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Meet the Press: Mack McCormick, Publicity and Rights Manager

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Name: Mack McCormick
Position: Publicity and Rights Manager
Hometown: Selma, AL

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

My primary responsibility is publicity—writing press releases, mailing review copies, coordinating media interviews for authors, setting up book signings and other events.  I also coordinate the press’s subsidiary rights program. The bulk of our rights activity is translations, though it covers everything from professors who want to use a chapter from one of our books for a course packet to audiobooks to first serial excepts in magazines to movie deals.

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

There are so many I’ve worked on over the years, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, so if I’m forced to do so, I’ll pick a more obscure title—Growing Up Hard in Harlan County, by G.C. “Red” Jones. It’s a memoir, originally published in 1985, and brought to the press by Harry Caudill.  We released it in paperback in the early 2000s, shortly after my son was born. It was the first book I read after he was born that I lost sleep reading (and when you’re already short on sleep, it takes something special for you to give up more).  Red Jones led a fascinating life that included running a team of mules through the Appalachians as a preteen, bootlegging, the depression, Bloody Harlan, World War II, and more.

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

It completely depends on who it is and when it is.  If Keeneland is in session, that’s a no-brainer.  It’s an experience and atmosphere you can’t get many other places, but one of the nice things about Lexington is there are lots of options, from historical to cultural to muscial to outdoors to sports.

What’s your favorite word?

It’s hard to pick just one. My favorite phrase might be “Eschew obfuscation.” And while I like both of those words individually, neither rises to favorite. As a category, I’ve always loved a lot of clothing terminology, which is a bit ironic, since I’m not what you would consider a natty dresser. I find myself intrigued by many of those words—tattersall, gaberdine, seersucker, madras, houndstooth (I did graduate from Alabama as well), gingham, muslin—not for their meaning or etymology, but as words themselves. Their sound. Their construction.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it? [if possible, make image of font name in font]

Perhaps Palatino. I’m not a true font geek, though I did see and really liked Helvetica and I do notice and pay attention. I like and use a lot of more modern and streamlined fonts, but if push comes to shove, I’m a fan of old-style fonts, and Palatino is a nice modern version of one. As my eyes have gotten weaker, I’ve grown to appreciate Sabon as well, which is another modern take on an old-style design, but more open and easier on the eyes. It’s also one we’ve used extensively over the years on our film list. Palatino LinotypeHelveticaSabon

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

I started college with a physics major in mind.  I was always good at math (higher math, I need a calculator to add) and science. Second semester calculus disabused me of that notion, and an amazing freshman English class left me an English major. Publishing/writing didn’t enter my mind until I started working on the staff of Marr’s Field Journal, Alabama’s undergraduate literary magazine. The one creative writing class I took there showed me how much better I was on the editing end. I had the ability to write, but not the voice for it or the need to do it. I continued to work in publishing from there—Marr’s Field Journal business manager, then editor; the media planning board at Alabama; Alabama Heritage and Southern Accents magazines; Limestone, Kentucky’s graduate literary journal; then UPK.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? What’s a random factoid about yourself?

I actually alluded to it above—I’m a closet physics junkie. While I can’t follow the math in the journals, I follow the popular press. I subscribe to Scientific American and I have a shelf filled with titles like A Brief History of Time, The Black Hole War, The Meaning of Relativity, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Notes from the Holocene, The Trouble with Physics, and Reality Is Not What it Seems.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Thursday Next.  If you don’t know who that is, I won’t deprive you of the joy of discovering for yourself.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

The last (non-work-related) book I completed: Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Liu Cixin (The Three Body Problem is the first in the trilogy). If you’re a fan of big, complex space opera (or of contemporary speculative Chinese fiction), yes. Otherwise, there are better introductions to the genre than this amazing, complex trilogy, but if you enjoy those, by all means check this one out.

The books I’m reading now: The Real and the Unreal/The Found and the Lost, by Ursula Le Guin. One is her selected short stories; the other is her collected novellas.  Both are amazing collections from a writer whom we recently lost.  Both are worth a read, though as collections, they’re something I can dip into and out of, so I don’t tend to read those straight through.

Novel I’m reading now: The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Phillip Pullman. I’m not far in, but so far so good.  This one is a follow up to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, which in my opinion is the best, most ambitious YA fantasy to be published since The Hobbit.  Start there before getting this one, and don’t bother with the movie version of The Golden Compass.  If you have seen it, don’t think it is an honest reflection of the book either.

What’s your favorite song to sing at karaoke and why?

Mack the Knife,” by Bobby Darrin. I have my own theme song, though I was probably 14 or so before I even figured out why so many of my parents friends called me Mack the Knife. If I do get up to sing it though, run—I’m tone deaf and perpetually flat (or so I’ve been told—it sounds on key to me).

If you could live in any TV show, what would it be and why?

The West Wing. Any the “why” should be obvious.

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Meet the Press: Hayward Wilkirson, Book Designer

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Name: Hayward Wilkirson
Position: Book Designer
Home state: Kentucky
Alma mater(s), area(s) of study: International Center of Photography, New York, Documentary Photography; University of Kentucky, Economics; Transylvania University, Political Science

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Tell us a little bit about your position at the press.

This is a semi-new position at the press. We have had a full-time designer on staff before, but it has been years. Basically, my job is to design the covers for all of the books that we publish. Pressure, much!?

 

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Sir Barton, 1955. Courtesy of the National Museum of Racing

What’s one of your favorite UPK titles and why?

 

I think it will be Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, as long as the powers that be go with my favorite of the three cover concepts that I just submitted. Just kidding.

 

 

If someone was visiting Kentucky for the first time and you were their tour guide, where would you take them? Any specific restaurants, landmarks, etc.?

Shaker Village for the architecture, Mammoth Cave for the wonder, the UK Art Museum for the art, and the rooftop patio at Dudley’s Restaurant for the drinks.

What’s your favorite word?

Nice cover. Oh wait, that’s two words.

Do you have a favorite font? If so, what is it?

Do you have a favorite child?

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing? When you were a kid, did you want to do something different as an adult?

I’ve been interested in art and design for many years, but when I was a kid I wanted to be an astronomer.

If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?

Why ruin the illusion?

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

My mom is 98, so we try to get large-print books for her, which I sometimes pick up and read. The last book I read was one of her large-print Patricia Cornwell novels, and no, I would not recommend it.

Any hidden talents?

Hiding my talents.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?

Sailboat captain.

Hayward

2018 Judy Gaines Young Literary Awards

 

This year marked the fourth annual presentation of the Judy Gaines Young Book Award since its generous foundation by Dr. Byron Young, a trustee of Transylvania University, to honor his late wife. The award is presented to a writer from the Appalachian region for a book of particular distinction. Crystal Wilkinson won the award in 2017 for her book Birds of Opulence, a title published by the Press.

This year’s winner, judged by Jason Howard, editor of Appalachian Heritage, was none other than UPK author and best-selling poet Kathleen Driskell for her poetry collection, Next Door to the Dead: Poems.

The ceremony also featured the presentation of the Judy Gaines Young Student Writing Award, an award honoring the exceptional creative writing abilities of a Transylvania student. Laura Daley, a senior at Transylvania University and former UPK intern, won the award for her outstanding work in creative nonfiction and poetry, excerpts of which she read at the event.

Also in attendance were two former Kentucky poets laureate, a member of the board of the Kentucky Humanities Council, and several members of UPK staff.

By happy coincidence, the presentation of these prestigious awards fell on World Poetry Day (21 March 2018), and we were thrilled to celebrate the day with two such phenomenal poets!

Next Door to the Dead: Poems is a collection inspired by author Kathleen Driskell’s residence in a disused Louisville, Kentucky church built before the Civil War sitting next to a cemetery. The poems examine the fragility of mortality, the complexity of grief, and the importance of love when confronting loss. Her words breathe life into figures both known and unknown who have long since passed away, reimagining who they might have been based on what they left behind, and encouraging readers to ponder their own complex relationship with death, mourning, and life.

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Kathleen Driskell read several poems from her collection, including “Ars Poetica”, “The Mower”, and “Tchaenhotep: Mummy at the Kentucky Science Center” . Her reading was followed by a short Q&A session, in which she discussed her writing process, her experiences living beside a graveyard, and what projects she is currently undertaking.

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Laura read a memoir and two poems from her repertoire, and all three truly captures the spirit of living in Kentucky, from the beautiful moments spent in nature to the horrifying moments of watching your cousin bite off a snake’s head (yikes!) Her work emphasized the importance of family, and the feeling of belonging somewhere.

Laura Daley has been accepted with funding into the graduate programs of both DePaul University and University of Colorado Boulder. We can’t wait to see what this promising young writer (and former Press member) has in store for the future!

Kathleen is professor of creative writing at Spalding University, and associate editor of the Louisville Review. She has written several books and poetry collections, including Blue Etiquette and Seed Across Snow. To learn more about Kathleen Driskell and her work, check out her blog, and be sure to snag a copy of Next Door to the Dead.

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ReadUP for Earth Day Weekend!

Earth Day is this weekend, and today we’re highlighting our best new reads to celebrate conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable living.


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Kentucky Heirloom Seeds: Growing, Eating, Saving

Saving seeds to plant for next year’s crop has been key to survival around the globe for millennia. However, the twentieth century witnessed a grand takeover of seed producers by multinational companies aiming to select varieties ideal for mechanical harvest, long-distance transportation, and long shelf life. With the rise of the Slow Food and farm-to-table movements in recent years, the farmers and home gardeners who have been quietly persisting in the age-old habit of conserving heirloom plants are finally receiving credit for their vital role in preserving both good taste and the world’s rich food heritage.

Kentucky Heirloom Seeds is an evocative exploration of the seed saver’s art and the practice of sustainable agriculture. Bill Best and Dobree Adams begin by tracing the roots of the tradition in the state to a 700-year-old Native American farming village in north central Kentucky. Best shares tips for planting and growing beans and describes his family’s favorite varieties for the table. Featuring interviews with many people who have worked to preserve heirloom varieties, this book vividly documents the social relevance of the rituals of sowing, cultivating, eating, saving, and sharing.

Purchase Here.


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Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence

In light of concerns about food and human health, fraying social ties, economic uncertainty, and rampant consumerism, some people are foregoing a hurried, distracted existence and embracing a mindful way of living. Over the course of four years, A. Whitney Sanford visited ecovillages, cohousing communities, and Catholic worker houses and farms where individuals are striving to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” In this book, she reveals the solutions that these communities have devised for sustainable living while highlighting the specific choices and adaptations that they have made to accommodate local context and geography. She examines their methods of reviving and adapting traditional agrarian skills, testing alternate building materials for their homes, and developing local governments that balance group needs and individual autonomy.

Living Sustainably is a teachable testament to the idea that new cultures based on justice and sustainability are attainable in many ways and in countless homes and communities. Sanford’s engaging and insightful work demonstrates that citizens can make a conscious effort to subsist in a more balanced, harmonious world.

Purchase Here.


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Water in Kentucky: Natural History, Communities, and Conservation

Home to sprawling Appalachian forests, rolling prairies, and the longest cave system in the world, Kentucky is among the most ecologically diverse states in the nation. Lakes, rivers, and springs have shaped and nourished life in the Commonwealth for centuries, and water has played a pivotal role in determining Kentucky’s physical, cultural, and economic landscapes. The management and preservation of this precious natural resource remain a priority for the state’s government and citizens.

In this generously illustrated book, experts from a variety of fields explain how water has defined regions across the Commonwealth. Together, they illuminate the ways in which this resource has affected the lives of Kentuckians since the state’s settlement, exploring the complex relationship among humans, landscapes, and waterways. They examine topics such as water quality, erosion and sediment control, and emerging water management approaches. Through detailed analysis and case studies, the contributors offer scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and general readers a wide perspective on the state’s valuable water resources.

Purchase Here.


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Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels

Sir Elton John, blind fish, the original Twinkie, President Ronald Reagan’s Secret Service detail, and mummies don’t usually come up in the same conversation—unless you’re at Mammoth Cave National Park! Home to the earth’s longest known cave system, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America.

In this charming book, author and cave guide Colleen O’Connor Olson takes readers on a tour through a labyrinth of topics. She discusses scientific subjects such as the fossils of prehistoric animals and the secret lives of subterranean critters, and she provides essential information on dating in the cave (the age of rocks and artifacts, not courtship). Olson also explores Mammoth Cave’s rich history, covering its use as the world’s first tuberculosis sanatorium as well as its operation as a saltpeter mine during the War of 1812, and shares the inspirational story of the park’s first female ranger. Whether you’re visiting the national park, thinking about visiting, or just curious about a place recognized as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, don’t miss this delightful guide to the wild and wonderful subterranean world of Mammoth Cave.

Purchase Here.


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Kentucky’s Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity

Kentucky’s ecosystems teem with diverse native species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Kentucky’s Natural Heritage brings these sometimes elusive creatures into close view, from black-throated green warblers to lizard skin liverworts. The aquatic systems of the state are home to rainbow darters, ghost crayfish, salamander mussels, and an impressive array of other species that constitute some of the greatest levels of freshwater diversity on the planet.

Kentucky’s Natural Heritage presents a persuasive argument for conservation of the state’s biodiversity. 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.

Purchase Here.


Visit our website to explore all of our titles in Nature and Environmental Studies

April Tips for Planting and Growing

It’s Earth Week, and late April is the perfect time to start planning your garden!

This year, consider planting heirloom bean and tomato varieties which, according to author and farmer Bill Best, are a more sustainable gardening option and are also an important element of Kentucky’s history and agricultural tradition.

seedsIn his new book, Kentucky Heirloom Seeds: Growing, Eating, Saving Bill Best provides an evocative exploration of the seed saver’s art and the practice of sustainable agriculture. Writing with Dobree Adams, Best shares tips for planting and growing beans and describes his family’s favorite varieties for the table. Featuring interviews with many people who have worked to preserve heirloom varieties, this book vividly documents the social relevance of the rituals of sowing, cultivating, eating, saving, and sharing.

In this excerpt from Kentucky Heirloom SeedsBill Best gives his top tips for planting, growing, and saving heirloom beans and tomatoes:


Practical Tips for Growing and Saving

We gardeners and farmers love to sit around and tell tales about our successes and sometimes our failures. We are always talking about something we tried this year that worked well, or maybe it didn’t. This is what makes gardening and farming so fascinating and challenging. Every piece of land is different, with different soil and a different orientation to the sun. So what works just great for me may not work so well for someone else. Then, of course, there is always old-man weather. No two years are ever the same. And once gardening has skipped a generation, it is unfortunately necessary to start from scratch: knowledge passed on for hundreds of years has to be relearned, accompanied by trial and error.

The best thing to do is make good notes every year: what you planted, when you planted it, how it grew, what the harvest was, and of course, how it tasted! Here, I offer a few practical tips from my perspective.

Cornfield Beans

BILL BEST AND LEATHER BRITCHES

Author Bill Best with “Leather Britches” (Dried Beans)

With beans, it is good to know that a few things have happened in the last few decades that have forced traditional practices to change. Traditionally, cornfield beans have been planted with corn so the cornstalks could provide the “poles” for the bean to climb. But with the advent of modern hybrid varieties, the cornstalks are too weak to support the bean vines. At best, hybrid cornstalks, both sweet and field, can support only one or two ears of corn and will collapse under the weight of bean vines. Therefore, most people who are serious about growing climbing heirloom beans use poles or a trellis to support the bean vines, or they grow them on heirloom varieties of corn such as Hickory Cane. Trellises should be only as high as you can reach without using a ladder to pick the beans.

Another way to support bean vines is to construct a bean tower made from a stout pole with a bicycle tire rim on top. Strings are attached around the perimeter of the wheel and then attached to the bean vines on the ground. These bean towers need to be at least ten feet tall. You can use a stepladder to reach the beans growing higher than your head. Bean towers are an excellent way to save seeds and “get a start” if you have only half a dozen or so seeds. The tower, allowing for ample vine growth, makes it possible for the maximum number of pods to form and to produce the most seeds from the smallest number of plants.

Cornfield beans need to be planted at a rate of two seeds per eighteen inches. The two seeds help each other break through the soil at germination and then “spread their wings” as side branches quickly develop on the main stem. Virtually all modern seed companies give bad advice when they promote the sowing of bean seeds at a rate of every two inches or so. Mechanical planting devices also space them far too close together. Of course, commercial seed companies are in the business of selling seeds, not promoting good vine growth or growing quality beans.

Once the beans mature on the vines, it is important to save the seeds at the appropriate time; otherwise, the seeds can be damaged by weather conditions. If the weather is clear and dry at the time of maturity, the bean pods can be left on the vines for several days until the pods become dry, at which point they must be removed from the vines. If it is rainy when the bean pods mature, it is best to remove the pods and spread them out in a dry area to complete the drying process. A greenhouse or high tunnel works well, assuming the pods are spread out on plastic on the ground or placed on greenhouse benches covered with bedsheets or some other cloth.

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Beans and Tomatoes growing in the field (Dobree Adams)

Drying can also be accomplished by spreading the pods over the floor of any dry room in the house or barn. The most important thing is to prevent the pods from getting wet during the drying process, as the seeds will sprout or mold within the hull. If this happens, the seeds will never sprout in the ground and won’t be good to eat either, even as dry beans.

After the seeds have become dry, shelled out, and hard to the touch, it is important to remove the disfigured or insect-damaged seeds from the batch. If some seeds are a different color than the others, these seeds can be planted separately the following year to see if they breed true. If they do, then you might have discovered your own bean variety. This is the process by which we have developed thousands of varieties of heirloom beans.

Heirloom Tomatoes

To achieve good production with a minimum of rot and sunscalding, tomatoes need to be staked or trellised. It is also possible to use cages made from concrete reinforcing wire, fencing wire, or any other wire that can withstand considerable weight. This gets the tomatoes off the ground and provides plenty of shade to pre- vent sunscald of the ripening fruit.

Tomato seeds can be saved in several ways. One of the traditional methods is to let the tomato ripen completely, even to the point of beginning to rot, and then remove the seeds with a spoon and spread them on a piece of cloth or paper to dry. Some people spread them out on a paper towel, let them dry, and then plant the paper towel and seeds together in potting or germinating soil.

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Heirloom red tomatoes are high in acid and are pleasing to a lot of people. Best’s favorite red tomato is the Zeke Dishman, a very large and tasty tomato that often weighs over two pounds. It was developed by Zeke Dishman of Windy in Wayne County over several decades.

A far better way to save tomato seeds is to use the fermentation process. The tomatoes are allowed to overripen to the point of beginning to rot and then quartered or cut up so that the seed cavities can be scooped out and put in a bucket or some other container. You can do this with one tomato or with many, depending on the number of seeds you want to save. The tomatoes are then stirred one or more times per day for three or more days until the mixture is soupy. Fungal growth will appear on top of the mixture as fermentation takes place, but that is no problem. During stirring, the seeds dislodge from the gel and sink to the bottom of the container. Water is then poured into the mixture, allowing the pulp and the bad seeds to rise to the top and ow over the side of the container. The good seeds sink to the bottom. Once the water becomes clear, pour what’s left in the bucket into a finely meshed strainer. Only the seeds will remain in the strainer. Then spread the seeds out on a at surface, such as a slick paper plate, to let them dry. My own preference is to spread the seeds on wax paper and put it under a slow-moving fan until the seeds are dry, which usually takes no more than twenty-four hours. Once the seeds are dry, you can scrape them o the paper with your finger and separate any that might be stuck together. I then put the seeds in a tightly sealed plastic bag, dated and labeled, and store the bag at room temperature, making sure it is not in direct sunlight or in a hot part of the room. Using this method, I have had good luck germinating tomato seeds saved for up to ten years.

When sowing tomato seeds, it is important not to plant them too deep—half an inch is adequate. Keep the soil mixture warm and moist but not wet. Most tomato seeds germinate within four to seven days. They need a lot of sunlight at this early stage to prevent the plants from becoming elongated and weak. Commercial full-spectrum grow lights placed close to the germinating plants work best for producing early transplants. The plants should be ready to transplant within six to eight weeks. As soon as suckers appear on the plants, break them to below the first bloom clusters, which will now mature much earlier. Suckering also keeps most of the foliage off the ground, helping to prevent disease.


Bill Best, professor emeritus from Berea College, is a Madison County, Kentucky, farmer and one of the charter members of the Lexington Farmers’ Market. Widely known as a saver, collector, and grower of heirloom beans and tomatoes, he is the author of Saving Seeds, Preserving Taste: Heirloom Seed Savers in Appalachia.

Dobree Adams is primarily known in the region as a fiber artist and photographer. She gardens and farms on a river bottom of the Kentucky north of Frankfort.

For more on growing, eating, and saving heirloom varieties, you can purchase Kentucky Heirloom Seeds HERE.

Mammoth Cave’s Furry Fliers

It’s Bat Appreciation Day! To celebrate, we’re sharing a special excerpt from the newly released Mammoth Cave Curiosities: A Guide to Rockphobia, Dating, Saber-toothed Cats, and Other Subterranean Marvels by author and cave guide Colleen O’Connor Olson.

olson-cover-for-blogIn this charming book, Colleen O’Connor Olson takes readers on a tour through a labyrinth of topics concerning the earth’s longest known cave system. She discusses scientific subjects such as the fossils of prehistoric animals and the secret lives of subterranean critters, and she provides essential information on dating in the cave (the age of rocks and artifacts, not courtship). Olson also explores Mammoth Cave’s rich history, covering its use as the world’s first tuberculosis sanatorium as well as its operation as a saltpeter mine during the War of 1812, and shares the inspirational story of the park’s first female ranger.

Throughout, Olson offers up humorous accounts of celebrity visits and astounding adventures and even includes a chapter dedicated to jokes told in the cave over the years. Whether you’re visiting the national park, thinking about visiting, or just curious about a place recognized as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, don’t miss this delightful guide to the wild and wonderful subterranean world of Mammoth Cave.

In this excerpt from Mammoth Cave Curiosities, Olson shares general bat facts, and information about the furry fliers of Mammoth Cave:


Flying Residents: Bats

About one thousand different species of bats in many genera and families make up the order Chiroptera, which means “hand wing.” Chiroptera has two suborders, Megachiroptera (megabats) and Microchiroptera (microbats). Megabats tend to be bigger than the microbats. All American bats are microbats.

Prior to white-nose syndrome, biologists estimated that two thousand to three thousand bats lived in Mammoth Cave. That’s not many bats for such a long cave, but in the past the cave was a very large bat hibernaculum. Dr. Merlin Tuttle of Bat Conservation International looked at bat stain—dark stains on the limestone where bats hung, similar to the polish where many people touch rocks—in Little Bat Avenue and Rafinesque Hall in 1997 and estimated that as many as nine to thirteen million bats hibernated there in the past.

Bats also live in other caves, trees, and structures in the park.

Echolocation

Contrary to the old saying “blind as a bat,” bats can see. But on dark nights and in caves, they rely on echolocation (sonar) to navigate. In echolocation, a bat uses its mouth or nose to make high-frequency sounds that humans can’t hear. If the sound hits something, it echoes back to the bat. The bat can tell the distance, size, shape, texture, and speed of the object based on the echo and thus can avoid it or eat it.

All microbats have echolocation, but, with a couple exceptions, megabats do not.

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Gray bats hanging out

How Bats Know When It’s Night

Most animals know day from night by the sun. Many bats live in trees or buildings in the summer, so they can see the sun go down, but in the cave it looks like night all the time, so how do cave bats know when it’s dark outside?

Several things may cue the bats that it’s time to get up. The previous night’s meal of insects is digested, tummies are empty, so hungry bats wake up.

Perhaps bats wake up when they’ve had enough sleep. The length of days changes from spring to fall, but bats adjust as nights get shorter or longer.

Colonial bats may rely on social cues. Some bats roost near enough to entrances to see it getting dark. Bats farther back in the cave may hear the entrance-dwelling bats flying or vocalizing, which signals them to get up for dinner. The tricolored bats frequently seen in Mammoth Cave roost solo, so this method probably doesn’t work for them.


Colleen O’Connor Olson has been guiding tours at Mammoth Cave National Park for over twenty years. She is the author of Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave, Nine Miles to Mammoth Cave: The Story of the Mammoth Cave Railroad, Mammoth Cave by Lantern Light, and Prehistoric Cavers of Mammoth Cave.

Purchase her latest book here.

Featured Titles in Military History

This weekend is the 84th annual meeting of the Society for Military History. If you’re lucky enough to be in Jacksonville, Florida, come say hello and meet a few of our authors!

But even if you can’t make it to the conference, you can still check out the military history titles and series we’ll be featuring at the event:


Ranger: A Soldier’s Liferanger.final.indd

by Colonel Ralph Puckett, USA (Ret.) with D. K. R. Crosswell and afterword by General David H. Petraeus, USA (Ret.)

Ranger arrived just in time. Just in time to remind us of the essence of what it means to be an American. Just in time to remind us that our liberty and the fate of all humanity depends on Soldiers who possess the courage, toughness, and determination to fight those who seek to extinguish freedom. Soldiers like Ralph Puckett—a man whose humility, commitment to selfless service, and willingness to sacrifice impels him to reject the label hero. Call him Soldier. Call him Ranger. Read this book to restore your faith in America and bolster your confidence in the future of this great nation. And ask your children to read this book so they might be inspired and understand better the intangible rewards of service and the sacred covenant that binds Soldiers to each other and the citizens in whose name they fight.”

H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump and author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam

On November 25, 1950, during one of the toughest battles of the Korean War, the US Eighth Army Ranger Company seized and held the strategically important Hill 205 overlooking the Chongchon River. Separated by more than a mile from the nearest friendly unit, fifty-one soldiers fought several hundred Chinese attackers. Their commander, Lieutenant Ralph Puckett, was wounded three times before he was evacuated. For his actions, he received the country’s second-highest award for courage on the battlefield—the Distinguished Service Cross—and resumed active duty later that year as a living legend.

In this inspiring autobiography, Colonel Ralph Puckett recounts his extraordinary experiences on and off the battlefield. Puckett’s story is critical reading for soldiers, leaders, military historians, and others interested in the impact of conflict on individual soldiers as well as the military as a whole.

Explore more titles: Association of the United States Army American Warriors Series


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Sabers Through the Reich: World War II Corps Cavalry from Normandy to the Elbe

by William Stuart Nance, foreword by Robert M. Citino

In Sabers through the Reich, William Stuart Nance provides the first comprehensive operational history of American corps cavalry in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) during World War II. The corps cavalry had a substantive and direct impact on Allied success in almost every campaign, serving as offensive guards for armies across Europe and conducting reconnaissance, economy of force, and security missions, as well as prisoner of war rescues. From D-Day and Operation Cobra to the Battle of the Bulge and the drive to the Rhine, these groups had the mobility, flexibility, and firepower to move quickly across the battlefield, enabling them to aid communications and intelligence gathering and reducing the Clausewitzian friction of war.

Robert Citino will be the roundtable commentator at the 2017 SMH Annual Meeting for the panel, “Does Military Theory Make A Difference?” 

Explore more titles: Association of the United States Army Battles and Campaigns Series


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The Longest Rescue: The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson

by Glenn Robins foreword by Colonel Bud Day

While serving as a crew chief aboard a U.S. Air Force Rescue helicopter, Airman First Class William A. Robinson was shot down and captured in Ha Tinh Province, North Vietnam, on September 20, 1965. After a brief stint at the “Hanoi Hilton,” Robinson endured 2,703 days in multiple North Vietnamese prison camps, including the notorious Briarpatch and various compounds at Cu Loc, known by the inmates as the Zoo. No enlisted man in American military history has been held as a prisoner of war longer than Robinson. For seven and a half years, he faced daily privations and endured the full range of North Vietnam’s torture program.

In The Longest Rescue, Glenn Robins tells Robinson’s story using an array of sources, including declassified U.S. military documents, translated Vietnamese documents, and interviews from the National Prisoner of War Museum. Unlike many other POW accounts, this comprehensive biography explores Robinson’s life before and after his capture, particularly his estranged relationship with his father, enabling a better understanding of the difficult transition POWs face upon returning home and the toll exacted on their families. Robins’s powerful narrative not only demonstrates how Robinson and his fellow prisoners embodied the dedication and sacrifice of America’s enlisted men but also explores their place in history and memory.


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Generals of the Army: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Arnold, Bradley

edited by James H. Willbanks foreword by General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.)

Formally titled “General of the Army,” the five-star general is the highest possible rank awarded in the U.S. Army in modern times and has been awarded to only five men in the nation’s history: George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Henry H. Arnold, and Omar N. Bradley. In addition to their rank, these distinguished soldiers all shared the experience of serving or studying at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where they gained the knowledge that would prepare them for command during World War II and the Korean War.

In Generals of the Army, James H. Willbanks assembles top military historians to examine the connection between the institution and the success of these exceptional men. Historically known as the “intellectual center of the Army,” Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C., and one of the most important military installations in the United States. Though there are many biographies of the five-star generals, this innovative study offers a fresh perspective by illuminating the ways in which these legendary figures influenced and were influenced by Leavenworth. Coinciding with the U.S. Mint’s release of a series of special commemorative coins honoring these soldiers and the fort where they were based, this concise volume offers an intriguing look at the lives of these remarkable men and the contributions they made to the defense of the nation.

James H. Willbanks will chair the 2017 SMH Annual Meeting panel, “After Vietnam: Competing Memories of America’s War in Vietnam”


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The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam

by Brian D. Laslie

Between 1972 and 1991, the Air Force dramatically changed its doctrines and began to overhaul the way it trained pilots through the introduction of a groundbreaking new training program called “Red Flag.”

In The Air Force Way of War, Brian D. Laslie examines the revolution in pilot instruction that Red Flag brought about after Vietnam. The program’s new instruction methods were dubbed “realistic” because they prepared pilots for real-life situations better than the simple cockpit simulations of the past, and students gained proficiency on primary and secondary missions instead of superficially training for numerous possible scenarios. In addition to discussing the program’s methods, Laslie analyzes the way its graduates actually functioned in combat during the 1980s and ’90s in places such as Grenada, Panama, Libya, and Iraq. Military historians have traditionally emphasized the primacy of technological developments during this period and have overlooked the vital importance of advances in training, but Laslie’s unprecedented study of Red Flag addresses this oversight through its examination of the seminal program.

Brian D. Laslie is the editor for the new series Aviation and Air Power from the University Press of Kentucky.


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Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air Force

by Brian D. Laslie

Drawing on diaries, letters, and scrapbooks, Laslie offers a complete portrait of this important but unsung pioneer whose influence can be found in every stage of the development of an independent US Air Force. From his early years at West Point to his days at the Air Corps Tactical School to his leadership role at NORAD, Kuter made his mark with quiet efficiency. He was an early advocate of strategic bombardment rather than pursuit or fighter aviation—fundamentally changing the way air power was used—and later helped implement the Berlin airlift in 1948. In what would become a significant moment in military history, he wrote Field Manual 100-20, which is considered the Air Force’s “declaration of independence” from the Army. Architect of Air Power illuminates Kuter’s pivotal contributions and offers new insights into critical military policy and decision-making during the Second World War and the Cold War.

Brian D. Laslie is the editor for the new series  Aviation and Air Power from the University Press of Kentucky.


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Hitler’s Wehrmacht, 1935–1945

by Rolf-Dieter Müller translated by Janice W. Ancker

Since the end of World War II, Germans have struggled with the legacy of the Wehrmacht—the unified armed forces mobilized by Adolf Hitler in 1935 to ensure the domination of the Third Reich in perpetuity. Historians have vigorously debated whether the Wehrmacht’s atrocities represented a break with the past or a continuation of Germany’s military traditions. Now available for the first time in English, this meticulously researched yet accessible overview by eminent historian Rolf-Dieter Müller provides the most comprehensive analysis of the organization to date, illuminating its role in a complex, horrific era.

Müller examines the Wehrmacht’s leadership principles, organization, equipment, and training, as well as the front-line experiences of soldiers, airmen, Waffen SS, foreign legionnaires, and volunteers. He skillfully demonstrates how state-directed propaganda and terror influenced the extent to which the militarized Volksgemeinschaft (national community) was transformed under the pressure of total mobilization. Finally, he evaluates the army’s conduct of the war, from blitzkrieg to the final surrender and charges of war crimes. Brief acts of resistance, such as an officers’ “rebellion of conscience” in July 1944, embody the repressed, principled humanity of Germany’s soldiers, but ultimately, Müller concludes, the Wehrmacht became the “steel guarantor” of the criminal Nazi regime.

Explore more titles: Association of the United States Army Foreign Military Studies Series


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The Myth and Reality of German Warfare: Operational Thinking from Moltke the Elder to Heusinger

by Gerhard P. Gross edited by David T. Zabecki foreword by Robert M. Citino

Surrounded by potential adversaries, nineteenth-century Prussia and twentieth-century Germany faced the formidable prospect of multifront wars and wars of attrition. To counteract these threats, generations of general staff officers were educated in operational thinking, the main tenets of which were extremely influential on military planning across the globe and were adopted by American and Soviet armies. In the twentieth century, Germany’s art of warfare dominated military theory and practice, creating a myth of German operational brilliance that lingers today, despite the nation’s crushing defeats in two world wars.

In this seminal study, Gerhard P. Gross provides a comprehensive examination of the development and failure of German operational thinking over a period of more than a century. He analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of five different armies, from the mid–nineteenth century through the early days of NATO. He also offers fresh interpretations of towering figures of German military history, including Moltke the Elder, Alfred von Schlieffen, and Erich Ludendorff. Essential reading for military historians and strategists, this innovative work dismantles cherished myths and offers new insights into Germany’s failed attempts to become a global power through military means.

Robert Citino will be the roundtable commentator at the 2017 SMH Annual Meeting for the panel, “Does Military Theory Make A Difference?” 


Explore all of our Military History titles at KentuckyPress.com