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University of Iowa News Release


March 19, 2008

Book from UI Press wins Public History Book Award

"Haunted By Waters: A Journey through Race and Place in the American West" by Robert T. Hayashi, published by the University of Iowa Press in 2007, is the winner of the 2008 National Council on Public History Book Award for the best book about, or growing out of, public history.

The award will be presented at the Presidential Luncheon/Awards Ceremony/Business Meeting during the National Council on Public History (NCPH) annual meeting on Friday, April 11, in Louisville, Ky.

The NCPH is a membership association dedicated to making the past useful in the present and encouraging collaboration between historians and their publics. It works to establish professional standards, ethics and best practices; provide professional development opportunities; recognize excellence in a diverse range of public history activities; foster networking and a sense of community among public history practitioners; and support history education.

As an easterner, researcher, angler and third-generation Japanese American traveling across the contemporary Idaho landscape -- where his grandfather died during internment during World War II -- Hayashi reconstructs a landscape that lured immigrants of all races at the same time its ruling forces were developing cultural processes that excluded nonwhites.

Using a wide range of materials including memoirs, oral interviews, poetry, legal cases, letters, government documents and even road signs, Hayashi illustrates how Thomas Jefferson's vision of an agrarian, all-white and democratic West affected the Gem State's Nez Perce, Chinese, Shoshone, Mormon and, in particular, Japanese residents.

Starting at the site of the Corps of Discovery's journey into Idaho, he details the ideological, aesthetic and material manifestations of these intertwined notions of race and place. As he fly-fishes Idaho's fabled rivers and visits its historical sites and museums, Hayashi reads the contemporary landscape in light of this evolution.

Gary Y. Okihiro, author of "The Columbia Guide to Asian American History," wrote, "Luminous as Idaho's fabled trout streams, 'Haunted by Waters' recounts how racialized minorities, including native peoples, Hawaiians, Chinese, and Japanese, transformed spaces into places in the physical and social landscape of the American West. And in the course of this journey, we come to discover a river to ourselves."

Hayashi is an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. His book is part of the UI Press American Land and Life Series, edited by Wayne Franklin of the University of Connecticut.

"Haunted by Waters" is available for sale at bookstores or directly from the University of Iowa Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at Customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from the Eurospan Group online at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Thomas, UI Press,, Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,