May Williams Ward, I found an excerpt from her grandfather’s diary describing his voyage from England to America in 1854. It was a fascinating story and once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. Soon after, I learned from one of Ward’s cousins that their Grandfather Smith had written extensive diaries and they were believed to be in the possession of a descendant living in Texas.

Now, fast-forward to 2009 when I was finishing my book Prairie Rhythms, a biographical book about May Williams Ward. I was checking some references at the Kansas Historical Society’s archives when I saw that the complete set of Reuben Smith’s diaries had been acquired and was available for viewing. Of course I had to see them. And I found the stories within them as captivating as the excerpt I’d read back in 1978. I knew then what my next project would be.

Can you describe your process of writing? How long did you spend working on the book?

When I first began, I honestly had no idea how I was going to present the diaries in the book. I didn’t want the book to be simply a transcription of the diaries; I wanted it to appeal to a general audience, ranging from those who would simply enjoy Smith’s personal stories to those who would appreciate the historical details contained in them. So, I guess you could say it was a bit like letting the fabric speak to the designer or the canvas dictate to the artist. It was a process that kept evolving, and I tried to let the diaries guide me. When I first read through them, I noted some of my own curiosities and what I felt I needed to learn in order to understand who some of the people were and the roles they played, especially during the Civil War years. Gradually, I began to picture my role as one to provide the background for Smith’s stories, offering the necessary information to make the stories more meaningful.

After I finished typing the diaries into a word processing document, I launched into research, especially pertaining to Civil War military history, because I wanted to let readers know what was happening at various times, both nationally and regionally. An added bonus to this was learning so much about where I’d grown up and where my father’s family settled along the western border of Missouri. It truly became a journey for me as well as for the book. During this time, I also began to see that the diaries could be sectioned into categories, or chapters, and not necessarily by years. In addition, I began to see that not every diary entry needed to be included. The significant stories within the diaries are those that provide a new primary resource for early Kansas history.

In all, I spent two and a half years working on the book, including the various editing stages involved in the publishing process.

What was the most challenging aspect of editing the publication?

I’m not sure I can assign “most challenging” to any one aspect, but initially, I had to figure out a workable way to transfer the original diaries to a word processing document. It was a tremendous help to be able to access the diaries through the Kansas Historical Society’s “Kansas Memory” website, but it took some experimenting to figure out a workable way to read from one screen while typing to another. It was a bit tricky working with a desktop computer and a Surface tablet at the same time, using two keyboards and two mouses, but the equipment and I eventually settled into a routine.

Beyond logistics, an ongoing challenge was identifying references in the diaries to unfamiliar names and phrases — ranging from towns, creeks and bridges that no longer exist to the nickname of an insect that was notorious for residing in Missouri soldiers’ tents. I consulted all sorts of unusual and dated resources, even an 1860s military medical guide, to find answers. One of the local interlibrary loan librarians finally asked me, “What ARE you working on?” Some field trips were involved as well. But this historical “digging” was fun, and the little victories were rewarding.

The Diaries of Reuben Smith is a beautiful narrative of Free State settler and Civil War soldier. Smith’s writing is moving and candid. What do you think readers, both from Kansas and across the globe, will find more interesting about his story?

I think Smith provides an unusual perspective, being a young Englishman who formed his political opinions after arriving in the United States, unfiltered by familial or geographical loyalties. And he’s never a bystander; he’s a participant. He gives us personal introductions to key figures, and through his descriptions of what he observes and experiences, we feel as though we are there alongside him. He takes us with him as he encounters border ruffians, wolves and Indians on his way to stake a claim on land in Kansas Territory. And through his writings, we witness the escalation of the Civil War along the Kansas-Missouri border, as well as Smith’s evolution from a civilian volunteer soldier to a seasoned military officer. We can see the process. We can watch as history unfolds.

Smith was an early steward of the Kansas State Insane Asylum. Is there any indication of how he would view the current state of the Larned State Hospital and Osawatomie State Hospital?

I’ve thought about that as I’ve read news articles about the problems facing these institutions, especially Osawatomie State Hospital, since Smith was entrusted with its funds as steward during the early days of its operation. Smith experienced firsthand what the swinging pendulum of politics can do to the state’s institutions. I believe he’d be busy writing letters to newspapers, as well as to legislators, voicing his opinions and proposing solutions.

 If you could have any one person read your book, who would it be and why?

I’m going to take the liberty of defining “one person” as all of Smith’s descendants. And that is no small number, since Smith fathered thirteen children, ten of whom lived to adulthood. I can’t imagine a more treasured gift for a father to leave his children and grandchildren than fifty years of his personal history, during which he participated in the settlement and statehood of Kansas, in the fight against slavery, in postwar politics, and in the operation of the state’s first psychiatric hospital. Smith wanted his children to read history as he lived it. And I’m anxious for his many grandchildren to meet him.

What are you reading now?

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Lana Wirt Myers is the author of Prairie Rhythms: The Life and Poetry of May Williams Ward, named a 2011 Kansas Notable Book.

C.J. Janovy (No Place Like Home) Q & A

This week we will publish C.J. Janovy’s first book, No Place Like Home; Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas. Her beautiful, powerful book tells the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states. Janovy, along with guest, will celebrate her book at 7pm on Kansas Day (01/29/2018) at the Lawrence Public Library.

We spoke to C.J. about her journey with No Place Like Home

1.When did you first have the idea to write No Place Like Home?

I explain this a bit in the intro. It was June 26, 2013, the day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on gay marriage, respectively. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote that the crowd’s jubilation outside the courthouse that morning was so loud it floated through marble: “A muffled cheer pierced the quiet in the Supreme Court chamber.” News from out in San Francisco was that people danced all night on Castro Street.

I went to a rally in downtown Kansas City with a couple hundred people, but it felt so weird to be celebrating historic rulings that didn’t change anything in states other than California that had banned same-sex marriage. A decade earlier, I’d covered the marriage-amendment politics in Kansas, and as I stood there at the rally that day, I wondered what had become of the Kansans who had fought it back then.

2. Can you describe your process of writing? How long did you spend working on the publication?

From that rally in June 2013 until I turned in the final, edited and revised manuscript was almost four years. I have a great full-time job, so I’d get up at 5 in the morning to write for a couple of hours before work, and usually put in at least one full day of writing on the weekends. I made several reporting trips around Kansas, and those beautiful drives around the state were the best parts, meeting and interviewing people and going to Pride celebrations and other events. I did a lot of phone interviews, looked at a lot of legislation, watched city hall testimonies archived on public-access TV channels, and read a lot of newspaper archives, including on microfilm at libraries.

3. What is one thing you were most surprised to learn while working on the book?

I was most surprised to learn that Charlie Snook, a transgender man from Newton, and LuAnn Kahl, a transgender woman who worked on farms in Haven and Kalvesta, appeared on an episode of a short-lived reality-TV series called “Sex Change Hospital” back in 2007. It was set in Trinidad, Colorado, where there was a surgeon famous for performing thousands of gender-confirmation surgeries (this I already knew). Alas, the episode is no longer on YouTube.

4. How did you identify the activists featured in the book?

The first person I contacted was Tom Witt of Equality Kansas, a statewide organization that works to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, who connected me with several other people. Like Tom, many of the activists I profiled were public figures – I’d seen them leading rallies or giving speeches or I’d read newspaper stories quoting them. When I interviewed them, they told me stories about other people who’d been involved, so I contacted those folks too. I sent emails and Facebook messages introducing myself to strangers, and many of them wrote back. Others clearly didn’t want to talk, a choice I respect.

5. You’ve lived on both coasts and have made a home in Kansas City. Can you describe the cultural differences or challenges LGBT citizens face in the middle of the country?

That’d be a whole other book(s) — and I hope dissertations are being written on the subject as we speak. But for starters, I’d say the biggest challenges are the smaller dating pool, and limited access to a large and diverse community of peers and allies  and the resources and services such communities can provide.

6. What do you view as the biggest issue facing the LGBT community in Kansas in 2018?

I think it’s the same biggest issue facing all of America in 2018: Saving our endangered democracy.

During the legislative session last year, Equality Kansas held one of its annual rallies on the steps of the Capitol. I was surprised, as were others, by how young the crowd was – mostly college and even high school kids. During his speech, Tom Witt gave them instructions (he’s good at that): “When you go home,” he yelled, “start looking outside your LGBT community and your Gay Straight Alliance and your usual church groups. Our country is in a horrible mess, but we have to resist. As a queer community, we already know how to resist and resist and resist. Take what you know about fighting bad ideas and say, ‘I’m in this fight with you.’ Unite with other progressive organizations around Kansas.” He’s right. We need to take our experiences and the hard lessons we’ve learned fighting for our own causes and put them to use in service of our country.

7. Your book is dedicated to Matthew Shepard. Has his death served as motivation for you to advocate for LGBT rights in conservative regions?

I wouldn’t identify myself as an advocate, though I’ve obviously written advocacy journalism; as a journalist, I consider myself a witness. But I know that witnessing is a political act, and that being present and recording these stories makes me a participant. I also know that being part of the community I’m writing about gives me access and understanding that outsiders might not have, and I feel a profound responsibility to my sources and their stories.

Matthew Shepard’s murder wasn’t what inspired me to start this project, but by the end of it I’d spent a lot of time on lonely roads. LGBT people – especially trans people – are still in danger. But in general, these days the world – yes, even Kansas – is a much better place for 21-year-old LGBT people. I want us to remember those who helped create it but didn’t live to see it.

8. If you could have any one person read your book, who would it be and why?

I’m going to resist the urge to name one politician or the other who I hope reads the book so they’ll know their rhetoric doesn’t speak for all of Kansas. Instead, I’ll say I hope these stories reach individuals out there who might feel isolated, who want to make the world a better place but don’t know how, who need to know they’re not alone.

9. What are you reading now?

Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives, the University of Texas Press’s collection of personal essays by women music writers, edited by Holly Gleason.

 

C. J. Janovy is an arts reporter and editor for KCUR (Public Radio Kansas City, MO) and former editor of The Pitch.

The First Drink of Fall

When University Press of Kansas acquisitions editor Kim Hogeland contacted Pete Dulin with a book idea, he didn’t have to consider it for long.

“It was a pretty quick ‘yes’ from me,” Dulin says with his customary straight-forward fashion. “You want me to write a book examining all the breweries, wineries and distilleries across Kansas and Missouri? No problem.”

With Expedition of Thirst; Exploring Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries Across the Heart of Kansas and Missouri, experienced Kansas City journalist Pete Dulin guides readers through a dizzying array of beverages made in America’s heartland. Expedition of Thirst maps routes that crisscross eastern Kansas and western Missouri, with stops at some 150 breweries, wineries, and distilleries along the way. Dulin, explains how and why these businesses produce beer, wine, and spirits tied to regional terroir and represent the flavors of the Midwest from the Flint Hills to the Ozarks. More than a travel guide, his book is a cultural journal exploring the people, places, and craft that make each destination distinct and noteworthy.

“This book was so much fun to write,” Dulin explains. “When I started I had no idea how many breweries and wineries were in Kansas and Missouri. It mirrors the national trend of growing craft breweries and wineries. In fact, there are now as many breweries in America now as there were before Prohibition – which has never happened before.”

Dulin’s travels for the book took him down back roads and across interstates; into tasting rooms and walking through vineyards. However, the assignment wasn’t a stretch. Dulin is the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, and Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Flatland, Feast Magazine, The Kansas City Star, Visit KC, River Front Times, The Boston Globe, Thinking Bigger, Pitch, and Kansas City Business Journal. He knows what he’s doing when talking about food and alcohol.

“I love the process of meeting small business owners who are so passionate about what they do,” Dulin says. “People that brew beer or distill whiskey or create wine are some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met.”

Dulin shares the stories of many of these brewers, winemakers, and distillers in their own words. Expedition of Thirst captures the character of the small business owners and makers and offers insight about their craft. For good measure, Dulin delves into the history, culture, and geography that have shaped these producers and their practices, from the impact of Prohibition to the early influence of immigrant winemakers and brewers, regional agriculture, and politics. As informative as it is engaging—even intoxicating—his Expedition is sure to work up readers’ thirst to travel and discover firsthand the singular regional pleasures Dulin so richly describes.

Why I Hate “The Wizard of Oz”

by Robert Rebein

Dodge City, Kansas native Robert Rebein recently released Headlights on the Prairie; Essays on Home. Below is the opening essay, Why I Hate The Wizard of Oz…

Imagine having the land of your birth, a place about which you have complex and wildly ambivalent feelings, reduced to a black-and-white cartoon. Someone asks you where you’re from, and when you reply “Kansas,” this well-meaning stranger grins and blurts out, “Where’s Toto? Oh, that’s right. We’re not in Kansas anymore!”

You get this in New York, Indiana, California. Even as far afield as Paris, you get it. “Kansoz! Ah, oui. Les munchkins!”

How to say you hail from a place uninhabited by tinmen and sweet little girls in pinafores, a demanding, starkly beautiful place with twenty-mile views, sunflowers as big as your head, and night skies so clear that you might believe yourself to have been born among stars? Where the wind blows without cease and flies bite like vampires and the stink of the slaughterhouse overhangs everything like a toxic cloud. Where it’s not unusual for a kid like you to receive his first shotgun at ten, drive a wheat truck at twelve, and solo in a Beechcraft

Debonair at fourteen or fifteen.

“Does that sound like Oz?” you want to ask.

But you don’t. Why bother?

When the tornado came and swept you away, as you knew all along it would, it was not to drop you into some Technicolor fantasy, but rather into the same world of Applebee’s and Best Buy the jokesters inhabit. That’s the context here; that’s the reason you refuse to join Dorothy’s fan club.

 

Rebein is a professor of English and chair of the Department of English at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis. His books include Dragging Wyatt Earp: A Personal History of Dodge City and Hicks, Tribes, and Dirty Realists: American Fiction after Postmodernism. Rebein, along with various UPK staff members, will be at the Dodge City Days next Friday-Sunday.

Meet The Press: The Top 10

The University Press of Kansas publishes scholarly books that advance knowledge and regional books that contribute to the understanding of Kansas, the Great Plains and the Midwest. Founded in 1946, we represent the six state universities: Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University, the University of Kansas and Wichita State University. We have published more than 900 books.

Top-10 Best-Selling books in UPK’s 71-year history:

 

hitler10. Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers; The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military

by Bryan Mark Rigg

On the murderous road to “racial purity” Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he’d anticipated. As Bryan Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military.

education

09. Education for Extinction; American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928

by David Wallace Adams

The last “Indian War” was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white “civilization” take root while childhood memories of “savagism” gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one official: “Kill the Indian and save the man.”

old-time08. True Tales of Old-Time Kansas

by David Dary

“Authentic history, delightfully told” – Ray A. Billington. David Dary, award-winning chronicler of life on the frontier plains, is at his entertaining best in these thirty-nine episodes, sagas, and tales from Kansas’s vigorous, free-spirited past. Many of the stories appeared in Dary’s True Tales of the Old-Time Plains, but that book, out of print for several years, focused on the Great Plains in general. This edition pulls together tales about people, animals and events in what is today Kansas, including the old territory of Kansas (1854-1861) that stretched from the Missouri River westward to the summit of the Rocky Mountains.

erotic

07. The Philosophy of (Erotic) Love

by Robert C. Solomon and Kathleen M. Higgins

What does philosophy know of love? From Plato on, philosophers have struggled to pin love to the dissecting table and view it in the cold light of logic. Yet, as Arthur Danto writes in the foreword to this volume, “how incorrigibly stiff philosophy is when it undertakes to lay its icy fingers on the frilled and beating wings of the butterfly of love.”

 

novus06. Novus Ordo Seclorum; The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution

by Forrest McDonald

This is the first major interpretation of the framing of the Constitution to appear in more than two decades. Forrest McDonald, widely considered one of the foremost historians of the Constitution and of the early national period, reconstructs the intellectual world of the Founding Fathers—including their understanding of law, history political philosophy, and political economy, and their firsthand experience in public affairs—and then analyzes their behavior in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in light of that world. No one has attempted to do so on such a scale before. McDonald’s principal conclusion is that, though the Framers brought a variety of ideological and philosophical positions to bear upon their task of building a “new order of the ages,” they were guided primarily by their own experience, their wisdom, and their common sense.

ghost-towns

05. Ghost Towns of Kansas; A Traveler’s Guide

by Daniel C. Fitzgerald

Ghost Towns of Kansas is a practical guide to the forsaken settlements and a chronicle of their role in the history of Kansas. It focuses on 100 towns that have either disappeared without a trace or are only “a shadowy remnant of what they once were,” telling the story of each town’s settlement, politics, colorful figures and legends, and eventual abandonment or decline.

 

deadly-combat

04. In Deadly Combat; A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front

by Gottlob Herbert Bidermann Derek S. Zumbro

In the hell that was World War II, the Eastern Front was its heart of fire and ice. Gottlob Herbert Bidermann served in that lethal theater from 1941 to 1945, and his memoir of those years recaptures the sights, sounds, and smells of the war as it vividly portrays an army marching on the road to ruin.

 

muscles03. Visualizing Muscles; A New Ecorche Approach to Surface Anatomy

by John Cody

As the human body moves, muscles contract and relax, creating subtle changes in body contours and shifting patterns of light and shadow on the skin’s surface. Visualizing exactly what happens beneath the skin to cause these changes on the surface is an essential skill for artists, physicians, physical therapists, and body builders-for anyone who needs to understand the body in motion. Visualizing Muscles is an innovative aid to drawing, sculpting, and learning surface anatomy.

cookbook02. The Kansas Cookbook; Recipes from the Heartland

by Frank Carey and Jayni Naas (Carey)

As reported in Newsweek, in various food magazines, and in the pages of major American newspapers, the Heartland is being rediscovered—and along with it, wholesome Midwestern cooking. The trend, part of a larger fascination with regionalism, has led authors Frank Carey and Jayni Naas to a celebration of Kansas cooking. In The Kansas Cookbook, Carey and Naas present more than 400 delicious recipes that reflect the state’s history, its ethnic diversity, and its agriculture. The New Kansas Cookbook; Rural Roots Modern Table is also now available from press.

 

first-battles01. America’s First Battles, 1775-1965

by Charles E. Heller and William A. Stofft

This volume, a collection of eleven original essays by many of the foremost U.S. military historians, focuses on the transition of the Army from parade ground to battleground in each of nine wars the United States has fought. Through careful analysis of organization, training, and tactical doctrine, each essay seeks to explain the strengths and weaknesses evidenced by the outcome of the first significant engagement or campaign of the war. The concluding essay sets out to synthesize the findings and to discover whether or not American first battles manifest a characteristic “rhythm.”

An Ode to the Independents

img_8305Our press is located in Lawrence, Kansas.

The university town has long been a regional center for independent, free-thinking. Before Kansas was a state, Lawrence was ground zero for the abolitionist movement in the territory. After statehood, when a pack of guerilla bandits crossed the border from Missouri and burned most of the town to ashes, Lawrence dusted itself off, and got back to living its independent life.

We are proud to be supported by two outstanding independent bookstores. The Raven Bookstore and the KU Bookstore are vastly different operations, but share a common vision of supporting authors, readers and a fierce passion for getting the job done their way.

The Raven sits on a side street just off Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. If you close your eyes and picture a quaint bookstore, chances are you’ll imagine The Raven. Old wood floors creak with each step and the store is full, floor-to-ceiling, with books. The shop has a reputation for stocking the best mystery novels available, but also carries a full line of non-fiction, best-seller, children and regional books.

Heidi Raak has operated The Raven Bookstore for 9 years (the store has been a staple for Lawrence readers since 1987). An independent store since its inception, Raak has weathered (and continues to weather) the changes in the marketplace.

img_8308“Obviously our biggest competition isn’t another store in town, but the internet,” Raak says with a matter-of-fact tone. “We have to overcome the ease of buying a book online with great customer service and knowledge. I think the atmosphere of the store and the experience of shopping for a book is a big draw. There’s something about picking up a book and holding it that is special. You can’t get that online.”

Raak works hard to create an environment around the store that keeps people interested. The Raven hosts countless book launches, readings and parties with authors. Those events bring people to the store and help establish the staff as go-to resources.

“We understand we’re part of a community,” Raak explains. “We support local artists and well-represented authors. We’re proud to carry books by the (University) Press. We appreciate the support Lawrence gives us, and we work hard to be the best, most-welcoming bookstore in town.”

img_8317Up the hill from The Raven, on the north edge of the University of Kansas campus, the KU Bookstore fills most of the 2nd floor of the Kansas Union. The store is one of only a handful of bookstores serving a major university that operate independent of the university.

“We are completely independent of the University of Kansas,” explains Jen O’Connor, store director. “We have no affiliation or obligation to the university. In addition, we are an operating non-profit, which helps us serve the students of KU more effectively.”

The great majority of university bookstores are operated by a larger, national bookstore. When asked to name other independent stores serving universities, O’Connor struggles to name more than two or three.

“I know there are more, but  honestly, not many,” she says with a laugh. “We are independent of the University but Student Affairs has oversight of the KU Memorial Union, of which we are a part.”

Much like The Raven, the KU Bookstore puts a lot of effort into bringing students, and the Lawrence community, into the store with events. O’Connor estimates they host one or two unique events a week either at the store or somewhere on campus.

“We have to stay relevant to the students,” she explains. “We know these students have a lot of options and we work hard to be their first choice. Luckily, not a lot of outlets carry every textbook they need.”

Because the store is a non-profit, they can often offer very competitive prices on trade, text and consumer books. In fact, almost half of the store’s sales are books or products not for a class.

“We don’t have to answer to sales numbers or investors,” O’Connor says. “We have to pay the bills and keep the lights on. That gives us a great opportunity to stay competitive on price – which is a big, big help.”

 

“An Ode to the Independents” is our contribution to University Press Week blog tour. Be sure to check out posts by the University of Texas Press, the University of Chicago Press,  Cornell University Press, University Press of Colorado, NYU Press  and our friends at the University Press of Kentucky.

The Nature Conservancy, Little Jerusalem & the Wilds of Kansas

by George Frazier, author of The Last Wild Places of Kansas.

courtesy of hdnews.net
photo courtesy of hdnews.net

Great American Desert, flyover country, perfect platonic flatness, Tornado Alley, Dustbowl, Brownbackistan. Do these reject band names —all digs used at various times to describe our grassland zeitgeist —represent only the prejudice of some non-Kansans, or do they reflect something deeper we’ve internalized about ourselves? I sometimes wonder, when it comes to our wild lands, if Kansas has a chronic self-esteem issue, an inferiority complex of landscape.  One environmental slur I’ve always thought we would do better to embrace (and promote) is “badlands”, in the geologic sense —those rugged western landforms starved for water and sculpted by erosion.

From the Lakota mako (land) sica (bad), the term was first used to describe the whimsically eroded mixed-grass hill country of the Lakota homeland in South Dakota. Although the landscape of the Dakota Badlands is unforgiving (in an Old Testament way), nearly a million Aquafina-clutching vacationers exit I-90 every year to visit Badlands National Park and its maze of buttes, pinnacles and spires. It’s a place of little comfort, but many comfort stations.

Kansas, too, has badlands, but they don’t attract many visitors and you’ll be hard pressed to find a public restroom. This is a shame (well, not the part about the public restrooms). Spectacularly under the radar, steeped in Native American and environmental history, the Kansas badlands are a reminder of the remarkable diversity of landforms in the state.

In the 21st Century, access has become the most significant metadatum of the Kansas landscape.  More than ninety-eight percent of Kansas land is privately owned.  By itself this isn’t necessarily bad – while writing and researching my book The Last Wild Places of Kansas I found that the private land owners of Kansas are the greatest champions and most devoted stewards of our last wild places. But to most Americans, and many Kansans, this lack of access can seem like non-existence, and that’s why most people in eastern Kansas have never heard of the Gypsum (or Red) Hills of south-central Kansas or the Arikaree Breaks in extreme northwest Kansas, our two geophysical provinces most defined by badlands topography.

Sculpted from the soft mineral gypsum (Sun City is home to both the largest gypsum mine and one of the most infamous saloons – Busters – in Kansas), the Gypsum Hills west of Medicine Lodge are a shy but stunning precinct of the southern plains. Canyonlands, Martian soil, sandstone buttes, and mesas create a skyline that looks more like Arizona than Kansas. Tables of gypsum, a mineral that occurs as flat, diamond-shaped crystals of selenite and as a silky pink crust called satin spar, cap the tallest hills. In Comanche County, Ted Turner owns the largest single ranch in Kansas – over forty thousand acres of prairie that includes a sparkling section of the Salt Fork of the Arkansas – completely dedicated to buffalo production. They’ve enrolled more than thirty thousand acres in the lesser prairie-chicken recovery program. They’ve petitioned for water rights to rehabilitate a wetland for migratory birds. Throughout the region caves pocked in the porous gypsum provide habitat for bats found nowhere else in the state, including the Brazilian free-tailed bat.

The Arikaree Breaks – our other significant badlands province — are every bit as stunning and unexpected as the Red Hills, but instead of an erosional substrate of red sandstone and gypsum, the Arikaree breaks are sculpted from loess — a fine glacial soil that covers rock gorges, canyons, gravel ridges, and even small mountains lying far beneath the surface of the Great Plains. Loess and other high plains depositional materials are a result of erosion that wore down the Rocky Mountains. Runoff over the course of millions of years deposited this fine slurry across a vast swatch of the Great Plains.

9780700622191Perhaps even more than in the Red Hills, Native American history echoes across the Arikaree Breaks. Nowhere else in Kansas is the drama of the Indian Wars more evident. The Cheyenne warrior Roman Nose was killed along the Arikaree (just across the Colorado state line) and thousands of Native American survivors of the Sand Hill Massacre fled there to regroup and plan their next move in a seminal moment during the Indian Wars.

Like the Red Hills, the Arikaree Breaks have virtually no public access—only a state-sponsored scenic drive on Kansas Highway 27 north of Saint Francis. Brochures lure would-be travelers with dramatic photographs but then warn them to stick to public roads and stay in the car. Anywhere you set foot is trespassing.

But the landscape of access in the Kansas badlands is about to change. Running west across the Smoky Hill country of the Kansas high plains, a thin vein of chalk monuments adds a third movement to the Kansas badlands trilogy. Encompassing Monument Rocks, Castle Rock, the Chalk Pyramids, and a handful of other sites, gracious landowners have provided access to these wild places for years. At a distance, some of these Niobrara chalk formations remind me of small bison herds turned – a la Lot’s wife —into pillars of salt.

In early October, the Nature Conservancy announced plans to acquire “Little Jerusalem,” located between Scott City and Oakley off of US-83, the single largest rock formation in Kansas at more than a mile across. The 330-acre tract will include about 250 acres of rocks. Described as a “golden city” the site also sports a first class fossil field. The discovery of Clovis points in the area means people have been making pilgrimages to Little Jerusalem since before the founding of “Big” Jerusalem.

The new acquisition adds to the Nature Conservancy’s holdings in Logan County, which has played an important role in recent environmental history. In the mid-2000s, a “prairie dog war” was waged between the Logan County Commission and ranchers Larry and Better Haverfield, Gordon Barnhardt and Maxine Blank. At the time, the US Fish and Wildlife service was considering the Haverfield Ranch for reintroduction site of the black-footed ferret, America’s most endangered mammal. The deal hinged on the ranch’s robust (and plague free) prairie dog colony, the largest on the southern plains. The commission argued that the ranchers’ rights to promote prairie dogs on their property were trumped by a century-old Kansas law granting township boards the authority to poison prairie dogs on private property without the landowner’s permission and send them the bill. Eventually Haverfield and his partners prevailed, and just before Christmas in 2007, the black-footed ferret recovery team released ferrets at the ranch, the first to stalk the dark tunnels of a Kansas prairie dog metropolis since the 1950s. With less notoriety, ferrets were also successfully reintroduced at the Nature Conservancy’s other Logan County property, the Smoky Valley Ranch.

Here’s why I think public access at places like the Smoky Hill Ranch, and soon, Little Jerusalem, is important. Rex Buchanan of the Kansas Geologic Survey has said that we Kansans think of ourselves as a rural people, because we once were. But today, more than 50% of Kansans live in just five urban counties. We’ve become an urban people. In eastern Kansan this trend is accelerating as millennials – priced out of hipper locales on the coasts – have started immigrating to places like Kansas City, Lawrence, Manhattan and Emporia, bringing with them a hunger for authentic local experiences in the wild. Many of these newly minted Kansans don’t want to feel like strangers in their own state; they want to “learn the land.” Access at Little Jerusalem and other high quality wild places comes just in time as more Kansans realize what an important role the state played in the environmental history of this nation, a legacy that continues to this day.

The details about public access are still in the works, but I’m glad to hear this wild place will be preserved thanks to the efforts of the Nature Conservancy. This will give people one more reason to head out in search of the true nature of Kansas lands, both the good and the bad.

George Frazier’s book The Last Wild Places of Kansas won the 2016 Ferguson Award for Kansas History. Frazier lives in Lawrence with his wife and daughter.

Huelskamp’s Defeat: Did Kansas Aggies Get their Revenge?

5726782ca3c5b_previewBy Christopher Bosso

The 1st Kansas is one of the nation’s largest and most rural House districts, stretching from the suburbs of Topeka over 300 miles westward along the Nebraska border to Colorado and curling south another 200 miles to the Oklahoma state line.

The Big First is also Agriculture: vast fields of wheat and grain sorghum interspersed with “concentrated feeding operations” of thousands of head of beef cattle. Not surprisingly, those representing the 1st in Congress, including Representative (later Senator) Robert Dole and Representative (later Senator) Pat Roberts, were devoted to and left indelible fingerprints on agricultural policy – and to making sure that Kansas got its fair share of federal funds.

In 2010 the district’s voters elected state senator Tim Huelskamp to fill a seat left empty when fellow Republican Jerry Moran won the Senate seat vacated when, Sam Brownback, also a Republican, became governor. Huelskamp beat out five other Republicans with 34.5% of the vote in a hotly contested primary, after which he went on to an easy general election victory in a district that voted Democrat only once (1953-1955) in its history.

Huelskamp grew up on a farm in Fowler – 2010 population, 590 – and like many future members of Congress had an early fascination with politics and public policy. He returned to Kansas in 1995 after finishing his doctorate in political science and jumped into politics, getting elected a year later as one of the youngest state senators in decades. He was reelected three times with ease, largely on his conservative values on issues like abortion and same sex marriage as well as his views that government was too big and too expensive. Perhaps reflecting training in a Catholic seminary, or maybe just because he is contrarian by nature, Huelskamp also showed a willingness to criticize fellow Republicans he thought weren’t hewing to those values, to the point that in 2003 he was removed from the key Senate Ways and Means Committee for clashing with party leaders. His reputation with voters for his uncompromising defense of his – and their – beliefs, aided by the support of national conservative groups, enabled Huelskamp to enter Congress in 2010 as part of the “tea party” wave that gave Republicans control of the House.

Huelskamp promptly claimed the district’s “traditional” seat on the House Agriculture Committee. However, anyone who thought that he went to Washington to promote Kansas agriculture were soon disabused. To the surprise of no one who paid attention to his career, Huelskamp fast became a thorn in the side of House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans leaders. He also refused to compromise on cutting federal spending, even when the all-important Farm Bill was up for reauthorization. In fact, despite pleas by Kansas agricultural groups to support passage, Huelskamp and fellow House conservatives blocked action on the Farm Bill throughout the 112th Congress (2011-2012).

In December 2012 Speaker Boehner, furious at Huelskamp’s obstinacy, booted him from the Budget Committee and, to make the lesson hit closer to home, the Agriculture Committee. The Big First now had no seat on Agriculture for the first time in (recent?) history. Huelskamp, along with the other three members of the Kansas House delegation – the most conservative in the country – also famously voted against the final version of the Agricultural Act of 2014 – the Farm Bill! – despite pleas by Kansas agricultural leaders to support the compromise measure.

All of this should have hurt Huelskamp at home. Boehner certainly hoped that Big First voters would elect a more agreeable Republican. But they didn’t: Huelskamp survived a primary challenge by an underfunded opponent and won easy re-election in 2014. So did his three compatriots, no doubt because they adhered to the set of values on which their supporters sent them to Congress in the first place.

It’s August 2016. Huelskamp again faced a primary challenge. This time he got thumped, losing by 13 points to political novice Roger Marshall. Barring a cataclysm in November, Marshall will be the Big First’s next representative.

Many saw Huelskamp’s ouster as the revenge of Kansas Agriculture. Indeed, former Huelskamp allies at the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Association supported Marshall, as did the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Wheat Growers. Not surprisingly, Marshall pledges to regain the 1st’s rightful place on the House Agriculture Committee.

Yet Huelskamp’s loss may have more to do with Republican Party politics than with the power of agriculture interests. The primary was like the Spanish Civil War – the warm-up for World War II – with each combatant backed by outside powers using the two as proxies in a bigger fight. Huelskamp had the support of National Right to Life, the National Rifle Association, and conservative groups like Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity. Marshall, no liberal, was backed by what passes these days for Establishment Republicanism – notably the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These groups poured nearly $3 million into the race, most of it fueling an arms race of television and radio ads. The money mattered: few challengers can beat an incumbent, even one with Huelskamp’s negatives, without it.

While Huelskamp alienated voters, he lost only because he faced a well-funded opponent in a one-on-one race funded by outside groups with their own agendas. Agriculture got its revenge, but only as a result of that larger war within the Republican Party.

Christopher Bosso is professor of public policy at Northeastern University. His areas of interest include food and environmental policy, science and technology policy, and the governance of emerging technologies. His newest book, Framing the Farm Bill: Interests, Ideology, and the Agricultural Act of 2014 will be published by UPK next year.

Save the Date: Soon-to-Be UPK Author Mark Eberle to be Interviewed on Kansas Baseball

13082531_10154906351667818_3521218845187720829_nMark Eberle is an up-and-coming UPK author and will be interviewed on Kansas baseball after these two screenings of “Town Teams: Bigger than Baseball”:

-April 28, 7pm, Shawnee 18 Theaters, 16301 Midland Drive, Shawnee, KS. Film and panel discussion, FREE.

-April 30, 7pm, Central Cinema 7, 300 East Central, El Dorado, KS. Film and panel discussion, $20 (proceeds go to the YMCA and the Kansas Oil Museum).