Archives for October 2010

How Ordinary Citizens Band Together To Bring About Real Change

In an America where the rich and fortunate have free rein to do as they please, can the ideal of liberty and justice for all be anything but an empty slogan? Many Americans are doubtful, and have withdrawn into apathy and cynicism. But thousands of others are not ready to give up on democracy just yet. Working outside the notice of the national media, ordinary citizens across the nation are meeting in living rooms, church basements, synagogues, and schools to identify shared concerns, select and cultivate leaders, and take action. Their goal is to hold big government and big business accountable. In this important new book, Jeffrey Stout bears witness to the successes and failures of progressive grassroots organizing, and the daunting forces now arrayed against it.  Stout tells vivid stories of people fighting entrenched economic and political interests around the country.

Jeffrey Stout is professor of religion at Princeton University. His books include Ethics After Babel and Democracy and Tradition (both Princeton). He is past president of the American Academy of Religion and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

We invite you to read chapter one online:
Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America
By Jeffrey Stout

If you’re attending #AAR2010, stop by our booth (no. 406) and say hello.


FACT: Black–favorite color of priests and penitents, artists and ascetics, fashion designers and fascists–has always stood for powerfully opposed ideas: authority and humility, sin and holiness, rebellion and conformity, wealth and poverty, good and bad.

In the beginning was black, Michel Pastoureau tells us. The archetypal color of darkness and death, black was associated in the early Christian period with hell and the devil but also with monastic virtue. In the medieval era, black became the habit of courtiers and a hallmark of royal luxury. Black took on new meanings for early modern Europeans as they began to print words and images in black and white, and to absorb Isaac Newton’s announcement that black was no color after all. During the romantic period, black was melancholy’s friend, while in the twentieth century black (and white) came to dominate art, print, photography, and film, and was finally restored to the status of a true color.

In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue now tells the fascinating social history of the color black in Europe.

Black: The History of a Color
By Michel Pastoureau
Read the introduction online:

Next week: Danticat and Dinh at the Free Library of Philadelphia

On November 4, Edwidge Danticat will be at the Free Library of Philadelphia to read from and sign copies of her latest book, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work.

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and moved to the United States when she was twelve. Inspired by Albert Camus’ lecture, and combining memoir and essay, Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat’s belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy.

The event next week will also feature author, poet, editor, and translator Linh Dinh, who will discuss his debut novel, Love Like Hate. Don’t miss your chance to meet either of these talented authors!

Date: Saturday, November 4, 2010
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-5207
More Info: Here

Raghu Rajan and FAULT LINES win the 2010 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award

We are thrilled to announce that our author Raghuram Rajan and his book FAULT LINES won the 2010 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award.  You can read about the special evening in Andrew Hill’s column in today’s Financial Times. I attended the awards dinner last night at the lovely Pierre Hotel in NYC as was thrilled to be sitting around esteemed company such as Raghu’s co-shortlisters Andrew Ross Sorkin, Sebastian Mallaby, David Kirkpatrick, Michael Lewis, and Sheena Iyengar.

This is the fourth time since the award’s creation in 2005 that Princeton University Press has had a book on the shortlist.  Other PUP titles making the list over the years include Marc Levinson’s terrific history of the shipping container called THE BOX: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, Philippe Legrain’sIMMIGRANTS: Your Country Needs Them, and George Akerlof and Robert Shiller’s ANIMAL SPIRITS: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism.

“For the impossible to happen is pretty exciting”: Kathleen Graber on her NBA nomination and the field trip that changed her life

Tom Gresham at the VCU News Center posted this excellent and inspiring interview with Kathleen Graber earlier this week. The National Book Award finalist talks about how she decided to become a poet, contemporary poetry, and her interesting writing process for her latest collection, The Eternal City (hint: it involved her garage and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius).

Watch the entire video and read Tom Gresham’s feature here.

10 Literary Halloween Costumes, via Lit Drift

Over at Lit Drift, they have a few choice suggestions for literary character costumes, from Nancy Drew to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. They are aided in part by the film versions of these books, but it’s got me thinking about which of our books lend themselves to this type of homage (aside from the obvious choice of Zombie Economics). Any suggestions?

B&N launches NOOKcolor Tablet

From Publishers Weekly:

Approximately one year after introducing its first e-reading device, Barnes & Noble took a major step forward Tuesday with the introduction of the Nookcolor, a $249 tablet with a seven inch VividView Color Touchscreen. The addition of color to the e-reading device allowed B&N to officially announce Nook Kids, which in addition to 12,000 chapter books, will have 130 children’s picture books at launch with that number expected to double by the end of the year. Some of the children’s books will be enhanced e-books, featuring video and audio. A third part of the launch was the announcement of Nookdeveloper that will allow creators to develop “reading-centric” apps that will be sold through the Nook app store. Since the Nook runs on the Android platform, apps from the Android Market can be ported to the Nook, but Android Market apps will not automatically be sold through the Nook since B&N want to curate the store, company CEO William Lynch said.

Initial reaction to Nookcolor from the many publishers in attendance at B&N’s New York headquarters was positive, with the addition of color and the price seen as the most exciting features. Color, the head of one children’s division said, “puts children’s publishers in the e-book game.”

Read the complete article at Publishers Weekly

Michelangelo book trailer is here!

As far as book trailers go, this one has few peers.  Isn’t it simply stunning?  Many, many thanks to Leonard Barkan and Nick Barberio for their elegant work.

Doesn’t it make you want to run out and buy Michelangelo: A Life on Paper?  Well, you can starting next month.  Official pub date is December 1, just in time for the holidays (naturally)!  This book is perfect for the coming cold.  It’s a great fireside culture detective read.  There is something exhilarating about piecing together all of Michelangelo’s fragments of consciousness in order to form a more fully realized portrait of the man behind the masterpieces.

My advice?  Grab your cozy blanket and your hot beverage of choice and snuggle up with Barkan’s Michelangelo for an engrossing visual study of the artist we all think we know well.  You’re in for a treat and maybe even a few surprises.

Kuran comments on what it means to live under sharia law

Timur Kuran, author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East, has been busy posting on his book’s Facebook page! His most recent posting commented on a leader in last week’s Economist about controversies regarding Sharia, the holy law of Islam.

Here’s an excerpt:
An observation of the leader is that few people know what the imposition of the sharia would mean for daily life. Indeed, to people whose knowledge of Islam comes from sensational headlines the sharia involves cutting hands and stoning. To many Islamists, it involves fair adjudication and submission to an inerrant divine code.

To read more, please click here. And if you haven’t already, “Like” The Long Divergence‘s Facebook page so you can receive notice when Kuran posts more fascinating Notes! To get to the book’s Facebook page, click here.

Tawny Frogmouths are the ugliest animal?

At least according to they are. But look at this picture — this specimen is cute as a button. To learn more about frogmouths–an elusive type of bird included in the order of Caprimulgiformes (goat-suckers)–check out Nightjars, Potoos, Frogmouths, Oilbird, and Owlet-nightjars of the World by Nigel Cleere.

Early reviews of this great bird guide from Towheeblog‘s Harry Fuller and The Eyrie are quite positive.

“Whenever and wherever they occur these birds carry with them mystery, questions unanswered, the challenge of telling one from the very similar others,” writes Fuller. “This book is a great inspiration and a help in sorting out what‘s possible in any location. What’s known, what’s unknown. Makes me want to spend more warm evenings staring at the sky in hopes that another bug-gulping nightjar speeds past, maybe circles once to give me another glimpse, then vanishes off into the dusk, and the mysterious dark that obscures so much about these fellow earthlings.”

The Eyrie says, “I highly recommend this book for birders at any level who find themselves lured to the obscure members of the order Caprimulgiformes. Even those of casual interest will find fascinating the large, full-color photographs of wide-eyed nightjars and frogmouths or potoos blending in perfectly with a vertical branch.”

Edwidge Danticat on Tavis Smiley, October 29

Edwidge Danticat will be interviewed on Tavis Smiley this Friday evening. I hope you have a chance to tune in to hear her discuss her new book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work.

Jason Dempsey and Our Army Featured in Columbia Magazine

Paul Hond at Columbia Magazine recently sat down with 2010-2011 White House Fellow Jason Dempsey to talk about service, policy, pugilism, and his new Princeton title, Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations. You can read the entire feature at the magazine’s site, including the story behind Dempsey’s eye-opening 2004 Citizenship and Service Survey and research featured in his book:

Dempsey first thought of doing a survey in early 2002, as a Columbia PhD candidate in search of a dissertation topic. With the nation engulfed in 9/11 patriotism, fear, and paranoia, and soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan, the military was at the center of the national debate. “I started thinking that a study of social attitudes in the Army was needed, because there was a perception that the Army was overwhelmingly Republican, that we were hyperpolitical and voting at astronomical rates. So I said, ‘Well, here’s an opportunity,’ and really what I mean is an obligation. I was in a special position. I was given the tools by Columbia and by the Army to look at something that was central to the military’s relationship with society.”

Working under professor Robert Shapiro of the political science department, Dempsey navigated the Army bureaucracy to gain access to the airtight Army database, from which he drew his pool of respondents. His own experience on military bases told him that politics didn’t come up much in day-to-day Army business, and that election days weren’t the Super Bowl. “Come an election, you might be out training, or in the field, nowhere near a polling place, and nobody would blink an eye,” he says. “The idea that the Army was voting at high rates simply wasn’t accurate.”