Tayler Lord and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP who share a cubicle currently filled with paper coffee cups. Today they also share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will be published in May.
Tayler Lord: The first book I’d like to talk about this month is Rails of War: Supplying the Americans and Their Allies in China-Burma-India by Steven James Hantzis. Rails of War is the story of Hantzis’s father, a GI railroader, and his comrades in the 721st Railway Operating Batallion who built, maintained, and managed seven hundred miles of track in the China-Burma-India theater. I’m excited because this is an area of World War II that is mostly unknown to me. I first learned of the Burma Campaign from the film The Railway Man, a gorgeous and heartbreaking movie starring Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård (available on Netflix!) about a British POW forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. This movie tells a completely different side of story from Rails of War, so I’m excited to learn another perspective.
What are you working on this month?
Anna Weir: I’m continuing the baseball trend! Which is one of the fun things about our Spring season—UNP has more excellent baseball books than any planet we currently communicate with.
I’m excited for Lefty O’Doul: Baseball’s Forgotten Ambassador by Dennis Snelling. A talented ball player, Lefty is most remembered by the ways in which he reached out to people off the field. His tours to Japan helped establish the sport there, and in 1949, General Douglass MacArthur called his efforts one of the greatest diplomatic efforts in U.S. history. He sponsored a youth’s baseball team—O’Doul’s Angels—in Vancouver that he underwrote until his death. A restaurant in San Francisco named after him has had a large community impact for years—and though it closed last month, many are hoping for its reopening later this year. (The author recently wrote a guest post about it!) Lefty is a figure I can admire, not just because he excelled within his profession, but because he made a difference outside of it.
What else are you looking forward to, Tayler?
TL: My second pick is only the second scholarly book I’ve worked on this season! It’s called Yearning to Labor: Youth, Unemployment, and Social Destiny in Urban France by John P. Murphy. Yearning to Labor is an ethnographic account of a group of young people in the housing projects of Limoges, France, that tells a larger story about urban youths navigating the job world in the face of fluctuating economic inequalities.
I majored in French, so I’m always excited to work on books about France and French culture. In school, we learned about the 2005 riots that Murphy discusses, and how life in les banlieues, or outer cities, changed because of them. I’m eager to learn about how those same riots affected Limoges.
What’s your second pick?
AW: My next pick is baseball with a twist. From the Dugouts to the Trenches: Baseball During the Great War tells how World War I affected baseball in America. Author Jim Leeke touches on civil rights, organized baseball, and the sting of war in compelling, engaging writing. I’ll admit I’m a little partial to it because, while we’ve published quite a few books on World War II, we don’t have many on World War I. This season, I have the pleasure of working on two Great War books, the second being Chris Dubb’s American Journalists in the Great War. And as this year also marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the war, I’m hoping others will get excited for these books, as well.
Tune in next month for more great titles from your friendly neighborhood publicists!