Arkansas Artist, Pilot, Philanthropist And More Featured In Spring Book Lineup

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The spring 2004 University of Arkansas Press catalog features several Arkansas personalities, including a folklore artist, a pioneering female pilot, a former governor and philanthropist, and a large number of scaly, slimy creatures.

"This is really an Arkansas catalog," said Larry Malley, director of the University of Arkansas Press.

The first book printed will be "Come Walk with Me, The Art of Dorris Curtis," with an introduction by University of Arkansas professor Robert Cochran. Curtis worked as a schoolteacher for 40 years, and after her retirement at age 65, she began to pursue painting in earnest. The 95-year-old Conway native has shown paintings in Chicago and Washington, D.C. She says her work was influenced by Grandma Moses, but the attention to detail and use of color in her paintings is clearly her own.

"There are 100 beautiful paintings in this book," Malley said. The book offers both a visual treat and a memoir of a woman’s life in Arkansas.

The spring catalog features a book by another Arkansas woman who rose to prominence in the first part of the 20th century. "High, Wide, and Frightened" is the autobiography of aviator Louise Thaden, a contemporary of Amelia Earhart. Thaden attended the University of Arkansas from 1921-25, then moved to California where she got her pilot’s license in 1927. The next year she broke the women’s world record for altitude and endurance. Throughout her career, she continued to set records and win awards, until she retired in 1938 to spend more time with her family. She wrote "High, Wide, and Frightened" at that time.

Her memoir came to the attention of the Press through Mary Kwas at the Arkansas Archeological Survey. A conversation began with Thaden’s daughter Pat, and the book was re-designed and re-set, with a host of new photographs to bring the total number to 52.

"Otherwise, it’s the same book," Malley said.

"High, Wide, and Frightened" represents a window of insight into the early years of flight, when pilots like Thaden pushed the boundaries of the possible by continually honing their skills and setting new records for feats of flight.

A third book offered by the Press this spring showcases the life of another Arkansan—this time a person who came from another state and made this one his home. "Winthrop Rockefeller, Philanthropist: A Life of Change," by John L. Ward, chronicles the life of a man born into one of the most affluent and influential families in the world. The book explores his move from New York state to a small farm in Arkansas, his tenure as two-time state governor and his history of philanthropy in the state, nation and world.

"He was clearly a person of purpose and serious intent," Malley said.

The author, Ward, served as a speechwriter, adviser and campaign official for Rockefeller and is currently the chairman of the Winthrop Rockefeller Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Arkansas.

The Press will also issue a book on non-human Arkansas natives—"The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas." Authors Stanely E. Trauth of Arkansas State University, Henry W. Robison of Southern Arkansas University and Michael V. Plummer of Harding University have compiled a comprehensive volume with more than 800 photographs and illustrations of the snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, skinks and other creatures that live in the state. The book forms part of a growing body of Press books on Arkansas flora and fauna, including "Arkansas Birds: Their Distribution and Abundance" by Douglas A. James and Joseph C. Neal and "Fishes of Arkansas" by Henry W. Robison and Thomas M. Buchanan.

Although the book has an obvious audience among biologists, herpetologists and zoologists in Arkansas and the surrounding states, Malley said that many non-scientists who are interested in the creatures in their back yard also have bought these books.

"People want to know what’s out there," he said.

The Spring 2004 catalog also contains Arkansas politician Dale Bumpers’ memoir, "The Best Lawyer in a One-Lawyer Town," in a paperback edition for the first time. Malley hopes that the paperback edition will draw readers back again to this book, praised by Norman Mailer as ".full of wit, bite, scorn, compassion and insight.." The Bumpers book is one of four paperback reprints featured in the spring catalog. The other three represent successful UA Press books that have been reprinted for college classrooms and the public. These titles include "Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering," with Gene Roberts as editor in chief; "Sports Wars: Athletes in the Age of Aquarius" by David W. Zang; and "Blood in their Eyes: The Elaine Race Massacres of 1919" by Grif Stockley.

Although the newly published books this spring focus on Arkansas and its inhabitants, the Press still has several Middle East Studies books featured prominently within its pages. Malley said it is important for the Press to continue to contribute to the current dialogue in the Middle East. The Press has done so with books like "Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past" by anthropology professor Ted Swedenberg, and the Iraqi anti-war fiction novel "Scattered Crumbs" by Mushin Al-Ramli, who won the $10,000 Arabic Translation Award presented by the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies and the Press. These books are of interest to college professors teaching courses in Middle East studies and anyone who wishes to better understand the history and culture of the region. These and other Middle East studies titles have been selling well, Malley said

Larry Malley, director, University of Arkansas Press, (479) 575-3096,

Melissa Lutz Blouin, science and research communications manager, (479) 575-5555,


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