Two voices from the South

Cover of "Discovering the South," by Jennifer Ritterhouse
Cover of "Discovering the South," by Jennifer Ritterhouse Submitted

From University of North Carolina Press come two biographies about the South in its transition years of the 20th century.

In 1937, Jonathan Daniels, editor of The News & Observer, set out on a 10-state tour of the South to find out more about the region. George Mason University historian Jennifer Ritterhouse, using Daniels’ unpublished notes of that tour and other sources, has written about Daniels’ journey in her book “Discovering the South: One Man’s Travels through a changing America in the 1930s” (UNC Press, $34.95). Ritterhouse puts Daniels’ tour in context of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and the growing movement for greater civil rights for all. Daniels’ journey, she writes, “was the same journey, writ small, that the United States in the mid-twentieth century was on.”

Leonard Rogoff, a historian for the Jewish Heritage Foundation, has written the first biography of Gertrude Weil, titled “Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South” (UNC Press, $35). Born in Goldsboro, Weil campaigned for civil and voting rights, and other progressive causes. Writing in his preface, Rogoff writes: “Negotiating complexities within herself, Gertrude would change the world.”

For more information about both of these titles, visit The University of North Carolina Press,

Here are some more releases and events:

▪ Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is releasing the first paperback editions of several titles this month. Matti Friedman’s “Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War” ($16.95) is his memoir of his experiences defending an outpost in Israel’s security zone in Lebanon in the late 1990s. Algonquin also has released the paperback edition of Robert Morgan’s “Chasing the North Star” ($15.95).

▪ Donia Bijan is a chef who runs the restaurant L’amie Donia in Palo Alto, California. Some readers may know her for her cookbook “Maman’s Homesick Pie.” Her experience with food and her family’s history in post-revolutionary Iran inspired her debut novel “The Last Days of Cafe Leila” (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $25.95). Bijan’s family left Iran during the Islamic Revolution, and the government later confiscated a hospital her father ran.

In “The Last Days of Cafe Leila,” Noor, after her husband cheats on her, takes her daughter Lily from their California home to visit her father Zod, and to revisit the restaurant, Cafe Leila, that the family has run for three generations. Noor makes discoveries about her family, and the homeland she does not know. For more on this book, visit Algonquin Books at

▪  Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher describe their guidebook “Living at the Water’s Edge: A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway” (UNC Press, $22) as a “front porch” visit to the storied Outer Banks. The authors combine history, culture and geography, with plenty of photos and maps, on their journey along the byway, also known as N.C. 12. If you don’t have the bug for the beach yet, this guide will give it to you. For more on this book, visit

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1