Peter Brown Wins 2013 Philip Schaff Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Winner of the 2013 Philip Schaff Prize, American Society of Church History

The Philip Schaff Prize is an award in the amount of $2,000 to the author of the best book published in the two previous calendar years, originating in the North American scholarly community, which presents original research on any period in the history of Christianity, or makes a significant synthesizing scholarly contribution.  According to Dr. Keith Francis, Executive Secretary of ASCH, “The members of the committee described Through the Eye of a Needle as a ‘tour de force,’ a ‘magisterial study,’ and a ‘work of astonishing erudition.’  High praise indeed!  I was even more impressed by the comment that you had written ‘a brilliant synthesis of other scholars’ work as well as the harvest of your own five-decade career.” The prize will be awarded at ASCH’s next business meeting in Washington DC on January 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

k9807Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown, the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity, examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

 

New Philosophy Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new philosophy catalog!

Of particular interest is The Quotable Kierkegaard, edited by Gordon Marino. The father of existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a philosopher who could write like an angel. With only a sentence or two, he could plumb the depths of the human spirit. In this collection of some 800 quotations, the reader will find dazzling bon mots next to words of life-changing power. Drawing from the authoritative Princeton editions of Kierkegaard’s writings, this book presents a broad selection of his wit and wisdom, as well as a stimulating introduction to his life and work.

Also be sure to note Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds. The question may seem bizarre. But it’s one variation of a puzzle that has baffled moral philosophers for almost half a century and that more recently has come to preoccupy neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers as well. In this book, David Edmonds, coauthor of the best-selling Wittgenstein’s Poker, tells the riveting story of why and how philosophers have struggled with this ethical dilemma, sometimes called the trolley problem. In the process, he provides an entertaining and informative tour through the history of moral philosophy.

And don’t miss out on Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love by Simon Blackburn. Everyone deplores narcissism, especially in others. The vain are by turns annoying or absurd, offending us whether they are blissfully oblivious or proudly aware of their behavior. But are narcissism and vanity really as bad as they seem? Can we avoid them even if we try? In Mirror, Mirror, Simon Blackburn, the author of such best-selling philosophy books as Think, Being Good, and Lust, says that narcissism, vanity, pride, and self-esteem are more complex than they first appear and have innumerable good and bad forms. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and popular culture, Blackburn offers an enlightening and entertaining exploration of self-love, from the myth of Narcissus and the Christian story of the Fall to today’s self-esteem industry.

Even more foremost titles in philosophy can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Philosophical Association’s annual Eastern division meeting in Baltimore, MD, December 27th-30th, come visit our booth and follow #APAEastern and @PrincetonUnivPress on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

It’s Time To Re-Center Your Round-Up

A lot of people look at the holidays as a time to decompress, re-center themselves, and re-energize for the new year. Plus with New Year’s Resolutions flying  around, it’s the perfect time to read some books about how to better yourself both inside and out. No, I’m not saying you need to read a self-help book and cry into a pint of ice cream over your failures, but maybe you could get in touch with your spiritual, creative, mellow side with some poetry, yoga, and a bottle of Chardonnay.

Listed below we have six of our titles that we think will be perfect for helping you relax amongst the crazy and find a little inner peace . Plus, depending on how much of that wine you’ve had, you might even learn some interesting things to apply to your everyday life. Enjoy!

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Yoga in Practice

Edited by David Gordon White
Yoga is a body of practice that spans two millennia and transcends the boundaries of any single religion, geographic region, or teaching lineage. Yoga in Practice is an anthology of primary texts drawn from the diverse yoga traditions of India, greater Asia, and the West. Emphasizing the lived experiences to be found in the many worlds of yoga, Yoga in Practice includes David Gordon White’s informative general introduction as well as concise introductions to each reading by the book’s contributors.

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The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams

By: C. G. Jung, Translated by R.F.C. Hull
“The Undiscovered Self” is a plea for Jung’s generation–and those to come–to continue the individual work of self-discovery and not abandon needed psychological reflection for the easy ephemera of mass culture. Only individual awareness of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche will allow the great work of human culture to continue and thrive. Jung’s reflections on self-knowledge and the exploration of the unconscious carry over into the second essay, “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams,”. Describing dreams as communications from the unconscious, Jung explains how the symbols that occur in dreams compensate for repressed emotions and intuitions.

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Self-Fulfillment

By: Alan Gewirth
Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ideal has been accorded by developing an ethical theory that ultimately grounds the value of self-fulfillment in the idea of the dignity of human beings.

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The Brain and the Meaning of Life

By: Paul Thagard
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? This book draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life’s nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Thagard shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe.

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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

By: Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
This book presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed–they just use their minds differently. By using these straightforward and thought-provoking techniques, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself–revealing previously hidden opportunities. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, this book will inspire and guide you on your way.

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition

Roland Greene, editor in chief
Over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now the book has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes.

Leah Price Recieves Honorable Mention for the 2012 James Russell Lowell Prize

Leah Price - How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain
Honorable Mention for the 2012 James Russell Lowell Prize, Modern Language Association

The James Russell Lowell Prize is awarded annually for an outstanding book—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association. “Leah Price’s How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain disentangles the network of practices the Victorians developed for not reading their books through an innovative approach she calls rejection history. By analyzing the many uses of books aside from being read, Price provides an exhaustive and well-documented account of their material life and culture. From paperweight to garbage, she looks at the evolution of the bound book in ways that trump what can only be read between the covers. Giving welcome attention not only to familiar literary classics but also to less-studied genres, Price provides new models for reading the history of the book as object, commodity, and literary artifact. To learn more about this award, click here.

k9714How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain asks how our culture came to frown on using books for any purpose other than reading. When did the coffee-table book become an object of scorn? Why did law courts forbid witnesses to kiss the Bible? What made Victorian cartoonists mock commuters who hid behind the newspaper, ladies who matched their books’ binding to their dress, and servants who reduced newspapers to fish ‘n’ chips wrap?

Shedding new light on novels by Thackeray, Dickens, the Brontës, Trollope, and Collins, as well as the urban sociology of Henry Mayhew, Leah Price also uncovers the lives and afterlives of anonymous religious tracts and household manuals. From knickknacks to wastepaper, books mattered to the Victorians in ways that cannot be explained by their printed content alone. And whether displayed, defaced, exchanged, or discarded, printed matter participated, and still participates, in a range of transactions that stretches far beyond reading.

Supplementing close readings with a sensitive reconstruction of how Victorians thought and felt about books, Price offers a new model for integrating literary theory with cultural history. How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain reshapes our understanding of the interplay between words and objects in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Leah Price is professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel.

PUP News of the World

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Welcome to the next edition of our brand new series, PUP News of the World! Every week we will be posting a round-up of all of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


THE BEST OF THE BEST

As we near the end of 2013–where did the year go?–we’ve entered the season of “Best of” lists. Princeton University Press is excited to highlight just some of the most recent titles that have been featured as the best of the past year.

Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig start it off as THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES is included in The WSJ Best Nonfiction of 2013″ roundup. What separates this title from the pack? “In a year of important books about the recent economic crisis, the most important one told us simply how to stop the next one,” says the WSJ. Interested in learning more? Check out chapter one.

Mike Tyson, whose new book was released earlier this fall, pointed to a PUP book as one of his favorites of 2013. THE QUOTABLE KIERKEGAARD, edited by Gordon Marino, is a “collection of awesome quotes from that great Danish philosopher,” Tyson says.

The English translation of THE PLUM IN THE GOLDEN VASE was finally completed when PUP released the fifth volume this fall. Tash Aw names David Tod Roy’s translation as one of his favorites of the year, saying that this last volume “completes the joyous rediscovery of a genuine masterpiece.” See the full entries for both Tyson and Aw here in the Wall Street Journal‘s “12 Months of Reading” article.

For the scientists in the bunch, EINSTEIN AND THE QUANTUM is another 2013 favorite. Science Friday’s Ira Flatow named the book as one of his favorites, and Jennifer Oullette picked it for her list on Cocktail Party Physics. Have that “Einstein curiosity” about this title? Hear more from author A. Douglas Stone on this Physics Central Podcast.

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings selects ITALO CALVINO: Letters as one of her “Best Books on Writing and Creativity 2013.” Popova called the book “an absolute treasure trove in its entirety — the most profound intersection of writing, philosophy, and literary voyeurism since Susan Sontag’s journals and the diary of Anaïs Nin.” PUP is releasing a paperback edition this spring.

To round out our bunch–or should we say batch–we turn to the beloved cookbook by Merry White, which was re-released in a 40th Anniversary Edition this fall. COOKING FOR CROWDS is named one of the Atlantic‘s “Best Food Books of 2013.” Illustrated by the New Yorker‘s Ed Koren, this charming book offers simple, step-by-step instructions for easy cooking and entertaining on a grand scale–from hors d’oeuvres to desserts. Corby Kummer says:

“Not just enormously charming but useful, full of sturdy recipes that can still seem mildly exotic no matter how much we flatter ourselves at the sophistication of our palates….This is more, that is, than an artifact of Brooklyn avant la lettre. It’s full of practical dishes and tricks you’ll call your own, like tossing fresh-roasted almonds in maple syrup to serve on ice cream.”

World News 12-18


THIS WEEK’S REVIEWS

Gurcharan Das discusses the state of India and the issues highlighted in AN UNCERTAIN GLORY in his recent Wall Street Journal review. Listen to this interview with Amartya Sen, who co-authored the book with Jean Dréze.

You can also hear an interview with Francisco Bethencourt, the author of RACISMS, as he spoke to The Forum this week. RACISMS is the first comprehensive history of racism, from the Crusades to the twentieth century.

Did you hear all of the buzz about US President Barack Obama’s selfie? PUP author Simon Blackburn says it could have been worse. Check out his explanation in the Financial Times. His book, MIRROR, MIRROR, will be released this spring.

 

Win a copy of Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app (#BarringtonAtlasApp)

Scrambling for gift ideas for the archaeology buff who seems to have everything? Or eager to immerse yourself in the terrain and geography of the ancient world over the winter break? Enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of five free copies of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app for iPad2+!

The giveaway ends on December 23 at 10:00 AM. Winners will be notified by noon on December 23 and supplied with promo codes that are transferable (good for gift giving if you’re still shopping for Christmas or are shopping for a December birthday!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Details:

Please note — this giveaway is for an app available on the iPad platform only. The app is not compatible with earlier versions of iPad and will work only on the iPad2 or higher. The prize will be supplied in the form of a promo code that can be used to download the app in the iTunes gift store, but this giveaway is not affiliated with iTunes or any of their related companies. If you prefer to email your entry in, please send an email to blog@press.princeton.edu with “Barrington App Giveaway” in the subject field. The promo codes expire on January 2 and must be redeemed before this date. No replacement promo codes will be supplied if winners miss the expiration date.

Meredith Martin Wins the 2012 MLA Prize for a First Book

Meredith MartinThe Rise and Fall of Meter: Poetry and English National Culture, 1860–1930
Winner of the 2012 MLA Prize for a First Book, Modern Language Association

Meredith Martin’s The Rise and Fall of Meter is an impressive, elegant work that intervenes in old and new literary histories alike. This book traces the surprisingly polemical history of the standardization of English prosody. Bringing to light new archival materials, the work excavates the full turbulence and excitement of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates about English verse rhythms. Complex, concise, and clear, Martin’s book deftly weaves together cultural analysis; the study of language, form, and sound; and literary history. With a rich critical eclecticism, the book reframes and reanimates our understanding of the history of poetry and poetics. The result is an intriguing story, as relevant to the new aesthetics as it is to older historical and cultural studies. Martin’s work reminds us that at its best, great scholarship has much in common with great storytelling. To read more, click here.

http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9715.gif The Rise and Fall of Meter tells the unknown story of English meter from the late eighteenth century until just after World War I. Uncovering a vast and unexplored archive in the history of poetics, Meredith Martin shows that the history of prosody is tied to the ways Victorian England argued about its national identity. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Coventry Patmore, and Robert Bridges used meter to negotiate their relationship to England and the English language; George Saintsbury, Matthew Arnold, and Henry Newbolt worried about the rise of one metrical model among multiple competitors. The pressure to conform to a stable model, however, produced reactionary misunderstandings of English meter and the culture it stood for. This unstable relationship to poetic form influenced the prose and poems of Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and Alice Meynell. A significant intervention in literary history, this book argues that our contemporary understanding of the rise of modernist poetic form was crucially bound to narratives of English national culture.

Meredith Martin is associate professor of English at Princeton University.

Q&A: Eli Maor and Eugen Jost reveal the surprising inspirations and process of Beautiful Geometry

In k10065[1]January, we will publish Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor and with illustrations by Eugen Jost. The book is equal parts beauty and mathematics and we were grateful that both authors took time to answer some questions for our readers. We hope you enjoy this interview.

Look for a slideshow previewing the art from the book in the New Year.

PUP: How did this book come to be? Where did you get the idea to create a book of Beautiful Geometry?

Eli Maor [EM]: It all started some five years ago through a mutual acquaintance of us by the name Reny Montandon, who made me aware of Eugen’s beautiful geometric artwork. Then, in 2010, I met Eugen in the Swiss town of Aarau, where I was invited to give a talk at their famous Cantonal high school where young Albert Einstein spent two of his happiest years. We instantly bonded, and soon thereafter decided to work together on Beautiful Geometry. To our deep regret, Reny passed away just a few months before we completed the project that he helped to launch. We dearly miss him.

PUP: Eugen, where did your interest in geometric artwork come from? Are you a mathematician or an artist by training?

Eugen Jost [EJ]: I have always loved geometry. For me, mathematics is an endless field in which I can play as an artist and I am also intrigued by questions that arise between geometry and philosophy.

For example, Euclid said: A point is that which has no part, and a line is what has no widths. Which raises questions for me as an artist—Do geometric objects really exist, then? Are the points and lines that I produce really geometric objects? With Adobe Illustrator you can transform points and lines into “non-existing” paths, which brings you deeper into geometry.

But, ultimately, it’s not my first purpose to illustrate mathematics—I just want to play and I’m happy if the onlooker of my pictures starts to play as well.

PUP: How did you decide which equations to include?

EM: It’s not so much about equations as about theorems. Of course, geometry has hundreds, if not thousands of theorems to choose from, so we had to be selective. We didn’t have any particular rules to guide us; sometimes Eugen would choose a particular theorem for which he had some artistic design in mind; in other cases we based our selection on theorems with an interesting history, or just for their simplicity. But we always had the artistic point of view in mind: our goal was to showcase the beauty of geometry and make it known to a wide public.

EJ: I think I’m seldom looking for mathematical topics with which I can make pictures. It’s the other way round: mathematics and geometry comes to me. A medieval town, the soles of your shoes, wheel rims, textile printing, patterns in pine cones: wherever I look I see mathematics and beautiful geometry. Euclid’s books among many others provide me with ideas, too.

Often I develop ideas when I’m walking in the woods with our dog or I’m scribbling in my small black diaries while I’m sitting in trains. At home I transform the sketches into pictures.

PUP: Were there any theorems you didn’t get to include but would have liked to?

EM: Yes, there were many theorems we would have liked to have included, but for practical reasons we decided to limit ourselves to about 50 chapters. That leaves us plenty of subjects for Beautiful Geometry II :-)

PUP: Are there some theorems that simply didn’t lend themselves to artistic depictions?

EJ: In our book you won’t find many three-dimensional objects depicted. In my art I tend to create flat objects (circles, triangles, squares …) on surfaces and three-dimensional objects in space. Therefore we avoided theorems that have to do with space—with few exceptions.

PUP: Can you describe the layout of the book? How is it organized?

EM: We followed a more or less chronological sequence, but occasionally we grouped together subjects that are logically related to one another, so as to make the flow of ideas easier to follow.

PUP: The collaboration between you and Eugen Jost reminds me of a lyricist and musician—how did the two of you work together? Did you write and he created art alongside or did he have art already done and you wrote for it?

EM: Yes, that comparison between a lyricist (in opera we call it librettist) and a musician is very apt. As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t have a rigid guideline to follow; we just played with many ideas and decided which ones to include. We exchanged over a thousand emails between us (yes, Eugen actually counted them!) and often talked on Skype, so this aspect of our collaboration was easy. I can’t imagine having done that twenty years ago…

EJ: Communicating with Eli was big fun. He has so many stories to tell and very few of them are restricted to geometry. In 2012, when we thought our manuscript was finished, Eli and his wife came to Switzerland. For many days we travelled and hiked around lakes, cities and mountains with our manuscripts in our book sacks. We discussed all the chapters at great length. In some chapters, the relationship between Eli’s text and my pictures is very close and the art helps readers understand the text. In others, the connection is looser. Readers are invited to get the idea of a picture more or less independently—sort of like solving a riddle.

PUP: Most of the art in the book are original pieces by Eugen, right? Where did you find the other illustrations?

EM: Most of the artwork is Eugen’s work. He also took excellent photographs of sites with interesting geometric patterns or a historical significance related to our book. I have in mind, for example, his image of the famous headstone on the grave of Jakob Bernoulii in the town of Basel, Switzerland, which has the wrong spiral engraved on it—a linear spiral instead of a logarithmic one!

PUP: That is fascinating and also hints at What Eugen mentioned earlier–math and the beauty of math is hidden in plain sight, all around us. Are there other sites that stand out to you, Eugen?

EJ: Yesterday I went to Zurich. While I was walking through the streets I tried to find answers to your question. Within half an hour I found over a dozen examples of the mathematics that surrounds us:

  • The clock face of the church St. Peter is the biggest one in Europe. This type of clock face links our concept of time with ancient Babylonians who invented a time system based on the numbers 12, 24, 12×30, 3600.
  • In the Bahnhofstrasse of Zurich there is a sculpture by Max Bill in which many big cuboids form a wonderful ensemble. Max Bill was the outstanding artist of the so called “Zürcher Konkrete”; his oeuvre is full of mathematics.
  • I saw a fountain and the jet of water formed wonderful parabolas in the air. Where the water entered the pool, it produced concentric circles.
  • There are literally hundreds of ellipses on any street in Zurich, or any other town for that matter. Every wheel you see is an ellipse—unless you look at it at a precise angle of 90 degrees.
  • Even under our feet, you can find mathematics. Manhole covers very often have wonderful patterns that you can interpret mathematically.

Mathematics and Beautiful Geometry is everywhere around us—we just have to open our eyes.

PUP: What equation does the artwork on the cover of the book illustrate? Can you give us a quick “reading” of it?

EM: The front cover shows the Sierpinski Triangle, named after Polish mathematician Waclaw Sierpinski (1882-1969). It is a bizarre construction, a triangle-like shape that has zero area but an infinite perimeter. This is but one of many fractal-type patterns that have become popular thanks to the ability to create them with modern computers, often adding dazzling color to make them into exquisite works of art.

PUP: Eugen, what is your process to create a piece of art like this?

EJ: Unfortunately, the Sierpinski Triangle was not my own idea, but I was awe-struck by the idea of a shape with an infinitely little area and an infinite perimeter, so I started to think about how it could be depicted. Like most of the pictures in the book, I created this piece of art on a computer. At the same time, I was immersed in other mathematical ideas like the Menger sponge, the Hilbert curve, the Koch snowflake. Of course Sierpinski himself and countless others must have sketched similar triangles, but that was the challenge for our book: to take theorems and to transform them into independent pieces of art that transcend mere geometric drawings.

PUP: Eli, do you have a favorite piece of art in the book?

EM: Truth be told, every piece of art in our book is my favorite! But if I must choose one, I’ll go for the logarithmic spiral that Eugen realized so beautifully in Plate 34.1; it is named spira mirabilis (“The miraculous spiral”), the name that Bernoulli himself used to describe his favorite curve.

PUP: We asked the mathematician to pick his favorite piece of art, so it is only fair that we should ask the artist to pick his favorite theorem. Do you have one, Eugen?

EJ: Being Eli’s first reader for the last three years has been a joy because he tells history and stories in our book. I like the chapter on the surprising theorem of George Alexander Pick, in part because of the biographical details. Eli describes how Pick bonded with Albert Einstein in Prague—imagine Einstein and Pick playing the violin and the viola together! Sadly, Pick ended his life in the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, but he left behind this wonderful contribution to mathematics.

PUP: Are there any particularly surprising pieces of art in the book that might have a good backstory or illustrate a particularly memorable equation?

EM: Again, this puts me in a difficult position – to choose among so many interesting subjects that are covered in our book. But if I have to pick my choice, I’d go for Plate 26.1, entitled PI = 3. The title refers to what has been called the “Biblical value of PI” and refers to a verse in the Bible (I Kings vii 23) which, if taken literally, would lead to a value of PI = 3. Our plate shows this value surrounded by the famous verse in its original Hebrew.

PUP: Writing a book is a long process filled with countless hours of hard work. Do any moments from this period stand out in particular?

EJ: I remember sitting in a boat on the lake of Thun with Eli and his wife Dalia in the spring of 2012. Eli and I were pondering on the chapter doubling the cube. As I mentioned before, I do not like to draw three-dimensional objects on a flat surface, so I didn’t want to depict a traditional cube. I was playing instead with the unrolling of two cubes, one having the double volume of the other. Eli was not sure this would work, but on the boat we thoroughly discussed it and all of a sudden Eli said, “Eugen, you have sold me on it.” I hadn’t heard that expression before. I then had a queasy conscience because I didn’t know whether I should have been flexible enough to leave my own idea for a better one. Ultimately, the art came out quite well and really illustrates the Delian problem.

A chance encounter gave me a sense of the broad appeal of the book. I was sitting at a table with a highly trained engineer and I told him about our book. I then tried to explain the theorem of Morley: In any triangle, the three points of intersection of the adjacent angle trisectors form an equilateral triangle. His response was “You don’t suppose that you could solve any statical problem with this, do you?”

PUP: Math is often quite visual, but where did the idea of making it both visual and beautiful come from?

EM: We are not the first, of course, to point out the visual beauty of many geometric theorems or patterns, but usually these gems are depicted in stark, black-and-white designs of lines and curves. Adding colors to these designs – and sometimes a bit of humor and imagination – makes all the difference between strictly mathematical beauty and a true work of art. This is what has really inspired us in writing our book.

PUP: Who do you hope reads Beautiful Geometry?

EM: We aim at a broad audience of students, teachers and instructors at all levels, and above all, laypersons who enjoy the beauty of patterns and are not afraid of a simple math equation here and there. We hope not to disappoint them!

Princeton University Press’s best-selling titles

Books make great gifts and people are stocking up ahead of Christmas. These are the best-selling books for the past week.

 

Helmreich_NewYork The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
k10054 The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton
Stephenson_WarblerG The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
k8967 Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian by A. Douglas Stone
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman
The Crossley ID Guide: Raptorsby Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori, and Brian Sullivan

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Two hundred and thirty-eight candles for the late Jane Austen, who was born today in 1775. Happy birthday, dear Jane!

Wondering how to celebrate the Pride and Prejudice writer’s special day? Luckily, PUP has compiled a crop of all things Austen. Our list even includes a word with our resident Jane Austen enthusiast and author of Jane Austen, Game Theorist, scholar Michael Chwe.

Jane Austen, Game Theorist

ALL THINGS AUSTEN

For the competitive types (you know who you are):

Jane Austen, a game theorist? Michael Chwe argues that Austen’s books are teeming with examples of her classic characters using game theory in their decisions. Check out his latest interview, where he makes his case for why Miss Austen’s work is one of game theory’s true scientific predecessors. Here is a preview:

I think that Austen’s literary worlds are worlds where […] you think about yourself in terms of decisions. Other people’s worlds might think in terms of visuals or characters or history, but when you think about Austen’s worlds, it’s about […] what would you do? What would you think about? What connections would you make?

To find out more, read a sample chapter of Chwe’s book.

For the visual folks:

Check out this visual, used by Chwe. Mr. Darcy makes everything more complicated, doesn’t he?

“Elizabeth, who was by this time tolerably well acquainted with her own feelings, was perfectly aware that, had she known nothing of Darcy, she could have borne the dread of Lydia’s infamy somewhat better.  It would have spared her, she thought, one sleepless night out of two.”

Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen graphFor the game lovers:

Jane, Plain No More” — This clever New York Times article highlights the year’s mentions of Jane Austen, complete with an Austen-themed board game.

For the brainiacs:

The New York Times also designed a Jane Austen quiz, which boasts that it will “separate the Lizzys from the Lydias.” How many answers can you get right, PUP readers? Let us know your score!

For the book worms:

If your copy of Mansfield Park is worn from your many re-reads, take a look at Princeton University Press’s list of Austen-related books.

For the ultimate fans (we’re right there with you!):

Grab your bonnet and step back in time with Ever, Jane, a virtual Jane Austen online game. As the website states, this is not a game of “kill or be killed, but invite or be invited.” The prototype is available for download on their website. Game on.

 

PUP News of the World

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Welcome to the next edition of our brand new series, PUP News of the World! Every week we will be posting a round-up of all of our most exciting national AND international reviews/interviews/events/articles, etc. that took place in the last week.


http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9383.gifThis week our article of the week comes from Financial Times! In the spirit of the holidays, the FT has posted a list of the best books of 2013 as chosen by FT writers and guests, including six Princeton University Press titles!
In the category of Business, Marc Levinson’s book, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, was chosen by none other than the Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates! Of the book, he said, “[This book] was published in 2006 but I read it just this year, around the time I visited the Panama Canal. A book about metal boxes may not sound like a thrill ride, but Levinson keeps it moving with compelling characters and surprising details. He unravels the history of how the shipping container revolutionised the way the world does business, affecting everything from shipping times to the depth of ports. A helpful guide to one of the cornerstones of globalisation. I won’t look at a cargo ship in quite the same way again.”
In the category of Economics, three of our books were chosen by Martin Wolf. The first, The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, Wolf called “[T]he most important book to have come out of the financial crisis”. The second, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps was called “[E]xtraordinary… Phelps has addressed some of the big questions about our future”. Last but not least, the third selection was The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present by Paul Seabright, which Wolf says “With characteristic brilliance, Seabright uses biology, sociology, anthropology and economics to explain the war of the sexes”.
In the category of History, Tony Barber chose two PUP titles. Barber called the first Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek Sayer, “[T]houghtful, witty and well-illustrated”. He also selected Benn Steil’s The Battle of Bretton Woods:John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, of which he said, “Steil’s book is an object lesson in how to make economic history entertaining and instructive”.
Lastly, in the category of Art, Jackie Wullschlager chose T.J. Clark’s Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, calling it “[A] brilliant art-historical analysis… The most original book on Picasso for years”.


j10074[1]Robert Herritt of the Daily Beast reviewed Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds, calling it “[I]mpressive…[A] walking tour of moral philosophy organized around one of the most well-known thought experiments of the last half century….By weaving together abstract principles, biographical sketches, historical examples, and trendy research in this just-so way, Edmonds has figured out how to illustrate the dimensions and consequences of moral decision-making without sacrificing entertainment value…[A] carefully executed book”.


There was a review in The Guardian for Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation by Robert Bartlett, in which Diarmaid MacCulloch said “… there is much to enjoy in the array of human behaviour, sacred and by our standards profane or just downright mad, chronicled in Bartlett’s excellent study.”


cookingAnne Kingston of Maclean’s wrote a feature on Cooking for Crowds: 40th Anniversary Edition by Merry White this week, saying “Recipes ahead of the curve 40 years ago—dirty rice, pork vindaloo— remain au courant; others—Swedish meatballs, Charlotte Malakoff au chocolat—exude a retro ’70s vibe that’s also au courant. Prep details for six, 12, 20 and 50 servings of each recipe are provided. Practical advice abounds, including not to multiply powerful spices like other ingredients… [Cooking for Crowds] remains a boffo resource for those hankering to make chicken Bengal for 12 or baklava for 50.”


Nicholas Kristof mentioned The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton in his New York Times Sunday Review column discussing foreign aid this past weekend.


Joan Acocella reviewed The Book of Job: A Biography by Mark Larrimore in The New Yorker.


Gordon Marino had an Op-Ed  piece about Nelson Mandela and Kierkegaard on the Chronicle’s “The Conversation” blog, which mentions The Quotable Kierkegaard, Marino’s most recent publication. Similarly, Marino had an Op-Ed in The New York Times this week in which he discusses Vitali Klitschko’s run for the Ukranian presidency.


David Wessel recently wrote an article about The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance by Eswar S. Prasad in the Wall Street Journal, calling it “[A] surprising argument….[L]ucid….”. Prasad also did an interview with Wessel, which can be found here. Lastly, Prasad wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about the argument his new book makes.


What W. H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall Smith was reviewed by Times Higher Education this week. Chris Jones called it  “charming”.


On a very international note, Edmund Phelps was interviewed about his book, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change, by Die Welt (The World), a German national daily newspaper, this past weekend. Phelps also did a Q&A recently with Dylan Matthews that appeared on WashingtonPost.com’s Wonkblog in which they discuss his book, plus Arnold Kling reviewed Mass Flourishing on his blog, Econlib, saying “Phelps has given us a clear warning of the dangers of corporatism. I hope that more people hear and heed the warning.”


Sides_TheGamble3National Journal published their featured list of “The Best Political Books We Read in 2013” this week, which included The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck. Of this selection, Steven Shepard said, “What really mattered in last year’s elections? George Washington University professor John Sides and UCLA professor Lynn Vavreck, in a remarkably fast turnaround for an academic work, applied social science to the developments of last year’s presidential election in The Gamble. It turns out that the events journalists described in real time (including this one) weren’t as important as they were made out to be. And Sides and Vavreck provide an important reality check that observers should heed before the daily doings of 2016 consume us all.”


Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll, was recently listed in The Atlantic’s Best Book’s of the Year roundup. Alexis Madrigal said, “If books can be tools, Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts for understanding the digital age—a lever, perhaps, to pry ourselves from the grasp of the coercive loops that now surround us.”


With Christmas rapidly approaching, Irish Independent put together a Christmas books round-up, which included The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil, which they referred to as a “masterful account”.


The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century by Angela E. Stent was recently reviewed in the Kirkus Reviews. In the article they called it “[L]ucid….[R]eadable and sometimes surprising…..”.


Times Higher Education reviewed The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present by David Runicman this week, calling it “[I]nsightful”, and saying that “Runciman has written a brilliant book in which both the prose and the ideas sparkle”.


Lastly, a number of PUP books are featured in Bloomberg Businessweek’s best books of 2013 feature, “Buffett, Slim, Greenspan, El-Erian, Lew Pick Best Books of 2013.” The list includes Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman, The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions by Jean Drèze & Amartya Sen, and The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil.


COMING SOON: An interactive map of the world where you can check out all of our reviews from multiple countries and continents, sorted by publication.

W. Patrick McCray Win the 2012 Eugene E. Emme Award

W. Patrick McCray - The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future
Winner of the 2012 Eugene E. Emme Award for Astronautical Literature, American Astronautical Society

The annual Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Awards, named for NASA’s first Historian, recognize outstanding books which advance public understanding of astronautics through originality, scholarship and readability. For more information about the AAS Emme Award, click here.

http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9822.gifIn 1969, Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill began looking outward to space colonies as the new frontier for humanity’s expansion. A decade later, Eric Drexler, an MIT-trained engineer, turned his attention to the molecular world as the place where society’s future needs could be met using self-replicating nanoscale machines. These modern utopians predicted that their technologies could transform society as humans mastered the ability to create new worlds, undertook atomic-scale engineering, and, if truly successful, overcame their own biological limits. The Visioneers tells the story of how these scientists and the communities they fostered imagined, designed, and popularized speculative technologies such as space colonies and nanotechnologies.

Patrick McCray traces how these visioneers blended countercultural ideals with hard science, entrepreneurship, libertarianism, and unbridled optimism about the future. He shows how they built networks that communicated their ideas to writers, politicians, and corporate leaders. But the visioneers were not immune to failure–or to the lures of profit, celebrity, and hype. O’Neill and Drexler faced difficulty funding their work and overcoming colleagues’ skepticism, and saw their ideas co-opted and transformed by Timothy Leary, the scriptwriters of Star Trek, and many others. Ultimately, both men struggled to overcome stigma and ostracism as they tried to unshackle their visioneering from pejorative labels like “fringe” and “pseudoscience.”

The Visioneers provides a balanced look at the successes and pitfalls they encountered. The book exposes the dangers of promotion–oversimplification, misuse, and misunderstanding–that can plague exploratory science. But above all, it highlights the importance of radical new ideas that inspire us to support cutting-edge research into tomorrow’s technologies.

W. Patrick McCray is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Keep Watching the Skies!: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age (Princeton) and Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology.