My first scholarly writings were motivated by the thought that important problems in political and legal theory cannot be fully resolved through more sophisticated interpretive methods. Instead, I proposed using comparative history to identify and test different institutional responses to important problems. To illustrate this approach, I wrote a book on Carl Schmitt’s use of comparative history in several of his major writings during the Weimar Republic.
Shortly before this book appeared, I became a stay-at-home dad of our son Ethan, a wonderful boy with fragile health. Unable to spend much time in the library, I needed projects I could work on mostly at home, so I translated and edited two of Schmitt’s major works, Legality and Legitimacy and Constitutional Theory.
Ethan thrived after a few rocky years. Able to get to the library more, I began work on a book about John Dewey’s argument in The Public and Its Problems that the key to enhancing international understanding is revive neighborhoods, where regular face-to-face contact is possible.
But then the worst possible thing happened: our son died in a tragic accident, not quite three weeks shy of his 10th birthday. Devastated and in need of understanding, I wrote a memoir, The Fun Master (under submission), which is a celebration of childhood, both Ethan’s as a remarkable child and mine as a man-child finally coming of age through my love for him. Anxious and self-involved, I was miscast as his stay-at-home dad and caregiver. Ethan’s joyful disposition and instinct for fun saved me from despair over and over as we made each day fun and rewarding regardless of the circumstances. Though forty-two years my junior, he taught me to control my anger, live in the moment, and accept others as they are.
I have written several short pieces since the completion of The Fun Master. “Gangsterstadt Pizza,” a personal reflection about shipping a stuffed Chicago pizza to Germany for a friend’s birthday; “Final Friends,” a short story; “A Vacant Lot to Some Maybe, ” a remembrance of Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, submitted to Chicago Magazine, and “Crisis du jour,” an entry in the 2017 Writer’s Digest Annual Competition under memoir.