Archives for February 2010

Akerlof and Kranton argue why the Wall Street bonus system doesn’t work in the Financial Times

Check out bestselling author and Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof and Duke economist Rachel Kranton’s intriguing new book IDENTITY ECONOMICS: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being, which we’re publishing in March.  They have published an enlightening yet sure-to-be criticized op-ed in today’s Financial Times.  What do you think?  Do pay-for-performance systems work on Wall Street?  Do they work in other industries?  I welcome your thoughts.

Q&A with Michael Kazin about American Optimism on

The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History

Michael Kazin, editor of our pathbreaking new reference book The PRINCETON ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN POLITICAL HISTORY, did a Q&A with today on the intriguing recent survey that uncovered that 86% of Americans think their government is broken.  Check out the Q&A here.  The good news?  81% of Americans think it can be fixed.

Mark Kleiman’s “When Brute Force Fails” Continues the Discussion on Crime and Punishment

Though originally published in October of last year, Mark A.R. Kleiman’s book WHEN BRUTE FORCE FAILS: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment continues to be an integral part of the ongoing discussion of how best to deal with crime in America. The book was recently reviewed in Forbes by Sudhir Venkatesh, along with Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” with an emphasis on race relations in criminal justice policy. David von Drehle at TIME Magazine discussed Kleiman’s book with regard to America’s falling crime rates, and the reason for them. The conversation continues… and hopefully policy makers will use Kleiman’s methods, which propose that we can, in fact, reduce crime and the prison population by half in ten years.

Steve Strogatz heating up the blogosphere with his popular math column on the’s Opinionator blog

Our very good friend Steve Strogatz has been the talk of the town thanks to his excellent writings on the’s Opinionator blog.  Check out his latest posting about his musings on the fascinating mathematical phenomenon of division.  Steve is doing something much needed in the general public–bringing something that’s so foreign and mysterious to many into the mainstream culture.  Please follow his terrific weekly postings. I’m certain you’ll learn something new! Oh, and like a good publicist, check out Steve’s recent book THE CALCULUS OF FRIENDSHIP: What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life while Corresponding about Math.   It will make you laugh, make you cry, and teach you some cool math all in one remarkable book.

Why Not Happiness? Responses to Alan Wolfe’s review of The Politics of Happiness in the NYTBR

In case you missed it, Derek Bok’s book The Politics of Happiness was reviewed by Alan Wolfe in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. Although Wolfe had high praise for Bok, he was critical of the book which has prompted nods of agreement from some corners (see Volokh Conspiracy, “Alan Wolfe’s witty and insightful book review“). However, I found this comment on Public Policy Commentators NYC :

For one, [Wolfe] questions whether it is the role of government to attempt to maximize happiness. My counter argument is that government has no greater mandate to maximize family income, and yet it has been attempting to do just that in a thousand different ways. Governments make value choices. Why not place value on happiness?

The commentator has not read the book (yet), but it seems to me that this is indeed a big question. Why not happiness? and if we decide happiness matters, why not the government as a co-partner in helping us achieve our goal? Have a look at the links above and join in the conversation.

David Richeson wins prestigious Euler Book Prize from the Mathematical Association of America

Few prizes in the math world are as prestigious as the Euler Book Prize from the Mathematical Association of America, and we are proud to share this honor with David Richeson, author of Euler’s Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology.

The Euler Book Prize recognizes “an outstanding book about mathematics,” that is judged to possess exceptional “clarity of exposition and … a positive impact on the public’s view of mathematics in the United States and Canada.”

In a press release, Dickinson College writes, “In language usually reserved for great literary works, the judging committee called Euler’s Gem ‘elegant, concise and surprising,’ stating that previous attempts to explain the beauty of Euler’s simple formula and to explore its depth ‘pale by comparison to Richeson’s extraordinary narrative,’ which features descriptions that are ‘amazingly friendly’ and with prose that is ‘a joy to read.'”

We couldn’t agree more and it seems our readers feel the same–we are now in our second printing of this outstanding book!

Join us in celebrating yet another feather in the cap for both Richeson and our mathematics publishing program.

Geoffrey Robinson discusses his book at the Buffett Center at Northwestern

For more on his experiences in East Timor and his thoughts on how an international effort came together to halt genocide in 1999 following the East Timor vote for independence, please see his book “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”.

Tiger’s talk scores an Eagle, according to PUP author Susan Wise Bauer

First there was Spitzer, then Sanford, and now Tiger Woods: a public figure of a different ilk but the clear front-runner for “Sex Scandal of the Century” because of the global reach of his celebrity and the epic shock waves that followed his fall from grace.

Just moments ago, Woods took the stage to deliver his 13-minute statement of apology.  If you were glued to your monitors/TV screens like we were in PUP publicity, you were witness to a riveting human drama played out by one very tarnished star.

He cheated.  He was wrong.  He’s sorry. Yes, yes, but Susan Wise Bauer, author of THE ART OF THE PUBLIC GROVEL, gives Woods high marks for nailing the three crucial points that make up textbook political confessions.  In an email she wrote to me, Bauer stated, “He has to make clear to his audience that he doesn’t consider himself in any way superior to them, he has to acknowledge responsibility without blameshifting, and, most of all, he’s got to avoid looking like a predator.”

This is telling advice, lifted straight from Bauer’s book.  Perhaps Tiger had some time to page through THE ART OF THE PUBLIC GROVEL while he was in Mississippi?  Susan Wise Bauer gives Tiger even more kudos for not sounding too polished and even stumbling a bit.  It humanized him.  The shamefaced remorse even looked good on him.

A Twitter page so nice you must visit twice

Our Twitter page has been given a make-over. We’ll be featuring new titles on our background each month so visit often.

I spy 1989 in the Waterstone’s branch in Brussels

Yes, that’s Mary Sarotte’s terrific book 1989 on display in the window of the Brussels branch of Waterstone’s. If you see a PUP book on display, snap a picture of it and send it to us.

Australia’s Affection for Dostoevsky…

Princeton University Press recently published a one-volume abridgment of Joseph Frank’s award-winning, five-volume biography of Dostoevsky. Titled DOSTOEVSKY: A WRITER IN HIS TIME, this substantial volume has received some very nice accolades, including a recent review by Michael Dirda in the Wall Street Journal. We are starting to see a bit of a trend in the coverage lately, however–three reviews of the new book have appeared in major daily papers in Australia. First we saw a terrific review in The Australian by Geordie Williamson. Next we had a thoughtful review by Mark Thomas in The Canberra Times. And most recently, there was an article by Judith Armstrong in The Age. Armstrong herself has written an adaptation of Crime and Punishment for the stage… Who knew the Aussies had such a fondness for the Russian?

Without giving too much away…

Make sure you read the New York TImes Book Review this weekend for Catherine Rampell’s take on Jerry Muller’s new book Capitalism and the Jews.