Monthly Archives: July 2006

Review: Ebert, Awake in the Dark

July 31, 2006
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Review: Ebert, Awake in the Dark

Roger Ebert’s forthcoming book Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert; Forty years of Reviews, Essays, and Interviews, details almost a half century’s worth of cinematic expertise from a man the Library Journal calls one of American cinema’s “most respected and influential movie critics.” More from the LJ review:

The book clearly summarizes Ebert’s pantheon of best films, or at least movies that have meant the most to him. Also included are appreciations and interviews with notable actors and filmmakers. Always alert to trends and defending film as an art form, Ebert never fails to connect with his readers.

With Awake in the Dark, both fans and film buffs can finally bask in the best of Ebert’s work. No critic alive has reviewed more movies than Roger Ebert, and yet his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume—until now. The reviews, interviews, and essays collected here present a picture of this indispensable critic’s numerous contributions to the cinema and cinephilia.

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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

July 31, 2006
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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

In the July 21, 2006, issue of the New York weekly Forward, Allan Nadler finds Steven B. Smith’s Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism a “book rich with delightful details” about Strauss’s life and thought; details which, Nadler argues, complicate the intensifying perception of Strauss as a figurehead for “a particularly nasty version of neoconservatism.” A short quote from Nadler’s review follows:

A professor of political science at Yale and the author two previous books on Spinoza, Smith focuses on what Strauss called the “theologico-politico problem”—that is to say, the centuries-old unresolved conflict between the dictates of human reason and the doctrines of divine revelation.…In demonstrating the complexity of Strauss’s thinking, Smith succeeds admirably in rescuing the philosopher from what he calls “the hostile takeover” of the neoconservatives, particularly by disociating himself from President Bush’s simplistic view of the world. As such, this clear and lucid presentation represents an important corrective to the contemporary distortion of Strauss’s legacy—and not a minute too soon.

We also have an excerpt from Smith’s book.

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Press release: Taussig, Walter Benjamin’s Grave

July 28, 2006
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Press release: Taussig, Walter Benjamin’s Grave

Michael Taussig has emerged as one of our most daring intellectuals. His books, which blend rigorous anthropological theory with elements of memoir, literary theory, archival history, and even fiction, are of a genre all their own. As the New York Times commented, “his books read more like beatnik novels than somber analyses of other cultures.” Walter Benjamin’s Grave collects many of Taussig’s best short essays which have been published over the past decade while adding a brand new one, providing readers with a fascinating and genuinely entertaining overview of this singular thinker and writer.

Read the press release. Read an excerpt from the book.

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Press release: Laufer, Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds

July 28, 2006
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Press release: Laufer, Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds

The recent convictions of former Enron executives Ken Lay and Tom Skilling are merely the latest names in a spate of verdicts handed down against high-profile executives. In only the past few years, Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski, WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers, Adelphia’s John Rigas, and the American goddess of domesticity Martha Stewart each received legitimate jail time. But should Americans really feel confident that these verdicts and measures are anything more than window dressing? Are we really beginning to solve the problem? For William Laufer, author of Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds, the answers are “no” and “no.”

Read the press release.

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Review: Wu Hung, Remaking Beijing

July 27, 2006
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Review: Wu Hung, Remaking Beijing

The July 14 issue of the Times Literary Supplement carried a review by Jonathan Mirsky of four books about Asian cities. Two of the books concerned Beijing and included Wu Hung’s Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space.

Wu Hung’s book on Tiananmen Square, wrote Mirsky, “is a well-informed history of the transformation of the rather small, crowded, asymmetrical space, partly flanked by timber houses, in front of the Forbidden City, into a vast 50-acre ‘guangchang,’ a square, the biggest man-made space in the world.” Wu Hung, continues Mirsky, explains “why Tiananmen was the focus of the 1989 demonstration, why it attacted Chinese from all over the country—and why the leadership took the uprising especially seriously, because of where it took place.”

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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

July 26, 2006
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Review: Smith, Reading Leo Strauss

In the July 31, 2006, issue of The New Republic, Damon Linker reviews two books about Leo Strauss, including Steven B. Smith’s Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism.

A short quote from the lengthy analysis: “Smith’s book is a response to Strauss’s critics, and it far surpasses previous efforts in clarity, rigor, and judiciousness. Smith is not an acolyte propagating the true faith; he is an admirer who wishes to persuade his readers of Strauss’s intellectual importance. This balance between sympathy and critical distance, lamentably rare in studies of Strauss, contributes to making this book our best introduction to the complex and challenging ideas of this divisive figure.”

We have an excerpt from Smith’s book.

(TNR also reviews a book by Heinrich Meier. We have published two previous books by Meier.)

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Review: Kruse and Sugrue, The New Suburban History

July 25, 2006
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Review: Kruse and Sugrue, The New Suburban History

Suburban history? Christopher Shea ponders that phrase in a review in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe: “What the suburbs never seem like is a setting for history. Dismissed as places without a sense of place, they also seem timeless, in a bad sense: Except for the square footage, what separates the Levittown of the 1950s from a new cookie-cutter subdivision? But though the subject doesn’t have the sexiness of the Civil War or Jacksonian democracy, a growing number of historians are taking a close look at the `burbs.”

Shea discusses The New Suburban History edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue, saying the book “serves as a manifesto on the importance of the subject. … The suburbs, in this new perspective, have as much to do with 20th-century social and political movements as do Birmingham or South Boston.”

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How Chicago skewed northwest

July 25, 2006
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How Chicago skewed northwest

A recent article by John C. Hudson in the Chicago Sun-Times discusses how race and class “skewed the city’s grand symmetrical plans by, in essence, confining the growth of black residential neighborhoods to a single swath that expanded southward, east of State Street—commonly known as the black belt. … That growing imbalance between the North and South sides of Chicago was replicated in the city’s suburbs. … Since World War II, the expansion of Chicago’s suburbs and industry began to tilt northward, with growth reduced in any place likely to be in the expansion path of the black population.”

Today “the residential patterns of African-American households, at least for those in the upper-income bracket, finally are beginning to look more like those of other racial and ethnic groups.” However the northwest skew of Chicagoland “is bound to affect life in Chicago for decades to come.”

Hudson is the author of Chicago: A Geography of the City and Its Region, the first geography of the Windy City in more than fifty years.

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The End of Hamburg, July 24, 1943

July 24, 2006
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The End of Hamburg, July 24, 1943

On the night of July 24, 1943, nearly 800 Allied aircraft unleashed a massive aerial bombardment of the city of Hamburg. Operation Gomorrah, as it was named, continued for ten days and resulted in a firestorm that swept the city, killing tens of thousands of civilians and leaving a million homeless.

The End: Hamburg 1943 is Hans Erich Nossack’s terse, remarkable memoir of the annihilation of the city, written only three months after the bombing. A searing firsthand account of one of the most notorious events of World War II, The End is also a meditation on war and hope, history and its devastation.

Read an excerpt.

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Review: McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues

July 22, 2006
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Review: McCloskey, The Bourgeois Virtues

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a review by Matt Ridley of Deirdre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues The book is, says Ridley, “an exhaustive philosophical treatise on virtue ethics, and a very fine one, too. Ms. McCloskey is spectacularly well read. She can pull an apposite quotation not only from her heroes, such as Adam Smith and Thomas Aquinas, but also from Thucydides and Machiavelli, or from the anthropologist Ruth Bendict and the contemporary philosopher Alistair MacIntyre, or (for that matter) from the movies ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Shane.’ What is more, she writes with wonderful ease. . . . The book radiates intelligence and insight and will illuminate my thinking for years to come.”

Read an excerpt from the book.

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