Murphy, Cullen 1952-
Murphy, Cullen 1952-
Born September 1, 1952, in New Rochelle, NY; son of John Cullen (an artist) and Joan (a homemaker) Murphy; married Anna Marie Torres (an editor), April 7, 1979; children: John C., Anna, Timothy. Education: Amherst College, B.A., 1974. Religion: Roman Catholic.
Writer and editor. Wilson Quarterly, Washington, DC, senior editor, 1977-84; Atlantic Monthly, Boston, MA, managing editor, 1984-2005; Vanity Fair, editor-at-large, c. 2006—.
(With William Rathje) Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1992, reprinted, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 2001.
Just Curious: Essays, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.
The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.
Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
Contributor to Harper's and other publications. Writer of comic strip Prince Valiant, drawn by his father, John Murphy.
Cullen Murphy's The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own is "one of the finest and most comprehensive introductions to the accomplishments of women in the field of biblical studies," according to a contributor to Publishers Weekly. During the past quarter of a century, feminist scholars in particular have begun studying the Bible and publishing revisionist works about its meaning. The book "synthesizes the major points of this new scholarship and sketches informal portraits of the women and men who have created it," Jo Ann Kay McNamara wrote in the New York Times Book Review.
Murphy's account begins with the publication in the 1890s of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's two-volume Woman's Bible, a book deemed by most scholars as the beginning of biblical studies from a female perspective. The rest of the study presents a number of chapters devoted to contemporary women biblical scholars, offering interviews with the subjects along with a discussion of their publications. Murphy points out that women scholars have uncovered a number of apocryphal stories concerning women that were not previously known to academia. Women scholars have also found serious mistranslations. Others have studied how various female figures from the Bible have been represented in art and literature over the centuries. "The book," Carolyn Osiek maintained in Shofar, "is interesting going for the serious reader who is not a scholar in one of the areas discussed." The Word According to Eve, Sara Maitland wrote in Commonweal, "is highly engaging and readable, regardless of your degree of knowledge."
Prior to The Word According to Eve, Murphy collaborated with William Rathje to write Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. The two authors investigate nearly every aspect of the phenomenon of garbage based on research by university archaeologists. They write about how archaeologists use garbage to decipher the past, primarily in the area of a specific population's demographics and purchasing or trade habits. They also explore modern society and its garbage, taking an opposing viewpoint about what they consider to be myths concerning the modern garbage crisis and offering ways to better deal with the garbage we do produce. Noting that the book "is neither a harangue on the environmental perils of a throwaway society nor a tongue-in-cheek history of trash," New York Times Book Review contributor Witold Rybczynski called Rubbish! "a lucid and provocative book that steers well clear of self-righteousness—and bad jokes—and takes aim at several sacred cows along the way."
Just Curious: Essays presents thirty-six previously published essays and one new essay. The essays cover a wide range of topics, from attending a ventriloquist convention to the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the collection "an informative, entertaining collection defined by Murphy's unquenchable curiosity for just about every subject." Writing in ETC: A Review of General Semantics, D. David Bourland, Jr., advised: "Please do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of this book."
Murphy's 2007 book, Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, compares the United States in the twenty-first century with the Roman Empire as it was just prior to its decline. "Let's just get one thing out of the way up front: This book is a lot of fun to read, especially if you're a hopeless geek who likes his post-9/11 geopolitics served up with a heavy dose of ancient arcane," wrote Christian Caryl in the Washington Monthly. In his book, Murphy reveals many similarities between the Roman empire and the current United States, such as the insular culture of its capitals and government, border issues, and the growth of privatization that he sees as weakening the political process. Other issues he addresses are growing corruption with the government and an arrogant attitude toward the world beyond the U.S. boundaries.
In an interview with Paul Comstock on the California Literary Review Web site, the author noted that he was not centering his comparisons of Rome and the United States with a concentration on the administration of George W. Bush. He further stated that "the characteristics of Rome and America that I focus on go much deeper than the policies of any one President or any one Emperor. And I recognize that America's role in the world has been substantially to the good—it has shouldered responsibilities that someone had to take on." The author went on to note: "That said, the thinking that lay behind the invasion of Iraq—the notion that we could transform a society more or less overnight, and in the process ‘jumpstart democracy’ in the entire Middle East—was a colossal act of hubris. And it was essentially a Roman act."
Are We Rome? received praise from critics. Noting that some of the author's comparisons "are specific and compelling," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that "Murphy wears his erudition lightly and delivers a lucid, pithy and perceptive study." George Cohen, writing in Booklist, called the book "persuasive and provocative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advertising Age, October 20, 2003, Jay Fine, "Editor of the Year: Cullen Murphy," p. 10.
Adweek Southeast, April 15, 2005, Stephanie D. Smith, "Magazine to Relocate under New Editor."
America, March 6, 1999, review of The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own, p. 19.
Audubon, November-December, 1992, Bernard L. Herman, review of Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage, p. 128.
Booklist, July, 1992, Donna Seaman, review of Rubbish!, p. 1905; October 1, 1998, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 282; April 15, 2007, George Cohen, review of Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, p. 20.
Book World, January 8, 1995, review of Just Curious: Essays, p. 13.
Canadian Geographic, January-February, 1994, Gerald T. Conaty, review of Rubbish!, p. 76.
Book Report, January-February, 1993, Marjorie Stumpf, review of Rubbish!, p. 53.
Choice, May, 1999, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 1635.
Christian Century, April 21, 1999, Dianne Bergant, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 469.
Christianity Today, March 1, 1999, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 60.
Commonweal, November 6, 1998, Sara Maitland, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 24.
Contemporary Sociology, November, 1993, Ken Plummer, review of Rubbish!, p. 870.
Editor & Publisher, June 14, 2007, "New Book for Former ‘Prince Valiant’ Writer."
Esquire, May, 2007, Tim Heffernan, review of Are We Rome?, p. 44.
ETC: A Review of General Semantics, fall, 1995, D. David Bourland, Jr., review of Just Curious, p. 355.
Garbage, July-August, 1992, Patricia Poore, review of Rubbish!, p. 4.
Issues in Science and Technology, spring, 1993, George C. Lodge, review of Rubbish!
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1994, review of Just Curious, p. 1463; March 15, 2007, review of Are We Rome?
Library Journal, July, 1992, Eric Hinsdale, review of Rubbish!, p. 117; August, 1998, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 100.
Mediaweek, April 18, 2005, "Atlantic's Murphy Resigns," p. 3.
National Catholic Reporter, February 5, 1999, Pamela Schaeffer, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 24.
National Review, May 28, 2007, Victor Davis Hanson, "Pop Romanizing," review of Are We Rome?, p. 46.
New Yorker, September 14, 1998, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 93; May 28, 2007, review of Are We Rome?, p. 77.
New York Times, July 9, 1992, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Rubbish!, p. 19.
New York Times Book Review, July 5, 1992, Witold Rybcynski, review of Rubbish!, p. 5; February 26, 1995, review of Just Curious, p. 16; September 6, 1998, Jo Ann Kay McNamara, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 13; Walter Isaacson, May 13, 2007, "The Empire in the Mirror," review of Are We Rome?, p. 12.
NWSA Journal, summer, 2000, Karla G. Bohmbach, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 193.
Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1992, review of Rubbish!, p. 45; November 7, 1994, review of Just Curious, p. 54; July 27, 1998, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 68; March 19, 2007, review of Are We Rome?, p. 54.
School Library Journal, June, 1993, Carolyn E. Gecan, review of Rubbish!, p. 146.
Shofar, winter, 2001, Carolyn Osiek, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 142.
Times Literary Supplement, August 13, 1999, review of The Word According to Eve, p. 31.
U.S. News & World Report, May 7, 2007, Jay Tolson, "Lessons from the Fall," review of Are We Rome?, p. 28.
Wall Street Journal Western Edition, July 15, 1992, Dave Shiflett, review of Rubbish!, p. 11.
Washington Monthly, July 1, 2007, Christian Caryl, "All about Us: We Don't Really Need to Plunge into the Arcana of Imperial Rome to Appreciate What America's Doing Wrong. But It's Fun Watching Cullen Murphy Try," p. 62.
Whole Earth Review, summer, 1993, Stewart Brand, review of Rubbish!, p. 114.
Wilson Quarterly, summer, 1992, review of Rubbish!, p. 121; winter, 1995, review of Just Curious, p. 118.
Atlantic Online,http://www.theatlantic.com/ (August 6, 1998), Toby Lester, interview with Cullen Murphy.
California Literary Review,http://calitreview.com/ (June 27, 2007), Paul Comstock, "A Talk with Cullen Murphy, Author of Are We Rome?"