Archives for December 2010

Tom Seeley on Science Friday, December 24

Tune in to Science Friday on December 24 to hear an interview with biologist and apiarist Thomas Seeley. Seeley will discuss how honeybees find their new homes in a democratic way — a subject further described in his new Princeton University Press book Honeybee Democracy.

Science Friday also commissioned some terrific videos of Seeley and his bees. Check them out here:

New and Forthcoming Titles in Philosophy

We invite you to be among the first to browse our new 2011 philosophy catalog.  You can find books by Peter Singer, Patricia S. Churchland, Nicholas Humphrey, Martha C. Nussbaum and many more.  The catalog is full of great books by great authors.

Check out page 3 for books in a new series, Princeton Foundations of Contemporary Philosophy (series editor Scott Soames). Leading experts write about major areas of active research in contemporary philosophy providing high-level introductions for students and fresh perspectives for researchers.

Also check out the series, The Princeton Monographs in Philosophy (series editor Harry G. Frankfurt) on page 12.  The series offers distinctively short and tightly focused systematic and historical studies on a wide variety of philosophical topics.

The philosophy catalog is full of new books. You’ll definitely find something you want to read.  If you’re attending the annual American Philosophical Association meeting next week in Boston, please stop by booth no. 1026 to say hello and browse the books.  We would like to see you there.

You can also learn about new books in philosophy, by joining our e-mail list at:

Philosophy Catalog 2011:

Your Final Holiday Gift Picks of the Week

This one goes out to all my last-minute scramblers:  Leave no book shelf un-scoured, no Amazon cart empty!  Pray that your packages arrive on time, whether by reindeer or parcel post.  The force of the Claus is with you!

Here are this week’s picks from Sarah Wolf, editorial assistant in History:

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thompson –  Ignore the hype around Fear and Loathing Las Vegas, though you should read that too; this may just be Thompson’s best. Hunter’s no hold barred inside look at the 1972 presidential campaign (reported in true Gonzo style)  is as intelligent and  insightful as it is humorous – an inside look at an iconic American election and one of the best character studies written to date.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith – On Beauty was my introduction to Smith ; and the work that made her one of my most loved contemporary authors. Using the classic Howards Ends as her framework, Smith tackles issues of gender, race and class without ever seeming heavy handed.  Her nuanced characters, and distinctive voice, never fail to captivate.

Reading Obama by James Kloppenberg – Faced with endless media sound bites and the reinforcement of a right/left dichotomy, Reading Obama is a refreshing look at the American political tradition and its embodiment by President Obama. Kloppenberg moves beyond a superficial analysis to examine the  root of Obama’s political philosophy – providing an illuminating and distinctive look at the current administration.

And so another season of giving comes to a close today, this first day of Winter, and all is merry and bright in Book Land.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu!  Until next year…

-Gift Elf Out


Richard Crossley Unplugged: The Garden

Birding starts in your own backyard. In this installment, Richard describes ways you can make your garden more inviting to birds.


Princeton Global Science, Issue 8

This issue of Princeton Global Science features articles from many different areas of our publishing program.

From our mathematics editor, Vickie Kearn, we have a peek at the Museum of Mathematics’s Math Midway from the World Science Festival in Manhattan. Princeton University Press is anxiously awaiting the opening of this new institution and we hope you enjoyed the “from the ground” reporting of the features and popularity of this exhibit.

We also had an article from Arturo Sangalli about his world tour on behalf of various international editions of his fictional account of Pythagoras’ lost scroll, Pythagoras’ Revenge.

Ingrid Gnerlich introduced us to an exciting new astronomy book, How Old Is the Universe? by David Weintraub. You may recall an earlier video in which Weintraub explained how black holes are like baked potatoes. The book is now available and receiving rave reviews like this (“I absolutely love this book- buy it!”).

We are gearing up for the release of Patricia Churchland’s new book Braintrust in the spring with a video from a recent event where Churchland and fellow panelists Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn, Peter Singer, and Roger Bingham discussed how evolutionary theory and recent advances in neuroscience will impact our understanding of morality (coincidentally the subtitle of her forthcoming book is “What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality”.

Lastly, our PGS readers were given an exclusive early look at our Earth Sciences catalog of books, including new books in the Princeton Primers in Climate, the Princeton Frontiers of Physics, and the Science Essentials series.

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Michael Graetz, tax expert, discusses the latest Death Tax news on NPR’s Morning Edition

Our author and tax expert Michael Graetz appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition earlier today to discuss the hoopla in Congress surrounding the Estate Tax legislation.  Graetz, with co-author Ian Shapiro, published a wonderfully-written look at the “Death Tax” in their Princeton book DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth.  The politics of the estate tax has once again moved to the forefront of Congress’s agenda. Read the book that explains how we got into the mess Congress now faces.

PGS Books: How Old Is the Universe? by David Weintraub

Astronomers have made the very public claim that they know the age of the universe pretty accurately: 13.7 billion years old. But how exactly do they know how old the universe is? David Weintraub answers this question in his accessible and detailed book How Old Is the Universe?

Astronomers, he explains, did not simply decide one day that 13.7 billion years sounded reasonable; they do not simply believe that the universe came to exist at one special moment 13.7 billion years ago. Rather, they have come to recognize and agree that this is the answer, because many independent lines of inquiry and evidence all yielded this same answer. What is this evidence? This one compelling, fundamental, and deceptively simple question deserves a thorough answer—an answer that requires knowledge of a great swathe of modern astronomy.

In answering the central question of his book, Weintraub discusses the many phenomena, concepts, and principles at the heart of modern astronomy and cosmology, including black holes, dark matter and dark energy, and the accelerating universe. By challenging readers not to simply accept astronomers’ answer to this fundamental question, but rather to understand the answer, he reveals how various areas of astrophysical research fit together and support each other, how evidence drawn from all of these areas of research allows the astronomical community to answer deep questions about the physical nature of our universe, how science and scientists work, and how—when astronomers say that the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years—the answer rests on solid foundations, built one stone at a time from painstakingly gathered evidence.

Owen Gingerich calls How Old Is the Universe? “a splendid merger of science history and cutting-edge astronomy.” It’s this blend of history and up-to-the-minute science, along with Weintraub’s insights into the nuts and bolts of scientific discovery, that makes the book so unique and fascinating, a true delight by an expert researcher and distinguished teacher of astronomy.

Weintraub is also the author of another Princeton University Press book: Is Pluto a Planet?: A Historical Journey through the Solar System

You can watch a video of Weintraub lecturing on how astronomers have discovered the age of the universe here.

PGS Exclusive: “On promoting Pythagoras’ Revenge in foreign lands” by Arturo Sangalli

I was delighted to be the editor for Arturo Sangalli’s book, Pythagoras’ Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery, which Princeton published in 2009. As far as anyone knows, Pythagoras did not leave behind any writings. But, suppose he did? What would he have said, and where would the writings be found? Would it have been possible for his writings to survive and in what kind of container would they have been preserved? During the course of his writing, Arturo checked all sorts of obscure facts to make sure that everything in the book would be viable. He even traveled near and far.

He received technical advice from specialists in various fields. He consulted a special collections paper conservator and an expert in the conservation of rare paper-based objects and another expert who had knowledge about the effects of time and environment on the structure of various metals that might have been used to store Pythagoras’ documents. The Canadian Conservation Institute provided valuable information on papyrus conservation. Arturo even went to Faversham, England to meet with an antiquarian book dealer. So, you can see that it takes much more than just sitting at your computer to make a really good book.

Since the publication of the book in English, Pythagoras’ Revenge has been translated into several languages. I asked Arturo to tell us what it has been like to promote his book in different languages.

On promoting Pythagoras’ Revenge in foreign lands


The Genoa Science Festival is a huge event: a ten-day annual feast of lectures, workshops, laboratory experiments, exhibitions, films, and other activities, over 300 of them, at all levels and for people of all ages with an interest in science. Attendance figures routinely exceed 200,000. So, when I received an invitation from the editor of the Italian translation of Pythagoras’ Revenge to present the book at the festival, I accepted without hesitation.

To be honest, the invitation didn’t just fall out of the Italian sky—I had to work for it. The promotion of a book does not come cheap. I was willing to actively participate in the process and bear some of the cost. Since I planned to be in Florence on holidays in the fall, I informed the Italian editor in May that I would be available for a reading, interview, or some other promotional event.

Three months later, I received an invitation to give a talk about the mathematics in the book at the Genoa festival on October 31, sponsored by Ponte alle Grazie, the Italian publisher of the book. They would cover transportation costs from Florence and accommodation for one night.

The Genoa Science Festival gets a lot of publicity, and it receives wide coverage in the local and regional press. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the room at the FNAC bookstore was packed, with many people standing. I first presented and analyzed some of the mathematical ideas in the book and read a couple of passages, all this in Italian. There followed an interview with Giovanni Filocamo, the Italian mathematician who had introduced me, after which I answered a few questions from the audience. A handful of people came forward to have their copies of the book signed. Among these was a young boy, not older than thirteen, accompanied by his mother. She told me he had a passion for mathematics. I wrote, in Italian: ”To Joshua. This book was written for you. Now go and become a great mathematician! ”

Since I was going to be in Europe anyway, I figured “Why stop in Italy?” The book’s German translation was due out in October. I contacted the German publisher, Spektrum-Springer, mentioning in passing the Italian event. An exchange of emails followed and culminated with an invitation for a reading at the university bookstore in Heidelberg on November 3, and the offer to pay for part of the expenses. My European book tour was set up.

Heidelberg was the next stop. In the afternoon, I was given the rare opportunity to pitch the book to the Spektrum sales people, who happened to be holding their annual national meeting that day. The reading at the Ziehank bookstore in the evening had been announced through posters and fliers, with an entire window devoted exclusively to Pythagoras’ Rache. I had been told that people from the university, the likely audience, understood English. So I read some passages from the original English version, and Frank Wigger, the editor of the book, read other excerpts in German. The attendance was somewhat disappointing, though, but those who did come really appreciated the bilingual reading, judging from the comments afterward.

Frank told me that it was only the second time Spektrum had published a novel (the first one was seven years ago), and that sales figures were very promising: nearly 1,000 copies sold in the first three weeks.
All in all, it was a great experience, which I would be happy to repeat. Who knows? Two more translations of Pythagoras’ Revenge will be released shortly. But a trip to either Greece or Japan looks like a long shot at the moment.

Wait! This just in: the Paris-based Dunod Editions has bought the French translation rights for the book. Hmmm, Paris, that’s a different story.

PUP author and former Washington Post bureau chief Selig Harrison weighs in on the recent Korean conflict in NY Times opinion piece

Selig Harrison, author of our book KOREAN ENDGAME: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement and former Washington Post South Asia bureua chief, has a solution that can help calm tensions in the Korean peninsula which he published in yesterday’s New York Times. It’s a well-written, succinct piece that explains the conflict from a veteran of Korean affairs.

Holiday Gift Picks of the Week

With one more post remaining after today, the Elf urges you to buy, buy, buy while you still can get things shipped on time!  There’s no time like the present so get a move on, friends.

Here are this week’s picks from Jason Alejandro, one of our fabulous in-house graphic designers:
Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintryre – WWII. Espionage. Ian Fleming. Corpses. Hair-brained schemes. Deception. This book has it all. Operation Mincemeat is a brilliant telling of how British intelligence devised a plan to fool the Nazis and secure a surprise attack, eventually bringing the war to an end.

Half a Life by Darin Strauss – Just as he was preparing to graduate high school, Darin Strauss is forced to deal with a car accident that results in the death of one of his classmates. Thing is, Darin was behind the wheel. This memoir provides the all-too-real account of how Darin dealt with this tragedy as he completed high school, graduated from college and grad school, and then eventually started a family. It brings you full-circle into the psyche and emotions of a man simply trying to make sense of it all.

Scroogenomics by Joel Waldfogel – This book really is the gift that keeps on giving…or not giving…or giving without the complete destruction of a holiday’s fiscal value. Waldfogel crunches the numbers on decades of economic data to confront us with the reality that Christmastime makes for some sore gift-giving and unhappiness. So put down that singing fish, go buy 25 copies of this pint-sized gift book, and stick them in the stockings of those you love.

*second-to-last time I get to say this*

-Gift Elf Out


The Twelve Days of Christmas — from The Well Read Naturalist!

Yesterday, I received a terrific email notice about The Twelve Natural History Books of Christmas from the Well Read Naturalist. Seizing the position of the Partridge in a Pear Tree is The Curious World of Bugs, while the Two French Hens have been supplanted by our own Parrots of the World.

What a neat way to celebrate the holidays! I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Project Syndicate: “Europe’s Inevitable Haircut” by Barry Eichengreen

What once could be dismissed as simply a Greek crisis, or simply a Greek and Irish crisis, is now clearly a eurozone crisis. Resolving that crisis is both easier and more difficult than is commonly supposed.

The economics is really quite simple. Greece has a budget problem. Ireland has a banking problem. Portugal has a private-debt problem. Spain has a combination of all three. But, while the specifics differ, the implications are the same: all must now endure excruciatingly painful spending cuts.

The standard way to buffer the effects of austerity is to marry domestic cuts to devaluation of the currency. Devaluation renders exports more competitive, thus substituting external demand for the domestic demand that is being compressed.

Read more…

Barry Eichengreen is George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939, and two Princeton books: The European Economy since 1945: Coordinated Capitalism and Beyond and Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System.