Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Father’s Day! Books on Dad Written by their Children

Oh, Dads…a seemingly limitless source of bad jokes (have you heard this one? What do you call an Alligator wearing a vest? An investigator!), bear hugs, and well-meaning advice. Some Dads are goofy, some serious, and my Dad will probably spend all day watching the U.S. Open, yelling at golf balls to “Get in there!” If I were to write a book about my Dad, it would include his terrible scrambled eggs recipe and endless battle against the rabbits that eat the flowers in his yard. Below are a few of our favorite books written by children about their fathers…I promise, the stories are much more interesting than scrambled eggs.

Buy or Pre-Order:

Hitchcock’s Partner in Suspense

Voice of the Wildcats

Dalton Trumbo

My Life as a Mankiewicz

Portrait of a Father

My Father, Daniel Boone

Gems of the Backlist: MOUNTAINEER JAMBOREE by Ivan Tribe

Mountaineer JamboreeHere at the University Press of Kentucky, we’re in the middle of a program to digitize all of the books that we’ve published since our founding in 1943. It’s a lot of work going through over 1300 books, but it’s been a process full of fun surprises and astounding discoveries. Best of all, every now and then, there’s a book that we just can’t put down—a book so good we just can’t resist sharing it with you again:

Our Marketing Assistant, Blair, was pulling descriptions for books in our backlist digitization program, when the cover of Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia caught her eye. The picture of Blaine Smith and his gang (ca. 1940) on the cover really captures the spirit of those heady days when the Mountain State rivaled Nashville as a mecca for country singers and instrumentalists from all over America . . . but hey—what’s going on with that guy?

Yeah . . . THAT guy—the one who brought a revolver, a pipe, and a stuffed deer to the photo shoot. We really liked his spirit, and this interesting book has been on my “to-read” shelf ever since.

As Nashville’s dominance has grown, West Virginia’s leadership in country music has lessened; but Ivan Tribe’s book relives and preserves an exciting period in music history. This romp through the golden age of radio in the Mountain State also highlights the stars that made programs like the WWVA Jamboree great: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Red Sovine, Blaine Smith, Curly Ray Cline, Grandpa Jones, the Bailey Brothers, and many, many more:

Morgan and Marvin Smith

Gems of the Backlist: HARLEM by Morgan Smith and Marvin Smith

Here at the University Press of Kentucky, we’re in the middle of a program to digitize all of the books that we’ve published since our founding in 1943. It’s a lot of work going through over 1300 books, but it’s been a process full of fun surprises and astounding discoveries. Best of all, every now and then, there’s a book that we just can’t put down—a book so good we just can’t resist sharing it with you again:

HarlemImagine my delight when I picked up Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith. Born and raised in Nicholasville, Kentucky, twins Morgan and Marvin Smith knew that they would not become sharecroppers like their parents. They yearned for the opportunity to pursue art, and that passion led them to New York City at the very height of the Great Depression. Despite the dire economic times, the pair found work with the WPA and soon opened their own portrait studio in Harlem.

Rejecting the focus on misery and hopelessness common to photographers of the time, the Smiths documented important “firsts” for the city’s African American community (the first black policeman, the first black woman juror), the significant social movements of their day (anti-lynching protests, rent strikes, and early civil rights rallies), as well as the everyday life of Harlem, from churchgoers dressed for Easter to children playing in the street. The Smiths’ photography and art studio was next to the famed Apollo Theatre, and it became a required stop for anyone making a pilgrimage to the community.

This beautiful book features nearly 150 photographs drawn from the collection of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Smith family archives, and they depict amazing American scenes: Maya Angelou early in her career as a Primus dancer, W.E.B. DuBois recording a speech in their sound studio, Joe Louis at his training camp, Jackie Robinson teaching his young son to hold a baseball bat, Nat King Cole dancing at his wedding, Billie Holiday singing for friends, Josephine Baker distributing candy to children, and many other prominent figures at significant and ordinary moments of their lives. Here’s a little peek into the pages of Harlem:




Did You Know?: Hollywood’s Golden Age Beauties Edition

Pola Negri Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee Stung Lips by Michael G. Ankerich

Did you know that Hollywood temptresses Pola Negri and Mae Murray were sisters-in-law? Murray was married to David Mdivani, brother to Negri’s husband Serge Mdivani. The actresses were great friends—what a fabulously intimidating pair they made!

Learn more about the actresses in our Screen Classics books, Pola Negri: Hollywood’s First Femme Fatale and Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips.

About the books:

Pola Negri (1897–1987) rose from an impoverished childhood in Warsaw, Poland, to become one of early Hollywood’s greatest stars. After tuberculosis ended her career as a ballerina in 1912, she turned to acting and worked under legendary directors Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch in Germany. Negri preceded Lubitsch to Hollywood, where she quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her beauty, talent, and diva personality. Known for her alluring sexuality and biting artistic edge, she starred in more than sixty films and defined the image of the cinematic femme fatale. Buy Pola Negri: Hollywood’s First Femme Fatale from University Press of Kentucky.

Mae Murray (1885–1965), popularly known as “the girl with the bee-stung lips,” was a fiery presence in silent-era Hollywood. Renowned for her classic beauty and charismatic presence, she rocketed to stardom as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, moving across the country to star in her first film, To Have and to Hold, in 1916. An instant hit with audiences, Murray soon became one of the most famous names in Tinseltown. Buy Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips from University Press of Kentucky.

#AdviceforGrads: These Famous Kentuckians Offer Wisdom for those Graduating this Month

Thomas Merton Quotes

In honor of all of you graduating this month, here are some words of wisdom from famous and accomplished Kentuckians as you make your way out into the world.

A California Horse Runs for the Roses

This Saturday will be here before you know it, and with it comes the 140th Kentucky Derby! As you prepare to place your bets on some of the fastest horses in the world, consider what our guest blogger, James C. Nicholson (author of Never Say Die and The Kentucky Derby), says below about California Chrome.


Each year, on the first Saturday in May, Kentucky takes center stage in the American sports world as the nation’s top three-year-old horses compete in the “Run for the Roses.” For over a century, Kentucky, along with its history, mythology and associated imagery, has been part of the spectacle that captures the imaginations of the scores of thousands who witness the Derby at Churchill Downs and the millions who watch on television. This year, as sports journalists struggle in their annual attempt to assign personalities and backstories to the various equine contestants at the Derby, Kentucky will find itself sharing the spotlight.

California Chrome, image via Google

California Chrome, the early favorite for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, is a California horse. The Derby will be the colt’s first race outside of southern California. He was born in California, the result of the mating of an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion. In the world of Thoroughbred racing, where the majority of American equine bluebloods hail from Kentucky, to be a California-bred is to come from the wrong side of the proverbial tracks.

California Chrome’s seventy-seven-year-old trainer, Art Sherman, is also a Californian. He began a lifetime in horse racing as an exercise rider on the California circuit in the 1950s, and in1955 he accompanied Swaps, one of the horses he galloped, on a four-day train trip from Los Angeles to Louisville. The journey proved to be worth the effort, as Swaps became only the second Cal-bred to win the Run for the Roses.

Victor Espinoza, image via Google

Many of the story lines that journalists will attach to California Chrome will be predictable. His septuagenarian trainer has paid his dues in the sport of horse racing but has never won a Derby. Sherman’s connection to one of the greatest Derby champions of the twentieth century will only add to his “good guy” appeal. Chrome’s owners – one is an engineer in California, the other installs magnetic strips onto credit cards in Nevada – will be portrayed as “regular guys,” appropriately matched with their under-pedigreed horse. The fact that they reportedly turned down an offer of $6 million for a ½ interest in California Chrome will no doubt become a part of any number of newspaper columns during Derby week. The colt’s California-based jockey, Victor Espinoza, won the Kentucky Derby in 2002, but has fallen off in recent years. A Derby victory could jumpstart his career. Each of these story angles has become well-trodden ground in the past two decades at the Kentucky Derby: the elderly, dues-paying trainer; the blue-collar horse with blue-collar owners; and the past-his-prime jockey. But the fresh spin this year will be the tie that binds this cast of characters – California.

Because horses cannot speak, sportswriters have great leeway in the creation of storylines for the Derby, and the narratives that reporters gravitate toward at Churchill Downs during Derby week tell us much about the pervasive values and tastes of a given era. Over the past two decades, the most popular story lines have been those that purport to confirm the notion that anyone can succeed in America and that hard work and patience are, in the end, rewarded.

If California Chrome prevails on Derby Day, those angles will almost certainly be included in race descriptions in newspapers across the country. But the idea that California Chrome is a California horse will also be a major part of journalistic coverage, which should serve as a reminder of the central role that geography has played in the popularity of the Derby itself for well over a century.


A big thanks to James C. Nicholson for guest blogging! Be sure to catch the Derby this Saturday evening, and be sure to read Never Say Die and The Kentucky Derby if you want to know more about the tradition of horse racing!




The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook: A Cookbook for All Seasons

The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook by Albert Schmid

The Spring is finally here, after one of the coldest Winters the country has experienced in years. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be looking for a way to ring in the beautiful weather. (And if you’re a cold weather fan (crazy, or not) this post is still for you!)

Albert W. A. Schmid’s The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, is a perfect place to look for plenty of great recipes for the Spring. The book is categorized by season, detailing the best recipes for whatever season it may be. (Or, you can cheat and disregard the season because the other recipes are too appealing to ignore.)

KY bourbon


Here are a few of our favorite Spring recipes, out of the many delicious choices that can be found in The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook.


Spring - Bourbon

1) Grilled Sirloin in Kentucky Bourbon Marinade

This steak dish benefits from a bourbon marinade that helps break down the connective tissue of the meat, making the meat very tender. It is best when served with a baked potato. The recipe comes from Splendor in the Bluegrass, a book compiled by the Junior League of Louisville.

6 servings
1 cup beef stock
1⁄3 cup Kentucky bourbon
1⁄8 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, diced
Freshly ground pepper
2½ pounds sirloin steak

Combine the beef stock, bourbon, soy sauce, garlic, green onions, and pepper (to taste) in a bowl. Pour these ingredients over the steak and allow it to marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator; after 2 hours turn the steak over in the marinade. During the last 2 hours, start your grill, if you are using coal. Lightly oil the grill rack. Drain the marinade off the steak and place the steak on the rack over the hot coals. Grill the steak to the desired doneness.


2) Kentucky Bourbon Prawns

Although shrimp would not have been served at the inaugural Kentucky Derby, shrimp can now be brought from distant sites to serve. Furthermore, many farmers in Kentucky have turned to producing freshwater prawns. So here we have a combination of bourbon and freshwater prawns that could easily be featured at a modern Derby party and would both be grown in Kentucky.

6 servings
6 tablespoons plus 6 tablespoons cold butter
2 cups brown sugar
¾ teaspoon minced garlic
1½ teaspoons minced shallots
Juice of 1½ lemons
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons white wine
¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons Tabasco
¼ cup and 2 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
1½ pounds Kentucky freshwater prawns, peeled and deveined

In a sauté pan melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the brown sugar, garlic, and shallots and cook on high heat until the shallots become translucent. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice and white wine. Boil until the liquid has been reduced by one-third. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, bourbon, and prawns to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and turn the prawns to cook them on both sides until pink. Finish the dish with the remaining cold butter.


3) Kentucky Bourbon Burgers

Burgers are best in the late spring or early summer, when the weather is not too cold and not yet too hot. An outdoor grill with charcoal or gas flame is also preferred to a stove and a pan. The smoke of the grill complements and accentuates the bourbon in the burger—remember that the bourbon was aged in a charred barrel.

4 to 8 servings
2 pounds 80% lean ground chuck
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Kentucky bourbon
1 cup bread crumbs
4 to 8 hamburger buns
4 to 8 thin onion slices

1 Mix the ground chuck with the salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the bourbon and bread crumbs and mix well. Separate the mixture into 4 to 8 patties and refrigerate.

2 Start the grill, and when it is hot, place the burgers on the grill. When blood begins to appear on the burgers, flip them and grill until done. Generally speaking, burgers should be cooked to medium well, which means there will be a little pink inside the burger.

3 Place the burgers on buns and dress with the onion slices and condiments.

Note: If you are using coals, be sure to start the grill at least 1 hour before you want to grill the meat.

If you like the recipes from this post, or are interested in purchasing The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, you can find all of the information on our site.