Paddy Woodworth is an investigative journalist and a former staff writer for the Irish Times, used to taking on assignments from the foreign affairs desk, such as the terrorism of Basque separatist groups or the relationship between political turmoil in Spain that faced by Northern Ireland. In his most recent book Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century—a project ten years in the making—he instead focuses on the global challenges and successes of one of the least known and most dynamic areas of environmental experimentation: ecological restoration. In a recent appearance on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Woodworth pointed out some of the restorative projects taking place on our home turf, here in Chicago (an accompanying excerpt offers some background). But to help frame the arguments central to environmental restoration’s rise, Woodworth turns early in his book to American naturalist Aldo Leopold (1887–1948) and an approach central, though understated, in much of Leopold’s writings: what happens when we turn to the past in order to face the challenges of the future.
More on all of this, excerpted from Our Once and Future Planet, below:
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In wrapping of the year’s best-of-2012 lists, we couldn’t help but single out the University of Chicago Press titles that made the cut as reads worth remembering. With that in mind, here’s a list of our books that earned praise as cream of the crop here and abroad, from scholarly journals, literary blogs, metropolitan newspapers, and the like. If you’re looking, might we (and others) recommend—
A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
made the Philadelphia City Paper’s Best of the Year list named one of the best books of the year by the Houston Chronicle included in Bookriot’s list of the five most overlooked books of 2012 picked as the book of the year by a bookseller at the Oxford Blackwell’s: “ feel so evangelical about I want to run around screaming ‘YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK OR YOUR LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE,’ in Billy Graham style.” named one of the ten best fiction books of 2012 by the Wall Street Journal named by Wall Street Journal fiction editor Sam Sacks as one of his own favorite fiction books of 2012 named by Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker as . . .
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More staff selections for your holiday favor—today we asked Carol Kasper, marketing director extraordinaire, and Jeff Waxman, promotions manager/literary gadabout, to chime in about what moved them most this past year. Their picks for the Best Read of 2012 follow below:
Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948 by Madeleine Albright
When I became an adolescent, I learned that our family boogeyman was (rather remarkably to me at the time) the interwar British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. All my grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Austria-Hungary at the very beginning of the twentieth century, and they nurtured their ties to “the Old Country” even after the Slovak and Ruthenian regions of that empire became the nation of Czechoslovakia. When Britain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938 and gave Hitler the Czech area known as the Sudetenland, Chamberlain infamously implied that stopping another war with Germany was worth the price of those Slavs in “a far away country” populated by “people of whom we know nothing.”
In Prague Winter, Madeleine Albright does a brilliant job of explaining the ethnic complexities in central and eastern Europe that made the area vulnerable to . . .
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Before porn was legal, there was Beate Uhse (1921-2001). Before there were iconic other javelin champions-turned-stunt pilots-turned-sex-shop-proprietors, there was Beate Uhse. And before there was Beate Uhse, there was an erotic underworld in Germany, rife with untrained abortionists, uneducated practitioners, and a whole lot of folks looking for guides to “marital hygiene.” Basically, before there was Beate Uhse, there was Beate Uhse undone: a perfectly fertile breeding ground, if you will, for an assertively proto-feminist stock offering.
Elizabeth Heineman’s Before Porn was Legal: The Erotica Empire of Beate Uhse, recently profiled by New Books in History (which resulted in the most downloaded interview in the site’s existence), takes on the story of the former Luftwaffe pilot, war widow, and black marketer, ultimately placing the erotica entrepreneur at the forefront of Germany’s socio-sexual revolution. Through Uhse’s story, Heineman explores how one mail-order business (spearheaded by Uhse’s self-penned guide to the rhythm method) battled restrictive legislation and conservative mores in order to bring consumers the new products demanded by a burgeoning liberal marketplace that was anxious for sexual self-help. If that doesn’t quite tempt you enough into uncovering more of what’s—well, under the covers—of the book, then Heineman’s innovative reads of . . .
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“Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”
In with a comet, out with a comet: Halley’s, that is. For elementary students, the life of Mark Twain is first introduced as celestial; later, with adolescent reads of that “great American novel” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, our humorist falls back to earth, where his larger-than-life sensibilities, rich use of narrative, and social critique sharply attuned to human vanity, frailty, and hypocrisy, introduce a particular breed of American pathos. Beyond the work—which spans everything from colloquial verse and travelogues to historical fiction running the gamut from realist-inspired to proto-science—is, of course, the life. Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, and in keeping with his wishes, just this fall the University of California Press released the first volume of The Autobiography of Mark Twain, in celebration of that centenary. But as the New York Times reports this weekend, demand has far exceeded expectation for the surprise best-seller: and as we approach the holiday gift-giving season, booksellers are struggling to keep it on the shelves.
“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.”
Mark Twain in Nikola Tesla’s laboratory, 1894
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More television coverage of Royko in Love: Mike’s Letters to Carol. Last night David Royko sat down with WLS-TV news reporter Janet Davies:
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