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Reading up on the West? Try the state university presses.

Westerners wanting a more scholarly view of the past than you get in a Larry McMurtry or Louis L'Amour novel can tap a relatively unknown resource: state university presses. A dozen, from Alaska to New Mexico, offer substantial works on Western history, culture, and ecology.

These presses concentrate on titles of regional interest, from historical cook books to journals of early explorers. Quality of content and production tends to be high.

Only one bookstore in the West carries a wide selection of university press titles; even large independent bookstores usually stock only a few. But you can call or write the presses for free catalogs, then order directly or through a local bookstore. Most deliveries take four to six weeks (up to eight weeks from Alaska); start now for holiday orders.

University of Alaska Press distributes nonfiction works on Alaska and the Arctic, with especially good selections on natural history of the North and on Alaskan history and politics. Write or call the press, c/o Signers' Hall, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks 99775; (907) 474-6389.

University of Arizona Press offers more than a hundred works in its Western history and Americana catalog; subjects include contemporary Southwestern issues, Native Americans, and Hispanic culture. Write to 1230 N. Park Ave., Suite 102, Tucson 85719; (602) 621-1441.

University of California Press publishes a large series of California natural history guides, as well as some works on the history of California and the West. Write to 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley 94720; (800) 822-6657.

University Press of Colorado lists more than a dozen books on the natural history of Colorado and Wyoming, including Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain national parks. New titles include The City of the Saints, 19th-century explorer Sir Richard Burton's account of a trip to Salt Lake City, and Cache la Poudre, The Natural History of a Rocky Mountain River. Write to Box 849, Niwot 80544; (303) 530-5337.

University of Hawaii Press has a wide selection of works on the Islands' history, literature, art, and culture. Beachcombers will discover several guides to Hawaii's natural wonders. Write to 2840 Kolowalu St., Honolulu 96822; (808) 956-8255.

University of Idaho Press distributes guidebooks for the Idaho Geological Survey Press and several books on Northwestern flora and fauna. Its Idaho Yesterdays series features early histories of the state and memoirs of its pioneers. Write to 16 Brink Hall, University of Idaho, Moscow 83843; (208) 885-6245.

University of Nevada Press publishes a series on the plants and animals of the Great Basin, and a series that includes works on the culture and history of Basques in the West. One title, Touring Nevada, outlines day trips with brief histories and maps. Write to University of Nevada, Reno 89557; (702) 784-6573.

University of New Mexico Press has in its current catalog more than 150 titles focused exclusively on the land and people of New Mexico. Its many travel guides include Haunted Highways: The Ghost Towns of New Mexico; Guide to the New Mexico Mountains; and Explore New Mexico, which has maps and essays on 27 cities. Enthusiasts of Western art, architecture, and cooking will find a wide selection. The press also has guides to native fish, wildflowers, and rare plants. Write to the press, Albuquerque 87131; (505) 277-7564.

Oregon State University Press produces books on the ecology and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. Two new ones are Birds of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Natural and Prescribed Fire in Pacific Northwest Forests. The Nortwest Reprints series includes fiction and nonfiction on the region's past. Write to the press at 101 Waldo Hall, Corvallis 97331; (503) 737-3166.

University of Utah Press publications cover Western history, ecology, literature, and other regional topics. Noteworthy are Conversations with Wallace Stegner, in which the author discusses his work and views on the modern West, and River Runners' Guide to Utah and Adjacent Areas. Write to 101 University Services Building, Salt Lake City 84112; (800) 444-8638, ext. 6771.

Utah State University Press has 36 titles, mostly historical works on the Mormons and the Old West. Among new titles is Vascular Plants of Northern Utah, a manual for botanists. Write to 871 E. 900 North, Logan 84322; (801) 750-1362.

University of Washington Press has some titles on Washington, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest. In its Western History collection, Exploring Washington's Past tells the state's story in terms of where to go and what to see. Write to Box 50096, Seattle 98145; (206) 543-4050. For the best collection of university press books and catalogs under one roof, visit University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley 94704; (415) 548-0585. This shop specializes in academic publications from the US., Canada, and England, and features large social science and natural history sections. It keeps current catalogs for all the presses and can order any title not stocked. Customers can also mail-order books through the store.
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Date:Nov 1, 1990
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