Monthly Archives: April 2009

Bernard Harcourt wins the Laing Prize

April 16, 2009
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Bernard Harcourt wins the Laing Prize

Since 1963, the Press has awarded the annual Gordon J. Laing Prize to the Chicago faculty author, editor, or translator whose book has brought the greatest distinction to the Press’s list. This year, at a ceremony held earlier this month, the prize honored Bernard Harcourt, the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Professor in Political Science, for his book Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing and Punishing in the Actuarial Age. Harcourt’s book challenges the growing use of actuarial methods—from random security checks at airports to the use of risk assessment in sentencing—to determine whom law enforcement officials target and punish. The widely perceived success of these methods, he argues, has begun to distort our very conception of just punishment and to obscure alternate visions of social order. You can listen to Harcourt discuss his arguments in greater detail during this podcast of a talk he gave for the Chicago’s Best Ideas series at the University of Chicago Law School. As the new Chicago Chronicle notes today, Harcourt said of the prize itself that it was “extremely rewarding—and also very humbling—to receive this recognition from the community of scholars who I admire the most. A community that values ideas so intensely and . . .

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Press Release: Schultz, No One Was Killed

April 16, 2009
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Press Release: Schultz, No One Was Killed

While other writers contemplated the events of the 1968 Chicago riots from the safety of their hotel rooms, John Schultz was in the city streets, being threatened by police, choking on tear gas, and taking in all the rage, fear, and confusion around him. The result, No One Was Killed, is his account of the contradictions and chaos of convention week—the adrenaline, the sense of drama and history, and how the mainstream press was getting it all wrong. “A more valuable factual record of events than the city’s white paper, the Walker Report, and Theodore B. White’s Making of a President combined.” —Book Week “High on my short list of true, lasting, inspired evocations of those whacked-out days when the country was fighting a phantasmagorical war (with real corpses), and police under orders were beating up demonstrators who looked at them funny.” —Todd Gitlin, from the foreword Read the press release or read an excerpt. . . .

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Press Release: Schultz, The Chicago Conspiracy Trial

April 16, 2009
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Press Release: Schultz, The Chicago Conspiracy Trial

In 1969, the Chicago Seven were charged with intent to “incite, organize, promote, and encourage” antiwar riots during the Democratic National Convention. The Chicago Conspiracy Trial is an electrifying account of the months-long trial that commanded the attention of a divided nation. John Schultz, on assignment for the Evergreen Review, witnessed the whole trial, from the jury selection to the aftermath of the verdict. His vivid account exposes the raw emotions and judicial corruption that came to define one of the most significant legal events in American history. “A beautiful, compelling, tear-jerking, mind-boggling book.” —William Burroughs “A probe into the American conscience.” —David Graber, Los Angeles Times Read the press release or read an excerpt. . . .

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CCSR’s John Q. Easton tapped for Obama administration

April 15, 2009
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CCSR’s John Q. Easton tapped for Obama administration

The White House recently announced that John Q. Easton, the executive director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, will be nominated by President Barack Obama to a six-year term as Director of the Institute of Education Sciences. From the CCSR’s press release: The Institute of Education Sciences is the nation’s engine for educational research, evaluation, assessment and statistics — instrumental to scholars, education policy makers and practitioners. As Director of IES, Easton will oversee four major national centers, a staff of about 200 and partnerships with institutions nationwide. The Institute funds hundreds of research studies on ways to improve academic achievement, conducts large-scale evaluations of federal education programs and reports a wide array of statistics on the condition of education, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Throughout his career, Easton has directed rigorous projects aimed at providing the best evidence about what it takes to spark meaningful policy debate and sustained change in urban schools. And this fall, some of that evidence will be published in Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, authored by Easton and his colleagues at CCSR. A groundbreaking study that analyzes a cross section of elementary schools . . .

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The Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems

April 15, 2009
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The Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems

MIT linguist and long-time critic of US foreign and domestic policy Noam Chomsky made a recent appearance on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! to discuss the ongoing socialization of corporate debt in the context of US foreign policy — policy which, even under the current administration, Chomsky argues, hypocritically pushes a radical free market agenda on many foreign third-world economies. In the discussion, Chomsky points to Thomas Ferguson’s Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems to help explain how the influence of corporate interests on the American political system perpetuates this double standard between U.S. foreign and domestic economic policy. Ferguson himself was also recently featured on The Real News Network delivering an insightful critique of the bailout plan, arguing that the plan’s structure supports the interests of corporate moguls over long term global economic health. Navigate to the Real News Network website to watch the archived video, or navigate to our website to find out more about Ferguson’s book. . . .

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Press Release: Silvertown, An Orchard Invisible

April 15, 2009
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Press Release: Silvertown, An Orchard Invisible

Every year around this time, dedicated gardeners tear open packets of seeds and carefully bury them in the rich soil of their gardens, where, months later, they emerge as beautiful flowers, delectable herbs, and nutritious vegetables. All from those tiny, unimpressive seeds … With An Orchard Invisible, Jonathan Silvertown finally gives the humble seed its due. His richly anecdotal natural history begins with the first appearance of seeds—which evolved from fernlike ancestors nearly 400 million years ago—and from there spans the globe and traverses epochs all the way to the present. Deftly marrying science and culture, Silvertown explores the evolution of seeds and the wide variety of uses to which humans have put them over the centuries, from spices to perfumes, dyes to pharmaceuticals. Along the way, he delves into such unexpected topics as the Salem witch trials and Lyme disease, while never losing sight of the real story behind all the world of seeds: the constant drive of evolution, with its irrepressible habit of stumbling upon new and better solutions to the challenges of life on earth.Writing with winning charm and an eye for unforgettable details, Silvertown has crafted a book sure to delight gardeners and science buffs alike. . . .

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The Taxman Cometh

April 15, 2009
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The Taxman Cometh

It’s April 15. Do you know where your tax return is? If it’s still in your to-do pile, we recommend sharpening your pencils, preparing a stiff drink, and researching local post office branches with extended hours. If you’ve already filed, we suggest you kick back with this Tax Day reading list, stiff drink (with celebratory cocktail umbrella) optional. As Benjamin Franklin famously observed, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But if you want to get the scoop on the second most famous quote about taxes (later parodied by Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live), you should read Jan R. Van Meter’s lips. In this addenda to his book Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History, he expounds upon W’s dad’s famous 1988 pledge: George Herbert Walker Bush needed to prove he was tough, tough enough to win the presidential election against the Democrat Michael Dukakis, tough enough to continue the legacy of the outgoing president Ronald Reagan, tough enough to erase his lingering reputation as an effete aristocrat and long-time government insider. The Bush campaign staff wanted to demonstrate his toughness, his devotion to the Reagan ideals, and . . .

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Press Release: Pager, Marked

April 15, 2009
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Press Release: Pager, Marked

New in paperback!—Marked gives us our first real glimpse into the tremendous difficulties facing ex-offenders in the job market. Devah Pager matched up pairs of young men, randomly assigned them criminal records, then sent them on hundreds of real job searches throughout the city of Milwaukee. Her applicants were attractive, articulate, and capable—yet ex-offenders received less than half the callbacks of the equally qualified applicants without criminal backgrounds. Young black men, meanwhile, paid a particularly high price: those with clean records fared no better in their job searches than white men just out of prison. Such shocking barriers to legitimate work, Pager contends, are an important reason that many ex-prisoners soon find themselves back in the realm of poverty, underground employment, and crime that led them to prison in the first place. “Pager shows that ex-offenders, white or black, stand a very poor chance of getting a legitimate job.… Both informative and convincing.” —Library Journal Read the press release or read an excerpt. . . .

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“So What Are You Going to Do with That?”

April 14, 2009
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“So What Are You Going to Do with That?”

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Press Release: Uglow, Nature’s Engraver

April 14, 2009
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Press Release: Uglow, Nature’s Engraver

Thomas Bewick’s (1753-1828) History of British Birds was the first field guide for ordinary people, illustrated with woodcuts of astonishing accuracy and beauty. In Nature’s Engraver, Jenny Uglow tells the story of the farmer’s son from Tyneside who became one of Britain’s greatest and most popular engravers. It is a story of violent change, radical politics, lost ways of life, and the beauty of the wild—a journey to the beginning of our lasting obsession with the natural world. “A refined and engaging biography, as beautifully wrought, in its way, as Bewick’s woodcuts.” —New York Times “Uglow’s clear prose sparkles like Bewick’s River Tyne.” —Los Angeles Times “This is a lovely book, not just in the quality and sympathy of the writing but in the care of its design and illustration. has turned a rich but undramatic life into a vignette as full of interest and details as one of Bewick’s own woodcuts.” —Sunday Telegraph Read the press release. . . .

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