One man was tongue-tied and awkward around women, in many ways a mama's boy at heart, although his reputation for thuggery was well earned. The other was a playboy, full of easy charm and ready jokes, his appetite for high living a matter of public record. One man tolerated gangsters and bootleggers as long as they paid their dues to his organization. The other was effectively a gangster himself, so crooked that he hosted a national gathering of America's most ruthless killers. One man never drank alcohol. The other, from all evidence, seldom drank anything else.
American Dictators is the dual biography of two of America’s greatest political bosses: Frank Hagueand Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. Packed with compelling information and written in an informal, sometimes humorous style, the book shows Hague and Johnson at the peak of their power and the strength of their political machines during the years of Prohibition and the Great Depression. Steven Hart compares how both men used their influence to benefit and punish the local citizenry, amass huge personal fortunes, and sometimes collaborate to trounce their enemies.
Similar in their ruthlessness, both men were very different in appearance and temperament. Hague, the mayor of Jersey City, intimidated presidents and wielded unchallenged power for three decades. He never drank and was happily married to his wife for decades. He also allowed gangsters to run bootlegging and illegal gambling operations as long as they paid protection money. Johnson, the political boss of Atlantic City, and the inspiration for the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire, presided over corruption as well, but for a shorter period of time. He was notorious for his decadent lifestyle. Essentially a gangster himself, Johnson hosted the infamous Atlantic City conference that fostered the growth of organized crime.
Both Hague and Johnson shrewdly integrated otherwise disenfranchised groups into their machines and gave them a stake in political power. Yet each failed to adapt to changing demographics and circumstances. In American Dictators, Hart paints a balanced portrait of their accomplishments and their failures.
Few have written more memorably about the work of poetry and the poetics of work than Juan Ramón Jiménez, winner of a Nobel Prize and discerning teacher of an entire generation of Spanish poets. In this series of aphorisms, Jiménez brings together the elements of perfect work, both in writing and in other realms. Among these elements—the wellsprings of any kind of creation—are instinct and inspiration, memory and forgetting, silence and noise, love and regret.
A treasure for poets and writers, The Complete Perfectionist includes helpful commentary by noted translator Christopher Maurer and shows perfection as a process of “becoming” rather than an end product. In these insightful pages, a poet haunted by perfection reveals his methods of writing and revision, and measures the social and ethical dimensions of el trabajo gustoso, or pleasurable work. This revised and expanded edition includes many aphorisms recently published in Spanish and not previously included.
In these three lectures, Cavell situates Emerson at an intersection of three crossroads: a place where both philosophy and literature pass; where the two traditions of English and German philosophy shun one another; where the cultures of America and Europe unsettle one another.
"Cavell's 'readings' of Wittgenstein and Heidegger and Emerson and other thinkers surely deepen our understanding of them, but they do much more: they offer a vision of what life can be and what culture can mean. . . . These profound lectures are a wonderful place to make [Cavell's] acquaintance."—Hilary Putnam
Perfection in Bad Axe: Stories
Stories by Craig Bernthal University of Missouri Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3602.E763P47 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
You could find out anything at Jim's, and Larry and I liked to be in the know. Information (not gossip) was passed back and forth constantly. Did you hear about the four couples engaged in "wife- swapping" in town? The mechanics and gas pumpers at Jim's could fill you in. Were you interested in the last time the Baptist minister beat his wife? Who your cute French teacher slept with a couple nights ago? Jim's had the answers. The place held another attraction for me: if you were under twenty-one and wanting some liquor for Friday night, Jim's son, Jimmy the Bomb, just out of the Marine Corps, had no problem picking up a bottle or two for you at the liquor store on the east side of town.
Set mainly in the Midwest, these tales are inhabited by ordinary, decent people who, often to their surprise, find joy and meaning under difficult circumstances. Many of the stories depict isolated moments of perfection in a world that routinely forces its imperfections on us. A teenager wrestles with guilt over an accident he caused in “Perfection in Bad Axe.” In “A Knight Pursued,” a young prosecuting attorney confronts on the same day his first autopsy and his wife’s unexpected desire to have a baby. A devout, hardworking business owner is drawn into a lawsuit that threatens his marriage and leads him to question his most deeply felt principles. “Center of Gravity” finds a middle-aged law professor overcome by his chaotic life and searching for a degree of peace. These are the finely developed characters of Bernthal’s stories—people we recognize, but who never seem overly familiar. Interesting, substantial, and utterly engrossing, each one could be just like any one of us, an ordinary Jane or Joe, trying to maintain or find order in a life sometimes filled with disorder.
Perfection in Death
Patrick M. Clark Catholic University of America Press, 2015 Library of Congress B765.T54C518 2015 | Dewey Decimal 236.1
Perfection in Death compares and contrasts the relationship between conceptions of courage and death in the thought of Aquinas and his ancient philosophical sources. At the center of this investigation is Aquinas' identification of martyrdom as the paradigmatic act of courage as well as "the greatest proof of the perfection of charity." Such a portrayal of "perfection in death" bears some resemblance to the ancient tradition of "noble death", but departs from it in decisive ways. Clark argues that this departure can only be fully understood in light of an accompanying transformation of the metaphysical and anthropological framework underlying ancient theories of virtue. Perfection in Death aims to provide a new, theological account of this paradigm shift in light of contemporary Thomistic scholarship.
Robert de Cotte (1656/7-1735), Principal Architect to the King of France, was among the most prominent European architects of his day. In a period that witnessed the ascendancy of Paris over Rome as the international center of fashion, princes and nobles in Germany, Italy, and Spain eagerly commissioned him to design buildings in the French court style. Robert Neuman provides the first comprehensive examination of fifty or so building projects by de Cotte, which include such extant works as the Hôtel d'Estrées, Paris; Schloss Poppelsdorf, Bonn; and his universally acknowledged masterpiece, the Palais Rohan, Strasbourg.
After describing de Cotte's training and the professional context in which he worked, Neuman offers a thorough survey of de Cotte's output. For each commission, he recreates the actual design process, showing how de Cotte manipulated an accepted vocabulary of architectural forms to meet the patron's specific requirements. De Cotte's own drawings, many reproduced here for the first time, and quotations from a wide variety of contemporary writings vividly supplement the case histories. Beautifully illustrated, Neuman's much-needed book reveals de Cotte as an innovative and strikingly modern architect.
These days there is only one right answer when someone asks you what you are doing after work. Hitting the gym! With an explosion of apps, clothing, devices, and countless DVDs, fitness has never felt more modern, and the gym is its holy laboratory, alive with machinery, sweat, and dance music. But we are far from the first to pursue bodily perfection—the gymnasium dates back 2,800 years, to the very beginnings of Western civilization. In The Temple of Perfection, Eric Chaline offers the first proper consideration of the gym’s complex, layered history and the influence it has had on the development of Western individualism, society, education, and politics.
As Chaline shows, how we take care of our bodies has long been based on a complex mix of spiritual beliefs, moral discipline, and aesthetic ideals that are all entangled with political, social, and sexual power. Today, training in a gym is seen primarily as part of the pursuit of individual fulfillment. As he shows, however, the gym has always had a secondary role in creating men and women who are “fit for purpose”—a notion that has meant a lot of different things throughout history. Chaline surveys the gym’s many incarnations and the ways the individual, the nation-state, the media, and the corporate world have intersected in its steamy confines, sometimes with unintended consequences. He shows that the gym is far more than a factory for superficiality and self-obsession—it is one of the principle battlefields of humanity’s social, sexual, and cultural wars.
Exploring the gym’s history from a multitude of perspectives, Chaline concludes by looking toward its future as it struggles to redefine itself in a world in thrall to quick fixes—such as plastic surgery and pharmaceuticals—meant to attain the gym’s ultimate promises: physical fitness and beauty.