JohnsonPortuguese film maker Manoel de Oliveira died Thursday at age 106.

To call Oliveira’s passion for making films “lifelong” is as close to a literal statement as one can make. His career spanned generations, starting in the silent era and continuing until last year, when he directed a short film at age 105.

All the while, Oliveira put his creative spirit on film. As Randal Johnson wrote in his Contemporary Film Directors series book Manoel de Oliveira

Oliveira’s cinematic longevity, encompassing more than seventy years of activity from the late silent period to the present, is obviously remarkable in its own right. But what is perhaps more impressive is the creative vitality of his films. Unrestrained by the strictures of studio production and commercial imperatives, he has been able to pursue his own vision in a style of his choosing, resulting in films that are original, often provocative, and almost always unorthodox…

Film fans will be left with one final gift of Oliveira’s stunning career: there is one his completed films that has yet to be released.

Intense action defined our Elite Eight match-ups as architecture and shrooms triumphed over music and beer. Chicago River Bridges and Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871–1934 will now vie to represent Windy City landmarks in the championship, while Mushrooms of the Midwest, one of the early favorites, will take on Cinderella candidate Ring Shout, Wheel About, a book called “essential” by Choice. Put on your face paint. Twirl your noisemaker. The battle is on for the right to go to the championship round.

(Click to enlarge bracket. Image not intended for betting purposes.)

bracket final four

For the month of April 2015, to coincide with the Society for Military History’s annual conference, we have lowered the e-book list price of three titles in the University of Illinois Press catalog to $2.99.

Cover for FAITH: Behind the Gas Mask: The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in War and Peace. Click for larger imageBehind the Gas Mask: The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in War and Peace by Thomas I. Faith
When the United States entered World War I, inadequacies in research, manufacturing, and battlefield training left the military at a severe disadvantage in deploying poison gas while American soldiers suffered the highest rate of gas casualties among the belligerent nations. In Behind the Gas Mask, Thomas I. Faith offers an institutional history of the Chemical Warfare Service, the department tasked with improving the Army’s ability to use and defend against chemical weapons. Taking the CWS’s story from the trenches to peacetime, he explores how the CWS’s work on chemical warfare continued through the 1920s despite deep opposition to the weapons in both military and civilian circles. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for Stearns: Demilitarization in the Contemporary World. Click for larger imageDemilitarization in the Contemporary World Edited by Peter N. Stearns
Contemporary world history has highlighted militarization in many ways, from the global Cold War and numerous regional conflicts to the general assumption that nationhood implies a significant and growing military. Yet the twentieth century also offers notable examples of large-scale demilitarization, both imposed and voluntary. Demilitarization in the Contemporary World fills a key gap in current historical understanding by examining demilitarization programs in Germany, Japan, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.  In nine insightful chapters, this volume’s contributors outline each nation’s demilitarization choices and how they were made. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for Kalshoven: Between Two Homelands: Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany. Click for larger imageBetween Two Homelands: Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany Edited by Hedda Kalshoven
In 1920, at the age of thirteen, Irmgard Gebensleben first traveled from Germany to the Netherlands on a “war-children transport.” She would later marry a Dutch man and live and raise her family there while keeping close to her German family and friends through the frequent exchange of letters. Yet during this period geography was not all that separated them. Increasing divergence in political opinions and eventual war between their countries meant their correspondence contained not only family news but personal perspectives on the individual, local, and national choices that would result in the most destructive war in history. This important collection, first assembled by Irmgard Gebensleben’s daughter Hedda Kalshoven, gives voice to ordinary Germans in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and in the occupied Netherlands. The correspondence between Irmgard, her friends, and four generations of her family delve into their most intimate and candid thoughts and feelings about the rise of National Socialism. The responses to the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands expose the deeply divided loyalties of the family and reveal their attempts to bridge them. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

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For the month of April 2015, to coincide with the Association of Asian American Studies’ annual conference, we have lowered the e-book list price of three titles in the University of Illinois Press catalog to $2.99.

Cover for Joshi: Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South. Click for larger imageAsian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the South Edited by Khyati Y. Joshi and Jigna Desai
The migrations of Manilamen, Bengali Muslim peddlers, and Chinese merchants and coolies extend the history of Asian Americans in the South into the early nineteenth and twentieth century. Between 1950 and 2000, the Asian American population in the American South increased more than one hundred times, much higher than the national average and the greatest increase among all regions of the United States. Extending the understanding of race and ethnicity in the South beyond the prism of black-white relations, this interdisciplinary collection explores the growth, impact, and significance of Asian Americans in Southern life and discusses the formation of past and emerging Asian American communities in the region. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for Nishime: Undercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture. Click for larger imageUndercover Asian: Multiracial Asian Americans in Visual Culture by Leilani Nishime
In this first book-length study of media images of multiracial Asian Americans, Leilani Nishime traces the codes that alternatively enable and prevent audiences from recognizing the multiracial status of Asian Americans. Nishime’s perceptive readings of popular media–movies, television shows, magazine articles, and artwork–indicate how and why the viewing public often fails to identify multiracial Asian Americans. Using actor Keanu Reeves, golfer Tiger Woods, and the television show Battlestar Galactica as examples, Nishime suggests that this failure is tied to gender, sexuality, and post-racial politics. In contrast to these representations, Nishime provides a set of alternative moments when audiences can view multiracial Asians as multiracial. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for regalado: Nikkei Baseball: Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues. Click for larger imageNikkei Baseball: Japanese American Players from Immigration and Internment to the Major Leagues by Samuel O. Regalado
Nikkei Baseball examines baseball’s evolving importance to the Japanese American community and the construction of Japanese American identity. Originally introduced in Japan in the late 1800s, baseball was played in the United States by Japanese immigrants first in Hawaii, then San Francisco and northern California, then in amateur leagues up and down the Pacific Coast. For Japanese American players, baseball was seen as a sport that encouraged healthy competition by imposing rules and standards of ethical behavior for both players and fans. The value of baseball as exercise and amusement quickly expanded into something even more important, a means for strengthening social ties within Japanese American communities and for linking their aspirations to America’s pastimes and America’s promise. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

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Christmas in Illinois, by James BalloweIn the publishing game, “backlist” refers to books that have been published and had their time at the forefront of marketing and publicity efforts. Books in that glittery phase of life are called “frontlist.”

A backlist book does more than sit in a warehouse. With luck, it finds a readership that steadily grows it into a title with legs, with a long lifetime, in other words, a perennial that provides the important income necessary to continue publishing the sexy frontlist. All hail the circle of life!

Finding such a steady readership represents something of a grail, however. Despite the combined efforts of hopes and dreams and phone calls, no press can transform every one of its properties into an ongoing winner. That said, certain events do help:

  • The book becomes a classroom must-have, as with our Disability Histories;
  • The book is a definitive take on a topic, for instance Donald R. Hickey’s classic The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict;
  • The book gets chosen for an All-Campus Read or One City, One Book sort of program, as happened recently with our 2000 release For Freedom’s Sake, by Chana Kai Lee;
  • Oprah Winfrey takes an interest in World War I gas warfare, a topic explored in Thomas I. Faith’s new book Behind the Gas Mask.

A press as venerable as the University of Illinois Press possesses a vault of backlist titles that fell off the radar over the decades. Shifting attitudes relegated Fundamentals of Spontaneous Generation to obscurity, while film studies titles like George Lucas: More or Less Competent Filmmaker are clearly out of step with modern-day scholarship/common sense. As we explore below, a recent run through any press library can reveal books that unjustly gather dust rather than backlist orders.

corn the food of the nationCorn: The Enemy Within, by Americus Banners
We all remember the people who insisted fluoridated water was part of a communist/Illuminati/government mind-control conspiracy. But the zeitgeist forgets that Americans once believed an important foodstuff bred transgressive behavior that seemed to threaten the very social order of the postwar world. As Time put it, “Corn threatens to turn our young into a tribe of cardigan-wearing miscreants overindulging in activities like scooter-riding and listening to Perry Como records.” The UIP turned a spotlight on the problem. “A wake-up call for a generation of parents made virtuous by Depression-era deprivation and a world where everything was still in black and white.” —Look

nuclear war fun bookThe Nuclear War Fun Book
Academic presses covered the Cold War from its earliest days, and the UIP was no exception. In The Nuclear War Fun Book, contributors from across a range of disciplines provide the coloring pages, word jumbles, and the Hidden Picture brain-teasers that opened young minds and inspired the STEM-centered educational milieu of today. Draw all the signs of radiation sickness. Memorize the member nations of NATO. Help Richard Nixon find his way to China. Circle which CIA-backed dictator is not like the others. It’s all here, an essential era of history done in thick black lines and as suitable for crayons as the SALT treaty.

The Complete Ballad of the Green Berets Reader, by R.D. Taylor

In 1966, Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler found a country bitterly divided over a war, and divided it further. His epic “Ballad of the Green Berets” was a martial musical salute to the Special Forces sculpted in drums, trumpets, bass chorus, but somehow no whistling. It gave supporters of the Vietnam War a chance to stand with America’s best, those trained to live off nature’s land, trained in combat, hand to hand! Powered by patriotism and Sadler’s manly voice, “Ballad of the Green Berets” spent five weeks at the top of the charts and was the Number One song for the year. Let’s just say when we named our Music in American Life series back then, the emphasis was on American.

This UIP classic traces Sadler’s meteoric career, from his brilliant first flash of achievement—toppling Nancy Sinatra from atop the Billboard Hot 100—to his unfortunate and instant descent into being a bankrupt relic of a very weird era. The original print run also included an ALL-VINYL boxed set featuring 121 versions of Sadler’s greatest hit. In addition to demos, alternate takes, Ray Stevens’s cover, and all the dance versions, you got the scintillating Moby remix that took Coachella by storm, PLUS a collectible booklet that covered Sadler’s lasting influence on the alt-spoken word scene and explained FOR THE FIRST TIME the DETAILS of his 1989 shooting during a Guatemala City booze-up, subsequent airlift to freedom by Soldier of Fortune magazine, and the theft of his comatose body.†

handbook for the recently deceasedHandbook for the Recently Deceased, by Marion Blusters
Talk about the ultimate travel guide. Handbook for the Recently Deceased offered readers tips on how to make the most of those all-important first days in the afterlife. Marion Blusters drew on detailed ethnographic work and his own experience of being struck by lightning nine times to guide us all into the white light. Judgment lasts for eternity. Why face it unprepared? Also included a workbook and pennies to place on your eyes. I had high hopes for this lost title—even the dream of a reprint crossed my mind—when I first glanced at the cover. Alas, a second look made it clear the couple were not watching the approach of the flying saucers that ferry us to the Great Beyond.

† True story.

Eight. It’s a magic number. In fact, physicists consider it the second magic number. Racing fans love it. Billiards fans obsess over it. Eight is the only Fibonacci number (except the number one) that is a perfect cube, and also the atomic number of a vital little element known as oxygen. The Buddha gave us the Eightfold Path, the Hebrews the circumcision on the eighth day of a male’s life. Prefer modern modes of technology worship? What is a byte but eight bits? And, as you may have heard, when you turn an eight on its side it becomes a symbol meaning infinity.

Eight covers now remain in our bold and beautiful bracket. The first round offered a large number of upsets, with banjos, Frank Lloyd Wright, and nature among those on the losing side. What breathtaking UIP design will emerge as champion? Click to enlarge below and see how the contest is shaping up:

bracket elite 8

GradelS15Jesse Jackson Jr. gained his Congressional seat by winning a special election to replace Rep. Mel Reynolds.

Reynolds resigned after being convicted of sexual misconduct. Jackson himself resigned as the Representative of the Second Congressional District of Illinois facing charges of fraud, conspiracy, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture. The details of these charges included his use of campaign funds to buy more than one cashmere cape.

According to one of  the Congressman’s former colleagues, Jackson is set to be released this week from a federal prison camp to serve the final months of his sentence in a Washington, D.C. halfway house.

In their book Corrupt Illinois, Thomas Gradel and Dick Simpson recount Jackson’s day before a U.S. District Court Judge:

“I am guilty, your honor,” Jackson said, entering his plea. “Sir, for years I lived off my campaign.  I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes, and I used them for myself personally, to benefit me personally.” He also acknowledges the accuracy of the government’s twenty-two-page statement detailing his criminal behavior.

Jackson is just one of many politicians whose extravagant behavior has landed them in what is seemingly a revolving door at the big house reserved just for those who have held elected office in Illinois.

As the authors write, (citing another famous Illinoisian):

Like Bill Murray’s day in the movie Groundhog Day, it keeps happening again and again.


As a unit at a Very Large University, we here at UIP pay avid attention to the NCAA basketball tournaments, even though the Fighting Illini have of late fallen into a spell of (shall we say) hoops misfortune.

To keep living the tourney hype, the Press has put together a bracket of our own to parallel events on the hardwood. This Sweet Little Sixteen involves some of our boldest book covers squaring off in an aesthetic dogfight. No reflexive regional loyalties. No alums doing embarrassing things with foam. No sports radio screaming. It’s a pure competition that rewards beauty, the discerning eye, and the technical mastery of complex software.

Presenting the UIP Sweet Sixteen (click to enlarge):

bracket (3)

WeissMeredith L. Weiss and Michael J. Bosia, editors of Global Homophobia: States, Movements, and the Politics of Oppression, were awarded the Scholar Award by the LGBTQA Caucus of the International Studies Association.

The award was announced in February at the 56th annual convention of the International Studies Association in New Orleans.


SpaldingF14We are pleased to announce that Appalachian Dance: Creativity and Continuity in Six Communities by Susan Eike Spalding has been awarded the Weatherford Award in non-fiction by Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association. The award is given to books that “best illuminate the challenges, personalities, and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.” The Weatherford winners will discuss their books at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at 4:00 in room 102 of the Roger-Stout building at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.

One award judge noted, “Appalachian Dance is not just for people interested in dance or in artistic expression. It speaks to a larger audience interested in the experiences of people in Appalachia—experiences conditioned by local and national changes in demographics, migration, economics, politics, social trends, and folk revivals. This volume describes the ebb and flow of community.”