Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

March 13, 2006
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Author event: Lawrence Weschler, A Wanderer in the Perfect City

On March 15 at 7:30 p.m., Lawrence Weschler, author of A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces, will sign books at Skylight Books in Los Angeles (1818 N. Vermont Avenue). Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer at the New Yorker for twenty years, where his work shuttled between political tragedy and cultural comedy. A Wanderer in the Perfect City is a collection of his cultural forays, now republished with a new foreword by Pico Iyer. Read the new foreword. Read an excerpt on the Web site of the New York Times, from an earlier edition. See all our books by Lawrence Weschler. . . .

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Testing the theory of broken windows

March 10, 2006
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Testing the theory of broken windows

Malcom Gladwell, posting to his blog yesterday, discussed the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, Freakonomics, and the implications of the arguments in that book for his “theory of broken windows,” which Gladwell developed in The Tipping Point. Concludes Gladwell, “I prefer to think of Freakonomics not as contradicting my argument in Tipping Point, but as completing it.” Then he goes on to say: “Since Tipping Point has come out, there have been a number of economists who have looked specifically at broken windows—and tried to test the theory directly. Some have found support for it. Others—particularly Bernard Harcourt at the University of Chicago—find it wanting. If you crave a rigorous critique of broken windows, read Harcourt. He’s every bit as smart as Levitt.” Later this year we will publish Harcourt’s new book, Against Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial Age which will include Harcourt’s argument against the theory of broken windows. We also published Harcourt’s book Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime, and Public Policy. . . .

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Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

March 10, 2006
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Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Yesterday, nominees for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize were announced. We are happy to report that Gail Mazur’s Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems is a nominee in the poetry category. Winners will be named on April 28. Widely acclaimed for expanding the stylistic boundaries of both the narrative and meditative lyric, Gail Mazur’s poetry crackles with verbal invention as she confronts the inevitable upheavals of a lived life. Zeppo’s First Wife, which includes excerpts from Mazur’s four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. Mazur’s explorations of "this fallen world, this loony world" are deeply moving acts of empathy by a singular moral sensibility—evident from the earliest poem included here, the much-anthologized "Baseball," a stunning bird’s-eye view of human foibles and passions. Clear-eyed, full of paradoxical griefs and appetites, her poems brave the most urgent subjects—from the fraught luscious Eden of the ballpark, to the fragility of our closest human ties, to the implications for America in a world where power and war are cataclysmic for the strong as well as the weak. Gail Mazur’s books include Zeppo’s First . . .

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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

March 10, 2006
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Author event: Ann Durkin Keating, Chicagoland

On Saturday, March 11, at 11:00 a.m., Ann Durkin Keating will discuss her new book Chicagoland: City and Suburbs in the Railroad Age at the Newberry Library in Chicago (60 West Walton Street ). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Chicagoland will be available for purchase. Historian and coeditor of the acclaimed The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Ann Durkin Keating resurrects for us here the bustling network that defined greater Chicagoland. Taking a new approach to the history of the city, Keating shifts the focus to the landscapes and built environments of the metropolitan region. Organized by four categories of settlements-farm centers, industrial towns, commuter suburbs, and recreational and institutional centers-that framed the city, Chicagoland offers the collective history of 230 neighborhoods and communities, the people who built them, and the structures they left behind that still stand today. See tours of Chicagoland. Visit the Encyclopedia of Chicago Web site. . . .

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Robert J. Zimmer nominated to serve as president of the U of C

March 9, 2006
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Robert J. Zimmer nominated to serve as president of the U of C

The Presidential Search Committee of the University of Chicago has just announced that Robert J. Zimmer has been nominated to serve as president of the University of Chicago. Zimmer is a mathematician and former University of Chicago faculty member. He currently serves as provost at Brown University. The Board of Trustees is expected to approve the recommendation on Friday. Zimmer would then succeed Don Michael Randel as thirteenth president of the University of Chicago. Zimmer is the author of Essential Results of Functional Analysis. Functional analysis is a broad mathematical area with strong connections to many domains within mathematics and physics. This book, based on a first-year graduate course taught by Robert J. Zimmer at the University of Chicago, is a complete, concise presentation of fundamental ideas and theorems of functional analysis. It introduces essential notions and results from many areas of mathematics to which functional analysis makes important contributions, and it demonstrates the unity of perspective and technique made possible by the functional analytic approach. . . .

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Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

March 9, 2006
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Review: Andrzej Szczeklik, Catharsis

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries recently reviewed Andrzej Szczeklik’s Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine. From the review: "A rash of reflections on medicine has been published by senior physicians approaching retirement. Most are autobiographical, often maudlin, and usually self-serving. This jewel of a book is an exception. explores the patient-doctor encounter, a mysterious process that has constituted the art of medicine since time eternal.… The text is peppered with illustrative case histories, and salted with the resources of a prodigious intellect that mixes history, philosophy, mythology, and poetry in telling the story. This is a wise, erudite, and insightful book that has been translated sensitively from the original Polish. It makes for an enormously good read that will enrich the life of anyone who peruses it. Highly recommended." Read an excerpt. . . .

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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

March 8, 2006
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Author event: Andrew Wachtel, Remaining Relevant after Communism

On March 9 at 7 p.m., Andrew Wachtel will discuss his new book Remaining Relevant after Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe at the No Exit Café in Chicago (6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park). More than any other art form, literature defined Eastern Europe as a cultural and political entity in the second half of the twentieth century. Although often persecuted by the state, East European writers formed what was frequently recognized to be a "second government," and their voices were heard and revered inside and outside the borders of their countries. This study by one of our most influential specialists on Eastern Europe considers the effects of the end of communism on such writers. According to Andrew Baruch Wachtel, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the creation of fledgling societies in Eastern Europe brought an end to the conditions that put the region’s writers on a pedestal. In the euphoria that accompanied democracy and free markets, writers were liberated from the burden of grandiose political expectations. But no group is happy to lose its influence: despite recognizing that their exalted social position was related to their reputation for challenging political oppression, such writers have . . .

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Review: John Yoo, The Powers of War and Peace

March 8, 2006
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Review: John Yoo, The Powers of War and Peace

Commentary recently reviewed John Yoo’s The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11. From Andrew C. McCarthy’s review: "An essential guide for thinking about national-security challenges in an era of transnational terror networks that flout the laws of civilized warfare.… Yoo’s thesis in this book is strongest as an argument grounded in text—the text, that is, of our founding law.… In a world beset by the constant threat of sudden destructive force, a robust and firmly grounded view of presidential power is imperative.… For showing how that power derives from the very system the framers bequeathed us, John Yoo deserves our deep thanks." Read an interview with John Yoo. . . .

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Sticking it to the Tax Man

March 8, 2006
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Sticking it to the Tax Man

The snow has melted, birds are chirping, and the W2s roll into the mailbox. It can only mean one thing: tax season. Many of us will grumble about how we’re paying too much, while the rich are getting off easy. But what can we do about it? What alternative is there? In Fair Not Flat: How to Make the Tax System Better and Simpler, tax law expert Edward J. McCaffery proposes a straightforward and fair alternative. A "fair not flat" tax that is consistent and progressive would tax spending, not income and savings. And if it were collected at its lower levels through a national sales tax, most people would not have to file a return. A supplemental tax on spending for the wealthiest individuals would make the national sales tax progressive. Under McCaffery’s system, a family of four would pay no tax on their first $20,000 in spending, and 15 percent on the next $60,000. Only the few families who spend more than $80,000 a year would be subject to the supplemental tax. Necessities would be taxed less than ordinary and luxury items. No one would be taxed directly on savings. The estate and gift or so-called death tax . . .

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Review: Mark D. West, Law in Everyday Japan

March 7, 2006
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Review: Mark D. West, Law in Everyday Japan

The Japan Times recently praised Mark D. West’s Law in Everyday Japan: Sex, Sumo, Suicide, and Statutes. In the review, Jeff Kingston writes: "This is a superb book that explores the interaction of law, society and culture over a range of intriguing topics. In seven captivating case studies, Mark West shows how law influences people’s behavior and perceptions in everyday situations. Rather than trumping law, social norms are powerfully shaped by it. We learn that Japanese respond to incentives and penalties in ways very similar to people in other societies.… By choosing themes off the beaten track of legal analysis, West demonstrates that even the quirkiest phenomena can be analyzed. He ‘examines the incentives created by law and legal institutions in everyday lives, the ways in which law intermingles with social norms, historically engrained ideas, cultural mores, and the phenomena that cannot easily be explained.’ And he does so in a delightfully engaging manner." Compiling case studies based on seven fascinating themes—karaoke-based noise complaints, sumo wrestling, love hotels, post-Kobe earthquake condominium reconstruction, lost-and-found outcomes, working hours, and debt-induced suicide—Law in Everyday Japan offers a vibrant portrait of the way law intermingles with social norms, historically ingrained ideas, and cultural mores . . .

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