Blog Archives

Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

February 10, 2006
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Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

Two of our authors will be speaking at a Yale Law Journal symposium “The Most Dangerous Branch? Mayors, Governors, Presidents and the Rule of Law” on March 24 and 25, 2006. Cass Sunstein, whose most recent Chicago book was Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide, and John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, will participate in the symposium. John Yoo’s writings—in The Powers of War and Peace and in memos he authored while at the Office of Legal Counsel—have been the focus of recent discussions about presidential power in times of war and crisis. Yoo discusses these issues in an interview. More information about the symposium. . . .

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Only an idiot laughs at everything

February 6, 2006
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Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, has an op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant on the protests in the Muslim world over cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper. “It’s easy to see that the protesters fail to appreciate how a free press operates,” says Lewis. The question however is not whether newspapers have a right to publish such satire, “but whether papers should have chosen to print these cartoons.” Lewis has thought a great deal about the place of humor in contentious times, as will be evident in his book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, which we will publish later this year. . . .

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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

February 3, 2006
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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

William Grimes reviews a half-dozen books about France in today’s New York Times, including Michèle de La Pradelle’s Market Day in Provence. “Ms. de La Pradelle,” says Grimes, “an ethnologist who was sent by the French government to analyze public markets, spent years scrutinizing the goods and the behavior and the underlying rules governing the market in Carpentras. Her findings amount to a cold shower for anyone, like myself, who has constructed a rich fantasy life around such places. All those farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, those delectable cheeses, those mouth-watering pâtés, come from the same wholesalers who supply the stores. The region switched over to large-scale industrial farming way back in the 1920’s. ‘A market is a collectively produced anachronism, and in this it responds to deeply contemporary logic,’ she says.” The point is well made in our excerpt from the book. . . .

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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

February 1, 2006
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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years of exile. The Shah had fled Iran about two weeks earlier and Khomeini was acclaimed the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Later that year revolutionary students would storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the staff hostage, to profound consequence. One observer of the Iranian Revolution was Michel Foucault, who was a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur, for whom he wrote a series of articles. In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson illuminate Foucault’s support of the Islamist movement. and show how Foucault’s experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought. Read one of Foucault’s essays, “What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?” . . .

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Three years after the Columbia accident

February 1, 2006
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Three years after the Columbia accident

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), many of whose books were published by Chicago, wrote two poems about the space shuttle. “On An Occasion of National Mourning” was written after the Challenger accident. “Witnessing the Launch of the Shuttle Atlantis” was written for NASA, during the time that Nemerov was poet laureate of the United States. . . .

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The State of the Sovereign

January 31, 2006
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The State of the Sovereign

These days, the state of the sovereign is strong. But issues such as warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency have now prompted a debate over how much power the executive should have in times of war and crisis. Two recently published books offer some philosophical perspectives on the powers of the sovereign. The first is Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception; see an excerpt, “A Brief History of the State of Exception.” The second book is our just-released reprint of Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.. . . .

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“Much of what we think we know about sprawl is wrong”

January 30, 2006
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“Much of what we think we know about sprawl is wrong”

The Guardian featured an essay by Robert Bruegmann in their Saturday edition. “Just as Britain led the world in producing sprawl, so it also has led the world in trying to combat it,” writes Bruegmann. Sprawl has been a feature of London (and cities in general) for centuries, Bruegmann argues, and the conventional wisdom about the pernicious effects of sprawl is often wrong. See also our excerpt from the book. Bruegmann was also interviewed today in U.S. News and World Report. . . .

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One of the most important books of our time?

January 27, 2006
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One of the most important books of our time?

Why would anyone say this fifty-year-old book is “one of the most important books of our time,” as a customer recently described it on Amazon? They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer has been bubbling through the online zeitgeist for a little while now—most recently it was passed around the social bookmarking sites del.icio.us, reddit, and stumbleupon. Ten years after World War II, Mayer went to Germany and spent a year interviewing ordinary Germans to try to understand how they came to accept—even embrace—fascism. Is there any similarity to our current situation, as liberals and libertarians like to claim by citing Mayer’s book? Decide for yourself. Start with an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

January 25, 2006
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Review: Carlo Rotella, Cut Time

The sports section of the Daily Telegraph featured a review of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, Carlo Rotella’s acclaimed book on boxing. From the review by Andrew Baker: “Rotella’s guiding philosophy is honesty, both with the fighters he encounters and with his own reactions to what he sees. And, unusually among American academics, he practises a beautifully pared-down prose style, with little pretention and none of the hyperbole that afflicts so many boxing writers. He may lack the wit of A J Liebling, say, but his insight more than makes up for it.” You can judge Rotella’s prose style and wit in this excerpt. . . .

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Twenty years after the Challenger

January 24, 2006
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Twenty years after the Challenger

A piece by John Noble Wilford in the New York Times is occasioned by the anniversaries of the destruction of the space shuttles Challenger (twenty years ago on January 28, 1986) and Columbia (three years ago on February 1, 2003) and the fire that killed three Apollo astronauts (thirty-nine years ago on January 27, 1967). Ten years ago we published The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA by Diane Vaughan which put forth the view—now widely accepted—that the Challenger accident was not the result of bad engineeering but of a management culture that normalized deviance: that flew missions even when presented with evidence of serious problems. The Columbia accident showed how difficult it is to change the patterns of organizational life. Another author brought a different sensibility to the shuttle; you can read Howard Nemerov’s two poems on the space shuttle. . . .

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