Monthly Archives: April 2007

Review: Nouvian, The Deep

April 18, 2007
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Review: Nouvian, The Deep

Reviewing one of this season’s most exciting releases from the Press, Discover magazine’s Richard Ellis has much to say about explorer and journalist Claire Nouvian’s new book The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss. His review of this fascinating photo voyage to the ocean’s darkest depths, like other reviews of the book, praises the hundreds of vibrant color images gracing its pages. Ellis writes: Each of the 200-odd photographs in this book is in color. Bejeweled creatures—squid, comb jellies, octopuses, and tube worms—leap off the black pages in such a luminescent rainbow that you can’t help but realize that the “blackness” of the depths is a misnomer. In many cases, photographs of these organisms appear in this book for the first time anywhere. … Such intimate photographs are surely the book’s triumph. But an articulate and informative commentary accompanies them. The many short chapters have been written by the world’s foremost marine scientists. And indeed, with expert discussion on a variety of aspects of the deep sea—from the techniques of human exploration to discussion of hydrothermal vents and bioluminescence— The Deep is an exotic yet authoritative excursion to one of earth’s last undiscovered frontiers. Don’t miss the Web site . . .

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Review: Censorinus, The Birthday Book

April 17, 2007
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Review: Censorinus, The Birthday Book

The April 6 Times Literary Supplement carried an appreciative review of Holt N. Parker’s translation of The Birthday Book—an entertaining third-century treatise on all aspects of the birthday. Roman grammarian and writer Censorinus originally wrote the book as a birthday gift for a friend, and TLS reviewer Karl Galinsky notes that Parker’s translation qualifies as “the perfect present for someone who has everything.” Galinsky writes: The range of topics and their constellation offers something for everybody, whether in quaint “Ripley’s Believe or Not” fashion or truly useful information that is not simply esoteric. Parker and the University of Chicago Press have entered into the spirit of this enterprise nicely. The book is produced handsomely in small format, and the text is interspersed with some helpful diagrams and illustrations. In addition, there is a useful glossary and notes that do not smother. We previously posted an excerpt from the book: Censorinus’s meditation on the puzzle of the chicken or the egg. . . .

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Review: Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics

April 16, 2007
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Review: Cheney and Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics

Publishers Weekly recently ran a review of the latest from authors Dorothy L. Cheney and Robert M. Seyfarth, Baboon Metaphysics: The Evolution of a Social Mind. Ever since Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking work, there have been a plethora of books studying the social lives of primates, but the PW review notes that in Baboon Metaphysics Cheney and Seyfarth’s deft combination of social drama and scientific study makes this book stand out. From PW: Lovers’ quarrels and murder, greed and social climbing: baboon society has all the features that make a mainstream novel a page-turner. The question Cheney and Seyfarth ask, however, is more demanding: how much of baboon behavior is instinctive, and how much comes from actual thought? Are baboons self-aware?… While describing important research about baboon cognition and social relations, this book charms as much as it informs. Indeed, Baboon Metaphysics delivers an unprecedented and compelling glimpse into the mind of another species. . . .

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David Henkin receives U.S. Postal Service Award

April 13, 2007
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David Henkin receives U.S. Postal Service Award

According to a recent press release from the U.S. Postal Service, David Henkin, author of The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America will receive the first ever Rita Lloyd Moroney Award for scholarship on the history of the United States postal system. The press release states the award is “designed to encourage scholarship on the history of the United States postal system and to raise awareness about the significance of the postal system in American life.” And certainly Henkin’s nuanced history of the burgeoning nineteenth-century postal network does just that. Drawing on original letters and diaries from the period, as well as public discussions of the expanding postal system, Henkin tells the story of how the postal network transformed nineteenth-century American society, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our ever-evolving world of telecommunications. We have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Jeffrey Kripal on The Religion of No Religion

April 11, 2007
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Jeffrey Kripal on The Religion of No Religion

Jeffrey Kripal has an interesting essay in the current Chronicle of Higher Education touching on some of the topics of his new book Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion. Among other things, the essay examines the intellectual and spiritual roots of the Esalen Institute—the world-famous center for alternative and experiential education that is the focus of Kripal’s book. Kripal points out that the “secular mysticism” cultivated at the institute is a spiritual trend that can be traced deep in the history of American culture—back to nineteenth-century American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. According to Kripal, Emerson was a believer in a “democratic, individualized form of spirituality that is fundamentally open to present and future revelations, not just past ones”; a system of belief which the institute’s founders, Michael Murphy and Richard Price, also embraced in a “secular mysticism that is deeply conversant with democracy, religious pluralism, and modern science.” The fame of Esalen, however, bloomed in the the 1960s and ’70s when Esalen was made one with American popular culture, becoming more sensational than mystic: People of all ages come from all over the world to learn, heal, explore, chant, dance, drum, massage, and meditate, and many of them . . .

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Press Release: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto

April 11, 2007
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Press Release: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto

In 2005 the Boston Globe published an editorial lamenting the lack of English translations of foreign literature. "In a literary global world, one is what one reads. And in the United States, foreign fare is too scarce." The Globe, however, did single out one exemplary program—the National Endowment for the Arts translation grants—and one of its recipients—Patrick Barron, who used his grant money to translate contemporary Italian poet Andrea Zanzotto—as indication that translation is alive and well. Now, all of Barron’s translations of this inestimable modern master are available in The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto: A Bilingual Edition. Read the press release. . . .

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Review: Pattillo, Black on the Block

April 10, 2007
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Review: Pattillo, Black on the Block

The March 31 Boston Globe featured an article reviewing several new books about urban gentrification and its complex impact on the politics of race and class in contemporary urban America. These works together create, in the words of reviewer Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, “a more nuanced picture of gentrification.” Venkatesh praises Mary Pattillo, author of Black on the Block: The Politics of Race and Class in the City, for her detailed examination of this issue through her first-hand account of conflict, cooperation, and community building in Chicago’s North Kenwood-Oakland (NKO) neighborhood—a rapidly changing African American community on Chicago’s South Side. From the review: Pattillo eschews most norms of social scientific objectivity by taking up residence in NKO. She is a homeowner and secretary of a local neighborhood association with great influence over local development—not to mention a Northwestern University professor. … Pattillo acknowledges her complicated role, as both interested party and analyst. But through her experience we see how complicated life can be for the black middle class. In her neighborhood, Pattillo and other newly-arriving homeowners, many of whom find themselves sandwiched between empty lots and dilapidated, low-income housing projects, are caught between two motivations: the wish to live in an . . .

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Press Release: McLaren, Impotence

April 10, 2007
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Press Release: McLaren, Impotence

Early humans lived in the Stone Age. We, it seems, are stuck in the Viagra Age. Turn on the television at any hour and you’re likely to be invited to join in a very frank conversation about impotence, as celebrities from Rush Limbaugh and Bob Dole to Jay Leno and Mike Ditka have for a decade been leading America in an orgy of public confessions, pharmaceutical testimonials, and late-night jokes. But as Angus McLaren shows us in Impotence: A Cultural History, the first history of the subject, the failure of men to rise to the occasion has been an irresistible topic since the dawn of humanity. Read the press release. Updated May 1: We now have an online feature drawn from the book: “Two Millennia of Impotence Cures.” Enjoy! . . .

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CMOS Survey Prize Winners!

April 9, 2007
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CMOS Survey Prize Winners!

After months of anticipation the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived—the winners of the raffle hosted by The Chicago Manual of Style Online were announced today at approximately 3:00 pm Central Time in the boardroom of the University of Chicago Press. Not one but two lucky individuals were chosen at random from a pool of respondents to the recent CMOS Online survey. The winners receive up to one hundred dollars worth of free books from the Press, that’s right, one hundred dollars worth of FREE BOOKS. Choosing the winning tickets was none other than Director of the Books Division of the Press, Mr. Bob Lynch. In his press release, Mr. Lynch stated that he was pleased to present the awards on behalf of the CMOS staff and thanked the lucky winners for their time spent helping to improve the CMOS Online user experience. Congratulations! . . .

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Press Release: Patillo, Black on the Block

April 9, 2007
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Press Release: Patillo, Black on the Block

Mary Pattillo is a Newsweek Woman of the 21st Century because of her critically acclaimed last book, Black Picket Fences, which changed forever the way many of us think about the black middleclass in America today. In Black on the Block, Pattillo returns to the South Side of Chicago to explore how class conflicts within the black community are dramatically changing the shape and terms of racial solidarity. Her focus is the work that more affluent members of the black community are doing to lift historically impoverished and dilapidated neighborhoods out of abject poverty—and the tensions that arise between poorer and middleclass blacks when they do so. Black on the Block explores the often heated battles between haves and have-nots, home owners and apartment dwellers, and newcomers and old timers as they clash over the political implications of gentrification and reaching out to white economic power bases. Read the press release. We also have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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