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Debating Higher Ed

In their first presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent several minutes discussing K-12 education. They agreed on the need for a federal role, including at least some elements of Obama’s Race to the Top program, but disagreed on whether to distribute federal funds to states or, as Romney proposed as a way to promote school choice, to individual students. Beyond brief references to the value of community colleges and the challenge of paying tuition, the candidates did not engage the issue of higher education.

Map of Influence

As part of its 75th anniversary, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) invited member presses to construct a "map of influence," an online geographic illustration of the reach of its own authors and subjects.

Gabriel Vahanian

We would like to pay tribute to Gabriel Vahanian, who passed away last week at the age of 85.

First Lady as Campaigner

Catherine Allgor, editor of The Queen of America, has a piece on the CNN site that considers Ann Romney's speech at this week's Republican National Convention.

Aunt Dolley

New this month is our annotated edition of Mary Cutts's memoir of her famous aunt, Dolley Madison. The Queen of America presents both drafts of Cutts's manuscript with an introductory essay and notes by Dolley biographer and Parlor Politics author Catherine Allgor. A reliable guide is especially necessary in this case because it turns out Cutts may have had a few things to hide—or at least conveniently ignore—in her life of the First Lady. Allgor spoke with us about the fine line Cutts walked in her famous memoir.

Q: Your book includes draft versions of the memoir Dolley Madison’s niece, Mary Cutts, wrote about her aunt. The drafts show that Cutts, and her family, changed things in her account. What were they trying to hide?

Allgor: First, Mary lies about Dolley's birthplace as part of a general cover-up about Dolley's father, a difficult man who may have been a bit shady in his dealings. Mary stresses Dolley's charm, but omits that it never got her anywhere with her marital family, the Madisons, who had a low opinion of "Dolly" and would have sued her at a moment's notice.

Virginia Honored by ADE

At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association for Documentary Editing (ADE), the University of Virginia Press was honored with a special Resolution of Appreciation for its "leadership, vision, and vital support in the field of documentary editing."

The Lost Colony

For over 400 years a simple patch hid a very important detail on John White's "Virginae Pars" map, and some historians are now hopeful that it could provide valuable clues to the whereabouts of the "Lost Colony," a 16th-century settlement that disappeared without a trace. The story of the map's hidden fort quickly spread past the scholarly arena and was picked up by  the mainstream news. We asked William C. Wooldridge, author of our forthcoming Mapping Virginia: From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War, to share his thoughts on this discovery and what it might mean.


We were saddened this week, as was everyone in publishing, to hear that Maurice Sendak—the author of countless delightfully macabre, unforgettable books—had passed away at the age of 83. The University of Virginia Press is proud to have published two of Sendak's books, both out of print now and prized by collectors—Ten Little Rabbits (1970) and Fantasy Sketches (1981).

A Great Lost Civil War Story

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.

Steinbeck, War Reporter

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."