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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Tonight on TDS, author and professor Jonathan Sperber, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life; and on TCR, Jim McGreevey, Fall to Grace.
sausage grinder of snark

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&xC5;guest grids
The Daily Show
Mary Roach, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
author site
Publisher site:
The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts.

Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

B&N, many reviews
excerpt: The Chemistry of Kibble: The billion-dollar, cutting-edge science of convincing dogs and cats to eat what’s in front of them.
excerpt: The Marvels in Your Mouth
WSJ review
Jonathan Sperber, "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"
Columbia Missourian.com article
If you have the stomach for it, the Daily Show guest page links to an interview at the National Review

B&N has the major reviews:

Publishers Weekly
This superb, readable biography of the most controversial political and economic thinker of the last two centuries achieves what scholars have been hard-pressed to deliver in recent decades: a study of Marx that avoids cold war, ideological, and partisan commitments and arguments. A University of Missouri historian, Sperber (The European Revolutions: 1848–1851) achieves this aim by securing Marx firmly in his 19th century, and keeping him out of ours...Marx the man comes to life not only as a thinker always struggling to make ends meet, but also as a husband and father, philosophical combatant, activist, German patriot, and exile in London. Marx’s contemporaries also make vivid appearances, resulting in a book that is as much a chronicle of the events and dense ideological fights of the time that so embroiled its principal subject as a biography. A major work, this is likely to be the standard biography of Marx for many years.
Library Journal
Karl Marx has been the subject of countless biographies and his writings have been adapted to the purposes of those on both the Left and Right. In this new biography, however, Sperber (history, Univ. of Missouri; The European Revolutions: 1848–1851) asks us to step back from our contemporary views of Marx and instead see him through the prism of his own life and time. Sperber argues that to understand Marx's ideas, it is not enough to know their intellectual content and context; it is also necessary to understand them within the framework of his historical period. Considering Marx's relationship to the major events of his era, including the French Revolution, European politics in the 1840s, and English industrialization, says Sperber, gives readers a nuanced and deeper understanding of his theories. VERDICT Written for a popular but thoughtful audience, this biography is lively and readable yet retains the authority of an author who thoroughly understands his sources and subject. Highly recommended.—Jessica Moran, Metropolitan Transportation Commission-Assoc. of Bay Area Govts. Lib., Oakland, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A thorough but starchy portrait of the father of modern communism. Sperber (History/Univ. of Missouri; Europe 1850–1914, 2008, etc.) aims to put Karl Marx (1818-1883) squarely within the context of his time, when the French Revolution was long over and the Industrial Revolution was taking hold. He follows Marx through the watershed events of his life...For Sperber, Marx's theories of class struggle and profit were shaped by his lifetime, became hardened with age and began to seem dated not long after his death. Also, under the careful husbandry of Engels, those ideas flowered into Marxism (or as some have suggested, Engelsism), which arguably had only a tenuous connection with its founder. Sperber delivers an objective portrait, but his insights are wrested at exhaustive length and demand enormous patience from readers. His writing is dry and clumsy, and the book is so top-heavy with obtuse theoretical explanations that the life itself often gets lost. After awhile, Marx comes across as a tiresome Teutonic windbag. Authoritative in its scope, but dense and unnecessarily difficult.

(Harpers is subscription only)

Assuming you know something about history/poli sci, these are the two to read:

That's Karl Marx and Intellectual History, at SUSIH-Society for US Intellectual History (which you should take a look at). Takes a look at those NYTimes & Harper's reviews -- and make sure to read the comments.
Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

Danny Boyle is an Oscar-winning film director, writer and producer. His latest film is "Trance" (2013).
The Colbert Report
Sigourney Weaver, Broadway: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
show site
Here's how it's billed: "Riffing on some of Anton Chekov's most time-tested themes, Christopher Durang proves in his hysterically funny and surprisingly affecting new romp, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, that whether you're in 19th Century Russia or 21st Century Pennsylvania, the human condition never changes. Vanya (Pierce) and Sonia (Nielsen) have never left the confines of their childhood home – a rambling farmhouse in Bucks County, PA – while having to witness the glamorous exploits of their sister, Masha (Weaver), a famous movie actress, from afar. A surprise visit from Masha and her 20-something boy toy, Spike (Magnussen), throws the normally quiet household int0 utter upheaval as its residents and visitors get swept up in an intoxicating mixture of lust, rivalry, regret, and the sudden possibility of escape. Only one thing is certain: no one will get out of this without looking absolutely ridiculous!"
Village Voice blog note:
And David Hyde Pierce was asked what makes Durang's plays unique. "Almost all of them are written by Chris," he replied, dryly.
NYTimes review
vaguely related New Yorker blog
broadwayworld.com review roundup
Jim McGreevey, Former Governor of New Jersey
HBO documentary
The former governor of New Jersey discusses his resignation and newfound salvation in the HBO documentary, "Fall to Grace."
Really? Jim McGreevey Is a Recovering Politician?
An HBO documentary examines the former governor's renewed passion for religion and for helping female prisoners get a second chance.
When former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey appeared on MSNBC over the last couple days to promote a new HBO documentary focusing on him, Chris Matthews had a hard time buying the film's premise — that a man who once wanted to be president of the United States is no longer a politician.

Matthews was trying to get McGreevey — who resigned from office in 2004 after admitting to an extramarital affair with another man — to talk personally about what was happening the day of the interview in the Supreme Court hearings about marriage equality.

"I want you to react to something like this in your own way, not politically, although you're a politician, I know. And I am too in many ways," Matthews said.

"No, no," McGreevey was quick to object, "no more."

"I know," Matthews said, recognizing McGreevey's lack of formal office, "but we have a political mind, I know it's there, I'm sorry. It's like orientation."

There are hints in the film, Fall to Grace from Alexandra Pelosi, that the filmmaker expects her audience will also have a hard time buying his career change. McGreevey is through seminary and trying very hard to become an Episcopal priest. He's leading up a reform program for women at something called "Integrity House," and he visits and mentors them in prison while spending more time in group therapy circles than anything resembling a high-powered campaign strategy meeting.

But at one point Pelosi tells McGreevey that from all the film's footage of him glad-handing in the streets, where it seems everyone knows him and wants a photo, she could understand why "they'd still think you are a politician."

The redemption of Jim McGreevey: believe it, you scowls.
Jim McGreevey’s Second Act:
Alexandra Pelosi’s new documentary, Fall to Grace, which airs tonight on HBO, offers a moving and sympathetic portrait of Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey, almost 10 years after his humiliating resignation from public office...
Mr. McGreevey is also training to be an Episcopal priest, having rejected the Catholic Church as an institution inhospitable to homosexuality. He has two daughters, one from each of his previous wives, and he lives with his partner, Mark O’Donnell, in a big house in Plainfield, New Jersey. He has German shepherds; there’s a swimming pool and a statue of the Buddha in his backyard; he mows his lawn. It’s not Drumthwacket, of course, nor is it the White House — Mr. McGreevey did have presidential ambitions, after all — but he appears content, even though his hair, which is much grayer than it was in 2004, betrays what he has been through.

In Fall to Grace, Mr. McGreevey walks through Newark’s toughest neighborhoods with Clintonian swagger, and the warmth that meets him is apparent . (“In the hood, I’m good,” he says.)

A.C. Grayling
Author, "The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism"
Francis Collins
Director, National Institutes of Health
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