Monthly Archives: November 2008

Insights for Election Day

November 4, 2008
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Insights for Election Day

At long, long last, election day is here! After you vote (using a ballot that Marcia Lausen’s Design for Democracy team helped design, if you’re in Oregon or here in Chicago), catch up on the latest election commentary from our tireless authors. • Daron Shaw, author of The Race to 270, recently talked to the BBC about the “battle for the working class male.” • John Geer, author of the widely discussed In Defense of Negativity, explains John McCain’s indefatigability in today’s Arizona Republic. “McCain is not going to give up, and he’s going to go to the bitter end, even though the odds are he’s going to lose,” Geer told the Republic. • In today’s Chicago Tribune, Lawrence Jacobs, coauthor of The Private Abuse of the Public Interest, discusses the “reawakening” of American politics. “Not long ago we were bemoaning the withdrawal and cynicism of American voters,” Jacobs said. “This election is showing a consistently intense electorate. People have been following this at a fever pitch for months and months.” • Nonetheless, it seems safe to assume that Presidents Creating the Presidency coauthor Kathleen Hall Jamieson has been following the race even more closely than most Americans, if her . . .

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Press Release: Jin, The Writer as Migrant

November 4, 2008
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Press Release: Jin, The Writer as Migrant

From a youth spent as a manual laborer in China’s Cultural Revolution to winning the National Book Award for his novel Waiting, Ha Jin has taken a remarkable journey across eras and continents, one that has left him one of the most admired figures in world literature. Now, in his first work of nonfiction, he reflects on the very circumstance of being a writer in a new land, a representative, willingly or not, of a place one has left—but can never truly leave behind. In The Writer as Migrant, Ha Jin explores his own life and work alongside those of writers throughout literary history who have found themselves, exiles or immigrants, struggling to find their way in a new place and a new culture. Writing in a clear, almost conversational style, he considers the works of writers from Joseph Conrad to W.G. Sebald, Vladimir Nabokov to V. S. Naipaul, exploring questions of language, politics, duty, and the very concept of home. Some of those writers have served as models for Ha Jin, while others have remained enigmas—or even antagonists—but all have been crucial to his understanding of the complicated place of a migrant writer. A slim but powerful reflection, The . . .

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Press Release: Graebner, Patty’s Got a Gun

November 4, 2008
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Press Release: Graebner, Patty’s Got a Gun

It was an unforgettably bizarre image: a beret-clad Patty Hearst, looking for all the world like a brainwashed zombie, toting a submachine gun as she and her erstwhile kidnappers from the Symbionese Liberation Army robbed a San Francisco bank in broad daylight. In that moment, Patty Hearst became one of the indelible symbols of 1970s America—an era suffused with confusion, anomie, and a vague sense of dissolution and decline, the heady promise of the 1960s already seeming impossibly distant. With Patty’s Got a Gun, William Graebner offers the first full reconsideration of the Patty Hearst story in decades. Setting the abduction, robbery, and the sensational criminal trial that followed fully in the context of the era, he offers us a Patty Hearst who more than anything served as a mirror to her times. Politicians, pundits and reporters saw in Hearst the embodiment (and often the justification) of their own take on the problems of American culture, from feminism to individualism to plain old lax parenting—and the conclusions they drew directly fueled the burgeoning Reaganite retrenchment. Steeped in the culture of the 1970s, Patty’s Got a Gun grippingly recreates the media circus around the Hearst trial—and the single, affectless individual at . . .

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The Erika and Klaus Mann Story

November 4, 2008
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The Erika and Klaus Mann Story

The November 6 edition of the London Review of Books contains a fascinating article about the legacy of renowned writer Thomas Mann—but, perhaps surprisingly, it’s not about his novels—it’s about his two eldest children, Erika and Klaus Mann. In his article Colm Tóibín draws upon Andrea Weiss’s recent biography In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story to describe the unconventional and dramatic lives of the Mann siblings, both of whom were talented artists in their own right, and whose unique experiences offer an abundance of captivating new insights on the history of the twentieth century. Read the full article on the London Review of Books website. Or, read this excerpt from In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story. . . .

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Press Release: Lopez, Buddhism and Science

November 3, 2008
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Press Release: Lopez, Buddhism and Science

Could the Buddha possibly have understood the theory of relativity, centuries before Einstein explained it? What about quantum physics? The Big Bang? If you read enough popular writing on Buddhism and science, you’d certainly be forgiven for thinking so. While Christianity and science have traditionally been viewed as opposing forces, Buddhism and science have been inextricably linked in Western culture for well over a century. With Buddhism and Science, Donald S. Lopez Jr., an expert on the history of Buddhism, offers a fresh look at the question of why the religion has long been viewed as so compatible with—and adaptable to—new scientific discoveries. From the Buddhist conception of the design of the universe to the Dalai Lama’s vocal support of scientific inquiry, Lopez reveals a tradition that has deftly managed to sidestep debates on science and religion. As new discoveries continue to reshape our understanding of mind and matter, Buddhism and Science will be indispensable reading for those fascinated by religion, science, and their often vexed relation. Read the press release. . . .

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