PUP News of the World, 1/13/14


Each week we post a round-up of some 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!


We are a week into 2014, but we’re still looking backwards at some of the best of the year lists that came out in the final weeks of 2013.

The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction Books of the Year for 2013 in Business and Economics. It was also the most popular selection in Bloomberg News’ annual feature in which they ask CEOs, policy makers, investors, economists, and academics to pick their best books of the year. Other books selected by Bloomberg/Businessweek for the best of 2013 include Worldly Philosopher  by Jeremy Adelman, The Great Escape by Angus Deaton, The Bankers’ New Clothes by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig, and An Uncertain Glory by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen.

Matthew Bishop, Economics Editor of the Economist, posted his personal list of best books of 2013 on LinkedIn, and we were delighted to see some familiar titles among the bunch: Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps alongside Angus Deaton’s The Great Escape.

Worldly Philosopher makes an appearance on the Guardian‘s list of Best Books of 2013 thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s recommendation, along with our collection of Calvino letters (selected by Pankaj Mishra) and two parts of our three-part Kafka biography by Reiner Stach (selected by Colm Tóibín).

The Atlantic editors were invited so “share their favorite titles…from a year of reading,” and we were delighted to see Alexis Madrigal picked Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll. Madrigal writes, “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.”

Not to be outdone, History Today selected The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power by Partha Chatterjee for its Best of list. In the commendation, Chandak Sengoopta writes, “the book is so richly detailed and so thoughtfully argued that it can serve as the perfect introduction to the history of British India and, indeed, of imperialism itself.”

Italo Calvino’s collection of Letters (1941-1985) makes an appearance on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Gift Guide for 2013 (yes, Christmas and Hannukah have passed, but presumably there will be additional gift-giving opportunities for 2014 and this recommendation has no expiration date!).

One of my personal favorites from 2013, Bernard Carlson’s biography Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age is recognized by Booklist Online as one of the Top 10 Science & Health Books 2013. Booklist says “in an exceptional fusion of technical analysis and imaginative sympathy, Carlson portrays the tormented Serbian-born genius Tesla as a scientific wizard and flamboyant showman.”

Our natural history books really made their mark in 2013. Stephen Moss makes his selection of the Best Nature Books of 2013 for the Guardian and we are delighted to see The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland (“…a revolutionary new bird book,” according to Moss) makes the cut, while New Scientist highlights Bugs Rule! by Whitney Cranshaw and Richard Redak in their Best Science Books for 2013 listing. The citation says, “When two entomologists who clearly love their subject get stuck in, the result is pure joy.  With more than 830 colour photos, this book is a great desk guide to help you tell a  crane fly from a giant mosquito.” Clearly this is a valuable skill to further develop in 2014!

And now for something completely different as we move from Natural History to Middle Eastern politics. The Middle East Channel asked a panel of experts to come up with a list of the Top Five Books of 2013 and topping the list was Carrie Rosefsky Wickham’s The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement.

World News 1-8


In the US and still recovering from the polar vortex? Hurry to the warmth of your nearest bookstore and grab a copy of Planetary Climates by Andrew Ingersoll. This book examines the wide-ranging planetary climates of our solar system, describing what planetary exploration has revealed and what is still unknown. Sky at Night magazine’s Lewis Dartnell (BBC) recently reviewed the book, saying that “Prof Andrew Ingersoll has made many important contributions to planetary science through his career, and in Planetary Climates he wields his immense expertise to really get across the weirdness of weather systems on other worlds.” Check out the introduction here, mittens/hat not required.

The beginning of a new year always brings predictions. For the men in Walter A. Friedman’s Fortune Tellers, predictions were more than just a yearly tradition. This new book chronicles the lives and careers of the men who defined this first wave of economic fortune tellers, men such as Roger Babson, Irving Fisher, John Moody, C. J. Bullock, and Warren Persons. Check out this recent Wall Street Journal review by James Grant, where he discusses the history included in this “carefully wrought” book. Preview the book here.

Feeling slot-happy? Think again. Natasha Schüll’s Addiction by Design was recently featured in an article by Tim Harford in the Financial TimesHarford draws on Schüll’s book to discuss machine gambling, the spread of which “offers a worrisome portent of developments elsewhere in the economy.” Schüll’s account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Gardner fans rejoice. The autobiography, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus is here and causing a buzz. Teller, of Penn and Teller fame, writes in the New York Times Book Review: “[Gardner’s] radiant self lives on in his massive and luminous literary output and shines at its sweetest, wittiest and most personal in Undiluted Hocus-Pocus.” In this book, Gardner shares colorful anecdotes about the many fascinating people he met and mentored, and voices strong opinions on the subjects that matter to him most, from his love of mathematics to his uncompromising stance against pseudoscience.

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