PUP News of the World — May 19, 2014

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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!


A SOCIAL STRATEGY

Before you head to check your Facebook news feed this afternoon, we bring you some insights regarding social media from PUP author Mikolaj Piskorski. Almost no one had heard of social media a decade ago, but today websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have more than 1 billion users and account for almost 25 percent of Internet use.

What makes social media so different from traditional media? Piskorski, one of the world’s leading experts on the business of social media, provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express. Check out this recording of a recent event on World Bank Live, where Piskorski discusses how companies can leverage social platforms to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

In his new book, A Social Strategy, Piskorski argues that the secret of successful ones is that they allow people to fulfill social needs that either can’t be met offline or can be met only at much greater cost. This insight provides the key to how companies can leverage social platforms to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Companies need to help people interact with each other before they will promote products to their friends or help companies in other ways. Done right, a company’s social media should benefit customers and the firm. Piskorski calls this “a social strategy,” and he describes how companies such as Yelp and Zynga have done it.

Groundbreaking and important, A Social Strategy provides not only a story- and data-driven explanation for the explosion of social media but also an invaluable, concrete road map for any company that wants to tap the marketing potential of this remarkable phenomenon.

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Calling all philosophers — do we have two books for you. Next up this week, we bring you two Princeton University Press titles, each reviewed in the Wall Street Journal last week. But don’t worry, you don’t have to choose between them. Check out both below:

REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS

Historians of the French Revolution used to take for granted what was also obvious to its contemporary observers–that the Revolution was caused by the radical ideas of the Enlightenment. Yet in recent decades scholars have argued that the Revolution was brought about by social forces, politics, economics, or culture–almost anything but abstract notions like liberty or equality. In Revolutionary Ideas, one of the world’s leading historians of the Enlightenment restores the Revolution’s intellectual history to its rightful central role. Drawing widely on primary sources, Jonathan Israel shows how the Revolution was set in motion by radical eighteenth-century doctrines, how these ideas divided revolutionary leaders into vehemently opposed ideological blocs, and how these clashes drove the turning points of the Revolution.

Jonathan Israel’s book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal by Ruth Scurr. She writes:

“[C]losely argued….Israel can be understood as a historian in the long liberal tradition stretching back to Madame de Stael, who herself witnessed the revolution and saw it as a story of the betrayal of liberty.”

Revolutionary Ideas demonstrates that the Revolution was really three different revolutions vying for supremacy–a conflict between constitutional monarchists such as Lafayette who advocated moderate Enlightenment ideas; democratic republicans allied to Tom Paine who fought for Radical Enlightenment ideas; and authoritarian populists, such as Robespierre, who violently rejected key Enlightenment ideas and should ultimately be seen as Counter-Enlightenment figures. The book tells how the fierce rivalry between these groups shaped the course of the Revolution, from the Declaration of Rights, through liberal monarchism and democratic republicanism, to the Terror and the Post-Thermidor reaction.

Preview Chapter One here.

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

In The Soul of the World, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today’s fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive–and to understand what we are–is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things. Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life–and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are?

The Soul of the World was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal by Ian Marcus Corbin:

“[Scruton’s] philosophical work is simply too sharp and cogent to be ignored. “The Soul of the World” is an example of what conservatism can be, at its best—a clear-eyed, affectionate defense of humanity and a well-reasoned plea to treat the long-loved with respect and care….He makes his case with bravado and sensitivity, exploring the role of the sacred in such realms as music, city planning and moral reasoning.”

Check out the article for the rest of the review.

You can preview Chapter One of the book here. Drawing on art, architecture, music, and literature, Scruton suggests that the highest forms of human experience and expression tell the story of our religious need, and of our quest for the being who might answer it, and that this search for the sacred endows the world with a soul. Evolution cannot explain our conception of the sacred; neuroscience is irrelevant to our interpersonal relationships, which provide a model for our posture toward God; and scientific understanding has nothing to say about the experience of beauty, which provides a God’s-eye perspective on reality.

THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES

We switch gears for this next title and take a critical look at today’s banking system. The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig’s The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid. PUP released a paperback edition of the title, complete with a new preface by the authors. The New York Review of Books reviewed the book, and Roger Alcaly says:

“In their recent book, Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig convincingly make the case for much stronger and simpler borrowing limitations for banks.”

Anat Admati was also recently interviewed for the Swiss paper Finanz und Wirtschaft. View the interview (published in English) here.

Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of its benefits, and at essentially no cost to society. They seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms. Check out Chapter One here.

 

This post is part of a series, explore additional posts here<< PUP News of the World, May 2, 2014PUP News of the World, May 23, 2014 >>