In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Marketing Manager Erin Rolfs writes about The Louisiana Field Guide.
I think it is still common in elementary schools nationwide to assign U.S. State project reports to students. In my day the task usually required a pristine plastic report cover containing hand-drawn versions of the state flower, the state motto, the state flag, and, if you were lucky enough to get assigned Louisiana, a rendition of the state song, “You Are My Sunshine.” You might also get a chance to mention the state dog, the Catahoula Cur; the seemingly innumerable nicknames (Gumbo State, Bayou State, Pelican State, Sportsman’s Paradise); and take a swing at explaining why Louisiana’s laws are still subject to the Napoleonic Code.
Even this novice effort, when taken on by some ambitious fifth grader with a penchant for spicy food and jazz music, is an arduous task. So when LSU Press agreed to publish The Louisiana Field Guide, hoping to offer a travel book that went beyond the surface level characteristics of the state and smartly delved into Louisiana’s culture and landscape, I was ready to be impressed by the outcome. With Wayne Parent and Ryan Orgera at the helm, the contributors proved up to the challenge. Covering nearly every recognizable facet of Louisiana – food, music, language, arts, film, sports, politics and the stunning but often stressed natural assets—this book accomplished what so many others about the state fail to do: offer an engaging and entertaining read without reducing Louisiana down to a caricature of itself.
In a world guided by analytically driven Google searches and anonymous Wikipedia entries, the chapters in The Louisiana Field Guide include personal and informed perspectives written by people who have experienced the subject matter firsthand or spent a lifetime studying it. In a place where back roads, pirogues, and basic French are required to reach many of the most rewarding experiences Louisiana has to offer, it is invaluable (or at least worth the retail price of $35.00 before tax) to have real experts at your fingertips.
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