Books for the News

Friday remainders

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First off, warmest congratulations to Philip Gossett, whose lovely book Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera was recently awarded the press’s Laing Prize. Gossett’s book is a fascinating account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with his personal experiences and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. In awarding the prize University President Robert Zimmer called Gossett’s book “a vivid example of the difference that humanities scholarship can make to the arts with which it is allied.” See more about the prize on the U of C News Office website. To find out more about the book read this excerpt.
If you’re in the New York area tonight you have the chance to catch some of the original pioneers of avant-garde jazz at the Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street. The show doubles as a book release party for author, professor, and trombonist George E. Lewis’s A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music—the definitive history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Navigate to the New York Times jazz listings for more details about the show. To learn more about the book read this excerpt, or see Hank Shteamer’s article in the current issue of Time Out New York. Shteamer also has a transcript of the interview he used for the TONY piece on his blog.
The remarks of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright were echoed into a cacophony in the mass media, but now that the noise has subsided, more thoughtful conversations about race can perhaps take place. Katherine Cramer Walsh has studied conversations about politics and race for years and is the author of Talking about Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference. She participated in NPR’s Talk of the Nation and discussed the Wright phenomenon and the current state of the dialogue on race in America. Listen to the archived audio here.
Another interesting discussion of race and politics in America appeared on PBS’s NewsHour last Wednesday. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, co-author of Presidents Creating the Presidency: Deeds Done in Words—the definitive book on presidential rhetoric for more than a decade—spoke with host Jefferey Brown about the rhetoric surrounding the issue of race in the 2008 campaign. See the streaming video here.
The Britannica blog is running a piece on Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, Robert Pogue Harrison’s wide-ranging exploration of the place of forests in Western culture, from the epic of Gilgamesh, to the recent ecological dilemmas that confront us. Harrison turned a similar eye to horticulture in his newest book, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. Read an excerpt on the UCP website.
Finally, Andrea Weiss’s new book In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story was given a positive assessment by literary critic Kathy Hunt for the May 3 edition of the Australian. Recounting the lives of writer Thomas Mann’s two eldest children, Erika and Klaus, Weiss’s book sheds light on these two fascinating figures and their adventures traveling through the literary, artistic, and political haute couture of the early twentieth century as well as details their tumultuous relationship with their famous father. Read the article on the Australian website and read an excerpt from the book.