University Presses: Finding Good Reading

Article excerpt

University presses offer readers a chance to explore well-written and specialized books on history, art and the sciences, books that go beyond the feel-good reading found on too many best-seller lists.

Here is a sample of some of these thoughtful books currently available at book stores and online.

Modern Library Harlem Renaissance offers The Crisis Reader, edited by Sondra Kathryn Wilson, a compendium of the bright lights who made Crisis magazine the best read journal in Black America. Essays by Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois (the magazine's first editor), Sterling Brown and others provide a veritable Who's Who of black writers and scholars.

Described by the publisher (State University of New York Press) as "not optimistic," Robert C. Smith's We Have No Leaders: African-Americans in the Post Civil Rights Era is a comprehensive study of black politics from the end of the Civil Rights Era to the present. Smith argues the Civil Rights movement has been marginalized and co-opted into mainstream institutions.

In Black Presidential Politics in America, also from SUNY Press, Ronald Walters argues that blacks use the presidential electoral system in different ways than other groups.

Walters and Smith combined to produce African -American Leadership, a panoramic view of leadership practices.

On the opposite pole, Inside the Klavern: The Secret History of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s edited by David A. Horowitz (Southern Illinois University Press), gives valuable insights into the past of the terrorist organization that still bedevils America. SIU also offers more modern fare in The Atlanta Youth Murders and the Politics of Race by Bernard Headley, who explores what produced 29 murders of poor black children during the administration of a progressive black mayor in the arguably most progressive city in the South.

Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs: Black/White Relations Since World War II from Penn State University Press offers ten essays from a variety of scholars and traces the complex path followed by civil rights since 1954.

Barbara Diane Savage's Broadcasting Freedom: Radio, War and the Politics of Race from the University of North Carolina Press gets high praise from Pulitzer Prize winner (and Crisis contributor) David Lewis, who writes: "A splendid social history told at a nuts and bolts level of policy making we seldom see."

There's much more from UNC Press:

The Color of Law: Race, Violence and Justice in the Post World War 11 South by Gail Williams O'Brien; the classic White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 by Winthrop Jordan; the prize-winning Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy, 1896-1920 by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore; How Am I To Be Heard?The Letters of Lillian Smith edited by Rose Gladney, which gives a fresh chance to rediscover an important white liberal who spoke out against white supremacy all her life; Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics and Culture in the 20th Century by Kevin K. Gaines examines the ideology of racial uplift; Patricia Sullivan's excellent Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era explains in lucid detail the period's racial progress; The Daybreak of Freedom edited by Stewart Burns tells readers curious about the often-told story much more; Their Highest Potential: An African-American School Community in the Segregated South by Vanessa Siddle Walker documents a segregated school system designed to subvert the messages of a racist society; One Blood the Death and Resurrection of Charles R. …