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legendary-detectives-book-coverNEW from the University of Chicago Press
The Legendary Detective: The Private Eye In Fact And Fiction

“I’m in a business where people come to me with troubles. Big troubles, little troubles, but always troubles they don’t want to take to the cops.” That’s Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, succinctly setting out our image of the private eye. A no-nonsense loner, working on the margins of society, working in the darkness to shine a little light.

The reality is a little different—but no less fascinating. In The Legendary Detective, John Walton offers a sweeping history of the American private detective in reality and myth, from the earliest agencies to the hard-boiled heights of the 1930s and ’40s. Drawing on previously untapped archival accounts of actual detective work, Walton traces both the growth of major private detective agencies like Pinkerton, which became powerful bulwarks against social and labor unrest, and the motley, unglamorous work of small-time operatives. He then goes on to show us how writers like Dashiell Hammett and editors of sensational pulp magazines like Black Mask embellished on actual experiences and fashioned an image of the PI as a compelling, even admirable, necessary evil, doing society’s dirty work while adhering to a self-imposed moral code. Scandals, public investigations, and regulations brought the boom years of private agencies to an end in the late 1930s, Walton explains, in the process fully cementing the shift from reality to fantasy.0
Today, as the private detective has long since given way to security services and armed guards, the myth of the lone PI remains as potent as ever. No fan of crime fiction or American history will want to miss The Legendary Detective.

Read more on The University of Chicago Press Website.

    storied-land-book-coverStoried Land is not only an important record of events—it is also a powerful and innovative investigation of how historical narratives are produced. Walton looks at how Franciscan missionaries and military governors created competing historical narratives of “civilizing” the Native American population. He explores changing historical conditions that generate successive narratives of Yankee progress, Spanish romance, and working-class Cannery Row. Today the nostalgic story of early California competes with political activists’ conceptions of environmental protection and ethnic diversity. Walton uses these historical examples to examine the larger issues of collective memory, arguing that history is a product of the interplay of events and narratives. Read more on the University of California Press Website.
    western-times-water-wars-book-coverWestern Times and Water Wars chronicles more than a hundred years of tumultuous events in the history of California’s Owens Valley. From the pioneer conquest of the native inhabitants to the infamous destruction of the valley’s agrarian economy by water-hungry Los Angeles, this legendary setting is a microcosm of the development of the American West. Read more on the University of California Press Website.
    free-markets-food-riots-book-coverFree Markets and Food Riots describes and explains the extraordinary wave of popular protest that swept across the so-called Third World and the countries of the former socialist bloc during the period from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, in response to the mounting debt crisis and the austerity measures widely adopted as part of economic “reform” and “adjustment”. Read more on the Wiley Website.
    small-worlds-book-coverSmall Worlds: Method, Meaning, & Narrative in Microhistory: Growing unease with grand theories of modernization and global integration brought twelve scholars from four disciplines to the School for Advanced Research for an experiment with the research genre known as microhistory. These authors now call for a return to narrative, detailed analysis on a small scale, and the search for unforeseen meanings embedded in cases. The essential feature of this perspective is a search for significance in the microcosm, the large lessons discovered in small worlds. Urging the recognition of potential commonalities among archaeology, history, sociology, and anthropology, the authors propose that historical interpretation should move freely across disciplines, historical study should be held up to the present, and individual lives should be understood as the intersection of biography and history. The authors develop these themes in a kaleidoscope of places and periods—West Africa, the Yucatan peninsula, Italy, Argentina, California, Brazil, Virginia, and Boston, among others. They illuminate discrete places, people, and processes through which both the intimacy of lived experience and the more distant forces that shaped their days can be viewed simultaneously. Read more on the School for Advanced Research Website.
    sociology-critical-inquiry-book-coverSociology and Critical Inquiry focuses on the roots of historical and comparative sociology and social movements, and Walton gives students a concise introduction to the method and substance of modern sociology. Influenced most heavily by the critical theorietical tradtion, Walton places special emphasis on the examiniation of such key concepts as social class, inequality, and the world system.
    reluctant-rebels-book-coverReluctant Rebels combines historical studies of national revolts in the Third World with a theoretical interpretation that demonstrates why these events belong to the proper study of revolution. The Huk rebellion in the Philippines, the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya, and Colombia’s Violencia are viewed as national struggles of classes and status groups, rather than simply as peasant insurrections, and in their causes and consequences, are shown to closely resemble other successful revolutions.

The study has three primary purposes: 1) to suggest a rationale for reconceptualizing and broadening the categories in which we think about rebellion in the underdeveloped world; 2) to present a fresh perspective on explaining contemporary revolution based on a political focus within the global economy which may supplement and extend current approaches; 3) to convey through historical interpretation the nature and origins of revolutionary upsurges in conjunction with simultaneous domestic and international currents.