In the News, September 2014
Posted 08.15.14: The Sunday New York Times Book Review on The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, Their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis by Bob Ivry: "Even five years after the financial crisis of 2008-9 crested, there is zero consensus about its causes. Just about anyone who can be blamed has been: rapacious bankers, venal elected officials, corrupt or incompetent regulators, naïve home buyers. Ivry, an editor and reporter at Bloomberg News, is clear where he stands: The culprit was 'the unprecedented growth of the biggest banks' and the subsequent bailout that saved those banks but left the rest of us in little better shape. This is an angry book, full of high dudgeon about the various sins of Wall Street that give Ivry his title. He documents the absurdity of 'too big to fail' with a reporter's eye for the small story that illuminates the larger picture…. Ivry sees the crisis as a simple story of wrongdoing and the failure to punish it."—Zachary Karabell
Posted 07.23.14: “Nicholas Basbanes is something of a national treasure, bringing what is often called ‘book culture' in front of us. In an age of the digital page, when books can be downloaded, when e-mail and twitter are developing a distinctive lexicon and rhetoric, when the book itself seems to be on its way out of our private and public culture, Basbanes returns us, again and again, to the importance of paper, as we knew it, know it, and, hopefully, shall maintain it. On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History celebrates that ubiquitous commodity, and its manifold uses. This book is characteristically engaging and authoritative.”—Lewis Fried, The Key Reporter
Posted 07.18.14: David Lehman's foreword to the Best American Poetry 2014 is featured as the centerfold essay in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, "Sing to Me, O Muse (But Keep It Brief)".
Posted 07.07.14: “Romm gives us a fresh and empathetic exploration…a robust framework for his quest about the truth of Seneca…. He does not judge Seneca with hindsight, but inhabits his life as it plays out. There are subtle and sympathetic observations…. But when there is analysis, it brings real clarity. Indeed there are moments of brilliance. The philosophical torment of the later years and the drama of Seneca's tripartite death once Nero turned against him are dealt with masterfully…. Romm reminds us that we need to care about Seneca—he is a touchstone for the modern world.”—Bettany Hughes in the New York Times Book Review on Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm.
Posted 06.26.14: Film/TV rights to James Romm's gripping history Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire have been optioned by James Lassiter of Overbrook Entertainment.
Posted 05.21.14: Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero is “a splendid and incisive historical page-turner. James Romm crafts a tale of intrigue, deception and intractable captivity to the political machine. This is how history should be written: vivid storytelling springing to life at a master's touch…. In the end, Romm's narrative proves so compelling precisely because he concentrates on character, combining erudite scholarship with a novelist's flair for telling detail.”—Arlice Davenport, The Wichita Eagle
Posted 05.20.14: “Jager is a fine writer attuned to the details that bring medieval France to life…we're galloping madly across the rise of kings and the fall of cities.”—Charles Graeber, The New York Times Book Review, on Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 05.05.14: Terry Teachout is the winner of a 2014 Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which offers awards each year to as many as four individuals for their distinguished contributions to American institutions. The award comes with a cash prize of $250,000 and will be presented in Washington, D.C., on June 18. Terry Teachout is the author of many distinguished books, including Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, and City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy.
Posted 04.30.14: "Altogether, a very fascinating account, sometimes grisly, but typical of the times."—Kendall Wild in the Rutland Vermont Herald on Eric Jager's Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 04.23.14: "Mr. Romm's sustained reading of Seneca's works in their historical context breathes welcome (Roman) life into them. This is no mean accomplishment…. Mr. Romm is a fluent writer, and Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero is a fast-paced read."—Christopher B. Krebs, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 04.17.14: One of “Ten Brilliant Books That Grab You From Page One” Kirkus Reviews names Eric Jager's Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris
Posted 04.15.14: The New Yorker reviews Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm in this week's issue: "Romm adeptly expounds the puzzle of the philosopher's life: Seneca, revered for centuries as a pristine moral voice, was despised by many contemporaries as a hypocritical, profiteering lackey. He was Nero's tutor, got rich serving in the Emperor's degraded regime, and may have hoped to be emperor himself. In Nero's purge of the aristocracy, he stood by, then killed himself when death seemed inevitable. Stoicism has a power that outlasted Seneca and Nero; but where, Romm asks, is the line between peace and perversity, complacency and complicity?"
Posted 04.08.14: Logan Beirne is the winner of the 2014 William E. Colby Award for his book, Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency. The Colby Award recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs.
Posted 04.07.14: Nicholas Basbanes's On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History is one of three finalists short-listed for the 2014 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction awarded by the American Library Association.
Posted 04.01.14: "The next crash will fall like the recent landslide in Washington state, where a 1999 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study warned of the risks of a 'large catastrophic failure.' And then it happened. In the next crash, when you hear someone claiming that it wasn't foreseeable, remember a new book by award-winning financial reporter Bob Ivry: The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, Their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis. In it, he details the many financial crimes that have occurred not before but after the 2008 financial crisis. He writes about too-big-to-fail banks only becoming larger. He writes about private-equity firms buying up foreclosed homes, turning them into rentals and then issuing bonds on the revenue streams—schemes that sound like 2004 all over again. He writes about wrongful foreclosures and the economic squeeze on ordinary Americans. Mr. Ivry claims this is all quite deliberate: 'We called it a financial crisis, but what happened in 2008 was really a leveraged buyout of the United States.' He claims things have only gotten worse. The nation is now more in debt, and its people are now more impoverished, making America more vulnerable to the next big crash."—Al Lewis, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 03.20.14: "In a vague sort of way, most people are aware that Wall Street crashed the economy and rode out of town scot-free, collecting unimaginably huge bonuses along the way. But vagueness breeds passivity. Fortunately, we now have Bob Ivry's The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, Their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis as an indispensable guide for tracking down live villains and unburied bodies. By the time you reach the end, all the sheer fury anyone with the merest flutter of a moral pulse felt back in 2008 and 2009 at the sight of bankers and their apologists blaming the cratering of the global economy on 'people buying houses they couldn't afford' wells up again, white hot."—Andrew Cockburn, Harper's Magazine
Posted 03.16.14: "Fans of true crime and procedural mysteries will find special pleasure in Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris…. Jager, a professor of medieval studies at UCLA and the author of several popular histories set in this era, is spare and meticulous in sifting his evidence. The pleasure of his narrative—and the devil that points to the duke's killer—lies in the details of daily life in Paris in the early 1400s: the topography of the streets, the particulars of renting a house, and what it took to secure water for a band of horses. What Jager conveys so memorably here is the night atmosphere of medieval Paris—the walls within walls, the angling, unlit streets where a galloping troop of men can rouse an entire neighborhood—and a few streets later melt into darkness."—David Walton, Dallas Morning News