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In the summer of 2004, a collector in Roanoke, Virginia, purchased a box stuffed full of an odd collection of documents. The container held ticket stubs, a college transcript, hand-drawn maps, newspaper clippings, and both typewritten and handwritten letters and stories. Examined closely, the materials revealed themselves to be the papers of George S. Bernard, Petersburg lawyer and member of the 12th Virginia infantry regiment during the Civil War.

Beginning in late 1966, John Steinbeck, roughly the age of the century, spent several months in Southeast Asia, covering the war in Vietnam for Newsday. His reports back home, published now in Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War, constitute the Nobel laureate's final published work. Steinbeck's reports took the form of letters to Alicia—a tribute to Alicia Guggenheim, the late publisher and editor of Newsday. In them, he applied his naturally superb eye to a scene that eluded comprehension, "a war not like any we have been involved in." The Huffington Post has posted a typically eloquent, searching letter here. Positive reviews are in from Shelf AwarenessPublishers Weekly, and Kirkus. Steinbeck is most associated with Depression-era works such as The Grapes of Wrath. But, says Steinbeck in Vietnam editor Thomas Barden, "Steinbeck always wanted to be where the action was." His reports were complicated by the fact that, despite his rather left-leaning past, Steinbeck was no dove. While not as important as Steinbeck's novels, Barden feels these dispatches "have the spell-casting power of Steinbeck’s great works of fiction. They have his trademark immediacy and passion."

Congratulations are in order for several contributors to our Best New Poets series. Scott Abels' first full-length collection of poems, Rambo Goes to Idaho, was recently published by BlazeVOX. Scott's poem "As Rambo Lay Dying" was published in Best New Poets 2011.

The Supreme Court's hearing on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law has attracted a nearly unprecedented amount of interest, not only from individuals demonstrating on the court's steps—or waiting in line literally for days for a seat inside—but from organizations either supporting or opposing the law. Apparently a record number of briefs have been filed—so-called amicus curiae, in which organizations provide historical and legal data to influence the process. As these briefs are processed by the court's law clerks, we thought we would go to Todd C. Peppers and Artemus Ward, editors of In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices, with some of our questions about the preparation for this historic ruling.

As the EU approves a second bailout for the failing Greek economy, we thought it would be a good time to hear from historians John P. Kaminski and Richard Leffler. Their most recent project, an English-language edition of Jürgen Heideking's The Constitution before the Judgment Seat, reveals many compelling parallels between Europe's current fiscal challenges and those faced by the founders in the days of the early republic.

This being the week of President's Day, we thought we would ask one of our favorite authors, Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello and Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, about her recent reading on the third president.
Q: We at UVA Press, along with Maurizio Valsania, were delighted to learn that you were reading his latest book, The Limits of Optimism: Thomas Jefferson's Dualistic Enlightenment. How did you come to his work?

Gordon-Reed: My good friend Peter Onuf of the University of Virginia had read the book in manuscript and suggested I read it.

Q: Jefferson is well known as an enlightenment thinker. Did anything in Valsania's book surprise you?

Gordon-Reed: Well, it’s such a fresh take on Jefferson. It moves beyond the “He was a man of contradictions” approach. That is true, but as Valsania shows, a lot of what Jefferson says and does hangs together.

Winners of the 36th PROSE Awards were announced on February 2, and our electronic imprint, Rotunda, was honored for its digital edition of The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson, which won 2011 Best eProduct in the Humanities.

SalomeTo celebrate Joseph Donohue's new translation of Oscar Wilde's Salomé the Press recently collaborated with the university's drama department on a staged reading of the one-act play. You can watch a clip from the performance here.

Undoubtedly one of the brightest spots in the tedious, tendentious slog of the Republican presidential debates came in Jacksonville, Florida on January 26, when Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates which of their wives would be the best First Lady. The Twitt-O-Sphere went wild, howling at Gingrich's gaffe that made him sound like he was evaluating all his wives for the job.

The still-unfolding story of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship run aground off the coast of the Tuscan island Giglio, has reminded us of dangers, and remedies, nearly as old as seafaring itself. Reports of the thousands of passengers' struggle to escape made us think of John Stilgoe, whose book Lifeboat is the definitive study of one of the fixtures of survival at sea. Stilgoe took a few minutes from his duties as Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard to answer our questions about the sinking ship and the enduring role played by the smaller boat you never thought you'd have to use.