Upcoming UNC Press Author Events

Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Eating While Black
August 16, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
Politics & Prose (Washington, DC; in-person)

Jay Barnes
Fifteen Hurricanes That Changed the Carolinas
August 16, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
NC Maritime Museum (Southport, NC; in-person)

Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Eating While Black
August 18, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
Harvard Book Store (Virtual)

Ricardo A. Herrera
Feeding Washington’s Army
August 18, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
National Museum of the United States Army (Virtual)

Steve Estes
Surfing the South
August 19, 2022 | 7:00pm PT
Green Apple Books (San Francisco; hybrid)

Berkley Hudson
O.N. Pruitt’s Possum Town
August 20, 2022 | 1:30-2:30pm CT (w/book signing at 4:15pm)
Mississippi Book Festival (Jackson, MS; in-person)

Marcie Cohen Ferris
Edible North Carolina
August 20, 2022 | 4pm CT (w/book signing at 3pm)
Mississippi Book Festival (Jackson, MS; in-person)

Berkley Hudson
O.N. Pruitt’s Possum Town
August 24, 2022 | 6:30-7:30pm CT
Skylark Bookshop (Columbia, MO; in-person)

Berkley Hudson
O.N. Pruitt’s Possum Town
August 25, 2022 | 4:00-6:30pm CT
State Historical Society of Missouri (Columbia, MO; in-person)

Elizabeth Leonard
Benjamin Franklin Butler
September 8, 2022 | 7:15pm ET
Old Baldy Civil War Round Table, Philadelphia (Virtual)

Maribel Morey
White Philanthropy
September 12, 2022 | Noon PT / 3:00 PM ET
Seattle Arts & Lectures (Virtual)

Francesca Morgan
A Nation of Descendants
September 12, 2022 | Time TBD
National Society of Colonial Dames; Fortnightly Club of Chicago (In-person)

Elizabeth Leonard
Benjamin Franklin Butler
September 16, 2022 | 7:15pm ET
Civil War Round Table of New Hampshire (Epping, NH; in person)

Psyche A. Williams-Forson
Eating While Black
September 22, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
Red Emma’s (Baltimore, MD; in-person)

Ricardo A. Herrera
Feeding Washington’s Army
September 24, 2022 | 1:30pm-2pm ET
Eighteenth Annual Seminar on the American Revolution (Ticonderoga, NY; hybrid)

Marcie Cohen Ferris
Edible North Carolina
September 24, 2022 | 3pm ET
Bookmarks 17th Annual Festival of Books & Authors (Winston-Salem, NC, with Sandra Guttierez and Ricky Moore; in-person)

Marcie Cohen Ferris
Edible North Carolina
September 25, 2022 | 2pm ET
The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC; in-person)

Barbara J. Sullivan
Climate Change Gardening for the South
September 27, 2022 | 5:30pm ET
Flyleaf Books
(Chapel Hill, NC; in-person)

Barbara J. Sullivan
Climate Change Gardening for the South
September 28, 2022 | 12:00pm ET
North Carolina Botanical Garden
(Chapel Hill, NC; in-person)

Barbara J. Sullivan
Climate Change Gardening for the South
September 29, 2022 | 7pm ET
Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh, NC; in-pereson)

Dan Royles
To Make the Wounded Whole
October 19, 2022 | 6:30pm ET
Stonewall National Museum & Archives (Virtual)

Elizabeth Leonard
Benjamin Franklin Butler
October 19, 2022 | Time TBA
Kennebec Historical Society (Augusta, ME; in-person)

Glenda Gilmore
Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination
October 20, 2022 | 7:00pm ET
Park Road Books (Charlotte, NC; in-person)

Francesca Morgan
A Nation of Descendants
October 25, 2022 | Time TBD
Filson Historical Society (Louisville, Ky; in-person)

Ricardo A. Herrera
Feeding Washington’s Army
November 9, 2022 | 7:00PM ET
George Washington’s Mount VernonFord Evening Book Talk (Mount Vernon, VA; in-person)

Liza Roberts
Art of the State
November 9, 2022 | time TK
The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC; in-person)

Marcie Cohen Ferris
Edible North Carolina
November 12, 2022 | 2pm ET
Park Road Books (Charlotte, NC, with Tom Hanchett and Kathleen Purvis; in-person)

Liza Roberts
Art of the State
November 16, 2022 | time TK
Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh, NC; in-person)

Adam Lucas, Steve Kirschner, Matt Bowers
Together: The Amazing Story of Carolina Basketball’s 2021–2022 Season
November 16, 2022 | 7:00PM ET
Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC; in-person)

Elizabeth Leonard
Benjamin Franklin Butler
November 17-18, 2022 | Time TBA
Lincoln Forum Symposium (Gettysburg, PA; in-person)

Liza Roberts
Art of the State
November 18, 2022 | 5:30pm ET
Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC; in-person)

Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey
Cross-Border Cosmopolitans
January 19, 2023
Politics & Prose (Washington, D.C.; in-person)

Liza Roberts
Art of the State
January 28, 2023 | 1pm ET
Cameron Art Museum (Wilmington, NC; in-person)

Eating While Black – On Sale Now

Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson is available now wherever books and ebooks are sold.

Psyche A. Williams-Forson is one of our leading thinkers about food in America. In Eating While Black, she offers her knowledge and experience to illuminate how anti-Black racism operates in the practice and culture of eating. She shows how mass media, nutrition science, economics, and public policy drive entrenched opinions among both Black and non-Black Americans about what is healthful and right to eat. Distorted views of how and what Black people eat are pervasive, bolstering the belief that they must be corrected and regulated. What is at stake is nothing less than whether Americans can learn to embrace nonracist understandings and practices in relation to food.

Eating While Black is a thoughtful text with insights into how much unwelcome extra tension and ‘heaviness’ lands on Black Americans’ plates.”—Foreword Reviews

Sustainable culture—what keeps a community alive and thriving—is essential to Black peoples’ fight for access and equity, and food is central to this fight. Starkly exposing the rampant shaming and policing around how Black people eat, Williams-Forson contemplates food’s role in cultural transmission, belonging, homemaking, and survival. Black people’s relationships to food have historically been connected to extreme forms of control and scarcity—as well as to stunning creativity and ingenuity. In advancing dialogue about eating and race, this book urges us to think and talk about food in new ways in order to improve American society on both personal and structural levels.

Eating While Black invites us all to examine how racial, class, and other anxieties often drive institutions and individuals to consciously or unconsciously inflict harm on Black people (and everyone else).—Bryant Terry, James Beard Award– and NAACP Image Award–winning author

Photo Credit: Kevin Harris Photography

Psyche Williams-Forson is professor and chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

New UNC Press Titles in the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships Open Book Program

We are pleased to announce the latest batch of UNC Press e-books being made available as Open-access (OA)—free of charge and for immediate download—via an award sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships Open Book Program.

Read about UNC Press Open Access Vision and Policy

The previous titles made available through open access via the NEHFOP program in July 2021 have seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and access via all OA platforms they are distributed to, including via Project Muse, Books at JSTOR, and Amazon Kindle. These books are being accessed in countries around the world, including strong downloads in particular in Australia, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom. 

“The continued expansion of our open digital editions supports the Press’s long-term mission to disseminate its scholarship as broadly as possible. At the same time, it aligns with our more recent efforts to be an organization whose work is centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Removing financial barriers to access is one of the most equitable and inclusive acts we can perform as a publisher. We’re very grateful for the support of the NEH in making this happen.”—John Sherer, Spangler Family Director, UNC Press.

The new titles sponsored by the NEHFOBP are:

Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa by Lisa Lindsay

The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle by Malinda Maynor Lowery

Discovering the South: One Man’s Travels through a Changing America in the 1930s by Jennifer Ritterhouse

Corazon de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South Since 1910 by Julie M. Weise

About the NEH Fellowships Open Book Program: The NEHFOBP is a limited competition designed to make outstanding humanities books available to a wide audience. By taking advantage of low-cost e-book technology, the program allows teachers, students, scholars, and the public to read humanities books that can be downloaded or redistributed for no charge.

Each e-book ise released under a Creative Commons license, making those books free for anyone to download.

Bruce Moffett’s Refrigerator Pickles & Chipotle BBQ Sauce

In this week’s New York Times, James Beard Award nominated chef and restaurant owner Bruce Moffett of Charlotte, NC’s Good Food on Montford (among others), as well as author of 2019’s Bruce Moffett Cooks: A New England Chef in a New South Kitchen, breaks down rising food costs and the challenges operating restaurants in the current economy.

To kick off the late summer weekend, following are two recipes from Bruce Moffett Cooks that are perfect for using your excess summer produce, as well as an excellent reason for firing up the barbecue. Purchase the book directly from uncpress.org and take 40% off during our Centennial Sale using promo code 01DAH40.

Refrigerator Pickles

Every summer our farmers bring us some of the best cucumbers that I have ever tasted. I love the crunch and silky texture of the variety known as Kirby. When combined with a brine of vinegar, garlic, spices and herbs, the result is a bright pickle with a surprising crunch and depth of flavor. We use Korean chili flakes, called gochugaru, to add a unique spice. You can find them at a grocery with a good Asian section or online. Try these pickles in New South Beef Carpaccio with Fried Pickles and Pimento Cheese (found on page 37 in the book), on top of a cheeseburger, or by themselves as a welcome addition to any southern table.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: mandoline, 2 sterile, quart-size Mason jars (or other nonreactive containers) with lids


1 pound Kirby cucumbers

1 cup distilled white vinegar

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup white wine vinegar

¼ cup kosher salt

10 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)

3 fresh bay leaves

1 bunch dill

½ bunch thyme

¼ bunch parsley

Slice off the rounded ends of each cucumber. Using a mandoline, slice the cucumbers into ¼-inch rounds. Set aside.

Bring the vinegars, salt, garlic cloves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and Korean chili flakes to a boil in a large pot. Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for 10 minutes. Pour the pickling liquid into a heatproof container. Add 2 cups of ice and stir, then allow the liquid to cool completely.

Meanwhile, pack the cucumber slices into the jars. Divide the fresh herbs evenly among the jars, then pour the cooled pickling liquid over the cucumbers until they are submerged. Cover the jars tightly and refrigerate. The pickles will be ready in 2 days and will keep for 2 weeks.

Photograph: Stefanie Haviv

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Sauces are a great way to add concentrated flavor to an already tasty dish. We use this sauce to finish Pecan-Crusted Lamb with Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans (found on page 171 in the book), but it also works well with other meats, especially chicken and pork. At Barrington’s, we vary it by adding veal stock and reducing the sauce to create a smoky demiglace.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

1 chipotle pepper (from 1 can of chipotle in adobo)

1 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

⅔ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup blackstrap molasses

6 cups good chicken stock

Heat a large pot with the vegetable oil over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, celery, and carrots; cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chipotle pepper, wine, vinegar, ketchup, and molasses to the caramelized vegetables. Stir to incorporate and reduce by approximately two-thirds, about 8 minutes. Once reduced, add the chicken stock, decrease the heat to medium low, and simmer for 40 minutes.

Pour the warm mixture carefully into a blender and purée. Pass the sauce through a strainer, cover, and chill. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week and in the freezer for 1 month.

Bruce Moffett is founder-chef of Barrington’s, Good Food on Montford, and Stagioni, all in Charlotte. A James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast, he was honored as Restauranteur of the Year by Charlotte Magazine, and Good Food on Montford was recognized by ZAGAT’s Top Restaurants in America Guide.

Counterterrorism and Watergate

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the presidency of Richard N. Nixon’s Watergate Scandal.

Following is an excerpt taken from the introduction of Daniel S. Chard’s Nixon’s War at Home: The FBI, Leftist Guerrillas, and the Origins of Counterterrorism, which shows how America’s war with domestic guerrillas prompted a host of new policing measures as the FBI revived illegal spy techniques previously used against communists in the name of fighting terrorism. These efforts did little to stop the guerrillas—instead, they led to a bureaucratic struggle between the Nixon administration and the FBI that fueled the Watergate Scandal and brought down Nixon. Yet despite their internal conflicts, FBI and White House officials developed preemptive surveillance practices that would inform U.S. counterterrorism strategies into the twenty-first century, entrenching mass surveillance as a cornerstone of the national security state.

Given Nixon’s long-standing fixation on insurgent attacks and his persistent efforts to broaden the use of extralegal intelligence tactics through the Huston plan, the failure to consolidate counterterrorism actions after Hoover’s death is notable. One possible explanation for this delay was, in a word, Watergate. The Watergate scandal began on June 17, 1972, when police arrested a group of mysterious operatives burglarizing the Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Washington’s Watergate apartment complex. The scandal gathered momentum over the next two years as investigators uncovered more and more evidence linking the burglars to the White House. It is likely that Nixon did not reinstitute the Huston Plan in October 1972 because in the midst of the FBI’s growing Watergate investigation, the president did not want to implicate his cabinet in further illegal activities. After Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974, the scandal would continue to rattle the American political system, further stalling the development of formal counterterrorism initiatives in Congress and the executive branch.

But there is also a more complex explanation for why Nixon did not consolidate American counterterrorism operations: the histories of American counterterrorism and Watergate are, in fact, intertwined. Ironically, the very same conflict that inspired the development of U.S. counterterrorism also helped fuel a political scandal that delayed the development of U.S. counterterrorism. As this book will show, when Hoover torpedoed the Huston Plan, a full-blown institutional conflict ensued. The Nixon administration eventually responded by establishing its own unit of covert operatives, the so-called Plumbers who carried out the Watergate burglary and other secret operations against the president’s political adversaries. In addition to explaining the origins of American counterterrorism, this book reveals for the first time how institutional conflict over how to combat terrorism led to Watergate.

The Nixon-Hoover conflict was not only about leftist violence. It was also about leaks of government sources exposing Nixon’s escalation of the war in Vietnam, about Nixon’s authoritarian drive to neutralize his political “enemies,” and about a power struggle among Hoover’s deputies within the FBI. After Hoover’s death, this conflict and these leaks continued through the actions of a secret informant known as Deep Throat, later revealed to be FBI associate director W. Mark Felt, whose leaks to the press were manifestations of the power struggle between the FBI and the Nixon White House over extralegal surveillance techniques, jurisdiction, and counterterrorism policy.

The final chapters of this book unpack a paradox inherent in these tactics. Felt exposed the Nixon administration’s use of illegal break-ins, even while authorizing the very same sorts of break-ins during the FBI’s Weather Underground investigation. Felt was both a Hoover loyalist and firm advocate of preventive action against those the FBI considered terrorists. Felt had no problem with illegal break-ins for the purpose of countering terrorists and foreign spies, but he resented Nixon’s efforts to exert control over the FBI by installing bureau outsider L. Patrick Gray as acting director of the FBI after Hoover’s death. Felt also opposed the Nixon administration’s use of break-ins for purely partisan objectives. Using his position as the second most powerful figure in the FBI, Felt sought to undermine both men.

At the same time, Felt authorized break-ins in FBI terrorism investigations because agents had already been carrying out such operations since August 1970 in response to Hoover’s unofficial orders. With the support of assistant director Edward Miller, Felt established a formal procedure for authorizing break-ins in order to restore morale among FBI field agents, who sought assurance that headquarters would support them if ever they were caught participating in such illegal acts. Under Felt, the FBI carried out break-ins against alleged Weather Underground supporters as well as lesser known break-ins targeting Arabs suspected of planning a Munich-style attack in the United States. The latter break-ins were part of a wider FBI campaign harassing Arab and Arab Americans that I refer to as America’s first “Arab scare,” a precedent to U.S. intelligence agencies’ widespread targeting of Arabs and Muslims after 9/11.

Like Hoover’s mass surveillance of American dissidents in 1970, Felt’s secret wars backfired, leading to outcomes that clashed with his objectives. His leaks enflamed the Watergate scandal and helped bring down Nixon and Gray but also ended his own career as well. And instead of leading to the capture of Weather Underground fugitives, the FBI’s break-ins landed Felt a 1980 federal felony conviction. In the process, the FBI’s popular legitimacy plummeted. It has yet to fully recover.

The FBI’s war with American guerrillas was no mere sideshow to the larger political dramas of the 1960s and 1970s. On the contrary, Nixon’s war at home and the development of counterterrorism intersected with all of the period’s major political conflicts and changes: the Vietnam War, the New Left, the Black Power movement, the women’s movement, Watergate, controversies over mass surveillance and covert operations, and the rise of mass incarceration. Today, amid a revival of leftist social movements, heightened fears of political violence, and the aftermath of a Trump administration embroiled in scandal, this history is more important than ever.

Daniel S. Chard is visiting assistant professor of history at Western Washington University.

Book Talk with Angela Esco Elder: Love and Duty

Between 1861 and 1865, approximately 200,000 women were widowed by the deaths of Civil War soldiers. They recorded their experiences in diaries, letters, scrapbooks, and pension applications. In Love and Duty: Confederate Widows and the Emotional Politics of Loss, Angela Esco Elder draws on these materials—as well as songs, literary works, and material objects like mourning gowns—to explore white Confederate widows’ stories, examining the records of their courtships, marriages, loves, and losses to understand their complicated relationship with the Confederate state. Elder shows how, in losing their husbands, many women acquired significant cultural capital, which positioned them as unlikely actors to gain political influence.

Love and Duty “examine[s] the rich subject of American funerals in the 19th century. . . . Esco describes how, among other things, widowhood arrived fast and hard for many Southern women during the Civil War. For example, Hetty Cary married the Confederate colonel John Pegram in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 19, 1865. Three weeks to the day later, she attended his funeral in the same building.”—New York Times Book Review

Watch Angela Esco Elder’s recent talk concerning Love and Duty hosted by the American Civil War Museum:

Angela Esco Elder is assistant professor of history at Converse College.

Hot Off The Press: August

Happy pub month to our August books! Browse our books publishing this month and DON’T FORGET to also take advantage of our anniversary sale and get 40% off your order with code 01DAH40—more info about the sale on our 100th Anniversary sale page.

Eating While Black: Food Shaming and Race in America by Psyche Williams-Forson

Eating While Black is a thoughtful text with insights into how much unwelcome extra tension and ‘heaviness’ lands on Black Americans’ plates.”—Foreword Reviews

“Everybody eats, so what’s political about eating? After reading Eating While Black, the answer is clear: everything.”—LIBER: A Feminist Review

Eating While Black invites us all to examine how racial, class, and other anxieties often drive institutions and individuals to consciously or unconsciously inflict harm on Black people (and everyone else).”—Bryant Terry, James Beard Award– and NAACP Image Award–winning author of Black Food and editor in chief of 4 Color Books

We the Dead: Preserving Data at the End of the World by Brian Michael Murphy

“Well written, thoughtful, and provocative. We the Dead is intellectually engaging and fascinating—I can honestly think of very few books like it.”—Tung-Hui Hu, author of A Prehistory of the Cloud

“In We the Dead, Brian Michael Murphy takes us on a simultaneously breathtaking and explosive tour of the various archives and databases that hold our records, and the human subjects they document, in suspension between life and death.”—Shannon Mattern, author of Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media

2022 American Sociological Association Annual Meeting

Although UNC Press will not be attending the American Sociological Association annual meeting in-person this year, you can still visit our virtual booth to browse our recent titles and to connect with editor Lucas Church.

A Message from Senior Editor Lucas Church:

Welcome to our virtual exhibit! Normally, I’d be there to greet you in-person, show you our wonderful titles, and to talk about your own book project. Due to some of the ongoing public health emergencies, we’re being cautious and will be attending ASA remotely this year. 

At UNC Press, we look for sociology projects that examine race, place, sexuality, and class in the United States and beyond. We’re looking for books that tell peoples’ stories in incredible detail—like Anima Adjepong’s Afropolitan Projects,  Karida Brown’s Gone Home­, and Brandi Thompson Summers’s Black in Place—or offer deeper ways to think about issues like racism and cultural appropriation, such as in B. Brian Foster’s I Don’t Like the Blues. We’re also known for publishing books that explore prejudice and sexuality, as in Jonathan S. Coley’s Gay on God’s Campus. We’re interested in books that speak to the current moment, while also offering valuable scholarship for future readers, using a variety of methods and approaches. 

If you have a manuscript that looks like it would fit with any of the aforementioned books, please contact me at lucas.church@uncpress.org. I’ll be happy to schedule a meeting with you to discuss your work.

Stop by our virtual booth to browse these titles & more. Be sure to use promo code 01DAH40 at checkout to receive our 40% conference discount. And if your order totals over $75, domestic U.S. shipping is FREE.

Who Works for Whom? Asian/Asian American Characters in Green Book

The following is a guest blog post by Josephine Lee, author of Oriental, Black, and White: The Formation of Racial Habits in American Theater, available for pre-order and on sale September 2022.

Oriental, Black, and White focuses on how nineteenth and early twentieth century American theater featured Chinese, Indian, and other “oriental” characters played by both Black and white actors. These stock roles complicated the racial dynamics of stage performance beyond the more common types of blackface minstrelsy. My book emphasizes how various stereotypes functioned to associate racialized bodies with states of servitude, as familiar portrayals of Black slaves and servants were joined onstage by comic representations of coolies, houseboys, and laundrymen. This amalgamation reflected how Asian immigrants—excluded by law and perceived as inherently unassimilable to American culture—were also seen as sources of cheap and subhuman labor. 

My research gave me a different perspective on the 2018 film Green Book. Inspired by the story of African American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian American driver Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), most viewers understood the movie mainly as a commentary on Black-white race relations. However, I was struck by how the film presented three different Asian or Asian American characters in various scenes. A Chinese man (an uncredited role) appears in a scene in which Vallelonga goes to interview for the job as Shirley’s driver. In another scene, Bobby, an Asian American bartender (David An) serves Vallelonga a drink. Shirley already employs a South Asian man, Amit (Iqbal Theba), as his personal assistant.

These Asian and Asian American characterizations add another dimension to the film’s re-creation of 1960s-era New York. Their appearance, however, does more than provide local color; they also complicate how the film examines racialized labor in the main plotline, which moves through different stages of Vallelonga and Shirley’s working relationship. Vallelonga at first insists that his job as Shirley’s driver not be confused with that of the domestic servant. Insulted when asked to act as Shirley’s valet during a tour of the segregated South, Vallelonga demands that his duties be confined to driving, and threatens to turn down the job, leaving only the Chinese applicant, whom Vallelonga disparages with a racial slur.

“However, I was struck by how the film presented three different Asian or Asian American characters in various scenes.”

If the white working-class Vallelonga at first chafes at having to serve a Black man, in contrast Amit performs as the quintessential servant to Shirley, occupying the role of domestic as a brown—but significantly, not Black—character. His rigid adherence to protocol references British colonialism, and before the tour’s departure, Amit attempts in vain to coach Vallelonga on his new duties. Amit’s obvious pride in domestic work highlights him as racially distinct not only from Vallelonga, who cannot imagine himself in service to a Black man, but also Shirley, whose talent and relative wealth exempts him from the lowly employment forced upon other Black people. 

Amit’s scenes bookmark the film, marking important developments in Shirley’s character. His initial appearance amidst Shirley’s impressive collection of exotic objects signals Shirley’s queer cosmopolitan identity, one that later becomes associated with his isolation and estrangement from family and community. During the tour, Vallelonga transforms into Shirley’s protector and friend, and Shirley helps Vallelonga write loving letters to his wife. At the end of the film, it is Shirley who serves as the driver for Vallelonga, helping him keep his promise to join his family for Christmas by driving through a dangerous snowstorm. Afterwards, Shirley at first declines Vallelonga’s invitation to join him for a family dinner. He goes back to his apartment, but only Amit is there to greet him upon his return. Shirley then has a change of heart, dismissing Amit and telling him to go home to his own family. The end of the film shows how Shirley is welcomed into Vallelonga’s holiday gathering, a scene of heterosexual and patriarchal plentitude in which female family members rather than foreign-born servants now supply food and care. 

The film frames the Asian American bartender somewhat differently from the other two Asian characters. Lacking his usual diatribe of racial slurs, Vallelonga greets Bobby in a friendly and familiar manner, implying that his prejudices might be assuaged by familiarity and alcohol-fueled camaraderie. Yet along with Amit and the unnamed Chinese man, Bobby also remains without any real back story. Green Book purposefully questions assumptions about racialized servitude in Black/white terms, but keeps the expectation of untroubled “oriental” service intact. Left in representational limbo, the Asian and Asian American characters of Green Book appear only to serve. That their duties mostly go unquestioned shows how Green Book assuages certain anxieties about race and labor even as it interrogates others. 

Josephine Lee is professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota.

“Chronicling Stankonia” by Regina Bradley: Now Available as an Audiobook

Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South by Regina N. Bradley, a critically acclaimed bestselling UNC Press title, is now available as an audiobook read by Bradley via Libro.fm, Audible, and Kobo.

Praise for Chronicling Stankonia:

This treatise from leading Southern hip-hop scholar Regina N. Bradley is a revelatory collection of essays—part literary criticism, part sonic analysis, part personal memoir—that serves as an overdue and thrilling intervention on the NYC/L.A.-centric canon of hip-hop criticism. . . . A masterful work of criticism.”—Rolling Stone

“With vivid narrative and critical analysis, Bradley presents an innovative examination of the profound legacy and influence of Southern hip hop music and culture.”—Ms. Magazine

For scholar and critic Regina N. Bradley, Outkast’s work is the touchstone, a blend of funk, gospel, and hip-hop developed in conjunction with the work of other culture creators—including T.I., Kiese Laymon, and Jesmyn Ward. This work, Bradley argues, helps define new cultural possibilities for black southerners who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s and have used hip-hop culture to buffer themselves from the historical narratives and expectations of the civil rights era. André 3000, Big Boi, and a wider community of creators emerge as founding theoreticians of the hip-hop South, framing a larger question of how the region fits into not only hip-hop culture but also contemporary American society as a whole.

Regina N. Bradley is Associate Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies, Department of English, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.

Iconic Books From the Past 100 Years

Over the past 100 years UNC Press is proud to have published an extensive catalog of award winning and highly praised books. As we celebrate our centennial, we’ve looked back at these prestigious titles to create a reading list of some of our most influential and iconic books—enjoy!

White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812

1969 National Book Award

1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, Phi Beta Kappa

1968 Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians

1969 Bancroft Prize, Columbia University

White over Black remains a signal achievement in American historiography, a rich analytical and stylistic bequest to early American scholarship.”—William and Mary Quarterly

The North Carolina Atlas: Portrait for a New Century

“Nowhere else can you find a single volume that tells so much about this place”—Business North Carolina

“Richly illustrated. . . . Unquestionably the book is a valuable reference source for the state’s government and business leaders, news media, students, and Tar Heel citizens.”—Our State

Mama Dip’s Kitchen

“Mama Dip [has the] ability to render great flavors from simple and good ingredients.”—Southern Living

“The recipes, honed by time, are simple and tasty. It’s almost like standing at Grandma’s stove, with her teaching enduring ways of cooking.”—Raleigh News & Observer

“Old-fashioned, down-home Southern cooking. More than 250 recipes from chicken pie, country style pork chops, to fresh corn casserole.”—Black Issues Book Review

Turners and Burners: The Folk Potters of North Carolina

1987 Mayflower Cup for Nonfiction, Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of North Carolina

1988 Third Prize, Chicago Folklore Prize

1987 President’s Award, North Carolina Society of Historians

Turners and Burners makes an enormous contribution to the study of North Carolina folklife. . . . North Carolinians, rejoice!”—North Carolina Folklore Journal

“The best book I have ever read on folk pottery.”—Warren E. Roberts, Journal of Folklore Research

Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World

Recipient of the 2004 Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement in the Humanities

A 2004 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

“A thoughtful and finely balanced primer on contemporary Islam.”—New York Review of Books

“An impressive scholarly work.”—The Telegraph-Calcutta

“A helpful resource for university religion departments. It is not a straight ‘Islam 101’ resource, and because of that, it is very refreshing. . . . A very helpful tool as an introduction to a course on Islam and contemporary religion.”—Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South

2007 Bancroft Prize, Columbia University

2007 Bennett H. Wall Award, Southern Historical Association

“A brilliant exploration of plants, animals, and people. . . . Mockingird Song has a rousing vitality that makes it destined to be a classic work of environmental history.”—Journal of Southern History

“A grand synthesis with perfect timing. It summarizes, appreciates, and expands on the recent bloom of scholarship that looks at the unique environmental history of the American South.”—Journal of American History

Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power

2006 Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize, American Folklore Society, Women’s Section

“Fascinating. . . . recommend[ed]. . . to those interested in American/African American popular culture, African American women’s history, and the history of food.”—Virginia Magazine

“Likely to prove useful to students of cultural identity and stereotype.”—Western Folklore

“Beyond the place of chicken as racial stereotype and in soul-food gatherings, Williams-Forson offers intriguing interpretations of black history, culture, and feminism.”—Booklist

Wildflowers and Plant communities of the Souther Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia

“It deserves a good look from individuals interested in natural history, plant communities and diversity, and conservation.”—Plant Science Bulletin

“One of the finest contributions to regional plant studies in recent years.”—Asheville Citizen Times

“Twenty-one major plant communities are described in detail, and the refreshing and easy-to-use format allows readers to explore each of the 340 featured plants in terms of their natural history, ecology, habitat, range, and uses—where applicable. Highly recommended.”—Virginia Wildlife

The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South

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“A powerful testament to the redemptive powers of human nature.”—Booklist

“A well-crafted portrait of the evolution of race relations in Durham, N.C.—and of America’s tendency to ignore issues of class.”—Publishers Weekly

“This eloquent blend of history and advocacy journalism ends with a follow-up on the major figures and–with that rarest quality in a book on race in America—a reason for hope.”—Kirkus Reviews

From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, Second Edition

2021 Lillian Smith Book Award

2021 Association for the Study of African American Life and History Book Prize

2020 Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association

2021 Best Book Awards in Social Change Category, American Book Fest

“Simply put: The best historical, conceptual, and empirical case for reparations for Black Americans.”—Ibram X. Kendi

“Darity and Mullen challenge the United States to bear the moral weight of the legacies of slavery and deeply entrenched racism: to reject trifling, half-hearted measures and to approach—and perhaps even achieve—wholeness through reparations.”—New York Review of Books

Visit our centennial page for more info about our 100th anniversary.

John Sherer Discusses UNC Press Centennial and University Press Publishing on C-SPAN BookTV

John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of UNC Press, recently appeared on C-Span BookTV and chatted with Peter Slen about the founding of UNC Press and the work of university presses more widely.

Click to Watch

Over the course of the interview, John discusses topics such as: what a university/academic press does, what the connection is between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina, the pandemics effect on UNC Press, what is a monograph, and much more.

In Memoriam: Eli Evans

We are saddened to learn that Eli N. Evans, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, alumnus of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Yale Law School, and author of The Provincials: A Personal History of the Jewish South, died on July 26th at 85 years of age.

Pat Conroy proclaimed The Provincials “the seminal indispensable book about the Jewish experience in the South. . . . One of a kind, a masterpiece.”

Evans’s obituary recalls the following in regard to The Provincials:

For young Eli the love of family and commitment to social justice were intertwined. In The Provincials he alternated lyrical recollection in chapters like “Growing Up in the Family Store” with topics like “Anti-Semitism in the South.” Threading his personal story through discussions of the founding of Israel, the Civil Rights Movement, and Jewish-Christian relations, he made the formerly
peripheral study–Jews in the Dixie diaspora–central to the American experience. “Jews were not aliens in the Promised Land,” he wrote, “but a blood-and-bones part of the South.”

That mingled identity drove his literary quest: “I am not certain what it means to be both a Jew and a Southerner–to have inherited the Jewish longing for a homeland while being raised with the Southerner’s sense of home.”

Read a preview of The Provincials online.

In Response to Kirk Brown’s Short History of UNC Press

Thank you so much to Kirk Brown for his short history [recently featured on the UNC Press Blog], which both summed up a hundred years of UNC Press activity and brought those decades to life. Rather than try to enlarge on any aspects of Kirk’s history, I’d like to supplement it. I’ll add to his narrative by taking a look at what the Press offers us today: its books, including a magnificent current catalog.

As I thought about this topic, it occurred to me to start close to home—by looking at my own bookshelves. I’ve whittled my personal library down a great deal in the last years, but by wandering to a few bookcases, I identified twelve UNC Press volumes within about five minutes. I probably could have found more if I’d kept browsing. Most of them were contemporary and/or in print.

On our home shelves of works about North Carolina, I found two examples of the Press’s Southern Gateways Guides. One was Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, edited by Jim Grode; this short book breaks down the trail for those of us unlikely to tie a handkerchief on a stick and stroll the whole length of it. The other was D. G. Martin’s beloved hymn to food, entitled North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints. In other words, eat your way along the roads and walk it all off on our state-wide trail.

On a nearby shelf, I discovered some of my favorite works on North Carolina landscapes and their histories: a beautiful 1967 edition of John Lawson’s A New Voyage to Carolina, a journey and chronicle from the very beginning of the eighteenth century. And next to that, UNC Press author Scott Huler’s 2019 response, A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson’s 1700 Expedition. Scott Huler details his vividly successful attempt to paddle and hike Lawson’s original trail; this is a must-read for anyone fascinated by both narratives about walking and the history of the Carolinas. Let’s just say the area has changed a bit over 320 years. From a shelf nearby, I pulled down the tale of a very different route—Anne Mitchell Whisnant’s masterful overview entitled Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History, published by the Press in 2006.

Moving on, I found that those last three volumes shared a shelf with Doug Orr and Alfred Stuart’s incredible edited study from the year 2000, North Carolina Atlas: Portrait for a New Century, a major illustrated record of the state of our state in one of its pivotal moments, written up by numerous experts, and with a foreword by then Governor Jim Hunt. And on our coffee table, a very different kind of overview, published only last year: Bland Simpson’s North Carolina: Land of Water, Land of Sky, with photos by Ann Cary Simpson, Scott Taylor, and Tom Earnhardt. Browsing this book is almost like traveling around the state, oneself, and was a comfort to me during pandemic months when even getting in the car sometimes seemed impossible.

Then there’s culture. Masses of the UNC Press books published over its first century fall into this category, just as many are essentially sociological—with plenty of overlap between the two. Shelved among our tall books, but frequently removed to show to friends and family—and strangers—I easily located yet another kind of journey, this one cultural. It’s a trip I know many of you love, too: Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, Doug Orr, Darcy Orr, and Fiona Ritche’s bestselling and beautifully illustrated coffee-table gem. It was published in 2014 but is out in a second edition as of last year. Move over, Jim Hunt—this one has a foreword by Dolly Parton. From a shelf nearby, I pulled down the record of a very different art form: Weaving New Worlds: Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry, a 1997 work with plenty of black and white photos of these gorgeous and useful objects and their makers.

Wandering on to one of my personal literary collections, I found Georgann Eubanks’ 2007 volume, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains: A Guidebook. I struggle with a keen dilemma about this one: should it actually sit with our NC travel guides, next to the trailheads and barbecue joints? But I’m biased, as a writer, and Eubanks is a literary treasure, so it sits next to one of my new favorite regional stories, Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood. This slim volume many of you will know, too; it’s the recent publication of Wilma Dykeman’s long-lost early memoir of her childhood, perfectly edited and prefaced by her son Jim Stokely, and with a foreword by novelist and poet Robert Morgan. Dykeman, who was born only two years before the founding of the Press, wrote this skillful piece when she was an unbelievable 23 years old, not long after the U.S. entered a devastating European and Pacific war.

On my history shelf, not far from these literary matters, I keep a work by two writers concerned—as Wilma Dykeman was—with our tendency to abuse the natural world: Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver’s 2020 An Environmental History of the Civil War, a topic sadly timely in at least three different ways. And representing both the Press’s longtime—and massive—commitment to works on racial history and to scholarship by writers of color, a 2021. volume entitled Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South by Greensboro professor Warren E. Milteer, Jr.

Maybe you’ll be glad to hear that I didn’t search my shelves further, since this response would go on even longer if I had. But I hope this gives you a taste of what the Press has served up over several decades. My collection doesn’t even begin to cover the Press’s classic works, many of them reprinted, many of them groundbreaking and even controversial in their day, all of them now collectors’ items, from the 1920s through the 1980s. Since its inception, the Press has published roughly 7000 books. Approximately 6000 of these are still in print or are being brought back into print as part of UNC Press’s Enduring Editions project.

A final note, perhaps one of warning. If you love to sit up too late turning through seed catalogs, cookbooks, and reading lists, the UNC Press catalog is as alluring a subject for your midnight lucubrations as you could possibly wish for. A few evenings ago, I logged onto the current catalog—which you can find at uncpress.org—and saw with both excitement and a sinking heart that everything in it is currently discounted 40% in celebration of the Press’s first century. Alas, I’m going to have to build more bookshelves.

Elizabeth Kostova, a professional writer, grew up in New York State, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. She holds a B.A. in British Studies from Yale College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan.  Kostova is the author of three novels–The HistorianThe Swan Thieves, and The Shadow Land, all of which involve historical research.  Her work has been translated into 40 languages, and her first novel was also the first in American publishing history to debut at #1 on the NYT bestseller list. Kostova lives with her family in Asheville, NC.

Liberal Incorporation and the Punitive Federal Education State

The following is an excerpt from Daniel S. Moak’s From the New Deal to the War on Schools: Race, Inequality, and the Rise of the Punitive Education State, which documents how a vision of education as a panacea for society’s flaws led the United States to turn away from redistributive economic policies and down the path to market-based reforms, No Child Left Behind, mass school closures, teacher layoffs, and other policies that plague the public education system to this day.

Since the 1960s, the belief that education holds the key to individual success, social mobility, and racial equality has driven the construction of an expansive and increasingly punitive federal education state committed to addressing broad social problems through the public education system. This faith in education that drives both increased federal funding and increased expectations is the hallmark of the liberal incorporationist education order. Established during the Great Society, this order is liberal in its commitment to extend to all the liberal democratic ideal of equality of opportunity through education, backed by a robust commitment of the federal government. The order is incorporationist in its goal of bringing all citizens, particularly racial minorities and other disadvantaged groups, into the broader existing economic and social structures. For racial minorities, incorporation implied integration and educational opportunity in order to ensure the ability to compete on equitable terms with their white counterparts. Incorporation requires the elimination of arbitrary barriers to success—like race—and adjusting individuals to succeed in the established societal structures. Importantly, incorporation suggests that the broader existing economic and social structure will remain intact. Although alternative visions of education that centered the need for worker solidarity, teacher activism, and reconstruction of the economic order had enjoyed popularity during the New Deal era, since the 1960s the commitment to liberal incorporation has been the lodestar of the dominant educational order.

The passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 1965 represented a critical juncture in the building of the federal education state and helped usher in this new educational order. The liberal incorporationist consensus that education was the most effective means of addressing the issue of unemployment and poverty created a powerful coalition in Congress to push for federal involvement in elementary and secondary education. The interpretation of poverty and unemployment as largely attributable to individual deficiencies in skill or culture drove the compensatory approach of ESEA, in which funds were targeted toward the disadvantaged poor. The focus on disadvantaged students through compensatory aid was a significant shift, as federal lawmakers had tried—and failed—to pass general education aid for all students since the late 1800s.

Federal policy makers built an education order in which faith in education as a solution to poverty, unemployment, and racial disparities led to the development of an increasingly punitive education state. Those on the left concerned with inequality, unemployment, and the status of racial minorities—but ultimately unwilling to fundamentally challenge the economic system—looked to education as the most effective way to solve these problems. By adopting an understanding of these problems as best addressed at the individual rather than the structural level, these actors turned to education as an alternative to more direct economic redistribution or federal intervention in the labor market.

In the years following 1965, this educational order justified an expansive federal commitment in the realm of education. It also led to demands that schools be held accountable for addressing poverty, unemployment, and racial inequality. These lofty expectations meant that funding was attached to increasingly harsh measures to ensure accountability. Teachers who fail to raise test scores face loss of pay and firing; students who fail to meet sufficient scores on standardized exit exams face denial of high school diplomas; and schools that fail to achieve testing benchmarks face transformation into a charter school, privatization, or closure.

The educational commitments established during the Great Society continue to drive education policies. The term punitive when describing education is most often associated with suspensions, expulsions, and the relationship between schools and the justice system—all of which are significant features of the current landscape. However, I also want to draw attention to the relationship of punitive governmentality that has increasingly targeted schools, teachers, and students. As the federal government has expanded its authority in the realm of education, it has embraced policies that seek to regulate actions within the education system through the threat of disciplinary action if actors fail to enact its normatively desired goals. The liberal incorporationist education order has not only changed policies but also shifted the ways in which policy makers and the public understand the purpose and problems of education. As policy makers increasingly embraced the idea that schools could solve myriad social problems, they also embraced punitive policies such as closing neighborhood schools, firing teachers, attacking tenure protections, and privatizing “low-performing” schools when these social problems continued. The punitive governmentality of the liberal incorporationist order is one where schools and teachers are given impossible tasks and then punished for failing to achieve them.

The reality is that schools could not—and cannot—counter the major drivers of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Greater federal education funding could do little to address the effects of automation or deindustrialization. Demanding higher standards and more standardized tests does little to alter the reality of a labor market where wages and union power have been steadily hollowed out over the last fifty years. Although changes in the labor market are beyond the schools’ control, policy makers embraced education as a panacea for the deficiencies of the broader political economy. The resilience of the liberal incorporationist faith in education has positioned schools as both savior and scapegoat, facilitated the rise of punitive accountability policies, and pushed alternative redistributive political economic approaches into the background.

Daniel S. Moak is assistant professor of government at Connecticut College.

Hungary’s Cold War

In Hungary’s Cold War: International Relations from the End of World War II to the Fall of the Soviet Union, Csaba Békés provides the first multi-archive based synthesis concerning the international relations of the Soviet Bloc, covering the entire Cold War period. Based on Békés’s extensive research over the past three decades, he aims at proving that the East-Central European states have played a much more important role in shaping both the Soviet bloc’s overall policy and the East–West relationship itself than previously assumed. Similarly, the relationship between Moscow and its allies, as well as among the bloc countries, was a much more complex formula than it appeared for most observers in the East and the West alike.

The book uses a three level analysis: the development of East–West relations; the formulation of Soviet Bloc policy; and, the reactions and initiatives of Hungarian foreign policy.

Hungary’s Cold War presents more than twenty theoretical innovations, new categories, and novel interpretations concerning the Cold War and international relations, as well as the same number of discoveries, a significant part of which have already been established in Hungary, and partly also in international literature based on the author’s previous works.

Following is an excerpt taken from chapter one of Hungary’s Cold War.

The Sovietization of East Central Europe

While the debate has been going on regarding this issue since the late 1940s, we can argue that the Sovietization of East Central Europe was neither a cause nor a consequence of the emerging Cold War. The Western Allies, as outlined in the previous section, had tacitly accepted the Soviet conquest of East Central Europe from the outset, although they were certainly hoping that Stalin would not necessarily try to Sovietize the region “overnight,” as he had the Baltic states, but content himself with the security guarantees of a kind of regional Finlandization. But they could do little but hope, as they had no effective means of influencing events in East Central Europe if they did not want to wage war on the Soviet Union, which was not in the least in their interest. Stalin’s team was treating the region as one of prime strategic importance, and we now know that it was prepared to go to war to retain it.

As we still know basically nothing about Stalin’s specific plans for the future of the region, experts try to reconstruct them from the Maisky and Litvinov plans, usually concluding that no short-term Sovietization designs can be seen in these materials. But this is an erroneous premise because these are expert materials, and there is no evidence that they would even partially reflect Stalin’s point of view. Litvinov’s plan contains a strikingly unrealistic desire to classify neutral Sweden as part of the Soviet zone in January 1945, while Maisky’s proposal is surprisingly modest in that it presupposes only a Finlandized type of supervision of the area by Moscow in January 1944 in the short run, when it had been clear after the Tehran conference in November–December 1943 that the area would be liberated by the Red Army. Maybe they did not know it, but we now know what Stalin said to Milovan Djilas in April 1945: “This war is not as in the past; whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army has power to do so. It cannot be otherwise.” And for the Soviet Union, that war started in 1941. (Incidentally, this prophesy was true also for the United States: the former fascist/Nazi states of Italy and West Germany adopted a Western-type democratic model; the former abolished the monarchy and became a republic, while the latter, formally a federation but in fact a strongly centralized state since 1871, directly followed a federal structure, akin to that of the United States.) Consequently, the Maisky and Litvinov plans cannot be taken as evidence that Moscow lacked intentions of Sovietizing the region in the period up to 1947, and therefore there was also no realistic chance behind the postwar Western desire for a “Finlandized” East Central Europe.

The Sovietization of East Central Europe did not affect the development of East–West relations directly and, even if many still claim the opposite, it was not a cause of the Cold War. There is further backing for this argument in the Western reactions to the gradual Communist takeover in the areas liberated and occupied by the Soviet Union. It was not seen as a real casus belli; otherwise, the Truman Doctrine, announced in March 1947 to prevent further Communist expansion, would have had to come into force in 1945 or 1946 at the latest. Cutting-edge research shows that irrespective of formal constitutional conditions or the political setup—in most cases a multiparty system and a coalition government—the local Communist parties of all the countries of the region were already in a commanding position as early as 1945–46 in the whole region. Therefore, I use the novel categorizations quasi-Sovietized countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia) and pre-Sovietized states (Hungary and Czechoslovakia) rather than the terms democratic interlude or limited parliamentary democracy, as suggested elsewhere.

Yet, in a transposed, indirect sense, the trend in Western policy toward the Soviet Union was influenced to some degree by East Central Europe’s deteriorating situation. Western politicians could not admit to their public their tacit acknowledgment that East Central Europe now belonged wholly to the Soviet sphere of influence and that they simply had no effective means to arrest the ongoing Sovietization of the region. Therefore, to satisfy the moral expectations of their societies, they periodically had to utter tough public condemnation of some of the drastic, aggressive steps of the local Communists or the Soviet authorities. The ensuing harsh replies from Moscow then reinforced existing Western suspicions that the Soviet leadership was unreliable, aggressive, and concerned only with its own security—not a force with which it was worth working or cooperating.

Csaba Békés is research professor for the Centre of Social Sciences, founding director of the Cold War History Research Center, and professor of history at Corvinus University of Budapest.

Rebecca Sharpless on the History of Southern Baking

Grain and Fire: A History of Baking in the American South by Rebecca Sharpless Illuminates the emotional and sentimental values imbued in southern baking. Punching through numerous stereotypes, Sharpless demonstrates that the creation and consumption of baked goods is far more than one of producing and eating food: the story of southern baking is about colonialism, race and ethnicity, gender, economics, class, and technology. Baking was used by people who controlled the food supply in the South to reinforce their power and make social distinctions. Who used white cornmeal and who used yellow, who put sugar in their cornbread and who did not all had meaning for southerners, as did the proportions of flour, fat, and liquid in biscuits. In the main, southerners tended to hew to traditional foodways through the nineteenth century, but the twentieth century saw the popularity of convenience foods and mixes explode in the region as it did nationwide. Still, while some regional distinctions have waned, there is no doubt that baking in the South continues as a remarkably vital source of identity, meaning, and entrepreneurship. 

Watch Rebecca Sharpless’s archived discussion of Grain and Fire hosted last month by Asheville’s Malaprop’s Bookstore, moderated by UNC Press Advancement Council member Kirk Brown.

Rebecca Sharpless is professor of history at Texas Christian University. Her most recent book is Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865–1960.

Reacting to the Past Game Books: Now Available from UNC Press

As previously announced, starting this month UNC Press is proud to be the publisher of Reacting to the Past ™ game books, an award­–winning series of immersive role-playing games that actively engage students in their own learning. Originally developed under the auspices of Barnard College, today they are created and sustained by the Reacting Consortium of colleges and universities.

New titles are forthcoming Spring 2023; following is a roundup of highlights from the series.

Changing the Game: Title IX, Gender, and College Athletics
By Kelly McFall & Abigail Perkiss

Greenwich Village, 1913: Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman
By Mary Jane Treacy

Mexico in Revolution, 1912-1920
By Jonathan Truitt & Stephany Slaughter

Forest Diplomacy: Cultures in Conflict on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1757
By Nicolas W. Proctor

Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791
Second Edition
By Jennifer J. Popiel & Mark C. Carnes

Red Clay, 1835: Cherokee Removal and the Meaning of Sovereignty
By Jace Weaver & Laura Adams Weaver

About the Reacting Consortium: The Reacting Consortium is a nonprofit consortium of institutions and individual instructors, whose mission is to promote imagination, inquiry, and engagement as foundational features of teaching and student learning in higher education through the development and dissemination of Reacting to the Past ™ role-playing games

Dismal Freedom – On Sale Now!

Dismal Freedom: A History of the Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp by J. Brent Morris is available now wherever books and ebooks are sold.

The massive and foreboding Great Dismal Swamp sprawls over 2,000 square miles and spills over parts of Virginia and North Carolina. From the early seventeenth century, the nearly impassable Dismal frustrated settlement. However, what may have been an impediment to the expansion of slave society became an essential sanctuary for many of those who sought to escape it. In the depths of the Dismal, thousands of maroons—people who had emancipated themselves from enslavement and settled beyond the reach of enslavers—established new lives of freedom in a landscape deemed worthless and inaccessible by whites.

“By taking the reader deep inside the “liberated zone” known as the Great Dismal Swamp, J. Brent Morris vividly illuminates the political will of enslaved African Americans to be free. This gripping saga recounts one of America’s greatest freedom stories.”— Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship

Dismal Freedom unearths the stories of these maroons, their lives, and their struggles for liberation. Drawing from newly discovered primary sources and archeological evidence that suggests far more extensive maroon settlement than historians have previously imagined, award-winning author J. Brent Morris uncovers one of the most exciting yet neglected stories of American history. This is the story of resilient, proud, and determined people who made the Great Dismal Swamp their free home and sanctuary and who played an outsized role in undermining slavery through the Civil War.

“Very revealing! This outstanding and genuinely novel contribution to the history of slavery and the South makes excellent use of recent archaeological discoveries yet puts them into a historical perspective for the average reader. This will be the go-to book on U.S. marronage.”—Timothy Lockley, author of Maroon Communities in South Carolina: A Documentary Record

J. Brent Morris is professor of history at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

The Academic Beach Read: An Oxymoron?

The following is a guest blog post by Steve Estes author of Surfing the South: The Search for Waves and the People Who Ride Them, available wherever books and ebooks are sold.

As the weather warms and the kids get out of school, perhaps you are daydreaming about the beach. If you’re lucky, maybe you live at the beach or a few hours away, making day trips possible. If you live further inland, maybe you load up the car for a weekend trip. You toss towels, sunscreen, and sunglasses into your bag, leaving just enough room for something to read. You scan the bedside table. There’s that recent spy thriller, a rom-com, an uplifting memoir, and then, down at the bottom of the stack, you see that academic monograph, you’ve been meaning to get to. Nothing says “beach read” like an academic monograph, right?

Photo by Dan Dumitriu on Unsplash

         In her history of summer reading entitled Books for Idle Hours, Donna Harrington-Lueker chronicled the way publishers invented what we call “beach reads” at the end of the nineteenth century. These books appealed to a growing number of middle-class readers with time on their hands and kids to ignore in the summer months. Fast forward over a century later and the recipe for beach reads still holds. Dramatic (even salacious) novels that capture readers’ attention and keep them turning pages. We risk a bit more sunburn than our modestly clad Victorian Era forebearers, but many Americans still turn to books to pass the “idle hours” of summer vacations. Why not monographs?

         I’ll tell you why. Most academic monographs are dense and difficult to read. They prioritize argument over narrative, theoretical interventions and methodological innovations over character development and plot pacing. University presses rely on a rigorous peer review process that upholds scholarly standards, but rarely rewards stylish prose. These are the assumptions about monographs that keep them out of most beach bags. 

 There is some truth in these criticisms, but academic monographs have also evolved. The cultural turn in history brought more accessible topics to the discipline. One could write about New Wave bands, film noir, African American cooking, quinceañera celebrations, or even the history of summer reading and be taken seriously as a scholar. In addition to increasingly accessible topics, more and more academic authors found inspiration in the style of creative nonfiction pioneered by journalists. So academic monographs began to borrow from the genres of true crime stories or suspenseful sports sagas to get readers to turn the pages even as they digested new ideas and arguments.

         As someone who shifted from journalistic to academic writing, I welcomed these changes not only as an author, but also as a reader and teacher. For years, I’ve listened to my colleagues complain that students refuse to read the books that we assign. While I don’t think this is a new problem, the combination of digital distractions and difficult academic readings certainly doesn’t help matters. Therefore, I am heartened by the growing number of academic monographs and articles that I actually enjoy reading. 

         The University of North Carolina Press has responded to this shift by creating a small trade division of academic books that make an original contribution to scholarship and attempt to reach readers beyond the Academy. As the author of one of these books on Surfing the South, I like to joke that they are pulp nonfiction—paperbacks that are disposable, portable, and priced to sell. But who knows? Maybe they’ll even make it into a beach bag or two!   

Steve Estes is an avid surfer and professor of history at Sonoma State University. He is the author of Surfing the South: The Search for Waves and the People Who Ride Them.

Toward a Nightmare

The following is a guest blog post by Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Heart of Hell: The Soldiers’ Struggle for Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle, available now wherever books and ebooks are sold.

May 4, 1864, dawned across central Virginia with spring’s promise of life and war’s portent of death. A day in which “all nature seems smiling” had been anticipated for weeks, if not months. On this morning 119,000 officers and men of the Union Army of the Potomac, accompanied by miles of artillery batteries and wagons, marched toward a pair of fords on the Rapidan River. South of the stream, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia—nearly 60,000 strong—waited, old nemeses headed toward another reckoning.

The previous months had been marked by cold and inclement winter weather. The Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers divided the sprawling campsites of the opposing armies. Railroad trains of supplies filled the voracious needs of the Yankees while shortages of rations for the men and forage for animals plagued Confederate ranks. Their commander, General Robert E. Lee, admitted at one point, “The question of food for this army gives more trouble and uneasiness than everything else combined.” Disease stalked the camps on both sides of the rivers.

The foes grumbled often about the hardships in their respective armies, but those who remained in the ranks were determined to see the war through to the end. Although the odds against them had not lessened, many of the Southerners remained steadfast in ultimate victory. “With unbounded confidence in Gen Lee, and men enough,” declared a Rebel, “we fear not the issue.” They possessed a shared legacy of battlefield prowess and an “unconquerable spirit.”

For members of the Army of the Potomac, their legacy was more of defeat than of victory.  But they had endured through the bloodbath at Fredericksburg and the stunning defeat at Chancellorsville. Given a fair fight and inspired leadership on a fair field, they had prevailed at Gettysburg. Major General George G. Meade, the victor at Gettysburg, commanded army, but change arrived on a train from Washington, D.C., in March.

Appointed general-in-chief of all Union forces, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant decided to abandon the federal capital and accompany the army in the forthcoming campaign. Grant had proven himself in the West with victories at forts Henry and Donelson and Shiloh in Tennessee; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Grant kept Meade in command, but the latter understood that in time the army would follow his superior’s direction.

As the weather warmed, the army’s rank and file took the measure of the general-in-chief. Like their opponents, the Northerners believed in their final victory. In the estimation of a surgeon, the troops “had confidence that they have a general, though not superhuman, has a strong will, good sense, and power to do as he thinks best. I think he is more than satisfied with this army, and knows they will fight.”

Grant designated May 4 as the beginning of Union offensives across the Confederacy. In the West, the main thrust would be in Georgia toward Atlanta. In the East, a pair of secondary advances in Virginia would support the main movement across the Rapidan. Grant’s instructions to Meade were “wherever Lee went he would go also.” An officer predicted before they started that the army “has obtained a grip upon the throat of the Confederacy, a grip that will not be relaxed until treason gasps and dies.”

On May 1, Confederate Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. “Sandie” Pendleton offered a prediction in a letter to his wife, lamenting that “the green shores of the Rapidan River would be stained by the blood of thousands.” It would be more—far more—than Pendleton could have known. For both armies as they marched toward a confrontation, they entered a nightmare of nearly unrelenting carnage for six weeks. Nothing characterized the fearfulness and slaughter more than the struggle for the Confederate Mule Shoe outside of Spotsylvania Court House on May 12.

Jeffry D. Wert is author of many previous books, including most recently Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation