Review Roundup: June 2020

LSU Press publishes the works of a host of talented scholars and poets. Each month, we take a moment to recognize the impact these authors and their works are having on communities nearby and around the world.


President without a Party cover

Christopher J. Leahy’s new, full-length biography on the nation’s tenth president, President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler, was covered in the June 5, 2020 issue of the Wall Street Journal. “With publication of this deeply researched, gracefully written reappraisal, the most comprehensive Tyler biography in 80 years, the man without a party continues to defy traditional standards of presidential performance,” wrote Richard Norton Smith. “As Christopher J. Leahy demonstrates, one needn’t be a successful president to be judged a consequential one.”

The Civil War Monitor recently featured two LSU Press books among its “Five Best Books on Civil War Combat.” Reviewer Andrew S. Bledsoe had this to say about Lesley J. Gordon’s A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut’s Civil War:A Broken Regiment is both a refreshing corrective to more celebratory views of battle in the Civil War and a model for modern unit studies. . . . It is both deeply researched and holistic in its insights about Civil War combat and its legacies.”

Bledsoe also selected Gordon C. Rhea’s highly anticipated concluding volume to his five-part series on the 1864 Overland Campaign, On to Petersburg: Grant and Lee, June 4–15, 1864. “Rhea’s gift to students of Civil War combat,” says Bledsoe, “is his ability to explain complicated and detailed military matters while keeping the pace of his narrative from getting bogged down.” You can read the full Civil War Monitor reviews for Rhea’s and Gordon’s books here.

Borealia’s “New Books in Early Canadian History” includes two forthcoming books from LSU Press: French Connections: Cultural Mobility in North America and the Atlantic World, 1600–1875, edited by Robert Englebert and Andrew N. Wegmann; and The Shattered Cross: French Catholic Missionaries on the Mississippi River, 1698–1725, by Linda Carol Jones. See the complete roundup from Borealia here.


In a recent article, USA Today offered its choice of one book from each state that best represented that state’s literary and cultural heritage. For Louisiana, USA Today selected John Kennedy Toole’s comic masterpiece, A Confederacy of Dunces. As described in “50 States, 50 Books,” “Ignatius J. Reilly’s humorous adventures take readers through the streets of New Orleans, introducing us to some of the city’s most eclectic (fictional) characters and real-life locations.”


On the Seawall writer Judith Harris recently reviewed Floyd Skloot’s ninth poetry collection, Far West. “From the pastoral to the familial, the mundane to the transcendent,” Harris writes, “Far West is filled with intelligence, grace, and vigor.” Read the full review here.


Joseph Arthur Simon’s biography of General John Archer Lejeune, The Greatest of All Leathernecks, received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Colonel Joseph Alexander Award. The Colonel Alexander Award is given each year to “a distinguished work of biographical or autobiographical literature about a Marine.” Simon will accept his award this fall at the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico. Read more about Simon’s book in the Shreveport Times here.

The long list for the 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award in Poetry included some great collections, but Still Life with Mother and Knife, the latest book from acclaimed poet Chelsea Rathburn, was chosen as the winner.

Peter Copeland’s Finding the News: Adventures of a Young Reporter also received a 2020 Eric Hoffer Award. This fast-paced account of how Copeland became a distinguished journalist won in the Memoir category, and it was shortlisted for the overall Grand Prize.

Matthew Thorburn’s eighth collection, The Grace of Distance, was a finalist for the 2020 Paterson Poetry Prize, awarded annually by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College. See the full list of finalists—and this year’s winner—here.

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