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Free e-book for August from the University of Chicago Press!

August 2, 2010
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Free e-book for August from the University of Chicago Press!

For much of the twentieth century, Americans had a love/hate relationship with France. While many admired its beauty, culture, refinement, and famed joie de vivre, others thought of it as a dilapidated country populated by foul-smelling, mean-spirited anti-Americans driven by a keen desire to part tourists from their money. We’ll Always Have Paris explores how both images came to flourish in the United States, often in the minds of the same people—and for the month of August only, you can download it free from the University of Chicago Press website. Read an excerpt. Check back each month for more free e-books from the University of Chicago Press or for all our currently available e-books, see our complete list of e-books by subject. E-books from the University of Chicago Press are offered in Adobe Digital Editions format for Mac, PC, and a number of mobile devices such as the Sony Reader, IREX, BeBook, and more. Check out these links to find out more about Adobe Digital Editions or more about e-books from the University of Chicago Press. . . .

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An evenhanded guide through our global energy landcape

July 29, 2010
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An evenhanded guide through our global energy landcape

With all the media attention to the environmental and human catastrophe, both actual and predicted, surrounding our dependence on oil and other non-renewable sources of energy, it can be easy to take a rather pessimistic view of our global energy landscape. As a recent story on NPR’s Marketplace asks, will we ever be able to rid ourselves of our addiction to oil? Perhaps not, at least in the near future, but in his new book The Powers That Be: Global Energy for the Twenty-first Century and Beyond, consulting geologist and independent scholar Scott L. Montgomery offers readers a rare glimmer of hope—arguing that quitting cold turkey isn’t a necessary—or realistic—step towards securing our energy future anyway. What is crucial, Montgomery explains, is focusing on developing a more diverse, adaptable energy future, one that draws on a variety of sources—and is thus less vulnerable to disruption or failure. An admirably evenhanded and always realistic guide, Montgomery enables readers to understand the implications of energy funding, research, and politics at a global scale. At the same time, he doesn’t neglect the ultimate connection between those decisions and the average citizen flipping a light switch or sliding behind the wheel of a car, . . .

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Robert K. Elder’s Last Words of the Executed on WGN

July 27, 2010
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Robert K. Elder’s Last Words of the Executed on WGN

Robert K. Elder author of Last Words of the Executed discussed his book earlier this morning on WGN’s noontime news program. Check out the archived video below. The product of seven years of extensive research by journalist Robert K. Elder, Last Words of the Executed presents an oral history of American capital punishment, as heard from the gallows, the chair, and the gurney. The book explores the cultural value of these final statements and asks what we can learn from them. We hear from both the famous—such as Nathan Hale, Joe Hill, Ted Bundy, and John Brown—and the forgotten, and their words give us unprecedented glimpses into their lives, their crimes, and the world they inhabited. Organized by era and method of execution, these final statements range from heartfelt to horrific. Some are calls for peace or cries against injustice; others are accepting, confessional, or consoling; still others are venomous, rage-fueled diatribes. Even the chills evoked by some of these last words are brought on in part by the shared humanity we can’t ignore, their reminder that we all come to the same end, regardless of how we arrive there. Read excerpts from the book. . . .

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Bigfoot on To the Best of Our Knowledge

July 26, 2010
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Bigfoot on To the Best of Our Knowledge

Wisconsin Public Radio’s To the Best of Our Knowledge aired a program last week on the theme of monsters, inviting several authors on the show whose books explore the important role they play in the Western imagination. Among them was Joshua Blu Buhs, author of Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend. While Buhs doesn’t believe in Bigfoot, as his book demonstrates, there’s no denying Bigfoot mania. Tracing the wild and wooly story of America’s favorite homegrown monster from the early nineteenth-century to the present, Buh’s book offers more than a few interesting insights on what our fascination with this monster says about modern American culture. You can catch the To the Best of Our Knowledge podcast on the WPR website or archived at this third party site. Also, find out more about Buhs’ book on our website with this excerpt, and an interview with the author. Or stay right right here at the UCP blog to read our previous post featuring Buhs in dialogue with fellow UCP author Sigrid Schmalzer on Bigfoot and its Chinese analog, the yeren. . . .

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Last Words of the Executed in the Huffington Post

July 23, 2010
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Last Words of the Executed in the Huffington Post

The Huffington Post ran a short piece by Robert K. Elder, author of Last Words of the Executed talking about his new book and offering up a selection of some of the provocative “last words” from its pages. Check the Huffington Post website to read and post a comment, as well as check other reader’s reactions to the controversial issues Elder’s book raises. Also see Elder’s website for the book or read another selection of excerpts . . . .

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Martin Preib on WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight

July 21, 2010
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Martin Preib on WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight

As the days heat up during the summer months in Chicago usually so does the crime, and this year is no exception. And while the entire city suffers the consequences in one way or another, perhaps no one feels it as acutely as Chicago’s law enforcement officers. For a closer look at the sometimes harrowing work of Chicago’s finest, WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight invited Chicago Police officer and author Martin Preib on the show yesterday to discuss his job as a cop, and some of the stories he’s written about it in his new book The Wagon and Other Stories from the City. Navigate to the Eight Forty-Eight website to listen to the archived audio from the show or listen to UCP’s own podcast with the author and read one of the stories from the book: “Body Bags.” . . .

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The Top Film Criticism Websites from the Film Society at Lincoln Center

July 19, 2010
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The Top Film Criticism Websites from the Film Society at Lincoln Center

As Paul Brunick notes in the introduction to his list of top film criticism sites posted recently to the website of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, most commentary on the impact of the internet on film criticism is rather negative—forecasting a decline in quality in the face of a rapid increase in the quantity of available resources. However as Brunick points out, with the right guide to help you sort through the “head-spinning” amount of material out there, the internet has the potential to offer the savvy cinephile a heretofore unparalleled cornucopia of intelligent film criticism. Amongst the many top on line resources on the list, Brunick cites several excellent film criticism sites from Chicago authors, (or soon-to-be Chicago authors) including Jonathan Rosenbaum’s site, http://jonathanrosenbaum.com/. When Rosenbaum, a long time film reviewer for the Chicago Reader‘s film section retired in ’08, the Reader took down most of his essays. Rosenbaum’s blog however, rescues the best of his reviews and commentary from the Reader, and his new book, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition includes pieces both from the Reader and many other sources of his wide-ranging criticism. It should be noted that Rosenbaum also contributes to several . . .

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Happy Birthday Josef Frank!

July 16, 2010
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Happy Birthday Josef Frank!

Yesterday you might have noticed that Google’s search page was adorned with a Google Doodle inspired by the textile design of modernist architect, designer, and theorist, Josef Frank. Until Google’s recognition of the artist on the event of what would be his 125th birthday, many were likely unfamiliar with his work, despite his status as one of Europe’s leading modernists and co-founder of the Vienna School of Architecture. Thus for those wanting to find out more about this widely accomplished, yet obscure figure of twentieth century art, we offer Josef Frank: Life and Work—the first study to comprehensively explore Frank’s life, ideas, and designs. Educated in Vienna just after the turn of the century, Frank became the leader of the younger generation of architects in Austria after the First World War. But Frank fell from grace when he emerged as a forceful critic of the extremes of modern architecture and design during the early 1930s. Dismissing the demands for a unified modern style, Frank insisted that it was pluralism, not uniformity, that most characterized life in the new machine age. He called instead for a more humane modernism, one that responded to people’s everyday needs and left room for sentimentality . . .

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Harvey G. Cohen discusses Duke Ellington on WNYC’s Soundcheck

July 15, 2010
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Harvey G. Cohen discusses Duke Ellington  on WNYC’s Soundcheck

Harvey G. Cohen, author of Duke Ellington’s America—a fascinating biographical account of Ellington and his tremendous influence on jazz and American culture—was a guest yesterday on WNYC’s Soundcheck. You can catch Cohen discussing his book and providing some insightful commentary on some of Ellington’s greatest classics on the Soundcheck podcast at the WNYC website. More about Cohen’s book: Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world. With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before . . .

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The Book of Shells in the NYT

July 14, 2010
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The Book of Shells in the NYT

It’s summer time and for many that means hitting the beach for sand, sun, and, perhaps, some seashell collecting? If the latter happens to be on your list of activities this summer, it would definitely behoove you to pick up a copy of M. G. Harasewych and Fabio Moretzsohn’s new book The Book of Shells: A Life-Size Guide to Identifying and Classifying Six Hundred Seashells. Filled with hundreds of amazing color images of seashells from around the world along with an explanation of the shell’s range, distribution, abundance, habitat, and operculum—the piece that protects the mollusk when it’s in the shell—The Book of Shells is an essential accompaniment to any shell scouting adventure. But even if a trip to the seashore isn’t on the agenda, as this sampling of images from the book featured in a recent review for the New York Times demonstrates, The Book of Shells posses the uncanny power to transport you there anyway. Also, check out these sample pages from the book (PDF format, 1.7Mb) Happy shell hunting! . . .

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