Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Five Reasons Why I'm Thrilled That John Eklund is Sales Rep of the Year, Plus Three Books from Our Recently Published Section, Globally Speaking

1. He hired me. I wouldn't be in Milwaukee if it weren't for him.
2. He and Carol Grossmeyer pretty much created the bookstore that I own today.
3. He is my go-to source for obscure British and Canadian writers of a certain esthetic.
4. Massive amounts of invaluable advice.
5. He's a good customer.

Plus we talk almost every day. I felt that sort of disqualified me from nominating him, plus he said he wouldn't take the award unless the entire MIT/Yale/Harvard sales force shared the award. It's one of the few sales forces where I actually do know the entire sales force, so I can see why he wanted Adena and Patricia to share in the honors. But it turns out that there are enough booksellers with boundless enthusiasm for Eklund that he might have won the award even if I wrote a spirited argument against him. More on his blog.

In the spirit of this award, I start my roundup of world thought with Terry Eagleton's combative new book, Why Marx was Right, recently published by Yale, which recently hit the Boswell bestseller list. From Publishers Weekly: "Though he perhaps tries too hard toward the end to provide a foundational connection between Marxism and contemporary environmental concerns, Eagleton fluidly demonstrates the value of reappraising Marx in the current climate, offering a timely reminder that, despite the dominance of the free market, history is an ongoing process and that people still have the power to bend it toward justice." Now normally I would ask you to buy the book from me, but I think there is some sort of poetic justice in sending you to this website for the purchase.

From Dambisa Moyo comes How the West was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly--And the Stark Choices Ahead. In this book, this Zambrian-bred economist argues that years of poor policy decisions by the United States have left us with a growing population of unskilled, unemployed and disaffected citizens. One of her arguments is the changing nature of fodder for magazines targeting young boys. Whereas fifty years ago the focus would have been on science and technology, today's kids are given sports and pop culture. Really? No Joe DiMaggio or Babe Ruth? Well, I haven't read it yet, but Moyo's argument is certainly provocative.

The world economy is also the focus of Dani Rodrik's The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. Whereas Moyo promotes internationalism, Rodrik challenges the conventional wisdom that portrays the advance of globalization as inevitable. His claim is that you can't have globalization, the democratic political process, or the nation state. We can have any two, but not all three. Alan Blinder calls Rodrik globalization's most prominent gadfly.

I think I'm also a gadfly, but I'm not sure of what. Off to sell books at Alverno for Louise Knight and her talk on Jane Addams. Meanwhile, read more about PW's rep of the year, plus our friends to the south, Anderson's were honored with bookseller of the year. Congrats to Naperville's finest. Also Downer's Grove's dreamiest. Or something like that.

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