State House Press

The Alamo and Beyond
A Collector's Journey

Here, for the first time in history, are the artifacts, relics, and documents that compose the Phil Collins collection, available in a beautifully designed color book shot-through with stunning photography and crisply rendered illustrations.

State House Press

Welcome to the home page of State House Press, non-profit publisher of quality books on the history of Texas and the Civil War.

State House Press and the McWhiney Foundation Press are part of the Texas A&M University Press Consortium, which handles retail distribution for a number of small but distinguished publishers. Our entire list of offerings, with pictures, summaries, prices, and easy online ordering, is available in our section of the consortium web pages.

State House Press is proud of its reputation for high standards of scholarship and readability. As Kent Biffle of the Dallas Morning News once said, “I never met a State House Press book I didn’t like.”

We release not only Texana by contemporary authors but reprints of classic accounts of Texas life and history otherwise inaccessible to the general public. Our booklist also incorporates the publications of the McWhiney Foundation Press, specializing in the history of the Old South and the Civil War. We strive with our titles to make history accessible to as many readers as possible. To accomplish this task, we have recruited some of America’s leading historians and many bright new scholars. We believe firmly in narrative history, in telling a good story, and in telling it well – without losing sight of the people who made history and the events that changed a nation.

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The Books That Went to War —and How They Changed Publishing

The Council on Books in Wartime was founded in early 1942 by publishers, librarians, authors and others to promote the use of books as "weapons in the war of ideas." In the Spring of 1943, the Council launched the effort for which it would become best known: the Armed Services Editions. ASEs brought high-end books to a mass audience at a time when most people could not afford books, and bookstores were few and far between.
It was able to accomplish its mission in part because of a printing innovation: To be able to produce books at a cost of about six cents each (compared to $2 for the average hardback of the time), the Council decided to use magazine presses, printing two copies on each page, and then slicing the book in half perpendicular to the binding. The result was a book wider than it was tall, featuring two columns of text for easier reading in low light. The real innovation, though, was less technological than ideological. The publishers proposed to take books available only in hardcover form and produce them in this cheap format. The book industry was concerned that this would ruin the business, but committee chairman W.W. Norton believed that giving millions of service personnel the opportunity to "learn what a book is and what it can mean is likely now and in postwar years to exert a tremendous influence on the post war course of the industry." He was right.
The books were "as popular as pin-up girls," reported a GI from New Guinea. Indeed, they often served much the same purposes. Even at the program's height, when one hundred thousand books were delivered per week, it was not enough to keep up with demand. "The principal favorites," a study found, "are novels that deal frankly with sexual relations (regardless of tone, literary merit and point of view, no matter whether the book is serious or humorous, romantically exciting or drably pedestrian)." Sex sold. So did westerns and biographies, although the Council made a deliberate effort to skew its selections toward the more literary end of the spectrum. Sometimes, readers surprised the Council. In 1945, the Council picked out an older novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that had never achieved popular success, having sold just 120 copies the previous year. Its title? The Great Gatsby.
By the end of the program, 122,951,031 Armed Services Editions were distributed. And the reading habit the books ignited remains to this day.


One of those troops reading these books was a young marine named Henry Grady McWhiney. He always said that, while aboard a troopship in the Pacific, he read a book about Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart that launched his interest in the Civil War.

His legacy, State House Press, is proud to continue in this tradition by making history accessible to a wide audience.
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