Feb 18

February Roundup: News, Events, Reviews

What an incredible month we have had at LSU Press! The Cemeteries of New Orleans by Peter B. Dedek was given an honorable mention in the Louisiana Literary Awards. Hood’s Texas Brigade by Susannah Ural, Civil War Logistics by Earl Hess, In the Wake of War by Andrew Lang, and The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns by Steven Sodergren were all selected as finalists for the 2017 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Awards. Karen Celestan and Cindy Ermus wrote fantastic posts for the LSU Press Blog. And we published new books by Leonard M. Moore, Eric Waters and Karen Celestan, Matthew Baker, Katy Simpson Smith, Claudia Emerson, Chanda Feldman, Joelle Biele, Gary Fincke, and Amy Meng.

Below you’ll find a list of our March titles, upcoming events with our authors, and some recent publicity and reviews of our books. If you want to keep up with the press in real time, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

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Selected Publicity and Praise

The Guerrilla Hunters: Irregular Conflicts During the Civil War edited by Brian D. McKnight and Barton A. Meyers:

“Brian D. McKnight and Barton A. Myers, in partnership with the Louisiana State University Press, have assembled a valuable set of essays on irregular warfare during the Civil War.” —John H. Matsui, The Civil War Monitor

A Horse With Holes In It by Greg A. Brownderville:

“The tone is conversational, the craft meticulous, and the subject matter eclectic, touching on everything from the Parthenon frieze to the Beebe blackbird deaths, Sweet Willie Wine to Walter Pater.” —Hope Coulter, The Arkansas Review

Maintaining Segregation: Children and Racial Instruction in the South, 1920-1955 by LeeAnn G. Reynolds:

“LeeAnn Reynolds expands our understanding of the complexity and insidious nature of segregation and, moreover, adds nuance and historiographical insight to the growing body of scholarship on children and youth during segregation through this comprehensive analysis.” —Jon N. Hale, Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth


The Army of the Potomac in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns is a comprehensively researched, persuasively argued, and engagingly written study that advances significantly our understanding of this pivotal period in the Civil War.”  —The Civil War Book Review

New Directions in Slavery Studies: Commodification, Community, and Comparison edited by Jeff Forret and Christine E. Sears:

“Taken together, the pieces in New Directions in Slavery Studies. . . enrich the scholarship on American slavery by using case studies not only to provide links between various times and places but also to draw connections among themes that inform slavery studies. The threads weave together to reveal a pulsing, dynamic history of slaveries that will benefit educators, challenge scholars, and force all of us to question the present.”—Kelly Houston Jones, Journal of Southern History

Schooling in the Antebellum South: The Rise of Public and Private Education in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama by Sarah L. Hyde:

“Hyde has written a book that is sure to challenge conventional thinking about public schools in the South.” —Allison Fredette, Journal of Southern History

Confederate Political Economy: Creating and Managing a Southern Corporatist Nation by Michael Bonner:

Confederate Political Economy is a well-researched and cogently argued book. . . .[it] has much to teach students of the Civil War era about the political culture and economic policies of a proslavery republic.” —Max Mishler, Journal of Southern History

Lt. Spalding in Civil War Louisiana: A Union Officer’s Humor, Privilege, and Ambition by Michael D. Pierson:

“Pierson’s discussion based on a relatively unknown soldier’s candid letter certainly broadens our understand of Civil War soldiers’ lives.” —Curtis D. Johnson,Journal of Southern History

In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America by Andrew Lang:

“In its examination of military occupation during the Civil War and Reconstruction, In the Wake of War powerfully underscores differences in contemporary white and black attitudes toward what the army’s role should be (and could be) in changing society.” —Civil War Books and Authors


“Carl Paulus’ richly rewarding book reminds that warfare, and those who engage in it, have always been in the eyes of beholders.” —The Civil War Book Review

Feb 18

Environmental Disaster in the Gulf South: Scholarship on Catastrophe, Risk, and Resilience

I grew up in Miami, Florida – a town that is no stranger to the effects of natural hazards – and for most of my life, the ever-present threat of disaster was never far away. In some ways, life in South Florida revolves around a cycle of annual hurricane seasons. Every year around May, the local supermarkets put out the information leaflets about the importance of preparing for the big storms that form in the warm waters of the North Atlantic Ocean from June through November (and nowadays, even later). In my experience, most of these tropical storms or hurricanes – and the strong winds, floods, storm surges, and tornadoes that can accompany them – would either bypass us, or cause relatively little damage (that “Never Forget” meme of a knocked-over yard chair comes to mind; it emerges each time a city is met with a weaker storm than expected). But this would not be the case on the night of August 24, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew barreled toward my hometown, eventually making landfall as a category 5 hurricane in Homestead, about 30 miles south from where I lived. To this day, that remains the scariest night of my life.

As a professor of history, my research usually focuses on the study of disaster and crisis in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World, but one of my objectives, both in my research and in the classroom, is to tie my work to the present as much as possible in order to emphasize the relevance and significance of historical study in the modern world. This volume, Environmental Disaster in the Gulf South, was thus born of these efforts, and of my personal experiences growing up in one of the world’s most disaster-vulnerable regions. The Gulf South region of the United States – which encompasses Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas – has a long history with environmental disasters, including not only sudden-onset hazards like hurricanes, floods, or disease outbreaks, but also slow disasters, like rising sea levels, disappearing wetlands, deteriorating infrastructure, among others. So my objective in compiling the collection of essays that make up this interdisciplinary volume is to draw lessons from the Gulf South’s experience with its environment, lessons that are applicable across the globe, as regions all over the planet struggle with the effects of climate change, coastal erosion, population growth, urbanization, poverty and environmental injustice, and so on.

Of course, this volume could not have been possible without the important work of scholars – historians, anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, and others – whose work has contributed to the quickly expanding field of disaster studies. If you would like to learn more about this field, or more specifically, about the history of disasters in the Gulf South and beyond, here are some of the books that inspired me to compile Environmental Disaster in the Gulf South.

John M. Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America (Simon & Schuster, 1997).

Craig E. Colten, An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature (Louisiana State University Press, 2005).

Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (Metropolitan Books, 1998).

Kevin Fox Gotham and Miriam Greenberg, Crisis Cities: Disaster and Redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Susanna M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith, eds., Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster (School for Advanced Research Press, 2002).

Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador, 2007).

Scott Gabriel Knowles, The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Christof Mauch and Christian Pfister, eds., Natural Disasters, Cultural Responses: Case Studies Toward a Global Environmental History (Lexington Books, 2009).

Ted Steinberg, Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Cindy Ermus, assistant professor of European history at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, specializes in the history of disaster, crisis (including revolution), and the environment in the eighteenth century. A native of South Florida, she has also published on the history, culture, and environment of the Gulf South. You can find her on twitter as @CindyErmus.

Buy Environmental Disaster in the Gulf South today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

Feb 18

Freedom’s Dance: Social, Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans

Writing is often a solitary and tedious process with innumerable hours tapping on a keyboard. But the journey to create Freedom’s Dance: Social, Aid and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans was a joyous purpose. I was driven to tell the truth with Eric Waters (photographer) about an African-American ritual and that both of us loved and knew well. The energy of SAPC members kept us working for years as we pored over thousands of photos to capture the beauty and communal joy of a Second Line parade. We pursued culture-bearers for interviews so that their voices could be heard.

The work was necessary because people from across the U.S. and around the world have witnessed or participated in a Second Line but didn’t know the rich and stunning history.   A Second Line is so much more than Black residents dancing in New Orleans streets just for kicks but is a direct line back to Africa; tribal memory by generations of those who have endured enslavement in America. The color and movement through neighborhoods are about maintaining a cellular connection – communitas – that bolsters people enduring the ‘new Jim Crow’ through systemic oppression, low-paying jobs and mass incarceration. It might be only a few hours on a designated Sunday parading with fellow club members, but this cultural phenomenon feeds psyches to face another day. It is truly a dance that is freeing for SAPC members and the community.

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Here are seven books that will assist bibliophiles interested in gaining more insight on SAPCs in New Orleans, one of the most African-retentive cultures in the United States.

Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans by Freddi Williams Evans (2011, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press). This area just outside New Orleans’ famed French Quarter – now designated as a historic location – is where slaves would gather every Sunday to meet, dance and sell their wares. It is the place where the precursor to the Second Line occurred, a showcase for African tribal dances. Congo Square details the resilience of those who were enslaved, determined to maintain Africa’s rituals in a foreign land and keep a sense of ‘self.’ Evans is a featured essayist in Freedom’s Dance.

Black Skin, White Masks (Peau Noire, Masques Blancs) by Frantz Fanon (1967, Grove Press). I read this book when I was in junior high in the early 1970s. As a child of integration raised on the East Coast by Southern parents, Black Skin illuminated some of the racial issues I faced at a critical point in my development. I witnessed segregation traveling south in the 1960s and when I saw my first Second Line in the mid-1970s, there was an immediate sense of belonging and being ‘home.’

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans by John Hope Franklin (1970, Knopf). Franklin created this comprehensive, academic view of being Black in America. The book outlined what it took for a race of people to rise above being treated as less than human and battle to thrive in a country that needed their bodies for economic development. An eye-opener read in my freshman year of college.

Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall (1992, LSU Press). Hall detailed every aspect of an African’s life in the ‘New World’ but ensured that the enslaved weren’t nameless or faceless, toiling in a field picking cotton or cutting sugar cane. She offered a list of tribes, their origins in Africa, their tribal attributes and how that became the fabric of New Orleans and Louisiana.

Black Rage in New Orleans: Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katrina by Leonard N. Moore (2010, LSU Press). Moore’s book shows the continuum of resistance that began in Congo Square and continued unabated into the disaster that nearly wiped out New Orleans. African Americans in the city were never collectively docile or accepting of mistreatment. The warrior spirit from African tribes lives on in the city’s Black citizens.

Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster by Michael Eric Dyson (2005, Basic Civitas-Perseus Books). Dyson was one of the first nationally recognized academics to look at the decimation of a predominately African-American city. He delved into issues of class, caste and culture, and these same issues are explored in Freedom’s Dance.

Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny (2013, Duke University Press). Sakakeeny focused on a specific aspect of the Second Line culture – music delivered by brass bands. There cannot be an SAPC without the driving beat of a band comprised of – at minimum – a snare drum, trumpet, saxophone and tuba. It is a comprehensive look at a music culture that could only have been born and nurtured in New Orleans.

Freedom’s Dance offers a holistic view of a beloved ritual that screams ‘you are in New Orleans!’ The book honors a pure demonstration of dedication, pride and spirit.

Karen Celestan is executive writer and editor in University Advancement and adjunct professor of English at Texas Southern University in Houston. She is the co-author and editor of unfinished blues: Memories of New Orleans Music Man with Harold Battiste, Jr. (2010, Historic New Orleans Collection). unfinished received a BCALA Literary Award (Black Caucus of the American Library Association) for Contribution to Publishing. Celestan’s work has appeared in Carve Magazine, New Orleans Advocate, The Times-Picayune, Gambit Newsweekly and other publications.

Buy Freedom’s Dance today and don’t forget to follow LSU Press on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!