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The follwoing news release from
The Office of Communications and Marketing
at Texas Tech. University was posted as
When in Rome
and outlines the research excellence of Professor Gary Forsythe. The release is especially unique in that the focus is placed on his professional accomplishment; his blindness is of secondary and subordinate interest.

Gretchen Pressley

When studying and writing a book about ancient Rome, Gary Forsythe decided not to do what the Romans did.

For his unique and impartial look at early Imperial Rome, the associate professor of history at Texas Tech won first place in the President’s Book Awards for his analysis, A Critical History of Early Rome.

The President’s Book Awards serve to honor the best publications of the diverse faculty at Texas Tech.

A Critical History of Early Rome, published by the University of California Press in 2005, details the events of Rome’s history, from its Stone Age to the First Punic War in 264 B.C.

The award reviewers chose Forsythe’s book because they thought it represented the pinnacle of scholarship, said James Brink, senior vice provost. It involves difficult material written under difficult circumstances. And the result is an interesting and readable analysis.

“A book of this magnitude represents years of toil,” Brink said. “It’s fitting that we would recognize the effort behind it and its production.”

The history of this period is notoriously difficult to summarize because there are not many existing records, and those that did survive are biased and highlight only the accomplishments of Rome. Forsythe’s book explains the influences behind the conflicts in early Rome and bypasses the predispositions early Romans had to give a more varied historical explanation of the beginnings of this famous Italian city.

The Italian biases were not the only problem Forsythe had to overcome. Not only is Forsythe a historian studying very difficult topics, he is a blind historian, forced to wade through volumes written in both Greek and Latin. Some of his source texts were actually hand-written.

"It's difficult to be a historian under any circumstances," Brink said. "But to be a blind historian is really something special."

Hafid Gafaiti, Horn Professor of French and Stephen Graham Jones, associate professor of English tied for the second place book awards with La Diasporisation De La Littérature Postcoloniale, and Bleed Into Me: A Book of Stories, respectively.

Forsythe was awarded $5,000 for first place. Gafaiti and Jones each received $2,500 for second place.

“We had a very respectable array of disciplines recognized this year,” Brink said. “The quality of the books continues to be high.”

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