Monthly Archives: May 2006

Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

May 31, 2006
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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

The National Post recently praised Steven B. Smith’s Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism. From the review by Robert Fulford: "Strauss’s reputation has suffered from the ferocious anger that divisive American politics directs against any idea appearing even remotely connected to George W. Bush. Now Steven B. Smith of Yale has written a remarkable book, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism, in which he straightens the record and summarizes Strauss’s thought."

Interest in Leo Strauss is greater now than at any time since his death, mostly because of the purported link between his thought and the political movement known as neoconservatism. Steven B. Smith, though, surprisingly depicts Strauss not as the high priest of neoconservatism but as a friend of liberal democracy—perhaps the best defender democracy has ever had.

Read an excerpt.

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Review: Goldfarb, The Politics of Small Things

May 31, 2006
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Review: Goldfarb, The Politics of Small Things

PopMatters recently reviewed Jeffrey C. Goldfarb’s The Politics of Small Things: The Power of the Powerless in Dark Times. From the review by Vince Carducci: "The Politics of Small Things is a modest book— the main text runs less than 150 pages. But it’s long enough to make the case that the phrase ‘reach out and touch someone’ is more than some derelict advertising slogan. Not a revolutionary idea perhaps, but certainly the place to start in terms of living in truth."

In The Politics of Small Things, Jeffrey Goldfarb provides an innovative way for understanding politics, a way of appreciating the significance of politics at the micro level by comparatively analyzing key turning points and institutions in recent history. He presents a sociology of human interactions that lead from small to large: dissent around the old Soviet bloc; life on the streets in Warsaw, Prague, and Bucharest in 1989; the network of terror that spawned 9/11; and the religious and Internet mobilizations that transformed the 2004 presidential election, to name a few. In such pivotal moments, he masterfully shows, political autonomy can be generated, presenting alternatives to the big politics of the global stage and the dominant narratives of . . .

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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

May 30, 2006
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Review: Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

In today’s Boston Globe Michael Kenney writes about Mark Monmonier’s "entertaining and enlightening" new book, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame. Kenney summarizes the book’s description of the process of renaming controversial geographic locations and why it’s important: "Monmonier writes, ‘how a nation manipulates and preserves its place and feature names says a lot about its respect for history, minority rights and indigenous culture.’"

From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow probes this little-known chapter in American cartographic history by considering the intersecting efforts to computerize mapmaking, standardize geographic names, and respond to public concern over ethnically offensive appellations. Interweaving cartographic history with tales of politics and power, celebrated geographer Mark Monmonier locates his story within the past and present struggles of mapmakers to create an orderly process for naming that avoids confusion, preserves history, and serves different political aims.

Read an excerpt.

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Press release: Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool

May 30, 2006
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Press release: Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool

Whether they’re writing about art, food, movies, or music, critics have always been received with both awe and ire by their readers and by their subjects. This is also true in the world of jazz where the critic is responsible for putting into words an experience that is, more often that not, wordless. Yet their influence on the shape of the jazz tradition and the careers of the musicians is undeniable. It is also an aspect of the story of jazz which has before now been neglected in most accounts of its history. With Blowin’ Hot & Cool John Gennari corrects this oversight in a profound way by offering the first comprehensive overview of the critics’ role in the story of jazz over the course of the past seventy-five years. Read the press release.

Read an excerpt about Leonard Feather and John Hammond; also see an outlined soundtrack to accompany the book.

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Review: Yenser, Blue Guide

May 26, 2006
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Review: Yenser, Blue Guide

Library Journal recently reviewed Stephen Yenser’s Blue Guide. From the review: "Readers encounter the work of a technical virtuoso.… Attentive readers who have high expectations of contemporary poetry will find much to hold their interest."

Inspired by the miraculously mercurial potential of words, Stephen Yenser takes readers on a heady trip through a world full of promise yet compromised by human weakness. Set in sunny southern California and Greece, the poems of Blue Guide cast the shadow of mortality, and the tones are elegiac.

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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

May 26, 2006
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Press release: Richerson, Not By Genes Alone

Not by Genes Alone offers a radical interpretation of human evolution. What makes us human, renowned scholars Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd demonstrate, lies in our psychology—more specifically, our unparalleled ability to adapt. Building their case with such fascinating examples as the Amish rumspringa and the gift exchange system of the !Kung San, Not by Genes Alone throws aside the conventional nature-versus-nurture debate and convincingly argues that culture and biology are inextricably linked. Read the press release.

Read an excerpt.

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Review: Lanham, The Economics of Attention

May 25, 2006
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Review: Lanham, The Economics of Attention

Yesterday, in the business section of the Philadelpia Inquirer, Andrew Cassel wrote about Richard A. Lanham’s “very intriguing new book,” The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information.

Lanham starts from the premise that the scarce commodity in the new information economy is attention. Says Cassell: “I personally find this head-smackingly insightful. Of course! Money may still make the world go ’round, but it’s attention that we increasingly sell, hoard, compete for and fuss over. … The implications of all this have barely begun to be explored.”

Explore further in an interview with Lanham and an excerpt from the book.

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Review: Kehew, Lark in the Morning

May 25, 2006
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Review: Kehew, Lark in the Morning

The London Review of Books recently praised Robert Kehew’s Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours, a Bilingual Edition. Barbara Newman wrote, "Only formal verse, respecting the troubadours’ metrical innovations and their prodigious achievements in sonority and rhyme, can hope to convey both their individual voices and their collecive charm. It is here that Robert Kehew’s anthology, Lark in the Morning, succeeds so brilliantly."

Although the troubadours flourished at the height of the Middle Ages in southern France, their songs of romantic love, with pleasing melodies and intricate stanzaic patterns, have inspired poets and song writers ever since, from Dante to Chaucer, from Renaissance sonneteers to the Romantics, and from Verlaine and Rimbaud to modern rock lyricists. Yet despite the incontrovertible influence of the troubadours on the development of both poetry and music in the West, there existed no comprehensive anthology of troubadour lyrics that respected the verse form of the originals until now. Lark in the Morning honors the meter, word play, punning, and sound effects in the troubadours’ works while celebrating the often playful, bawdy, and biting nature of the material.

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Review: Brader, Campaigning for Hearts and Minds

May 24, 2006
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Review: Brader, Campaigning for Hearts and Minds

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed Ted Brader’s Campaigning for Hearts and Minds: How Emotional Appeals in Political Ads Work: "Brader guides the reader through the study of political advertising and makes the case that although many studies have been done, few have systematically analyzed the role of emotion in political campaigns. The author seeks to close this gap through content analysis of more than 1,400 political ads and an experimental investigation of the effect different types of ads have upon citizens. His work is both timely and original. The findings suggest that negatively charged ads cause citizens to conduct more research on their own. Enthusiastic appeals work to motivate committed voters to political action on behalf of their candidate. Brader notes at the onset that he has written his book to accessible beyond an academic audience. He manages to accomplish this feat and retain the rigor of a strong scholar. This book should be read by those interested in the art of political campaigning. Highly recommended."

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Author event: Timmermans on BBC Radio 4

May 24, 2006
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Author event: Timmermans on BBC Radio 4

Earlier today, Stefan Timmermans, author of Postmortem: How Medical Examiners Explain Suspicious Deaths, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s "Thinking Allowed" program. You can listen to an audio file of the program on the Thinking Allowed Web site.

Postmortem goes deep inside the world of medical examiners to uncover the intricate web of pathological, social, legal, and moral issues in which they operate. Stefan Timmermans spent years in a medical examiner’s office, following cases, interviewing examiners, and watching autopsies. While he relates fascinating cases here, he is also more broadly interested in the cultural authority and responsibilities that come with being a medical examiner.

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