Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Top 5: Holiday Gift Edition

In the post-Thanksgiving shopping chaos, UPK is here to guide you to the perfect gift for the loved ones in your life.

Order by December 3rd for guaranteed holiday shipping

How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders

By Maryjean Wall



In her debut book, How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders, former turf writer Maryjean Wall explores the post–Civil War world of Thoroughbred racing, before the Bluegrass region reigned supreme as the unofficial Horse Capital of the World. Key events include a challenge between Asteroid, the best horse in Kentucky, and Kentucky, the best horse in New York; a mysterious and deadly horse disease that threatened to wipe out the foal crops for several years; and the disappearance of African American jockeys such as Isaac Murphy. Wall demonstrates how the Bluegrass could have slipped into irrelevance and how these events define the history of the state.

“One of the best studies ever on the history of the horse in Kentucky. Wall combines her abilities as a prizewinning journalist and a trained academic to craft a readable, pathbreaking history. Focusing on the period immediately after the Civil War, Wall shows how Kentucky almost lost its preeminence in the horse-racing industry and how it regained that position. . . . It is a story peopled with colorful characters and filled with insights.” —James C. Klotter, State Historian of Kentucky

The Social History of Bourbon

By Gerald Carson

Foreword by Mike Veach



The distinctive beverage of the Western world, bourbon is Kentucky’s illustrious gift to the world of spirits. Although the story of American whiskey is recorded in countless lively pages of our nation’s history, the place of bourbon in the American cultural record has long awaited detailed and objective presentation. Not a recipe book or a barman’s guide, but a fascinating and informative contribution to Americana, The Social History of Bourbon reflects an aspect of our national cultural identity that many have long suppressed or overlooked.

“More than just a history of distillers, The Social History of Bourbon is the story of the saloon and the impetus to close down this uniquely American institution…Carson has a very enjoyable style of storytelling that enhances the primarily excellent historical information found in The Social History of Bourbon.“—from the foreword by Mike Veach

The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook

By Albert W. A. Schmid



A beverage distilled almost exclusively in Kentucky, bourbon has attained prominence and appreciation for its complexity, history, and tradition. In The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, Albert Schmid provides readers with the best recipes using the famous spirit of the Bluegrass. From classic Kentucky cocktails such as the Mint Julep, to bourbon inspired desserts, such as Bourbon-Pecan Crème Brulée with Chocolate Sauce, and more savory fare, such as Steaks with Bourbon Ginger Sauce, this book supplies recipes for every course. Much more than just a cookbook, The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook recounts bourbon lore, food traditions, and Kentucky history, giving the reader a full appreciation of America’s native spirit.

“There is no culinary showboating here: all the recipes are straightforward, are easy to prepare, and involve readily available ingredients. As with most good home cooking, the emphasis is not on the painstaking or the exotic but on easy prep and easy eating.”—The Wall Street Journal

Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity

Edited by Greg Abernathy, Deborah White, Ellis L. Laudermilk, and Marc Evans



Kentucky’s abundance of plant and animal life, from the bottomland swamps in the west to the rich Appalachian forests in the east, is extraordinary as well as beautiful. Glades, prairies, forests, wetlands, rivers, and caves form a biologically diverse patchwork that is unique to the state. Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity provides an essential reference to the remarkable natural history of the commonwealth and is a rallying call for the conservation of this priceless legacy. Organized by a team from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, the book is an outgrowth of the agency’s focus on biodiversity protection. Richly detailed and lavishly illustrated with more than 250 color photos, maps, and charts, Kentucky’s Natural Heritage is the definitive compendium of the commonwealth’s amazing diversity. It celebrates the natural beauty of some of the most important ecosystems in the nation and presents a compelling case for the necessity of conservation.

Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, part of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, was created in 1976.

Tales of Kentucky Ghosts

By William Lynwood Montell



A good ghost story can make your hair stand on end, your palms sweat, and your heart race. The bone-chilling collection Tales of Kentucky Ghosts presents more than 250 stories that do just that. In his new book, William Lynwood Montell has assembled an entertaining and diverse array of tales from across the commonwealth that will keep you checking under the bed every night. The first-person accounts in this collection showcase folklore that Montell has drawn from archives, family stories, and oral traditions throughout Kentucky. The stories include that of the ghost bride of Laurel County, who appears each year on the anniversary of her wedding day; the tale of the murdered worker who haunts the Simpson County home of his killer and former employer; and the account of the lost mandolin that plays itself in a house in Graves County. These and many other chilling stories haunt the pages of Tales of Kentucky Ghosts.

“Montell vividly re-creates the context of storytelling in Kentucky in times past. This evocation of the rich folk history of the region is the special strength and magic his work offers to readers: the sense that their own tales, ways, and beliefs are part of a valuable legacy that deserves respect and honor. This is a matter about which Montell is passionate, and his passion shines through.”—Margaret Read MacDonald, author of Ten Traditional Tellers

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Black Farmers Gain Senate Victory in Historic Civil Rights Settlement

In 1920, black Americans made up 14 percent of all farmers in the nation, and they owned and worked 15 million acres of land. Today, battling the onslaught of globalization, changing technology, an aging workforce, racist lending policies, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture, black farmers account for less than 1 percent of the nation’s farmers and cultivate fewer than 3 million acres of land. Experts predict that within the next ten years, black-owned family farms will all but cease to exist. Inside these statistics is a staggering story of human loss that led photographer John Francis Ficara on a four-year journey across America to document and preserve the struggles of black farmers. The result of this journey is Black Farmers in America, a collection of 110 photographs skillfully reproduced in duotone that captures poignant images of hardship, survival, and a people’s bond to the soil at the end of the twentieth century. From the myth of “forty acres and a mule” to the multi-million-dollar USDA settlement in 1999, Williams explores America’s ongoing struggle with racism and its economic consequences for black farmers. The hardships and joys of daily life on the farm echo deeply in these images. They convey a dignity of work and culture, and they document the experiences of black farmers for future generations. Today’s black farmers are beginning to see victories in struggles they have been battling for years.

via The Key Newsjournal

Black Farmers Finally Get Senate Action

Special to The Key Newsjournal from the AFRO-American Newspapers

John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association, in front of the U.S. Capitol, earlier this year. Supporting the Black farmers bill where CBC Members Barbara Lee, left, and Shelia Jackson Lee, right.

The Senate cleared a $1.15 billion appropriations measure last week to settle a decades-old discrimination suit by Black farmers, paving the way for one of the largest civil rights settlements in history, if the bill clears the House.

The nation’s Black farmers were awarded the money as part of a larger $4.6 billion dollar settlement awarded to them and Native American farmers.

The action stems from the settlement of Pigford v. Glickman, a class-action lawsuit named after Timothy Pigford, a Black farmer from North Carolina.  Pigford’s suit claimed that Black farmers received little or no U.S. Department of Agriculture support in the form of loans and grants compared to their White counterparts.  The case, which began in 1997, saw a settlement reached in 1999 that stated qualified farmers could receive $50,000 to settle claims of racial bias.

However, many farmers missed the filing deadline to receive payment.   A settlement reached last February allowed those farmers to resume pursuit of their claims.

“The passage of this bill is long overdue,” said John Boyd, head of the National Black Farmers Association, in a statement.

“Black farmers have already died at the plow waiting for justice,” Boyd told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I hope the ones who are living will see justice.  The amount of money will not put farmers back into business”.

The appropriations bill was stalled in the Senate for months while Democrats and Republicans fought over how to pay for the settlement.   The stalemate was broken during the first week of the lame duck session of the 111th Congress when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, dropped an objection to the package, after Senate leaders agreed not to finance it through additional deficit spending.

The matter now goes to the House where even more recalcitrance is expected from lawmakers who contend that the settlement adds to what they consider excessive spending at a time of federal budget deficits.

According to the USA Today, the settlement will be paid for from a surplus in nutrition programs for women and children and by extending customs user fees.

President Barack Obama praised the Senate for ending that chamber’s refusal to clear the settlement.   In a statement, he expressed hope that the House would follow in the Senate’s footsteps and pass the bill as well.

“I applaud the Senate for passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, which will at long last provide funding for the agreements reached in the Pigford II lawsuit, brought by African American farmers, and the Cobell lawsuit, brought by Native Americans over the management of Indian trust accounts and resources,” Obama said.

“I urge the House to move forward with this legislation as they did earlier this year, and I look forward to signing it into law,” he continued.

The legislation also included an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and settlements for Native American water rights.

Now Available from the University Press of Kentucky

Currently Available for Order:

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

Jeffrey Spivak, $39.95

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

by Jeffrey Spivak


Order Now


Characterized by grandiose song-and-dance numbers featuring ornate geometric patterns and mimicked in many modern films, Busby Berkeley’s unique artistry is as recognizable and striking as ever. From his years on Broadway to the director’s chair, Berkeley is notorious for his inventiveness and signature style. Through sensational films like 42nd Street (1933), Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Footlight Parade (1933), and Dames (1934), Berkeley sought to distract audiences from the troubles of the Great Depression. Although his bold technique is familiar to millions of moviegoers, Berkeley’s life remains a mystery.

Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is a telling portrait of the filmmaker who revolutionized the musical and changed the world of choreography. Berkeley pioneered many conventions still in use today, including the famous “parade of faces” technique, which lends an identity to each anonymous performer in a close-up. Carefully arranging dancers in complex and beautiful formations, Berkeley captured perspectives never seen before.

Jeffrey Spivak’s meticulous research magnifies the career and personal life of this beloved filmmaker. Employing personal letters, interviews, studio memoranda, and Berkeley’s private memoirs, Spivak unveils the colorful life of one of cinema’s greatest artists.

Jeffrey Spivak writes about film for periodicals and websites.


“Spivak has the biographer’s sine qua non: a sense of his subject’s uniqueness on this Earth.” —Page Laws, dean of the Honors College, Norfolk State University

Scott Eyman and the Wall Street Journal review “Von Sternberg”

If you were reading the Wall Street Journal this past Friday, November 12, you would have seen yet ANOTHER UPK book review. Scott Eyman, author of Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, took a closer look at Von Sternberg by John Baxter, the first biography of the legendary Hollywood director. Read the Wall Street Journal review below:

The Unhappiest Man in Hollywood

Josef von Sternberg’s prideful, obsessive nature made him a great director—and an impossible individual


In the early studio era, when many film directors adopted imperial pretensions and ruled by fear, nobody had more pretensions or was more feared than Josef von Sternberg.


Everett CollectionFATEFUL AFFAIR Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich on the set of ‘The Blue Angel’ (1930).

He was a man who kept large, aggressive dogs, who avoided direct eye contact, who presented his opinions as incontrovertible fact and who treated everyone with unconcealed disdain or contempt. On the set, he had a blackboard; if crew members or actors wanted to talk to him, they had to write their names on the blackboard, and he’d schedule an appointment. “The only way to succeed,” he once said, “is to make people hate you. That way they remember you.”

It was all a pose, but a brilliantly played one. In fact, von Sternberg was a diminutive Viennese immigrant, the son of a Jewish lace worker and a loner with one of the worst cases of short-man’s disease on record. Born Jonas Sternberg, he added the “von” because it sounded more regal (besides, it had worked for Erich von Stroheim). The truth of von Sternberg’s life was that his towering facade of vanity barely concealed a yearning for abasement that he would capture with stunning accuracy in such films as “The Blue Angel” (1930) and “The Devil Is a Woman” (1935).

Throughout John Baxter’s bio graphy of von Sternberg— the first for this director—the author is very good on the films and on von Sternberg’s lapidary technique. Although he was mostly reared in New York, aesthetically von Sternberg was utterly European. In his rapturously ornate visuals, he was determined to find ways to make the image, the moment, come alive.

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