Author Essays, Interviews, and Excerpts

Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

March 16, 2007
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Caitlin Zalooom on BBC Radio 4

Author Caitlin Zaloom was recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed discussing her new book Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Host Laurie Taylor talks with Zaloom about the stock market’s gradual transition from face-to-face exchanges made on the trading room floor to internet based trading and how this move into the digital realm effects the culture and business of global trade markets. You can listen to archived audio of the discussion on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed website. We also have an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Charles Bernstein on Poetry Daily

March 14, 2007
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Charles Bernstein on Poetry Daily

Every day the website Poetry Daily presents at least one new work from a contemporary poet excerpted from a book, magazine, or journal currently in print, with the goal of exposing the general reader to the wonderful, but often esoteric realm of modern poetics. Last Friday two of Charles Bernstein’s poems were featured on the site, including the poem “Thank You for Saying Thank You” from his most recent book Girly Man. Befitting, or perhaps belying Poetry Daily’s theme of “poetry for the people” Bernstein’s poem begins: This is a totally accessible poem. There is nothing in this poem that is in any way difficult to understand. All the words are simple & to the point. There are no new concepts, no theories, no ideas to confuse you. This poem has no intellectual pretensions. It is purely emotional. You can check out the rest of this poem as well as Bernstein’s “Didn’t We” on the Poetry Daily website. . . .

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Eddie Glaude on the Tavis Smiley Show

March 7, 2007
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Eddie Glaude on the Tavis Smiley Show

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author and Princeton University professor of religious studies, was featured on the Tavis Smiley Show last weekend discussing “how his new book, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, offers a starting point for examining the upcoming election season through the eyes of African Americans.” You can listen to archived audio from the program online at the Tavis Smiley Show website. With In a Shade of Blue Glaude, one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, this timely book is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

March 1, 2007
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Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney on Letters from Iwo Jima

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, author of the recent Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers, recently penned an interesting article for OpenDemocracy.org discussing Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning film Letters from Iwo Jima. Eastwood’s cinematic exploration of a pivotal battle of World War II, says Ohnuki-Tierney (and others), parallels the objective of her recent book in trying to “undo the demonization of Japanese soldiers that was propagated by the American mass media during and after the Pacific war of 1941-45.” And in fact, Eastwood’s film not only shares a common objective with Ohnuki-Tierney’s book, but also the means of accomplishing that objective. Both the movie and the book focus on the writings of Japanese soldiers during the war as a vehicle through which to arrive at a deeper understanding of who these soldiers were. Ohnuki-Tierney writes: Clint Eastwood’s film Letters from Iwo Jima begins and ends sixty years after the end of the war it depicts. At the start, a team of Japanese investigators is searching for whatever may have been left by Japanese soldiers holed up on Iwo Jima, part of a group of Pacific islands around 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo. The team finds a large sack buried where the soldiers had . . .

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Harvey Sachs on 98.7 WFMT

February 22, 2007
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Harvey Sachs on 98.7 WFMT

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of conductor Arturo Toscanini, WFMT’s Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner will feature a two part conversation with Harvey Sachs, editor of The Letters of Arturo Toscanini, which we recently published in paperback. The first show airs on February 26 at 10:00 pm central time and the second on March 5 at the same time. If you’re in the Chicago area be sure to catch the show, if you’re not, WFMT offers streaming audio, but you’ll have to subscribe to listen. Fifty years after his death, Arturo Toscanini is still considered one of the greatest conductors in history, and probably the most influential. His letters, expertly collected, translated, and edited in The Letters of Arturo Toscanini, will give readers a new depth of insight into his life and work. As Sachs puts it, they “reveal above all else a man whose psychological perceptions in general and self-knowledge in particular were much more acute than most people have thought likely.” They are sure to enthrall anyone interested in learning more about one of the great lives of the twentieth century. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Borscht belt with a PhD

February 21, 2007
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Borscht belt with a PhD

Ruth Fredman Cernea, editor of The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate, was interviewed in the February 20 edition of the Jewish Ledger, a Connecticut weekly. In her conversation with staff writer Judie Jacobson, Cernea talks about the genesis of the University of Chicago’s famous Latke-Hamantash debates, some of its notable participants, and the meaning—or lack thereof—in its annual deliberations. From the interview in the Ledger: Q: When and why did the debate get started? A: It began more than 60 years ago as an inspired “lark” by three people at the University of Chicago—Professor Sol Tax, an anthropologist; Professor Louis Gottshalk, a historian, and Rabbi Maurice Pekarsky. They were worried about the intellectual and social climate at the university for the numerous Jewish faculty and students there. This was a time when it was not professionally advisable to advertise your ethnic background on campus, when being an objective scientist meant burying the “yid” inside. In fact, many of the faculty had been brought up in homes rich in Eastern European Jewish culture: they knew Yiddish, ate the traditional East European foods, and went to “cheder.” In another world they might have become Talmudists. … The Tax-Gottshalk-Perkarsky spur-of-the-moment idea? A shmooze in the . . .

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An excerpt from The Birthday Book by Censorinus

February 9, 2007
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An excerpt from The Birthday Book by Censorinus

In the year AD 238, in the capital of the Roman Empire, the scholar Censorinus gave a present to his best friend, the noble Quintus Caerellius. The gift was this charming work, which he called The Birthday Book (De die natali liber). In its few dozen pages, Censorinus sets down everything related to the idea of birthdays. He begins simply, with the right way to sacrifice to one’s birthday spirit. By the time he has finished he has sketched a glorious vision of the universe ruled by harmony and order, where the microcosm of the child in the womb corresponds to the macrocosm of the planets.—From Holt N. Parker’s Preface to The Birthday Book by Censorinus Part 4, "Seed and Conception" 1. Your lifetime starts on your birthday, but there are also many things before that day which pertain to the origin of humankind. It seems relevant, therefore, to say something first about the things which are themselves first in the order of nature. So I shall briefly set out some of the opinions which the ancients held about the origins of mankind. 2. The first and general question treated by the men of old who were learned in wisdom . . .

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Dublin Theatre in the 1920s and ’30s

January 26, 2007
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Dublin Theatre in the 1920s and ’30s

David Grene (1913–2002) taught classics for many years at the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Committee on Social Thought and coedited The Complete Greek Tragedies. Six months of every year, though, he worked his farm in Ireland. This is an excerpt about how his interest in theatre developed, from Of Farming and Classics: A Memoir. Until the age of eleven, my only experience of the theater was at the yearly Christmas pantomime, to which our whole family always went. These are not pantomimes in the strict sense of dumb show, but a traditional form of comic entertainment put on at Christmastime. The greatest of them in my time was the one done year after year at the Gaiety under the leadership of Jimmy O’Dea and Maureen Potter. These were a wonderful pair of genuinely amusing comedians, and they ran the show to suit themselves. But prior to them, it was not like that. Most of the theaters in Dublin (the Gaiety, Royal, Queen’s, and Olympia) put on a separate pantomime every year. Each pantomime was sketchily based on a folk story—Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, or others—and there was an intermittent effort to . . .

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Learning Greek and Latin in Dublin Schools

January 23, 2007
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Learning Greek and Latin in Dublin Schools

David Grene (1913–2002) taught classics for many years at the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Committee on Social Thought and coedited The Complete Greek Tragedies. Six months of every year, though, he worked his farm in Ireland. This is an excerpt about his early education from Of Farming and Classics: A Memoir. The school my parents chose for me was St. Stephen’s Green and was essentially one of these small private Protestant schools. It was not a boarding school, but otherwise the atmosphere was very like that described by George Orwell in Such, Such Were the Joys. The fees in the bigger private schools like High School or St. Andrew’s (where I went toward the end of my schooldays) were certainly rather less than in a place like St. Stephen’s Green, and both varieties cost far more than what my parents should have sensibly entertained as possible for them. I believe that the smaller schools were associated with a more explicit version of gentlemanliness. In the larger private schools quite a few of the pupils came from what was very nearly working class. Anyway, my parents decided that the small and exclusive Stephen’s Green was . . .

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Honors Classics at Trinity College

January 19, 2007
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Honors Classics at Trinity College

David Grene (1913–2002) taught classics for many years at the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Committee on Social Thought and coedited The Complete Greek Tragedies. Six months of every year, though, he worked his farm in Ireland. This is an excerpt about his university education from Of Farming and Classics: A Memoir. The men who taught Honors Classics in Trinity College had enough of the unusual and exotic to furnish a mysterious element to our education. They were nearly all of the recognizable British eccentric type, something grown much rarer since. There were five or six of them lecturing, or teaching if one preferred that title, and at least three of them—the seniors of the group—combined a well-deserved reputation for scholarship, backed up by a fair amount of scholarly publication, with a remoteness from ordinary life, and manifest loneliness, and very notably an inability to act or speak or dress like any normal members of their class and kind. There was J. G. Smyly, one of the leading papyrologists of his day. Literary and other texts in Greek were preserved on papyrus for many hundreds of years before people came to use the expensive calfskin . . .

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