Archives for June 2013

“Pandemics: Are We All Doomed?” – The Princeton in Europe lecture 2013

Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, joined us for the third annual Princeton in Europe lecture, held in London on 17th April 2013.  In the midst of measles outbreaks in Wales, and the new H7N9 strain of bird flu in China, Professor Gupta takes us on a tour through the history of virulent worldwide diseases and considers the potential risks that future pandemics could pose to our global population.

To find out more about PUP Europe and the European Advisory Board, visit our website: The 2014 lecture will be delivered on 8th April 2014 by Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford. His topic will be: “What if Arianism had won?”

The Warbler Guide — Additional Sections

Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle have created the most innovative and complete guide to warblers available in The Warbler Guide. In this video they describe several of the unique features of the book.

For more tips on how to use The Warbler Guide and how to identify warblers in the field, please see additional videos in this series.

Weekly Best Seller List

These are the best-selling books for the past week.


jacket Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman
No Joke: Making Jewish Humor
by Ruth R. Wisse
jacket Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy by Mark P. Witton
jacket Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
jacket The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
jacket College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco
jacket The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil
jacket Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
jacket QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman
jacket The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup Noam Wasserman

UCLA Today: How professors can get publicity for their scholarly books

Michael Chwe -- UCLA Department of Political ScienceMichael Chwe is an assistant professor in the political science department. His recent book, “Jane Austen, Game Theorist,” has received widespread attention, but it wasn’t by accident. Here he shares his recipe for getting media attention for a book about something interesting, though obscure.

Most people believe that Rosa Parks sparked the Civil Rights Movement by refusing to give up her seat. But as a game theorist who studies social movements, I know this story is only partly true: after Mrs. Parks’s arrest on Dec. 1, 1955, the veteran activist Jo Ann Gibson Robinson mimeographed 52,500 leaflets announcing a boycott four days later. If any single action started the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it was the printing of these leaflets.

Mobilizing people to action doesn’t just happen: it takes extensive planning and effort. So when I geared up to publish my second scholarly book, “Jane Austen, Game Theorist”, I vowed to deploy ideas from social movement theory to help publicize it. I figured I could use all the help I could get; my first book, “Rational Ritual,” never cracked an Amazon ranking higher than #42,000. In the heady week after “Jane Austen, Game Theorist” came out, for a few hours it went past #200. It has received much more attention than anyone expected.

Here’s what I did and why.

When it comes to marketing your book, get ready to spend lots of time and effort, full-time for weeks. It is not unreasonable to schedule your teaching responsibilities around it. You will be spending lots of time and energy doing what all social movement organizers do: talking, writing and discussing, trying to get the message out.

Almost all social movements rely on a single tight organizing team that communicates daily. When you publish your book, your obvious team members are the publicity people at your press and your university. Get to know them early, several months before the publication date, and take their advice.

Planning is essential. A very effective Civil Rights Movement tactic was the sit-in, in which black students sat at segregated lunch counters, causing the lunch counters to shut down and creating economic havoc. In the two months after the Feb. 1, 1960 sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina, sit-ins had occurred in 69 cities. Many at the time saw this rapid spread as a spontaneous occurrence, like a dam breaking after decades of pent-up frustration, but it was actually the result of extensive planning and nonviolent protest training.

Similarly, the publicists who helped me worked well in advance to get coverage to appear immediately after my publication date. They worked with several outlets at once, and thus news of my book seemed to break spontaneously, giving the impression of a groundswell of support, which turned into a real groundswell of support.

Relationships are key: activate existing ones and make new ones. In the 1964 Freedom Summer campaign, one of the main factors determining whether a given volunteer actually showed up was that person’s personal relationships. The sociologist Doug McAdam found that people who had friends who participated were more likely to participate than people who did not.

You will be surprised at how many people will want to buy your book solely because they know you (from college, kindergarten, conferences, etc.) and want to share in your success. This will gratify you immensely. Get on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and renew these relationships. You have many circles of friends whom you might expect to be uninterested (your gym acquaintances, your PTA friends, your college alumni association) but whom would be delighted to know about your book.

As you promote your book, you initiate new relationships, with interested readers, journalists, bloggers and so on. Take these relationships seriously and make an effort to maintain them. A reporter who wrote about my first book back in 2002 kindly tweeted about my second book to her several thousand followers. Every friend or acquaintance that you have or create has a potential “multiplier effect” of hundreds or thousands. A graduate student who likes your book might not be an “opinion leader” but might tell you about relevant listservs and blogs.

The main stroke of good fortune for my book was that a New York Times reporter, Jennifer Schuessler, wrote a very thoughtful and fun story about it. During my interview with her, I felt that I got to know her a little bit, and I will definitely let her know about my next book.

After the New York Times story came out, I did my best to be active on Twitter, even directing people to bookstores that still had copies, and I “followed” every person who tweeted about the story. Not everyone follows you back, but now I have around 500 followers who have expressed interest in the book, which is great.

Let people know something exciting is happening. In my 2001 book “Rational Ritual,” I discuss how a political rebellion is what game theorists call a “coordination problem”: a situation in which a person’s motivation for participating increases when other people participate. I am much more likely to join a protest of 10,000 people than a protest of 10. Buying a book is the same: a person is more likely to buy a book if she thinks lots of others are buying it and talking about it.

Thus when you market your book, do anything you can to let potential readers know that there are lots of other potential readers. I set up my own web page for my book, which includes all news stories and blog posts about the book, so people can see how many others are talking about it. If people tweet about your book, retweet. I periodically Google my book title to see which blogs and news outlets might be discussing it, and if possible I leave a comment referring them to my web page.

Make it as easy as possible for people to get interested. In 1965, the economist Mancur Olson recommended that to solve the “free-rider problem,” organizers should offer potential participants “selective incentives.” Any protest organizer who offers free food and music to make a protest more attractive is aware of this logic.

The equivalent of free food for a reporter is anything that makes writing her story easier. Your publicity professionals will create a press release, which is essentially a story pre-written for reporters. Some will post this press release verbatim, and some will modify it slightly and put their name on the byline.

In other words, everyone is busy, so make it easier for people to help you. Try to respond as quickly as possible to inquiries; the time scale of reporters is at least ten times faster than that of academics.

One “selective incentive” that I really like is offering signed bookplates to anyone who wants one for their copy of the book. It is a fun way to get to know your readers, and its personal and analog quality is a welcome respite from the daily digital torrent.

Engage in every way possible. The Civil Rights Movement had its spirituals, and the Gdansk shipyard in 1980 had its poetry. Successful social movements involve people in as many ways as possible, with words, dance, song, poetry, food and so forth. To promote my book, I made a Youtube video because I wanted to engage people with images as well as words.

I also got involved with my book’s cover. I wanted the book to feel fun and light, even whimsical, so I emailed the comic artist Sonny Liew and asked him to do the cover. This was money very well spent — Sonny’s fantastic illustration conveys the spirit of my book perfectly. One colleague called it the best academic book cover she has ever seen.

If your book were a meal, what would it taste like? The more ways you can think about the book, the more ways readers can relate to it. I am not above releasing “Jane Austen, Game Theorist” songs, recipes, and cat pictures.

Finally, start thinking like a 20-year-old. Social movements are usually a young person’s game, with older, more established people carted in after most of the work has been done. According to Alabama State College professor B. J. Simms, 26-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., having arrived in Montgomery just one year earlier, was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (the organization created to run the bus boycott) because no older leader wanted to take the blame in case it failed.

So to promote your book, do all of the crazy things 20-year-olds do, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Youtube and Imgur. Like a 20-year-old, be willing to drop everything you are doing at a moment’s notice to respond to an inquiry. Be opportunistic, follow every lead and network like hell. Tweet like a maniac — you’ll know you are getting through when people (in this case, Stephanie Hershinow at Rutgers) respond with tweets like “WE GET IT! JANE AUSTEN WAS A GAME THEORIST! FINE! WHATEVER! YOU WIN!!!!”

Jane Austen, Game Theorist
Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Jane Austen, Game Theorist by Michael Suk-Young ChweGame theory–the study of how people make choices while interacting with others–is one of the most popular technical approaches in social science today. But as Michael Chwe reveals in his insightful new book, Jane Austen explored game theory’s core ideas in her six novels roughly two hundred years ago. Jane Austen, Game Theorist shows how this beloved writer theorized choice and preferences, prized strategic thinking, argued that jointly strategizing with a partner is the surest foundation for intimacy, and analyzed why superiors are often strategically clueless about inferiors. With a diverse range of literature and folktales, this book illustrates the wide relevance of game theory and how, fundamentally, we are all strategic thinkers.

Although game theory’s mathematical development began in the Cold War 1950s, Chwe finds that game theory has earlier subversive historical roots in Austen’s novels and in “folk game theory” traditions, including African American folktales. Chwe makes the case that these literary forebears are game theory’s true scientific predecessors. He considers how Austen in particular analyzed “cluelessness”–the conspicuous absence of strategic thinking–and how her sharp observations apply to a variety of situations, including U.S. military blunders in Iraq and Vietnam.

Jane Austen, Game Theorist brings together the study of literature and social science in an original and surprising way.


Jane Austen, Game Theorist . . . is more than the larky scholarly equivalent of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.’. . . Mr. Chwe argues that Austen isn’t merely fodder for game-theoretical analysis, but an unacknowledged founder of the discipline itself: a kind of Empire-waisted version of the mathematician and cold war thinker John von Neumann, ruthlessly breaking down the stratagems of 18th-century social warfare.”–Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times

“This is such a fabulous book–carefully written, thoughtful and insightful . . .”–’s Grrl Scientist blog

“”Michael Chwe shows that Jane Austen is a strategic analyst–a game theorist whose characters exercise strategic thinking. Game theorists usually study war, business, crime and punishment, diplomacy, politics, and one-upmanship. Jane Austen studies social advancement, romantic relationships, and even gamesmanship. Game theorists will enjoy this venture into unfamiliar territory, while Jane Austen fans will enjoy being illuminated about their favorite author’s strategic acumen–and learn a little game theory besides.””–Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics

“Jane Austen’s novels provide wonderful examples of strategic thinking in the lives of ordinary people. In Jane Austen, Game Theorist, Michael Chwe brilliantly brings out these strategies, and Austen’s intuitive game-theoretic analysis of these situations and actions. This book will transform the way you read literature.”–Avinash Dixit, coauthor of The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life

“Whether you’re an intelligent strategic thinker or a clueless bureaucrat, this book will teach and delight you. The merger of game theory and Jane Austen, with extended examples from African American folklore and U.S. foreign policy, provides the best study I know of motive and cluelessness. Michael Chwe, a rare breed of political scientist, has raised the game of two disciplines. This is a genuinely interdisciplinary work that avoids the reductionism of much game theory and the provincialism of many Austen admirers.”–Regenia Gagnier, author of The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Market Society

“It would be useful for everyone to understand a little bit more about strategic thinking. Jane Austen seems not only to get this, but to explore it obsessively. Looking at Austen and other works, this persuasive book shows that the game theory in historical sources is not inherently opposed to humanistic thinking, but embedded within it.”–Laura J. Rosenthal, University of Maryland

Tasty Tuesday: What’s Cookin’ With Princeton University Press

Cooked Books:

Dish - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff  of Princeton University Press
Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University Press

includes eighty-two recipes contributed by current and former members of the Princeton University Press staff. In 115 pages, it draws on the best culinary inspiration of our extended publishing community, their families, and their friends.

We marry the cultures of cooking and publishing a level deeper by tying the names of many of our favorite dishes to titles of our favorite books and, in some cases, names from the Press’s glorious past. And so we have “The Barrington Atlas of of Greek and Roman Chicken,” the “Copywriters’ Crutch Casserole,” and “Scribner’s Scrumptious Stuffed-Shell Tacos,” to go along with many other distinctive PUP offerings. While the Press-specific epithets may be mysterious to some readers, we trust the quality of the recipes and the liveliness of their presentation will compensate for any confusion.

Spoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University PressSpoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University PressSpoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University Press

Each Tuesday, PUP wants to share a recipe from our book for our blog readers to try. Tasty Tuesday is somewhat of a departure from our everyday content. We believe that cooking and cookbooks are a legitimate part of scholarly activity. Scholars like to eat, and many do not eat well enough. “Mens sana in corpore sano,” we always say. We hope the recipes in this book will nourish thought.

Don’t Call It English Rødgrød med Flød
A Danish Diarist’s Seduction by Hanne Winarsky

Plate - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff  of Princeton University Press
A traditional dessert from Denmark, this is a cold strawberry and rhubarb soup (and you can vary it by adding all sorts of sweet summer berries). It’s easy and keeps really well in the fridge for a few days. Serve as a delicious cold dessert to cool down on hot summer nights!

  • about 6–8 rhubarb stalks water, as directed
  • 2 packages frozen, sliced strawberries in syrup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 3–4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • heavy cream (or half-and-half ), for serving sugar to taste

Take frozen strawberries out of their packages and put into a bowl on the counter to defrost, partially.

Dice rhubarb into ½-inch pieces. Put into a large pot. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot (about 1 cup or so, but it depends on the pot!). Bring to a simmer. Add the rhubarb and cover; simmer over low heat. Check frequently to make sure water has not evaporated. If it has, add a little more—in very small amounts.

When rhubarb is soft (about 15 minutes or so), add strawberries and defrosted syrup from the strawberry packages. Simmer, still on low heat, until strawberries are heated and softened thoroughly (about 10 more minutes).

In a small bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of water. Stir quickly until you have a smooth mixture with no lumps. Add the cornstarch and water to the simmering rhubarb and strawberry mixture. Stir thoroughly; make sure there are no lumps.

Add sugar to taste (about 3 tablespoons—depending on how much rhubarb you’ve used and how much syrup you’ve added; remember the syrup has sugar in it already). I actually prefer to keep it not super-sweet, since you will sprinkle sugar on top when serving.

Turn heat way down, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 more minutes, until the rhubarb and strawberry mix is about the consistency of tapioca pudding.

Remove from heat and pour into bowl to cool. Refrigerate.

Serve chilled with heavy cream or half-and-half drizzled on top, and sprinkle with sugar.

Cooking time: about 40 minutes. Serves 6–8.

The Illustrations
The images of food, tableware, and cooking implements that figure prominently in this book are from Menu Designs, published by The Pepin Press, Agile Rabbit Editions, © 1999 and 2005 Pepin Van Roojen, These images are used with permission. Other incidental images of books and animals are taken from two Dover Electronic Clip Art Publications, Books, Reading and Writing Illustrations (CD-Rom and book © 1992) and 1565 Spot Illustrations and Motifs (CD-Rom and book © 2007) and are used in compliance with terms of use for materials from Dover Publications, Inc.

[THURSDAY, July 4th] Life and environment: An evaluation of the Gaia Hypothesis by Professor Toby Tyrrell

Life and environment: An evaluation of the Gaia Hypothesis

by Professor Toby Tyrrell

Toby will be signing copies of his book at 6:30pm.

Categories: Lectures & Discussions, Book Signing
Co-sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Date: Thursday, July 4th, 2013
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm. Toby will be signing copies of his book at 6:30pm. The Marine Life Talks are held at 7:30pm. Please arrive no later than 7:15pm.
Venue: The National Oceanography Centre
Address: National Oceanography Centre
University of Southampton Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton SO14 3ZH
United Kingdom
Location: Reached via Dock Gate 4 (between Southampton’s Town Quay and Ocean Village).
Cost: Free admission – these talks are open to the public

View this event on the National Oceanography Center website:

In 1972 James Lovelock made an interesting proposal. Life is not solely a pas­senger on a fortuitously habitable Earth, he suggested. Instead, life has been at the controls of the planetary environment, helping to ensure continued habitability over ~3 bil­lion years. In the thirty years or so since he first proposed it, the Gaia hypothesis has intrigued a whole generation of those interested in natural history and planet Earth. Today it is widely but by no means universally credited by scientists. It remains controversial.

Gaia is a fascinating idea, but is it correct? In this talk Toby Tyrrell will attempt to an answer this overall large question by first exploring some smaller questions that relate to the larger one. First Toby will look at cooperative regulation of a shared living space: under what circumstances is this observed to occur in nature? Second he will consider whether the biota has altered the environment on a global scale. Finally Toby will discuss whether the changes to environmental conditions following evolutionary innovations have or have not been broadly favorable for life. He will combine the answers to each of these questions into a wider evaluation of whether the Gaia hypothesis is plausible and consistent with modern evidence and will conclude that it is not. Instead a competing hypothesis, co-evolution of life and environment, will be suggested to be compatible with our modern understanding in a way that Gaia is not.

Toby Tyrrell has long been interested in the dynamics and interactions of life and environment on Earth. Encompassed within that rather large topic, his narrower research interests have included enthusiasms on coccolithophores, the ocean carbon and nutrient cycles and ocean acidification. After an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton he gained an MSc in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh and then a PhD from the same institution. He spent two years working on ecological modelling at Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Since then he has been a researcher then lecturer and now professor of Earth system science in the University of Southampton, NOCS.

This talk is linked with publication of a book on the same topic:

Recordings of previous Marine Life Talks can be found on:

The Marine Life Talks are held on the first Thursday of the month at 7.30pm. Please arrive no later than 7:15pm.

Arrangements for wheelchairs must be made in advance. Unless it is possible to descend via the stairs in an emergency, access to upper floors cannot be permitted as lifts are automatically immobilized when the fire alarm is activated.

The National Oceanography Centre is reached via Dock Gate 4 (between Southampton’s Town Quay and Ocean Village).

About Toby Tyrell:

Toby Tyrrell, author of On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and EarthResearch Interests

Specialism: Ocean acidification

How organisms interact with their environments. Ecology of phytoplankton, coccolithophores in particular. Ocean acidification. Ocean biogeochemistry, including during extreme events in Earth’s ancient past such as the E/O and K/T boundaries. Ocean carbon cycle and its effect on future atmospheric CO2 levels. Marine cycles of N, P, C, Si. The control of biogenic element concentrations in the sea as a function of ecological competition between different functional groups of phytoplankton.

PhD Supervision

Zongpei Jiang, Dave Mackay, Claudia Fry, Tingting Shi, Christopher Daniels, Matthew Humphreys.

Primary research group: Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems

Affiliate research group: Palaeoceanography and Palaeoclimate

Research projects
  • Leader of NOCS Beacon Theme on Ocean Acidification
  • Coordinator of the sea-surface consortium, a major component (>£3m, 10 partner institutions) of the United Kingdom Ocean Acidification Research Programme.

Source Credit For About Toby Tyrrell: University of Southampton

On Gaia:
A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth
Toby Tyrrell

On Gaia: A Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth by Toby Tyrrell“A handful of scientists have become crusaders for the Gaia hypothesis, while the rest have dismissed it without a second thought. Toby Tyrrell, on the other hand, is one of the very few scientists to have considered the evidence at length and in detail. In summarizing nearly forty years of arguments for and against the Gaia hypothesis, he has done a great service for anyone who is curious about Gaia, or about this fascinating planet that we all call home.”–James Kirchner, University of California, Berkeley

“Toby Tyrrell unravels the various formulations of Gaia and explains how recent scientific developments bring the hypothesis into question. His criticisms are insightful, profound, and convincing, but fair. On Gaia is wonderfully informative and a pleasure to read.”–Francisco J. Ayala, author of Am I a Monkey?: Six Big Questions about Evolution

“At last, a beautifully written and clear-eyed analysis of the interplay of life and the Earth system. On Gaia provides the understanding for moving forward in the quest for sustainability, and is essential reading if our planet is to remain habitable for humanity.”–Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University

On Gaia makes a wonderful addition to the literature. It is scholarly, well-written, and well-reasoned.”–Simon A. Levin, Princeton University

TUESDAY, June 25 (2pm – 4pm): Book Signing with W. Bernard Carlson at the Warner Bros. Theater

National Museum of American History

Book Signing: W. Bernard Carlson

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013, 2 – 4PM

Categories: Lectures & Discussions, Shopping/Book Signing
Co-sponsor: Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM.
Address: 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, D.C., 20001
Venue: American History Museum
Location: Warner Bros. Theater, 1st Floor, Center
Cost: Cost of entry is free. Books are available for sale in the Museum Store.

W. Bernard Carlson discusses his new book Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age. He places the legendary inventor within the cultural and technological context of his time and focuses on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla’s private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an “idealist” inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through myth making and illusion. This major biography sheds new light on Tesla’s visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs. Book signing follows.

View the event on the National Museum of American History’s website:

What Is The Warner Bros. Theater?

Ranging from documentary screenings with expert panel discussions to Classic Film Festivals held in conjunction with Warner Bros., there is something of interest for nearly every visitor. The National Museum of American History is committed to exploring the legacy of American cinema as well as how film culture shapes how we perceive ourselves as Americans. The Warner Bros. Theater has state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, including 3-D capability. Made possible through a generous $5 million donation by Warner Bros., the theater allows the National Museum of American History to provide visitors with new and exciting opportunities to explore the art of film. Since its opening in 2012, the theater has hosted a full roster of public programs, from screenings, lectures, and concerts to demonstrations and film festivals.

Who Is W. Bernard Carlson?

W. Bernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical AgeW. Bernard Carlson is a Professor at the University of Virginia, with appointments in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (School of Engineering) and the History Department (College of Arts and Sciences). He received his Ph.D in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania and did his postdoctoral work in business history at the Harvard Business School. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University and the University of Manchester.

Professor Carlson is an expert on the role of technology and innovation in American history, and his research focuses on how inventors, engineers, and managers used technology in the development of major firms between the Civil War and World War I. His publications include Technology in World History, 7 volumes (Oxford University Press, 2005) as well as Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 1991; paper reprint 2002). In 2008, Technology in World History was awarded the Sally Hacker Prize by the Society for the History of Technology. With support from the Sloan Foundation, he is currently completing a biography of the inventor Nikola Tesla.

He coordinates the Engineering Business Minor at UVA and teaches a course on “Engineers as Entrepreneurs.” He is an expert on the role of innovation in American history, specifically on how inventors, engineers, and managers used technology between 1875 and 1925 to create new systems and enterprises. With support from the Sloan Foundation, he has completed a biography of the inventor Nikola Tesla, which will appear in 2013.

Carlson has served on the board of trustees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and is currently serving as the executive secretary for the Society for the History of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and did postdoctoral work in business history at the Harvard Business School.

Biography Credits: and bridges magazine

Fields & Specialties
  • History of Technology; American Business History; Entrepreneurship; Social and Cognitive Theories of Innovation

  • A.B. Holy Cross College 1977
  • M.A. Univ. of Pennsylvania 1981
  • Ph.D. Univ. of Pennsylvania 1984

  • Scholar in Residence, Deutsches Museum, Munich, May-June 2010.
  • Sally Hacker Prize for Best Popular Book, Society for the History of Technology, 2008.
  • National Science Foundation, Science and Technology Studies Program, grant for “Rethinking Technology, Nature, and Society: A Research and Training Program,” 2004-2007. With John K. Brown and Edmund P. Russell.
  • Sloan Foundation grant for a biography of Nikola Tesla, 1997-2000.
  • Newcomen Fellow in Business and Economic History, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, 1988-1989.

  • Executive Secretary, Society for the History of Technology, 2009-11.
  • Co-Editor, MIT Press series on “Inside Technology: New Social and Historical Approaches to Technology,” with Wiebe Bijker and Trevor J. Pinch. Since 1987. Fifty books have been published.
  • Trustee, Newcomen Society of the United States, 1990-2009.
  • Trustee, Business History Conference, 1999-2001.

Current Research
  • The [Oxford] Handbook of the History of Technology. Under contract to Oxford University Press. Serving as general editor.

Professional and Education Information Credit:
Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard CarlsonNikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America’s first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.

Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla’s private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an “idealist” inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.

This major biography sheds new light on Tesla’s visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.


“Carlson sheds light on the man and plenty of his inventions. . . . [An] electric portrait.”–Publishers Weekly

“Superb. . . . Carlson brings to life Tesla’s extravagant self-promotion, as well as his eccentricity and innate talents, revealing him as a celebrity-inventor of the ‘second industrial revolution’ to rival Thomas Alva Edison.”–W. Patrick McCray, Nature

“A scholarly, critical, mostly illuminating study of the life and work of the great Serbian inventor.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Carlson even has something to teach readers familiar with Seifer’s dissection of Tesla’s tortured psyche in Wizard (2001) and O’Neill’s much earlier chronicle of Tesla’s childhood and early career in Prodigal Genius (1944). Carlson provides not only a more detailed explanation of Tesla’s science but also a more focused psychological account of Tesla’s inventive process than do his predecessors. Carlson also surpasses his predecessors in showing how Tesla promoted his inventions by creating luminous illusions of progress, prosperity, and peace, illusions so strong that they finally unhinge their creator. An exceptional fusion of technical analysis of revolutionary devices and imaginative sympathy for a lacerated ego.”–Bryce Christensen, Booklist starred review

“This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a monumental inventor whose impact on our contemporary world is all too unfamiliar to the general public. Carlson relates the science behind Tesla’s inventions with a judicial balance that will engage both the novice and the academic alike. Highly recommended to serious biography buffs and to readers of scientific subjects.”–Brian Odom, Library Journal

“Carlson deftly weaves the many threads of Tesla’s story.”–Nicola Davis, Times

“Splendid.”–Jon Turney, Times Higher Education


Exclusive Sampler from Pterosaurs by Mark P. Witton

We highly recommend downloading or opening the source PDF for the sampler, available here:

The embedded PDF below does not properly display the beauty of the cover, but you can still get a sense of the awesome content of the book. Happy Reading!

Want to learn more about this book? Check it out here:

Weekly Best Seller List

These are the best-selling books for the past week.


No Joke: Making Jewish Humor
by Ruth R. Wisse
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
j9925[1] The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil
Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica by T.J. Clark
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman
jacket Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
jacket The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors by Richard Crossley, Jerry Liguori & Brian Sullivan
jacket Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History by Thomas Barfield

The Warbler Guide — Aging and Sexing Warblers


Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle have created the most innovative and complete guide to warblers available in The Warbler Guide. In this video they describe the challenges in aging and sexing warblers and how the book helps develop this skill.

Click here to learn more about The Warbler Guide. The book is just in and started shipping to stores. Order a copy today!

This helpful sheet highlights the innovations in the book, too [PDF]

For more tips on how to use The Warbler Guide and how to identify warblers in the field, please see additional videos in this series.

New Biology Catalog!

Be among the first the check out our new biology catalog!

Of particular interest is The Princeton Guide to Evolution, a forthcoming comprehensive, concise, and authoritative reference to the major subjects and key concepts in evolutionary biology, from genes to mass extinctions. Edited by a distinguished team of evolutionary biologists, with contributions from leading researchers, the guide contains some 100 clear, accurate, and up-to-date articles on the most important topics in seven major areas: phylogenetics and the history of life; selection and adaptation; evolutionary processes; genes, genomes, and phenotypes; speciation and macroevolution; evolution of behavior, society, and humans; and evolution and modern society.

For further reading, check out John Tyler Bonner’s Randomness in Evolution. In this concise, elegantly written book, he makes the bold and provocative claim that some biological diversity may be explained by something other than natural selection.

Also be sure to note Daphne J. Fairbairn’s Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom. While we joke that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, our gender differences can’t compare to those of other animals. Looking at some of the most amazing creatures on the planet, Odd Couples sheds astonishing light on what it means to be male or female in the animal kingdom.

We’ll also see you at the Society for the Study of Evolution’s annual meting June 21-25 in Snowbird, Utah at booth 14. Please join us Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. for a reception in celebration of the publication of Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom and our forthcoming The Princeton Guide to Evolution. Meet the authors and editors, and enjoy wine and cheese!

Patrick E. McGovern’s study is the first to prove using chemical analysis that the Etruscans taught the French Celts in Lattara how to produce wine

Dr. Pat

A cartoon from Dr. Pat’s page on the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s website.

Patrick E. McGovern, author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculturespearheaded the research that further confirms Etruscans from Italy heavily influenced wine production in Lattara, an ancient harbor city in the south of France. There had been ancient documents and archaeological findings that already strongly suggested Etruscans presented wines to the Celt dwellers of France at trading stations in Lattara. McGovern and team’s findings only strengthen this notion.

Using biomolecular analysis, McGovern and researchers discovered that fifth century Etruscan pots used for transportation, known as amphorae, had traces of wine imbued with rosemary, basil, and thyme. McGovern’s research also establishes that the Celts living in Lattara began producing the wine at the close of the fifth century.

The team of researchers stumbled upon another fresh discovery: In the past, it was generally understood that limestone presses in Lattara were used to press olives. Using biomolecular anaylsis, just as they did with the amphorae, the group found that the presses were actually used for grapes.

To establish that the compressor was utilized to squash grapes, the researchers obtained consent to carve off a tiny portion of a limestone wine press. The sample was mailed to the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where procedures embracing mass spectrometry were employed to separate and classify chemical compounds present in the rock and earthenware.

The study was printed in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the original article on The Sacramento Bee’s website:

Interested in channeling the local fifth century Gallic people with a little home winemaking? Check out this informative how-to video made by YouTube user martiwf0:

Watch the video via YouTube:

Ancient Wine
Patrick E. McGovern

Coming of Age in Second Life by Tom BoellstorffThe history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago. Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern’s famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast–and mixed beverage–of “King Midas.”) Some peoples truly became “wine cultures.”

When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. Ancient Wine is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.