Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Human Voice of the Death Penalty

April 8, 2010
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The Human Voice of the Death Penalty

It used to be that Texas led the nation in death-row convictions, but a new report issued this week by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that L.A. County has sentenced more people to die than the entire Lone Star state. This editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times points out that, for the cash-strapped state, the cost associated with housing death-row inmates (California has not executed anyone in four years, and the prison population on death row has swelled to more than 700) is yet another reason to get rid of the death penalty. The numbers in L.A. County buck national trends: according to this report, the number of inmates sentenced to death in the United States in 2008 was the smallest since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. But, as a nation, we are still sentencing—and putting—people to death. Next month, the Press will publish Last Words of the Executed, an oral history of American capital punishment, as heard from the gallows, the chair, and the gurney. In the book, journalist Robert K. Elder lets the executed speak for themselves. Some beg for forgiveness. Others claim innocence. At least three cheer for their favorite football teams. We hear . . .

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2010 Readers Catalog now online

April 7, 2010
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2010 Readers Catalog now online

Offering hundreds of new and classic titles at up to 20% off, Chicago’s Readers Catalog is now available online in PDF format. Just click the link and download a copy to peruse our latest offerings in a variety of subject areas from art to economics, including many of our most popular titles for general readers. To purchase books at the Readers Catalog prices just enter promo code AD9376 (also located on the back cover of the catalog) when checking out via our secure online shopping cart. For more information about each book—including Google Preview, tables of contents, and author bios click on the book title in the catalog. . . .

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Rocking out with Literary Scholars

April 5, 2010
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Rocking out with Literary Scholars

Who says the classics can’t rock? Dante, meet the Doors. Homer, meet Hendrix. Two Stanford professors—and rocking University of Chicago Press authors—have set the western canon to modern music. A few years back, Robert Pogue Harrison—author of Dominion of the Dead, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, and Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition—was teaching an introduction to humanities course with Dan Edelstein—author of The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution and the forthcoming The Enlightenment:A Genealogy—and, at the end of the semester, the two scholars stunned their students by busting out electric guitars and performing the music of Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors—with new lyrics inspired by the course readings. Bolstered by the cheers (and perhaps a Zippo or two), Harrison and Edelstein, both musicians before becoming academics, decided to make the project a little more formal. They recruited a few more members and formed Glass Wave. In the process, they created their own genre: cerebral rock. The music takes well known characters from western literature and turns the narrative on its head: in the band’s songs, Lolita tells her own story, Ophelia has her say, Moby Dick contributes whale . . .

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Philip Gossett—resurrecting the masterpieces of the 19th-century Italian opera

April 5, 2010
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Philip Gossett—resurrecting the masterpieces of the 19th-century Italian opera

Though he works behind the scenes, Philip Gossett, the Robert W. Reneker Distinguished Service Professor in Music and the College at the University of Chicago, has become nearly a household name amongst aficionados of the modern opera, for decades having played an instrumental role in bringing to the stage some of the greatest masterpieces of the nineteenth century Italian repertoire. As this article from the University of Chicago News Office points out, among his many contributions to the stage, Gossett has acted as a consultant to some of the worlds most renown opera companies and superstars—including conductor Riccardo Muti, and soprano Renée Fleming—as well as taken on a role as general editor of the critical editions of the works of Verdi and Rossini—work which has attached his name to nearly every contemporary performance of 19th-century Italian opera. The piece from the U of C’s News Office, (complimented by a nice slideshow and video from the Chicago Multimedia Initiatives Group), offers an interesting look at Gossett’s career and the important role he has played in producing some of the most critically acclaimed modern operatic productions, but in his 2006 book, Divas and Scholars—Performing Italian Opera, you can find Gossett’s own first-hand . . .

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Free e-book of the month: Nice Guys Finish Last

April 2, 2010
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Free e-book of the month: Nice Guys Finish Last

The history of baseball is rife with colorful characters. But for sheer cantankerousness, fighting moxie, and will to win, very few have come close to Leo “the Lip” Durocher. Following a five-decade career as a player and manager for baseball’s most storied franchises, Durocher teamed up with veteran sportswriter Ed Linn to tell the story of his life in the game. The resulting book, Nice Guys Finish Last, is baseball at its best, and now through the end of the month, you can download it free from the University of Chicago Press website. More about the book: Durocher began his career inauspiciously, riding the bench for the powerhouse 1928 Yankees and hitting so poorly that Babe Ruth nicknamed him “the All-American Out.” But soon Durocher hit his stride: traded to St. Louis, he found his headlong play and never-say-die attitude a perfect fit with the rambunctious “Gashouse Gang” Cardinals. In 1939, he was named player-manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and almost instantly transformed the underachieving Bums into perennial contenders. He went on to manage the New York Giants, sharing the glory of one of the most famous moments in baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s “shot heard ’round the world,” which won the . . .

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Meteorologists vs. Climatologists on the Science of Global Warming

April 1, 2010
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Meteorologists vs. Climatologists on the Science of Global Warming

On Monday, the New York Times featured a fascinating article about the ideological rift between television meteorologists and climate scientists on the subject of global warming. As Leslie Kaufman reports: Climatologists, who study weather patterns over time, almost universally endorse the view that the earth is warming and that humans have contributed to climate change. There is less of a consensus among meteorologists, who predict short-term weather patterns. Jack Williams, a science journalist and former editor of the USA Today weather page, definitely thinks climate change is real. One of the most unique features of his recent book, The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather is the way it integrates discussion of threats to our environment into the larger conversation about meteorology. With its treatment of global warming, The AMS Weather Book is the most timely—and accurate—book of its kind. Check out sample pages from the book, a website containing supplementary information, and Jack Williams’s website. . . .

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Everybody Plays the Fool

April 1, 2010
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Everybody Plays the Fool

This morning, Google announced it was changing its name to Topeka (in honor of the city that changed its name to Google in March). And did you fall for it? Check your calendar: it’s April 1st. Pranks and tomfoolery will abound today, but our books on fools aren’t kidding around. No joke, here’s a reading list designed especially for today. Beatrice K. Otto Fools Are Everywhere: The Court Jester around the World The jester crops up everywhere, from the courts of ancient China and the Mogul emperors of India to those of medieval Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. In Fools Are Everywhere, Beatrice K. Otto takes us on a journey around the world in search of one of these colorful, witty, quirky characters. Though most of the work on the court jester has concentrated on Europe, Otto draws on previously untranslated classical Chinese writings and other sources to correct this bias and also looks at jesters in literature, mythology, and drama. With a wealth of anecdotes, jokes, quotations, epigraphs, and illustrations (including flip art), Otto brings to light little-known jesters, highlighting their humanizing influence on people with power and position and placing otherwise remote historical figures in . . .

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