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Local Book Notes: RAT BIT SLEEPING CHILD!

"Born to bourgeois Jewish parents in Chicago in 1899, [Vera Caspary] went out to work almost as soon as she turned eighteen and rarely stopped churning out copy from that day until she died," Michelle Dean writes for The New Yorker. "There was no college and no finishing school, no slow courtship of traditional critical respect. She had to make a living, so she wrote.

"Her first jobs had her writing the materials for scam correspondence courses on everything from ballet to salesmanship to screenplay writing. She did a little journalism, of the 'RAT BITES SLEEPING CHILD!' sort, but credited a job at the Trianon ballroom in Chicago with opening her mind to experiences not her own. 'I became both editor and staff of Trianon Topics,' she explained, 'an eight-page tabloid-sized weekly devoted to clean dancing.' She worked the way most journalists once did: she hung around, talking to every sort of person who came through the place. And though she could not print scandals, she found that "through the gathering of inane and trivial news I was educated and profoundly changed . . .

"Caspary's first novel, called The White Girl, tells the story of a black woman passing as white in Chicago. It was praised by a number of African-American newspapers, even as white papers mostly ignored the book. 'There are many Solaria Coxes in America,' the Chicago Defender wrote, 'and Miss Vera Caspary, who happens to be a former Chicagoan, must have met some of them. She knows them far better than most white people get to know them.'"

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"Laura is a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb along with Vincent Price and Judith Anderson. The screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Betty Reinhardt is based on the 1943 novel of the same title by Vera Caspary."

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Smell Chicago Later
"Adam Mack will speak about his new book, Sensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave.," the Society of Midland Authors has announced.

"Mack is an assistant professor of history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In his new book, published this summer by the University of Illinois Press, Mack explores the role of the senses in the rise of Chicago from the Civil War through the end of World War I.

"He examines from a sensory rather than purely visual perspective five events: the Chicago River; the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; the 1894 Pullman strike; publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle; and rise and fall of the White City amusement park.

"His vivid recounting of the smells, sounds and tactile miseries of city life reveals how input from the five human senses influenced the history of class, race and ethnicity in Chicago.

"At the same time, he transports readers to an era before modern refrigeration and sanitation, when to step outside was to be overwhelmed by the odor and roar of a great city in progress."

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From the University of Illinois Press:

"A hundred years ago and more, a walk down a Chicago street invited an assault on the senses. Untiring hawkers shouted from every corner. The manure from thousands of horses lay on streets pooled with molasses and puddled with kitchen grease. Odors from a river gelatinous and lumpy with all manner of foulness mingled with the all-pervading stench of the stockyard slaughterhouses.

"In Sensing Chicago, Adam Mack lets fresh air into the sensory history of Chicago."

Seemingly related:

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St. Louis, World-Class City?
"At first glance, St. Louis, Missouri, or any American city, for that matter, seems to have little to do with foreign relations, a field ostensibly conducted on a nation-state level," Southern Illinois University Press says.

"However, St. Louis, despite its status as an inland river city frequently relegated to the backwaters of national significance, has stood at the crossroads of international matters for much of its history.

"From its eighteenth-century French fur trade origins to post-Cold War business dealings with Latin America and Asia, the city has never neglected nor been ignored by the world outside its borders.

"In this pioneering study, Henry W. Berger analyzes St. Louis's imperial engagement from its founding in 1764 to the present day, revealing the intersection of local political, cultural, and economic interests in foreign affairs.

"Berger uses a biographical approach to explore the individuals and institutions that played a leading role in St. Louis's expansionist reach. He shows how St. Louis business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, and investors - often driven by personal and ideological motives, as well as the potential betterment of the city and its people - looked to the west, southwest, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific to form economic or political partnerships.

"Among the people and companies Berger profiles are Thomas Hart Benton, who envisioned a western democratic capitalist empire hosted by St. Louis; cotton exporters James Paramore and William Senter, who were involved in empire building in the southwest and Mexico; St. Louis oil tycoon and railroad investor Henry Clay Pierce, who became deeply involved in political intrigue and intervention in Mexican affairs; entrepreneur and politician David R. Francis, who promoted personal and St. Louis interests in Russia; and McDonnell-Douglas and its founder, James S. McDonnell Jr., who were part of the transformation of St. Louis's political economy during the Cold War.

"Many of these attempted imperial activities failed, but even when they succeeded, Berger explains, the economy and the people of St. Louis did not usually benefit. The vision of a democratic capitalist empire embraced by its exponents proved to be both an illusion and a contradiction. By shifting the focus of foreign relations history from the traditional confines of nation-state conduct to city and regional behavior, this innovative study highlights the domestic foundations and content of foreign policy, opening new avenues for study in the field of foreign relations."

Paging Doc Hollywood
"The world of science has long been dogged with communication problems, like how to convince the world, for example, that humans really are changing the planet's climate. Or that we really did evolve slowly over time rather than springing forth suddenly and fully formed," Josh Logue writes for Inside Higher Ed.

"What's missing, Randy Olson argues in his new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative (University of Chicago Press), is a nuanced understanding of narrative. A deep-seated grasp of and appreciation for narrative, Olson writes, would give scientists the tools to not only argue more persuasively, but produce better work as well. And Hollywood, argues the former marine biology professor and current writer and film director, is the place with answers."

The [U.S. Grant] Papers
"Famous for his military acumen and for his part in saving the Union during the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant also remains known for his two-volume memoirs, considered among the greatest military memoirs ever written," Southern Illinois University Press says.

"Grant's other writings, however, have not received the same acclaim, even though they show the same literary skill. Originally published in the thirty-two volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, the letters and speeches are the major source of information about Grant's life and era and have played a key role in elevating his reputation to that of the leading general of the Civil War and the first of the modern presidents.

"In this collection, editor John F. Marszalek presents excerpts from Grant's most insightful and skillfully composed writings and provides perspective through introductory comments tying each piece to the next. The result is a fascinating overview of Grant's life and career.

"With this compendium, Marszalek not only celebrates the literary talent of one of America's greatest military figures but also vindicates an individual who, for so long, has been unfairly denigrated.

"A concise reference for students of American history and Civil War enthusiasts as well as a valuable introduction for those who are new to Grant's writings, this volume provides intriguing insight into one of the nineteenth century's most important Americans."

Related:

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Surviving India's 9/11
"Douglas O'Keeffe, a gay leatherman in Chicago, has been working as a flight attendant for the past 20 years. On Nov. 26, 2008, he and his crew were on a layover at the Trident-Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, India, when a terrorist attack by Pakistani extremists threatened to take their lives," Windy City Times reports.

"His book - Gunfire and Silence, Surviving India's 9/11, on sale since early August - tells the true story of how he and his crew managed to survive."

I also kept thinking in my head again and again, "This is an airline layover, how can this be happening! This simply can't be going on!" But at the very last moment it was, "Well, this is it. I'm dead."

The Evangelical Jew
"The modern alliance between Evangelical Christians and Jews is both praised and vilified, but one thing is certain, it owes much of its present day flavor to one man, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews," Tuly Weisz writes for Breaking Israel News.

"In his recent biography The Bridge Builder, journalist Zev Chafets provides a candid and personal account of Eckstein's early struggles within the Jewish community alongside his more recent philanthropic triumphs.

"Most Jews are not aware of the price I had to pay within my own Orthodox community," Eckstein told Breaking Israel News in a recent telephone interview.

"Through many anecdotes and personal stories, The Bridge Builder outlines the rejection Eckstein frequently faced from the Jewish community and his earnest desire to be accepted.

"As a young rabbi in Chicago, Eckstein was thrown out of a Torah learning center where he went to study each day, for his work with Christians."

On Newsmax TV:

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on September 24, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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