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Pancho Villa rides again

Obscured by legend, the life of Pancho Villa, the leader of arguably the largest Latin American revolutionary army in history, is separated from his pervasive mythology in historian Friedrich Katz’s new book, The Life and Times of Pancho Villa. In his 900-plus page tome, Katz, the Morton D. Hull distinguished service professor in history, details the charismatic Mexican outlaw’s early days and the development of his revolutionary sentiment. He follows Villa’s rise to a national revolutionary leader, his surrender, eventual assassination, and the evolution of the many legends of his life.

Ah, to be old and married...

More than 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men suffer from sexual dysfunction, reported a study in the February 10 Journal of the American Medical Association. Led by U of C sociologist Edward Laumann, the study—based on data from 1,749 women and 1,410 men ages 18 to 59 who participated in the U of C’s 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey—looked at the nature of sexual dysfunction in different demographic groups. Participants complained about a lack of interest in sex, impotence, inability to achieve orgasm, and pain during sex. Laumann and his colleagues found that older women, married men and women, and college-educated men and women all appeared to lead healthier sex lives than other groups.

Unveiling Syria

Allegiance to President Hafiz al-Asad permeates everyday Syrian life. Yet Lisa Wedeen, assistant professor of political science, claims in her new book, Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria, the nation’s “leader cult” is just that—an authoritarian construct aimed at disciplining the populace. By dictating public speech and behavior, she argues, the leader cult’s rhetoric allows the regime to direct the daily lives of its citizens. At the same time, Wedeen says, many Syrians see through the rhetoric and find ways to impair the cult’s disciplinary motives.

The days of wine and roses

Whereas most corporate vintners stick to lucrative low-end wines to maximize profits, the majority of high-end winemakers are independently wealthy and in the business just for the lifestyle, say U of C economist Fiona Scott Morton and Stanford economic sociologist Joel M. Podolny in a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Their report on the Napa Valley wine industry concludes that California’s connoisseur vintners looking to make a name for themselves charge 5 percent more for a comparable bottle of wine than their counterparts.—M.D.B.

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