Writings

Andrew Benedict-NelsonI’ve been writing for about as long as I can remember. I started publishing shortly thereafter. When I was a child, my methods for getting my work out there included attaching proposals for world peace to balloons, mailing Sherlock Holmes fanfic to my grandfather, and starting an elementary school newspaper (only to be censored by the administration). Since my undergraduate days I have sought more conventional means of publication, placing stories in newspapers and magazines.

Publications that have featured my work include The Times Literary Supplement, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookmarks, The Common Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Rain Taxi, Partisans.org, Bookslut.com and others. I also once worked as a stringer of sorts, including for the notorious Journatic (then known as Blockshopper). Its story is more interesting and more tragic than anything you heard on This American Life.

Today, most of my writing and editing is done in service of GreenHouse. But I’m always on the lookout for the right place to publish the next essay or book review. E-mail me if you think we might be a good fit.

Clips Online

A few samples of my writing from around the Web:

“Zen and the art of double entry bookkeeping: Accounting and accountability” – Los Angeles Review of Books – Review of The Reckoning by Jacob Soll. In some ways it’s a love letter from a failed early modern historian (me) to a prospering one (he) and an appreciation of what that discipline’s take on the world can bring to contemporary policy analysis.

“How to see the world as it isn’t: Thinking with the life of Louis Agassiz” – Los Angeles Review of Books – Review of a first-rate biography that answered questions that have been rattling around in my head for about a decade

“What can we learn from Jared Diamond?” – Los Angeles Review of Books – Either a scathing critique or a roundabout literary appreciation of the Guns, Germs, and Steel author, prompted by his recent book on traditional societies

“What’s in a prediction? On Nate Silver and the science of probability” – Los Angeles Review of Books – A review of The Signal and the Noise as well as a consideration of the highest and best use of statistical forecasting in politics

“Why ‘jobs’ doesn’t work” – Partisans.org – A plea for politicians to stop talking about job creation and instead argue for the kind of work we can do together

“Who cares?” – CampusProgress.org – A review of Who Really Cares? by Arthur C. Brooks, which argues that religious conservatives give more to charity and analyzes what this means for America’s political and philanthropic culture

Review of Land of Lincoln – Bookslut.com – My take on Andrew Ferguson’s exploration of Lincolniana in American life

Clips Offline

A few other interesting magazine pieces available upon request:

• a satirical re-working of Walden as a blog (Common Review)

• a reckoning with the cultural significance of Wikipedia (Common Review)

• a survey of some of the best contemporary physician authors (Bookmarks)

Here are some of the other books I’ve reviewed and where the review was published. Scanned copies available if need be.

Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill by Gabriela Soto Laveaga – Times Literary Supplement

Plague Ports: The Global Urban Impact of Bubonic Plague, 1894-1901 by Myron Echenberg – Times Literary Supplement

The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery by D. T. Max – Times Literary Supplement

The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist by Reviel Netz and William Noel – Times Literary Supplement

Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self by Marilynne Robinson – Common Review

DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education by Anya Kamenetz – Common Review

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities by Martha C. Nussbaum – Common Review

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan – Common Review

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – Common Review

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid – Common Review

Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream by Edward Humes – Campus Progress

The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality by Walter Benn Michaels – Campus Progress

Longer Work (available upon request)

“Who We Art: The Secret History of the West Collection” – A 75-page ethnographic exploration into how a financial services company in suburban Philadelphia fell in love with contemporary art. An Insight Labs project.

“Martínez in the Arena: Anatomy and Authorship in Early 18th-Century Madrid” – My Master’s thesis from Johns Hopkins. The story of how rivalries for power in Madrid’s medical scene played out in texts used for instruction at the city’s anatomical theater.

“Reimagining Spanish Surgery: Vernacular Audience, Elite Authorship, and the Status of Surgery in the Work of Dionisio Daza Chacón (1510-1596)” – A paper I presented at the Hopkins colloquium and other venues. Essentially a lengthy exploration into why one of the most experienced and educated surgeons at the court of Phillip II wrote his major work in Castilian instead of Latin.

“The Gigantic Ally of Barbarism: Malaria, Metaphor, Classics and Empire in Early 20th Century Britain” – My senior thesis from Northwestern. After winning the Nobel Prize for discovering the link between malaria and mosquitoes, Dr. Ronald Ross supported a project to demonstrate that malaria had contributed to the downfall of ancient Greece and Rome. I tried to explain what he was up to.

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