On the Record

A conversation with Larry Powell, author of Black Barons of Birmingham: The South’s Greatest Negro League Team and Its Players (2009: McFarland)


sp2010_books1Powell (Communication Studies) has written several books on baseball, including a biography of UAB’s first baseball coach, former Major Leaguer Harry Walker. In this new work, Powell brings to life the players who made Birmingham a perennial Negro League contender in the 1940s and ’50s.


On the Record: What drew you to this subject?

Larry Powell: It’s a part of baseball history that remains largely overlooked. A book called Every Other Sunday does an excellent job of summarizing the history of the Black Barons, but it doesn’t tell the individual players’ stories. I felt like it was important that their stories be told.


On the Record: Why did their stories interest you so much?

Powell: Baseball’s history has been so well documented in general, but most of these players have been all but forgotten. Big stars like Satchel Paige and Willie Mays are well known, but there were a lot of other quality players who never got a shot in integrated baseball.


On the Record: What were the players’ most vivid memories?

Powell: The stories of what went on during games were all interesting, and that’s what the players wanted to talk about the most. But it was also amazing to hear about life on the road. Jake Sanders and Frank Evans both talked of the time their bus broke down in North Carolina next to a watermelon stand. It took a week for the team to get the parts they needed for the bus, and they had to eat watermelon the entire week, because they weren’t allowed to go into the town. Stories like that really capture what these players went through. Modern baseball fans may find it difficult to imagine.



Labor Movement

Migration and the Transformation of the Southern Workplace Since 1945
Edited by Robert Cassanello and Colin Davis
(2010: University of Florida Press)

Since the Second World War, the South has had to reconcile its traditionalist social outlook with an economic future that demands diversity and internationalism. In this new book, Davis (History) and Cassanello present essays from historians, anthropologists, and others that examine how globalization and an influx of immigrants have changed Southern industry and society.



Faith in Science

The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All Students About Evolution
By Lee Meadows
(2009: Heinemann)

Few ideological issues have such a strong impact on public education as the teaching of evolution. A Christian and a science educator, Meadows (Curriculum and Instruction) understands the importance both of a thorough, fact-based science curriculum and of a level of respect for students’ religious beliefs. The Missing Link promotes a moderate approach, in which teachers encourage students to examine the scientific basis for evolution themselves and understand the differences between scientific and supernatural explanations without having to “check their religion at the door,” Meadows says.



Eye in the Sky

Satellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology
By Sarah H. Parcak
(2009: Routledge)
Parcak (Anthropology) is a pioneer in the field of remote sensing, which employs satellite imagery to analyze conditions on earth. After using the technology to find hundreds of lost sites in Egypt, she now provides the first comprehensive guide on the subject. The book includes a history of remote sensing technology and broader discussions on ethics and site preservation. But its main concern is practical matters, including in-field techniques and evaluations of imagery types and analysis methods. Generously illustrated case studies range from Egypt’s Nile Delta to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and a companion Web site offers more resources and images.



Two by Tollefsbol

Cancer Epigenetics | Epigenetics of Aging
By Trygve Tollefsbol
(2008: CRC) | (2009: Springer)

Scientists once thought that genes could only be altered by changes in their underlying DNA structure, but it is now clear that environment, diet, and other factors can reshape genes, at least temporarily. The growing field of epigenetics is focused on defining those factors and teasing out their roles in disease. In two recent books, Tollefsbol (Biology) has solicited chapters from experts around the world as well as contributing a number of chapters from his own lab. The books summarize the state of epigenetic research in cancer and aging and examine future directions for study. They also focus on the potential of epigenetic discoveries to refine diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment for cancer and age-related disorders.