Staff Picks: 2021 UNC Press Holiday Gift Guide

We hope you’ve got your hot chocolate and eggnog ready for this winter season! Today we wanted to share some holiday gift recommendations from our staff. Don’t forget, we’re having a Holiday Sale too! Save 40% on any of these great stocking stuffers and all of our other UNC Press print books. You’ll also receive free shipping on orders of $75 or more. To get these savings, simply enter code 01HOLIDAY at checkout on our website. You can also preorder forthcoming titles using this discount, and they will ship as soon as they become available.

Happy holidays and happy reading from all of us at UNC Press!


BLACK SMOKE: AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE UNITED STATES OF BARBECUE

BY ADRIAN MILLER

Black Smoke chronicles a rich culinary contribution . . . [Miller] details the history of barbecue back to its Indigenous roots in pre-Columbian days, and recounts how it became part of the culture of enslaved Africans.

New York Times

THE VOTE COLLECTORS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE SCAMSTERS, POLITICIANS, AND PREACHERS BEHIND THE NATION’S GREATEST ELECTORAL FRAUD

BY MICHAEL GRAFF & NICK OCHSNER

In November 2018, Baptist preacher Mark Harris beat the odds, narrowly fending off a blue wave in the sprawling Ninth District of North Carolina. But word soon got around that something fishy was going on in rural Bladen County. At the center of the mess was a local political operative named McCrae Dowless. Dowless had learned the ins and outs of the absentee ballot system from Democrats before switching over to the Republican Party. Bladen County’s vote-collecting cottage industry made national headlines, led to multiple election fraud indictments, toppled North Carolina GOP leadership, and left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without congressional representation for nearly a year.  

In The Vote Collectors, Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner tell the story of the political shenanigans in Bladen County, exposing the shocking vulnerability of local elections and explaining why our present systems are powerless to monitor and prevent fraud. In their hands, this tale of rural corruption becomes a fascinating narrative of the long clash of racism and electioneering—and a larger story about the challenges to democracy in the rural South.

ATTRACTING BIRDS IN THE CAROLINAS: CREATING BIRD-FRIENDLY HABITATS FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE COAST

BY JAMES F. PARNELL, WILLIAM C. ALEXANDER, AND FRANCES B. PARNELL

Attracting Birds in the Carolinas is a great how-to and informational guide for creating bird-friendly habitats in our backyards and beyond. It’s obvious the authors have a lifetime of experience and knowledge about Carolina birds and wildlife–if you love birds, this is the book for you.

Mary-Russell Roberson, coauthor of Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas: A Field Guide to Favorite Places from Chimney Rock to Charleston

SAVING THE WILD SOUTH: THE FIGHT FOR NATIVE PLANTS ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION

BY GEORGANN EUBANKS

The American South is famous for its astonishingly rich biodiversity. In this book, Georgann Eubanks takes a wondrous trek from Alabama to North Carolina to search out native plants that are endangered and wavering on the edge of erasure. Even as she reveals the intricate beauty and biology of the South’s plant life, she also shows how local development and global climate change are threatening many species, some of which have been graduated to the federal list of endangered species.

Why should we care, Eubanks asks, about North Carolina’s Yadkin River goldenrod, found only in one place on earth? Or the Alabama canebrake pitcher plant, a carnivorous marvel being decimated by criminal poaching and a booming black market? These plants, she argues, are important not only to the natural environment but also to southern identity, and she finds her inspiration in talking with the heroes—the botanists, advocates, and conservationists young and old—on a quest to save these green gifts of the South for future generations. These passionate plant lovers caution all of us not to take for granted the sensitive ecosystems that contribute to the region’s long-standing appeal, beauty, and character.

RICE: A SAVOR THE SOUTH COOKBOOK

BY MICHAEL W. TWITTY

Rice, which contains fifty-one recipes featuring and supporting the grain—including jollof rice, curried rice salad, and Carolina pilau—focuses Twitty’s critical acumen on an ingredient so versatile it has the power to become the main course, a side dish, or dessert. Written in praise of the globally important and endlessly adaptable food, Twitty traces rice’s journey from Africa through the Caribbean and into the American South.

Garden & Gun

POLLINATOR GARDENING FOR THE SOUTH: CREATING SUSTAINABLE HABITATS

BY DANESHA SETH CARLEY AND ANNE M. SPAFFORD

This step-by-step guide will answer all of your questions about how to create beautiful gardens designed to welcome beneficial pollinators across the South. Combining up-to-date scientific information with artful design strategies, Danesha Seth Carley and Anne M. Spafford teach gardeners of all levels to plan, plant, and maintain successful pollinator gardens at home and in shared community sites. Everyday gardeners, along with farmers, scientists, and policy makers, share serious concerns about ongoing declines in bee and other pollinator populations, and here Spafford and Carley deliver great news: every thoughtfully designed garden, no matter how small, can play a huge role in providing the habitat, nourishment, and nesting places so needed by pollinators. This book explains all you need to be a pollinator champion.

MEADE AT GETTYSBURG: A STUDY IN COMMAND

BY KENT MASTERSON BROWN, ESQ.

Meade at Gettysburg is an important contribution to Civil War literature…Brown’s mastery of manuscript and published primary materials is immediately evident..His narrative recounts in astonishing granularity Meade’s command decisions and those of his principal subordinates across the course of the campaign.

Civil War Book Review

NORTH CAROLINA: LAND OF WATER, LAND OF SKY

BY BLAND SIMPSON

Bland Simpson, the celebrated bard of North Carolina’s sound country, has blended history, observation of nature, and personal narrative in many books to chronicle the people and places of eastern Carolina. Yet he has spent much of his life in the state’s Piedmont, with regular travels into its western mountains. Here, for the first time, Simpson brings his distinctive voice and way of seeing to bear on the entirety of his home state, combining storytelling and travelogue to create a portrait of the Old North State with care and humor.

Three of the state’s finest photographers come along to guide the journey: Simpson’s wife and creative partner, Ann Cary Simpson, professional photographer Scott Taylor, and writer and naturalist Tom Earnhardt. Their photos, combined with Simpson’s rich narrative, will inspire readers to consider not only what North Carolina has been and what it is but also what we hope it will be. This book belongs on the shelf of longtime residents, newcomers, and visitors alike.

EDIBLE WIILD PLANTS OF THE CAROLINAS: A FORAGER’S COMPANION

BY LYTTON JOHN MUSSELMAN & PETER W. SCHAFRAN

I thoroughly enjoyed the treatments of each plant and the understated humor sprinkled throughout. The book even helped me generate a few ethnobotany research questions for my students to investigate! This fascinating book will be of interest to casual readers, beginning botanists, and professionals alike.

Jay Bolin, Catawba College

ENDS OF WAR: THE UNFINISHED FIGHT OF LEE’S ARMY AFTER APPOMATTOX

BY CAROLINE E. JANNEY

The Army of Northern Virginia’s chaotic dispersal began even before Lee and Grant met at Appomattox Court House. As the Confederates had pushed west at a relentless pace for nearly a week, thousands of wounded and exhausted men fell out of the ranks. When word spread that Lee planned to surrender, most remaining troops stacked their arms and accepted paroles allowing them to return home, even as they lamented the loss of their country and cause. But others broke south and west, hoping to continue the fight.  Fearing a guerrilla war, Grant extended the generous Appomattox terms to every rebel who would surrender himself. Provost marshals fanned out across Virginia and beyond, seeking nearly 18,000 of Lee’s men who had yet to surrender. But the shock of Lincoln’s assassination led Northern authorities to see threats of new rebellion in every rail depot and harbor where Confederates gathered for transport, even among those already paroled. While Federal troops struggled to keep order and sustain a fragile peace, their newly surrendered adversaries seethed with anger and confusion at the sight of Union troops occupying their towns and former slaves celebrating freedom. 

In this dramatic new history of the weeks and months after Appomattox, Caroline E. Janney reveals that Lee’s surrender was less an ending than the start of an interregnum marked by military and political uncertainty, legal and logistical confusion, and continued outbursts of violence.

WAYFARING STRANGERS: THE MUSICAL VOYAGE FROM SCOTLAND AND ULSTER TO APPALACHIA

BY FIONA RITCHIE & DOUG ORR

If you love Appalachian music; if you’re Scots-Irish and wonder about your roots; if you’re curious about the words and traditions of the music and how many miles and years the songs have traveled to get here, this handsome book is your most trusted servant, your indispensable encyclopedia and your entertaining Bible.

Charlotte Observer

GOOD WALKS: REDISCOVERING THE SOUL OF GOLF AT EIGHTEEN OF THE CAROLINAS’ BEST COURSES

BY LEE PACE

This book celebrates the beauty, tradition, and variety of golf across the Carolinas, featuring eighteen beloved courses as experienced by the walking golfer. One of golf’s earliest appeals was its health-giving benefits, with players walking some four miles over varied terrain, making stamina and endurance an important part of the sport. Most recreational players today choose motorized carts. But Lee Pace believes that the slower pace and on-the-ground view associated with walking gives one an opportunity to savor the experience, understand the nuances of course design and landscape architecture, and appreciate the small touches that make our region’s best clubs and courses special. The Carolinas are a cradle for the game in the United States, making walking its courses an ideal way to connect past and present.

COLOR-RICH GARDENING FOR THE SOUTH: A GUIDE FOR ALL SEASONS

BY ROXANN WARD

Gardeners using this engaging gardening guide will feel that they are chatting in the most personal and inviting way with a knowledgeable, friendly expert with extensive real-world experience. This is the kind of how-to book gardeners want to curl up with to feel inspired to visualize exactly how to create the garden beds or containers of their dreams. Southern gardeners especially need all the help they can get because of the region’s unique climate challenges.

Barbara Sullivan, author of Garden Perennials for the Coastal South