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Cowboys and Presidents

February 20, 2006
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Cowboys and Presidents

What did Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon have in common? They both loved the Wild West. Roosevelt, a native New Yorker, molded himself into a cowboy. In his twenties, he worked as a cattle rancher in the Dakotas. He spent thirteen-hour days in the saddle, breaking in wild cow ponies, and fighting off cattle thieves and roaming gangs. Why did he do this? According to Sarah Watts, author of Rough Rider in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of Desire, sensed that ordinary men needed a clearly recognizable and easily appropriated hero who enacted themes about the body; the need for extremity, pain, and sacrifice; and the desire to exclude some men and bond with others. In one seamless cowboy-soldier-statesman-hero life, Roosevelt crafted the cowboy ethos consciously and lived it zealously, providing men an image and a fantasy enlisted in service to the race-nation. Nixon, it turns out, was the type of man who believed in such heroes. Mark Feeney, author of Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief, writes that Nixon screened fifty-six Westerns during his five year tenure in office. Twenty of these Westerns were directed by John Ford. In an interview on . . .

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James Frey and Norman Maclean

February 20, 2006
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James Frey and Norman Maclean

A passage about the truth-telling power of fiction, from the closing paragraphs of Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It, is being cited in commentary about James Frey and his apparently fictionalized memoir A Million Little Pieces. (For example, this piece by John MacDonald in the Arizona Republic.) Near the end of the story, Norman’s father speaks to him: “You like to tell true stories, don’t you?” he asked, and I answered, “Yes, I like to tell stories that are true.” Then he asked, “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people to go with it? “Only then will you understand what happened and why.” We have an excerpt from the opening pages of the novella. . . .

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Author Event: Ronne Hartfield

February 17, 2006
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Author Event: Ronne Hartfield

On February 21, Ronne Hartfield will discuss and sign Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family as part of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Black History Month celebrations. The event is free and open to the public. Spanning most of the twentieth century, Another Way Home celebrates the special circumstance of being born and reared in a household where being a woman of mixed race could be a fundamental source of strength, vitality, and courage. Read an excerpt from the book. Visit our black studies catalog. . . .

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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

February 16, 2006
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Review, Luigi Pirandello, Shoot!

Earlier this month, a nice review of Luigi Pirandello’s Shoot!: The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator appeared in the New York Sun. Reviewer Adele Kudish praised the novel’s translator, C. K. Scott Moncrieff: "His Shoot! is the only English version ever published and proves to be a truly timeless and important rendering of Pirandello’s novel. Moncrieff skillfully re-created Pirandello’s dreamlike prose, which flitters in and out of consciousness, according to the mechanized tempo of Gubbio turning the handle of his machine." . . .

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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

February 15, 2006
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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

On February 18, 2006, Eric Muller will be the guest speaker at the Northern California Time of Remembrance program in Sacramento, California. The program recalls Executive Order 9066, which gave the military the authority to remove from their homes more than 110,000 people—American citizens of Japanese ancestry and Japanese aliens—and place them in relocation camps during World War II. E.O. 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Muller is the author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II which tells the amazing story of some of those internees who would refuse to be drafted into that same military that evicted them from their homes. Read an excerpt from the book. Eric Muller blogs at Is That Legal? . . .

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Ancient Graffiti

February 15, 2006
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Ancient Graffiti

Contrary to popular belief, not all ancient cave art was created by senior male shamans. R. Dale Guthrie, author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art, reveals that many graphic scenes of sex and hunting were drawn by teenage male "graffiti artists." In an interview with LiveScience, Guthrie said, "Lots of the wild animals in the caves have spears in them and blood coming out of their mouths and everything that a hunter would be familiar with. These were the Ferraris and football games of their time. They painted what was on their minds." The LiveScience feature on Guthrie, which is accompanied by four cave images, can be read . . .

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Review: Orville Gilbert Brim, How Healthy Are We?

February 15, 2006
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Review: Orville Gilbert Brim, How Healthy Are We?

How Healthy Are We?: A National Study of Well-Being at Midlife, edited by Orville Gilbert Brim, Carol D. Ryff, and Ronald C. Kessler, was recently reviewed by Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association: "It is an impressive and lengthy compendium and a valuable contribution to the epidemiology literature, including valuable insights into a range of psychosocial factors that define and affect middle-aged life in our society." . . .

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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

February 14, 2006
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Review: Andrew Apter, The Pan-African Nation

Adekeye Adebajo recently reviewed Andrew Apter’s The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria for the Times Literary Supplement: "Traditional studies of Nigerian foreign policy have often ignored the cultural dimensions of Nigeria’s efforts to play a leadership role in Africa, although Nigeria has historically assigned itself the role—as the largest black nation on earth, comprising one in every five sub-Saharan Africans—of protecting black people globally. The country’s diplomats have, therefore, tried to champion the rights and interests of black people not just in Africa, but, for example, also in Brazil. Andrew Apter fills a gap in the literature by focusing on the spectacular Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which was hosted by Nigeria in 1977." . . .

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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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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

February 8, 2006
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Review: Edward Castronova, Synthetic Worlds

Tim Harford reviewed nine popular economics books in the Chronicle of Higher Education, including Edward Castronova’s Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Harford says that "Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations." Harford also wrote a longer review of the book last month for the Financial Times; that review is available on his website. You can also read our interview with Castronova. . . .

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