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'Second to None: Chicago Stories'

Series from Northwestern University Press features untold, 'real' stories of Chicago

  • Series from Northwestern University Press features untold, ‘real’ stories of Chicago
  • Editor Harvey Young: series zooms in on Chicago and its tangle of contradictions
  • Journalists, novelists, essayists, community activists, other Chicagoans tell city’s history
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A new trade book series launched this month by Northwestern University Press will feature alternative, previously untold portraits of Chicago, a city celebrated for its gritty, unapologetic and relentless “can do” spirit.

“’Second to None: Chicago Stories’ zooms in on the tangle of contradictions that makes Chicago one of the most dynamic cities in the world,” said Northwestern’s Harvey Young, the series editor. “For nearly two centuries, Chicago has attracted dreamers -- and a few crooks. We’re going to tell their stories.” 

The stories by journalists, novelists, essayists, community activists and other recognizable Chicagoans will be targeted to a general audience, said Young, an associate professor of African-American studies, performance studies, radio/television/film and theatre in the School of Communication at Northwestern.

Rising from the ashes after a devastating fire in 1871, Chicago has long played a central role in influencing modern American culture. It was home to the world’s first skyscraper. It sharpened the political appetites of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. Chicago transformed jazz from a southern musical style into a major international music movement. And, thanks to mobster-run distilleries and speakeasies, it defied Prohibition efforts.

“These underground and yet-to-be chronicled stories will reveal the connective tissues that make up the real Chicago,” Young said.

The series will cover visual and performing arts, Chicago politics, sports culture and food folkways; and the stories, of course, will reveal the centrality of jazz, blues and underground music to the city’s rhythms and history.

“Chicago has a fascinating history and larger-than-life personalities, from Al Capone and Michael Jordan to Michelle and Barack Obama,” Young said. “It’s a city that in many ways, continues to set the path for the world, but its stories haven’t been circulated as broadly as those about cities like New York. Until now.”

About Harvey Young

Harvey Young researches the performance and experience of race. He is an associate professor of African-American studies, performance studies, radio/television/film and theatre in the School of Communication at Northwestern. The title of the most recent of his seven books is “Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Chicago Theater.” Young has served on the board of directors of the American Society for Theatre Research, the Yale Club of Chicago and the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.

About Northwestern University Press

Founded in 1893, Northwestern University Press publishes books that further understanding of cultural, political, social and community issues. It has produced important scholarly works in various disciplines as well as quality regional and Chicago books, fiction, poetry, literature in translation, literary criticism and books on drama and the performing arts. Northwestern University Press authors have received numerous prizes, including the Nobel Prize in Literature, a National Book Award and a Tony Award. For more information and a complete list of Northwestern University Press titles, visit www.nupress.northwestern.

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