Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in January, February, and March 2022:

An Otherwise Healthy Woman

An Otherwise Healthy Woman, by Amy Haddad; Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Honorable Mention

The poems in An Otherwise Healthy Woman delve into the complexity of modern health care, illness, and healing, offering an alternative narrative to heroics and miracles. Drawing on Amy Haddad’s firsthand experiences as a nurse and patient, the poems in this collection teach us to take a moment to stop and acknowledge the longing for compassion in each of us, what ought to be the immediate human response to suffering. The poet isn’t afraid to explore her own fears and failures or to find joy and humor in the many roles women play. An Otherwise Healthy Woman presents the intimate experiences of a nurse, the vulnerable perspective of a patient, and the lessons of caring for family.

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival : A History of the Stewart Indian School, 1890-2020, by Samantha M. Williams; Series: Indigenous Education

Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival illustrates how settler colonialism propelled U.S. government programs designed to assimilate generations of Native children at the Stewart Indian School (1890–1980). The school opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1890 and embraced its mission to destroy the connections between Native children and their lands, isolate them from their families, and divorce them from their cultures and traditions. Newly enrolled students were separated from their families, had their appearances altered, and were forced to speak only English. However, as Samantha M. Williams uncovers, numerous Indigenous students and their families subverted school rules, and tensions arose between federal officials and the local authorities charged with implementing boarding school policies.

The first book on the history of the Stewart Indian School, Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival reveals the experiences of generations of Stewart School alumni and their families, often in their own words. Williams demonstrates how Indigenous experiences at the school changed over time and connects these changes with Native American activism and variations in federal policy. Williams’s research uncovers numerous instances of abuse at Stewart, and Assimilation, Resilience, and Survival addresses both the trauma of the boarding school experience and the resilience of generations of students who persevered there under the most challenging of circumstances.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, 2nd Edition, by Mari Sandoz

Mari Sandoz’s beautifully written account of the battle in which General George Armstrong Custer staked his life—and lost it—reveals on every page the author’s intimate knowledge of her subject. The character of the Sioux, the personality of Custer, the mixed emotions of Custer’s men, the plains landscape—all emerge with such clarity that the reader is transported to that spring in 1876 when the Army of the Plains began its fateful march toward Yellowstone.

The background of the tragedy is here: the history of bad blood and broken treaties between the Indigenous nations and the United States, the underlying reason for Custer’s expedition and for the convocation of Indians on the Little Bighorn that particular year. Sandoz’s final book was the first analysis of Custer’s motives and political ambitions to shed light on an old mystery that was hotly disputed by the general’s admirers.

Historian Elaine Marie Nelson introduces this iconic work to a new generation and details the long, challenging road this book took to publication. Sandoz raced against time to complete the volume while undergoing cancer treatments, and the book was published just three months after her death. The Battle of the Little Bighorn is widely considered the apex of her writing.

Birthing the West

Birthing the West : Mothers and Midwives in the Rockies and Plains, by Jennifer J. Hill

Childbirth defines families, communities, and nations. In Birthing the West, Jennifer J. Hill fills the silences around historical reproduction with copious new evidence and an enticing narrative, describing a process of settlement in the American West that depended on the nurturing connections of reproductive caregivers and the authority of mothers over birth.

Economic and cultural development depended on childbirth. Hill’s expanded vision suggests that the mantra of cattle drives and military campaigns leaves out essential events and falls far short of an accurate representation of American expansion. The picture that emerges in Birthing the West presents a more complete understanding of the American West: no less moving or engaging than the typical stories of extraction and exploration but concurrently intriguing and complex.

Birthing the West unearths the woman-centric practice of childbirth across Montana, the Dakotas, and Wyoming, a region known as a death zone for pregnant women and their infants. As public health entities struggled to establish authority over its isolated inhabitants, they collaborated with physicians, eroding the power and control of mothers and midwives. The transition from home to hospital and from midwife to doctor created a dramatic shift in the intimately personal act of birth.

Choosing Hope

Choosing Hope : The Heritage of Judaism, by David Arnow; Series: JPS Essential Judaism

Throughout our history, Jews have traditionally responded to our trials with hope, psychologist David Arnow says, because we have had ready access to Judaism’s abundant reservoir of hope.

The first book to plumb the depths of this reservoir, Choosing Hope journeys from biblical times to our day to explore nine fundamental sources of hope in Judaism: 

  • Teshuvah—the method to fulfill our hope to become better human beings
  • Tikkun Olam—the hope that we can repair the world by working together
  • Abraham and Sarah—models of persisting in hope amid trials
  • Exodus—the archetype of redemptive hope
  • Covenant—the hope for a durable relationship with the One of Being
  • Job—the “hard-fought hope” that brings a grief-stricken man back to life
  • World to Come—the sustaining hope that death is not the end
  • Israel—high hope activists work to build a just and inclusive society for all Israelis
  • Jewish Humor—“hope’s last weapon” in our darkest days
     

Grounded in a contemporary theology that situates the responsibility for creating a better world in human hands, with God acting through us, Choosing Hope can help us both affirm hope in times of trial and transmit our deepest hopes to the next generation.

In the Net, by Hawad; Series: African Poetry Book Series

In the face of amnesia, how does one exist? In this poem, Hawad speaks directly to Azawad, a silent figure whose name designates a portion of Tuareg lands divided among five nation-states created in the 1960s. This evanescent being, situated on the edge of the abyss and deprived of speech, space, and the right to exist, has reached such a stage of suffering, misery, and oppression that it acquiesces to the erasure implicit in the labels attached to it.

Through an avalanche of words, sounds, and gestures, Hawad attempts to free this creature from the net that ensnares it, to patch together a silhouette that is capable of standing up again, to transform pain into a breeding ground for resistance—a resistance requiring a return to the self, the imagination, and ways of thinking about the world differently. The road will be long.

Hawad uses poetry, “cartridges of old words, / a thousand and one misfires, botched, reloaded,” as a weapon of resistance.

Knocked Down

Knocked Down : A High Risk Memoir, by Aileen Weintraub; Series: American Lives

Aileen Weintraub has been running away from commitment her entire life, hopping from one job and one relationship to the next. When her father suddenly dies, she flees her Jewish Brooklyn community for the wilds of the country, where she unexpectedly falls in love with a man who knows a lot about produce, tractors, and how to take a person down in one jiu-jitsu move. Within months of saying “I do” she’s pregnant, life is on track, and then wham! Her doctor slaps a high-risk label on her uterus and sends her to bed for five months. 

As her husband’s bucolic (and possibly haunted) farmhouse begins to collapse and her marriage starts to do the same, Weintraub finally confronts her grief for her father while fighting for the survival of her unborn baby. In her precarious situation, will she stay or will she once again run away from it all?  

Knocked Down is an emotionally charged, laugh-out-loud roller-coaster ride of survival and growth. It is a story about marriage, motherhood, and the risks we take.

Let Me Count the Ways

Let Me Count the Ways : A Memoir, by Tomas Q. Morin; Series: American Lives

Growing up in a small town in South Texas in the eighties and nineties, poverty, machismo, and drug addiction were everywhere for Tomás Q. Morín. He was around four or five years old when he first remembers his father cooking heroin, and he recalls many times he and his mother accompanied his father while he was on the hunt for more, Morín in the back seat keeping an eye out for unmarked cop cars, just as his father taught him. It was on one of these drives that, for the first time, he blinked in a way that evolution hadn’t intended.

Let Me Count the Ways is the memoir of a journey into obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mechanism to survive a childhood filled with pain, violence, and unpredictability. Morín’s compulsions were a way to hold onto his love for his family in uncertain times until OCD became a prison he struggled for decades to escape. Tender, unflinching, and even funny, this vivid portrait of South Texas life challenges our ideas about fatherhood, drug abuse, and mental illness.

Making a Modern U.S. West : The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940, by Sarah Deutsch; Series: History of the American West

To many Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the West was simultaneously the greatest symbol of American opportunity, the greatest story of its history, and the imagined blank slate on which the country’s future would be written. From the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the Great Depression’s end, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, policymakers at various levels and large-scale corporate investors, along with those living in the West and its borderlands, struggled over who would define modernity, who would participate in the modern American West, and who would be excluded.

In Making a Modern U.S. West Sarah Deutsch surveys the history of the U.S. West from 1898 to 1940. Centering what is often relegated to the margins in histories of the region—the flows of people, capital, and ideas across borders—Deutsch attends to the region’s role in constructing U.S. racial formations and argues that the West as a region was as important as the South in constructing the United States as a “white man’s country.” While this racial formation was linked to claims of modernity and progress by powerful players, Deutsch shows that visions of what constituted modernity were deeply contested by others. This expansive volume presents the most thorough examination to date of the American West from the late 1890s to the eve of World War II.

Managing Sex in the U.S. Military

Managing Sex in the U.S. Military : Gender, Identity, and Behavior, Edited by Beth Bailey, et al; Series: Studies in War, Society, and the Military

The U.S. military is a massive institution, and its policies on sex, gender, and sexuality have shaped the experiences of tens of millions of Americans, sometimes in life-altering fashion. The essays in Managing Sex in the U.S. Military examine historical and contemporary military policies and offer different perspectives on the broad question: “How does the U.S. military attempt to manage sex?” This collection focuses on the U.S. military’s historical and contemporary attempts to manage sex—a term that is, in practice, slippery and indefinite, encompassing gender and gender identity, sexuality and sexual orientation, and sexual behaviors and practices, along with their outcomes. In each chapter, the authors analyze the military’s evolving definitions of sex, sexuality, and gender, and the significance of those definitions to both the military and American society.

Modern Musar: Contested Virtues in Jewish Thought, by Geoffrey D. Claussen; Series: JPS Anthologies of Jewish Thought

How do modern Jews understand virtues such as courage, humility, justice, solidarity, or love? In truth: they have fiercely debated how to interpret them. This groundbreaking anthology of musar (Jewish traditions regarding virtue and character) explores the diverse ways seventy-eight modern Jewish thinkers understand ten virtues: honesty and love of truth; curiosity and inquisitiveness; humility; courage and valor; temperance and self-restraint; gratitude; forgiveness; love, kindness, and compassion; solidarity and social responsibility; and justice and righteousness. These thinkers—from the Musar movement to Hasidism to contemporary Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Humanist, and secular Jews—often agree on the importance of these virtues but fundamentally disagree in their conclusions. The juxtaposition of their views, complemented by Geoffrey Claussen’s pointed analysis, allows us to see tensions with particular clarity—and sometimes to recognize multiple compelling ways of viewing the same virtue.

By expanding the category of musar literature to include not only classic texts and traditional works influenced by them but also the writings of diverse rabbis, scholars, and activists—men and women—who continue to shape Jewish tradition, Modern Musar challenges the fields of modern Jewish thought and ethics to rethink their boundaries—and invites us to weigh and refine our own moral ideals.

Murder, Inc.

Murder, Inc. : The CIA Under John F. Kennedy, by James H. Johnston

Late in his life, former president Lyndon B. Johnson told a reporter that he didn’t believe the Warren Commission’s finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Johnson thought Cuban president Fidel Castro was behind it. After all, Johnson said, Kennedy was running “a damned Murder, Inc., in the Caribbean,” giving Castro reason to retaliate. 

Murder, Inc., tells the story of the CIA’s assassination operations under Kennedy up to his own assassination and beyond. James H. Johnston was a lawyer for the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1975, which investigated and first reported on the Castro assassination plots and their relation to Kennedy’s murder. Johnston examines how the CIA steered the Warren Commission and later investigations away from connecting its own assassination operations to Kennedy’s murder. He also looks at the effect this strategy had on the Warren Commission’s conclusions that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that there was no foreign conspiracy.

Sourced from in-depth research into the “secret files” declassified by the JFK Records Act and now stored in the National Archives and Records Administration, Murder, Inc. is the first book to narrate in detail the CIA’s plots against Castro and to delve into the question of why retaliation by Castro against Kennedy was not investigated.

The Places of Modernity in Early Mexican American Literature, 1848-1948, by Jose’ F. Aranda, Jr.; Series: Postwestern Horizons.

In The Places of Modernity in Early Mexican American Literature, 1848–1948, José F. Aranda Jr. describes the first one hundred years of Mexican American literature. He argues for the importance of interrogating the concept of modernity in light of what has emerged as a canon of earlier pre-1968 Mexican American literature. In order to understand modernity for diverse communities of Mexican Americans, he contends, one must see it as an apprehension, both symbolic and material, of one settler colonial world order giving way to another more powerful colonialist but imperial vision of North America.

Letters, folklore, print culture, and literary production demonstrate how a new Anglo-American political imaginary revised and realigned centuries-old discourses on race, gender, class, religion, citizenship, power, and sovereignty. The “modern,” Aranda argues, makes itself visible in cultural productions being foisted on a “conquered people,” who were themselves beneficiaries of a notion of the modern that began in 1492. For Mexican Americans, modernity is less about any particular angst over global imperial designs or cultures of capitalism and more about becoming the subordinates of a nation-building project that ushers the United States into the twentieth century.

Private Way

Private Way : A Novel, by Ladette Randolph; Series: Flyover Fiction

In 2015, when cyberbullies disrupt her life in Southern California, Vivi Marx decides to cut her cord with the internet and take her life offline for a year. She flees to the one place where she felt safe as a child—with her grandmother in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nevermind that her grandmother is long dead and she doesn’t know anyone else in the state. Even before she meets her new neighbors on Fieldcrest Drive, Vivi knows she’s made a terrible mistake, but every plan she makes to leave is foiled. Despite her efforts to outrun it, trouble follows her to Nebraska, just not in the ways she’d feared. With the help of her neighbors, Willa Cather’s novels, and her own imagination, Vivi finds something she hadn’t known she was searching for.

Shadow Migration

Shadow Migration : Mapping a Life, by Suzanne Ohlmann; Series: American Lives

With her feet firmly rooted on the plains of Nebraska, Suzanne Ohlmann launches the reader into flight over miles and decades of migration: from an apple-pie childhood in America’s Fourth of July City to the dirt floors of a cowshed in rural India, we zigzag across time and geography to see the world through Ohlmann’s eyes and to discover with her the pain she’d been avoiding through her boomerang travels away from her native home.

Through incarnations as a musician, arts manager, and registered nurse, Ohlmann finally lands in Texas, buys a house, and gets a dog. But her house is haunted, and so is she. In the dark solitude of Ohlmann’s basement the vision of a dead child presents her with a harrowing choice: she can go home to Nebraska and seek the truth of her biological past, or, like the boy, surrender to the depths of her own darkness. With honesty, compassion, and a sense of humor, Ohlmann recounts her tenacious search into the shadows of her life.

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities, by Marco Caracciolo; Series: Frontiers of Narrative

Slow Narrative and Nonhuman Materialities investigates how the experience of slowness in contemporary narrative practices can create a vision of interconnectedness between human communities and the nonhuman world. Here, slowness is not a matter of measurable time but a transformative experience for audiences of contemporary narratives engaging with the ecological crisis. While climate change is a scientific abstraction, the imagination of slowness turns it into a deeply embodied and affective experience. Marco Caracciolo explores the value of slowness in dialogue with a wide range of narratives in various media, from prose fiction to comic books to video games. He argues that we need patience and an eye for complex patterns in order to recognize the multiple threads that link human communities and the slow-moving processes of climate and geological history. Decelerating attention offers important insight into human societies’ relations with the nonhuman materialities of Earth’s physical landscapes, ecosystems, and atmosphere.

Caracciolo centers the experiential effects of narrative and offers a range of theoretically grounded readings that complement the formal language of narrative theory. These close readings demonstrate that slowness is not a matter of measurable time but a “thickening” of attention that reveals the deeply multithreaded nature of reality. The importance of this realization cannot be overstated: through an investment in the here and now of experience, slow narrative can help us manage the uncertainty of living in an era marked by dramatically shifting climate patterns.

Uphill Both Ways

Uphill Both Ways : Hiking Toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail, by Andrea Lani

One grouchy husband. Three reluctant kids. Five hundred miles of wilderness. And one woman, determined to escape the humdrum existence of modern parenting and a toxic work environment and to confront the history of environmental damage wreaked by westward expansion and the Anthropocene.

In Uphill Both Ways Andrea Lani walks us through the Southern Rockies, describing how the region has changed since the discovery of gold in 1859. At the same time, she delves into the history of her family, who immigrated to Leadville to work in the mines, and her own story of hiking the trail in her early twenties before returning two decades later, a depressed middle-aged mom in East Coast exile seeking happiness in a childhood landscape.

On the 489-mile trek from Denver to Durango on the Colorado Trail, Lani’s family traveled through stunning scenery and encountered wildflowers, wildlife, and too many other hikers. They ate cold oatmeal in a chilly, wet tent and experienced scorching heat, torrential thunderstorms, and the first nip of winter. Her kids grew in unimaginable ways, and they became known as “the family of five,” an oddity along a trail populated primarily by solo men. As they inched along the trail, Lani began to exercise disused smile muscles, despite the challenges of hiking in a middle-aged body, maintaining her children’s safety and happiness, and contending with marital discord. She learned that being a slow hiker does not make one a bad hiker and began to uncover the secret to happiness.

**Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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1 Response to Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

  1. Richard Miller says:

    I’d like to borrow the Mari Sandoz title, The Battle of the Little Bighorn. Can you mail it to me?
    I think you know my address, so I won’t print it here. If not, send me an email and I’ll get it to you.
    Thank you!
    Richard

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