Michael P. Jeffries, whose forthcoming Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop offers one of the most insightful examinations of contemporary hip-hop music by an academic in years, has an article on the website of The Atlantic that gives readers a chance to preview the kind of trenchant critique of the hip-hop hegemon he serves up in his new book. Jeffries’ article begins with a quote from rapper Drake on the pressures of the music industry:
What if I don’t really do the numbers they predict?
Considering the fact that I’m the one that they just picked
To write a chapter in history, the shit has got me sick.
—Drake, “9AM in Dallas”
I’m sick too. Sick of the paint-by-numbers pop-formula used to construct Drake’s debut album, despite the success of his more adventurous mixtapes. Sick of major record labels’ self-fulfilling prophecies about which artists and images are marketable. But more than any of this, I’m sick of the notion that hip-hop needs saviors like Drake.
Continue reading at The Atlantic or find out more about Jeffries’ book due out December 2010.
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On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantee to bear arms trumps state and local gun control laws, rendering a Chicago hand gun ban unenforceable. This isn’t the first time the high court has ruled this way; just two years ago, it struck down a similar ban on hand guns in Washington, D. C.
The ruling—considered, as the New York Times puts it, an “enormous symbolic victory for supporters of gun rights”—will set of heated debate over gun control, the right to bear arms, and public safety—and one book will be essential to understanding the ramifications of the decision: John R. Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime.
The definitive study of the relationship between gun ownership and crime, More Guns, Less Crime relies on a wealth of data to demonstrate that, contrary to conventional wisdom, when citizens are free to carry guns, crime rates invariably fall. An updated third edition—which features an additional ten years of data, with specific attention paid to the Chicago and Washington DC gun bans and the effect of the end of the assault weapons ban and “stand your ground” laws—was published last month. The revisions bring the book fully up to date—and . . .
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The saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. And that’s good advice, except when jurying a publishing design prize. So we’ll forgive AIGA, the professional association for design, and its annual list of the best book covers and designs. And, since it recognized the work of our outstanding designers at the Press, we’ll even celebrate it.
Narrowed from more than 800 entries, the “AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers” is the definite list of the best book and book cover design produced in 2009. The University of Chicago Press is honored to have two of its books recognized this year. Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals and Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates, both designed by Isaac Tobin (who’s been racking up accolades recently), were named to the prestigious list.
Congratulations to Isaac and many thanks to AIGA for this honor!
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Stuart Brent, who for fifty years personified independent bookselling in Chicago, died Thursday at the age of 98. He attended the University of Chicago where he earned a degree in education before service in the Army in World War II. After the war he opened a small bookshop on Rush Street that he called the Seven Stairs, for the number of steps it took to descend to its door.
A few years later he moved to a larger space at 670 North Michigan Avenue which became the Chicago readers’ destination Stuart Brent Books. The ground floor was stocked with a well-crafted selection of literary fiction, art books, and essential non-fiction, with a tilt toward titles in psychology and psychoanalysis. The lower level was devoted to children’s books.
He was a bookseller of the most independent sort: well-read, opinionated, and willing (or more) to shape his customers’ reading habits. Over the course of his fifty years in the business, bookselling became ever more concentrated in the mall stores, superstores, and virtual stores of billion dollar corporations. The books stocked in Stuart Brent Books were chosen by a personality, not an algorithm.
Brent was also an author: of Seven Stairs, a memoir . . .
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Fred Anderson, a pillar of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz scene, and a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—an internationally renowned collective of musicians and composers dedicated to nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music—passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Many also remember him as the proprietor of the Velvet Lounge, one of Chicago’s premier venues for the music he helped to flourish in a city some might suppose rather unlikely to embrace the type of free creative expression he helped to promote. You can read an obituary article in this morning’s BBC News or in the L.A. Times music blog.
George E. Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music tells the story of how Mr. Anderson, alongside other luminaries of the avant garde genre—Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell—established a vibrant community of musicians from around the world that would become one of the most influential organizations in contemporary jazz music. Moving from Chicago to New York to Paris, and from founding member Steve McCall’s kitchen table to Carnegie Hall, A Power Stronger Than Itself uncovers a vibrant, multicultural universe and brings to light a major piece . . .
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It is being reported that President Obama has dismissed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and named Gen. David H. Petraeus—McChrystal’s boss—as the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal was dismissed for insubordinate remarks he made in a recent Rolling Stone story.
The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations hold that “Many important decisions are not made by generals.” But sometimes they are, and deciding to give an interview to Rolling Stone has turned out to be a fateful decision.
The Paradoxes further hold that “Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction.” But as President Obama has found, sometimes doing nothing is just not an option. However the president might also want to consider that “Sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is.”
General Petraeus steps into an increasingly difficult situation in Afghanistan. He was the prime mover behind the change in battlefield strategy in Iraq, as well as The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, which we reprinted in book form in 2007. The general will want to keep a copy close at hand.
Counterinsurgency expert Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl contributed a foreword to our edition in which discusses Petraeus’ role in formulating counterinsurgency strategy both on . . .
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According to a Reuters article picked up in this morning’s edition of the Guardian, Edith Shain, the nurse who was photographed being kissed by a sailor in Times Square on August 14, 1945, has died at age 91. Yet her VJ Day picture, taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine will no doubt live on as an icon of public culture. Widely recognized, historically significant, and emotionally resonant, such images are never out of the spotlight, appropriated and reappropriated by governments, commercial advertisers, journalists, grassroots advocates, bloggers, and artists, as a means of persuasion and critical reflection. But what makes them so powerful? How do they remain meaningful across generations? What do they expose—and what goes unsaid?
In No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites provide the definitive study of the iconic photograph as a dynamic form of public art. Their critical analyses of nine individual icons explore the photographs themselves and their subsequent circulation through an astonishing array of media, including stamps, posters, billboards, editorial cartoons, TV shows, Web pages, tattoos, and more. Arguing against the conventional belief that visual images short-circuit rational deliberation and radical critique, Hariman and Lucaites . . .
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Congratulations to Alanna Mitchell, whose book Seasick: Ocean Change and the Extinction of Life on Earth won the 2010 Grantham Prize for Excellence in Environmental Reporting. Awarded by the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, the prize honors outstanding coverage of the environment and recognizes reporting that has the potential to bring about constructive change. Seasick is first the book to be named a Grantham Prize winner. Mitchell will receive $75,000.
Seasick is an engaging work that clearly and eloquently explains the specific dangers facing global marine ecosystems,” said Dr. Sunshine Menezes of the Metcalf Institute. “Reading Alanna Mitchell convinces you that the ocean is at least as important as the atmosphere when we worry about climate change,” added Phillip Meyer, chairman of the Grantham Prize Jury. Editorial Director of the Sciences at the University of Chicago Press Christie Henry said, “Alanna Mitchell possesses exceptional empathy for and understanding of the natural world, inclusive of our role within in. We’re thrilled that she’s being recognized by this prestigious award. In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, the ocean and its health are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Seasick could not be more timely.”
The first book to . . .
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