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New book by Robert Schmuhl praised in Chicago Tribune review

Author: Arts and Letters


In a recent review in the Chicago Tribune, three books were singled out for their astute cultural criticism, including “In So Many Words: Arguments and Adventures” by Robert Schmuhl, Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Professor of American Studies and Journalism at the University of Notre Dame.

According to writer David E. Thigpen, the books, including Michael Musto’s “La Dolce Musto” and Greil Marcus’ “The Shape of Things to Come,” offer “some of the sharpest and most informative cultural criticism available…Their perspectives could hardly be more different, but their analyses share some important common ground — that things are not what they seem on the surface.”

Published by Notre Dame Press, “In So Many Words” brings together nearly 40 of Schmuhl’s previously published essays on politics, journalism and American culture, which have appeared in magazines and newspapers across the country, including the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Boston Globe and the American Journalism Review.

Arranged thematically, the essays are divided into three sections: Matters Political and Journalistic, Matters Literary, and Matters Personal, offering readers a range of issues, from an examination of contemporary political life to the current state of journalism. Schmuhl introduces each section with an explanatory preview and adds postscript reflections at the end of the essays.

“Readers who enjoy the works of the great International Herald Tribune columnist William Pfaff (a Notre Dame alumnus) and the estimable New York Times reporter and columnist Thomas Friedman will find comparable delight in Schmuhl’s book,” writes Thigpen. “The book ranges confidently across presidential politics, foreign policy, history, the celebrity culture and the present crisis of the news business, all with impressively sure footing. Schmuhl brings an extensive knowledge of history and literature that gives these critiques an authoritative ring.”

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1980, Schmuhl is chair of the Department of American Studies and director of the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Statecraft and Stagecraft: American Political Life in the Age of Personality,” “Wounded Titans: American Presidents and the Perils of Power” and “Indecent Liberties.” He also serves as a national political analyst for print and broadcast media.

Contact: Robert Schmuhl, 574-631-5128,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on December 20, 2006.