Monthly Archives: June 2010

Serf City, U. S. A

June 22, 2010
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Serf City, U. S. A

We’ve entered week two of the summer of Hayek, and though The Road to Serfdom has descended a few spots on the Amazon sales charts (we’re still outselling Stephenie Meyer’s vampires and the Twitter-to-book musings of a grumpy father), interest in the most unexpected beach read of 2010 continues apace. Last week, Newsweek weighed in on the phenomenon, noting Glenn Beck’s role in the sales spike: “To state that Beck holds an extraordinary amount of sway with his millions of viewers is, by now, roughly equivalent to suggesting that BP slightly underestimated how much oil spilled into the gulf.” Then chief business commentator John Gapper of the Financial Times wrote about the surprise best seller on his blog, pointing out that Beck has “become publishers’ new best friend.” Locally, the Chicago Tribune observed on its Printers Row book blog that, before Beck, Hayek had another supporter to thank for his perennial popularity: Milton Friedman. And finally, late last week, the gray lady chimed in. Writing in Inside the List column in the New York Times Book Review, Jennifer Schuessler explains that Hayek was doing well even before Beck took up his cause: “A perennial seller for the University of Chicago . . .

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Ronnie Lee Gardner had no last words, but others who faced the firing squad did

June 18, 2010
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Ronnie Lee Gardner had no last words, but others who faced the firing squad did

“No, I do not.” Those were the last words of Ronnie Lee Gardner, the Utah man who was executed by firing squad at 12:20 a.m. today, in response to the question, “Do you have any last words?” Gardner may not have had anything to say before being put to death, but for many, these final statements are a last opportunity to declare innocence, cheer for a favorite sports team, or beg forgiveness. Last Words of the Executed collects the final utterances of men and women who paid the ultimate price for their crimes. An oral history of American capital punishment, the book is a riveting, moving testament from the darkest corners of society. Here is a selection of the last words of those executed by firing squad: “I give you my word. I intend to die like a man, looking my executioners right in the eye. Oh my God! oh my God! They have missed.”—Wallace Wilkerson. Executed May 16, 1879, Utah. He died from his wounds shortly thereafter. “So long, fellows.”—Frank Rose. Executed April 22, 1904, Utah. “When I was a kid raising hell everyone told me I’d end up . . .

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Mr. Hayek’s ideas are striking a chord

June 17, 2010
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Mr. Hayek’s ideas are striking a chord

Ever since conservative pundit Glenn Beck discussed the book on his show last week, F.A. Hayek’s classic treatise on free-market economics The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents—The Definitive Edition has seen an explosion in sales, topping Amazon.com’s bestseller list and receiving all sorts of commentary from other journalists, bloggers, and reviewers amazed at the resurgence in demand for a title published nearly seventy years ago. Now that the buzz has died down somewhat (Beck’s own book The Overton Window recently replaced Hayek’s book at the top of Amazon’s bestsellers) the Wall Street Journal blog Real Time Economics ran a story today that offers a interesting analysis of the phenomenon, and the current political climate that is driving such over-the-top sales of Hayek’s book. Read it online at the Real Time Economics blog. Also read this excerpt detailing the book’s publication history or check out economist Russell Robert’s Hayek vs. Keynes rap. . . .

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The Road to Extinction

June 17, 2010
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The Road to Extinction

A proposal from the government of Tanzania to lay a road through the Serengeti National Park—and through the lands used during the annual wildebeest migration—could, in the words of Olivia Judson, “destroy the Serengeti as we know it.” Writing for the Opinionator blog of the New York Times yesterday, Judson laid out the case that the proposed thoroughfare would be devastating to wildlife, and the reverberations of the project could affect everything from plant life to tourism. In her notes, Judson directs curious readers to the work of A. R. E. Sinclair, an expert on the region and the author of three books published by the University of Chicago Press. The most recent, Serengeti III: Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics presents a timely and provocative look at the conservation status of one of earth’s most renowned ecosystems. (The previous two volumes—Serengeti: Dynamics of an Ecosystem and Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management, and Conservation of an Ecosystem are part of Sinclair’s long-term integrated research project to documents changes to this unique ecosystem every ten years.) Bringing together researchers from a wide range of disciplines—ecologists, paleontologists, economists, social scientists, mathematicians, and disease specialists—Serengeti III focuses on the interactions between the natural system and . . .

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Lee Clarke on the Disaster Response—or Lack Thereof—in the Gulf

June 16, 2010
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Lee Clarke on the Disaster Response—or Lack Thereof—in the Gulf

As the oil continues to gush into the waters off the southern US, we called on sociologist Lee Clarke to comment on the disaster response, or lack there of. Clarke’s penned two books for the Press on the subject of catastrophes; the first, Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster, considers the limits of organizational control in the face of disaster while the second, Worst Cases: Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination, looks into how we think about the unthinkable. Here’s what he had to say about the oil spill, and how the predictions in his book are, sadly, coming true. “In the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, people ask me if I’m going to write a book about it. I say I’ve already written two. The planning (really, the lack of planning) and the kinds of promises by BP and various government agents were the subjects of my 1999 book Mission Improbable. The failure to imagine the worst, and the offloading of the consequences of such failure, were the subjects of Worst Cases. My editor, Doug Mitchell, has said these books are ‘evergreen,’ by which he means that, sadly, events such as . . .

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A rare voice in American writing

June 16, 2010
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A rare voice in American writing

Last Sunday’s Washington Post contains a rather interesting review of Martin Preib’s new book, The Wagon and Other Stories from the City. As the Post‘s Jonathan Yardley notes, in the The Wagon Preib has drawn on his blue-collar working class experiences in the city of Chicago—from bouncer, to union reformer, to doorman, to his current job as a Chicago police officer—to produce a unique collection of gritty, insightful, authentic, and captivating tales. As the Post‘s Jonathan Yardley writes: Preib’s is a voice that has almost never been heard in American writing: not merely the voice of an ordinary policeman, which is rare enough, but the voice of someone whose working life has been spent in the service industry, “the place for muddled worldviews, unclear ambitions, blunted desires, and other people who just never got it, or thought they had it but didn’t: the divorced, alcoholics, the new age philosophers, dopers, the indolent, the criminal.” That’s a stern view of the life in which Preib spent two decades—longer, if one considers the police force as part of the “service industry”—but it is tempered by a deep sympathy for the ways in which these invisible, or at best semi-visible, people are exploited . . .

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Massimo Pigliucci goes to war against public ignorance

June 15, 2010
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Massimo Pigliucci goes to war against public ignorance

Massimo Pigliucci, author of Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk was recently invited to write for the Washington Post‘s Political Bookworm blog. The blog’s regular author Steven Livingston introduces Pigliucci’s article: analyzes how the belief in bunk science occurs, looking into how scientists work and spread their knowledge and how the culture absorbs it. Here, Pigliucci, a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, turns his sights on a related issue: the way ideology worms its way into public education and elbows aside serious scholarship. His case in point: Texas. Continue reading online at the Washington Post‘s Political Bookworm blog. . . .

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An unlikely bestseller

June 14, 2010
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An unlikely bestseller

For six days and counting, an unlikely book has sat atop the Amazon bestseller list, beating out Swedish crime thrillers and novels featuring sparkly vampires. Who could top Stieg Larsson and Stephenie Meyer? None other than F. A. Hayek, Austrian economist and free-market enthusiast. And for a guy that’s been dead nearly two decades (and for a book that’s celebrating its 66th birthday this year), it’s a pretty remarkable feat. Thanks for Hayek’s resurgence goes to Glenn Beck, the conservative Fox News personality who devoted his June 8 show to Hayek’s book The Road to Serfdom. Overnight, the sales ranking on Amazon crept ever upward until it reached the top spot early on Wednesday, where it’s stayed ever since. Many blogs have commented on the surprise best seller. Last week Publisher’s Weekly ran a story about the book’s success, and The Chronicle of Higher Education followed up with an interview with the volume’s editor, Bruce Caldwell. Over the weekend, USA Today and the Guardian both mentioned The Road to Serfdom in profiles of Beck. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out the book’s product page, and read an excerpt detailing the book’s publication history. Also revisit . . .

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Printers Row Lit Fest on BookTV

June 14, 2010
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Printers Row Lit Fest on BookTV

Despite the wind, rain, thunder, lightening, heat, and cold, those working our booth at this year’s 2010 Printers Row Lit Fest deemed it a success! But of course, with hundreds of authors and publishers participating in Chicago’s premier literary event, it would be hard for it not to be. CSPAN was there to cover the event, taping a number of author interviews and panel discussions for its weekend Book TV programming. Check out the links below to watch their coverage of some of our favorite Chicago authors. Watch historian Adrian Johns respond to telephone calls and electronic communications about his recent book Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. In Piracy Johns explores the history of copyright disputes stretching as far back as the advent of the printing press, to offer some much needed insights on the high profile debates of today. Watch Robert Elder, author of Last Words of the Executed in conversation with Adam Cohen. Last Words of the Executed offers an oral history of American capital punishment in the form of a compilation of the last statements of condemned prisoners—from women accused of witchcraft in eighteenth century, to some of the twentieth’s most infamous serial . . .

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Newcity Lit 50

June 11, 2010
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Newcity Lit 50

Newcity has just released it’s annual list of movers and shakers in the Chicago literary scene, the “Newcity Lit 50.” We were pleased to note four of our authors and one of our book designers have made the list. Topping the Newcity list is none other than Roger Ebert who has published several books with the Press: Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert, Scorsese by Ebert, and forthcoming in October of this year, Great Movies III—Ebert’s third collection of essays on the crème de la crème of the silver screen. Chicago author Stuart Dybek also made the top ten. Born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago Dybek is the author of several works of fiction and poetry inspired by his life in the Windy City. Some of his works include I Sailed with Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, Brass Knuckles, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, the last of which was acquired by the press in 2003. Another of our authors whose work is propelled by his trenchant observations of day to day life in the city of Chicago, poet Reginald Gibbons also made Newcity‘s list. In his latest book from the Press, Slow Trains Overhead: . . .

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