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!
THE FUTURE OF THE BRAIN
We begin this week with that gray matter in your head. We will get your brain working with our list of News of the World books, especially this first pick. What do you know about your brain — besides the fact that it feels a bit fuzzy around that 2:00 p.m. work day slump? We turn to expert and PUP author Gary Marcus for more on cerebral matters. Marcus wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled “The Trouble with Brain Science,” and he discusses what we do and don’t know about our brains.
Are we ever going to figure out how the brain works?
After decades of research, diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s still resist treatment. Despite countless investigations into serotonin and other neurotransmitters, there is still no method to cure clinical depression. And for all the excitement about brain-imaging techniques, the limitations of fMRI studies are, as evidenced by popular books like “Brainwashed” and “Neuromania,” by now well known. In spite of the many remarkable advances in neuroscience, you might get the sinking feeling that we are not always going about brain science in the best possible way.
Check out the full op-ed on the New York Times‘ website. Marcus is the co-editor of a forthcoming Princeton book entitled The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists. An unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, the book takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science.
Original essays by leading researchers such as Christof Koch, George Church, Olaf Sporns, and May-Britt and Edvard Moser describe the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain.
You’ll have this book on your BRAIN all day, so go ahead and pre-order your copy of The Future of the Brain now. It’s the smart thing to do.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD
When your country has just won the World Cup and you look to celebrate your sixtieth birthday, what author should you choose to share in the celebration? When you are German chancellor Angela Merkel, you look to the best, and you find one of the best in German historian Jürgen Osterhammel. Bloomberg reports that Merkel’s birthday present to herself was a speech by Osterhammel at CDU headquarters.
Osterhammel is a professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz, and he is a recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany’s most prestigious academic prize. His most recent book, The Transformation of the World, is a monumental history of the nineteenth century, and Merkel read it for herself.
In the book, Osterhammel, who has been called the Braudel of the nineteenth century, moves beyond conventional Eurocentric and chronological accounts of the era, presenting instead a truly global history of breathtaking scope and towering erudition. He examines the powerful and complex forces that drove global change during the “long nineteenth century,” taking readers from New York to New Delhi, from the Latin American revolutions to the Taiping Rebellion, from the perils and promise of Europe’s transatlantic labor markets to the hardships endured by nomadic, tribal peoples across the planet.
Osterhammel describes a world increasingly networked by the telegraph, the steamship, and the railways. He explores the changing relationship between human beings and nature, looks at the importance of cities, explains the role slavery and its abolition played in the emergence of new nations, challenges the widely held belief that the nineteenth century witnessed the triumph of the nation-state, and much more.
The book is mentioned in a “Summer Reads” feature in the Times Higher Education, which quotes “scholars and senior sector figures on two books they plan to devour on holiday.” Linda Colley, Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 professor of history at Princeton University, names the title as her summer read.
The Transformation of the World also reviewed on naked capitalism. Satyajit Das writes:
Jürgen Osterhammel’s fine The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century … swoops, shimmies and carves ellipses and spirals through the facts to give readers an insightful view of the nineteenth century in all its complexity and confusion. In a great work of scholarship, Professor Osterhammel…and his able translator…Patrick Camiller have fashioned a remarkable picture of the nineteenth century….[It] brings a new meaning to the term block buster.
Looking to grab a copy for your own reading? You can preview the introduction of The Transformation of the World here.
DICTIONARY OF UNTRANSLATABLES
Next, we bring you a title focused on words that defy translation. Princeton University Press’s Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that cannot be easily translated from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities.
This week, a piece by Dictionary of Untranslatables translator Jacques Lerza ran in the Washington Post. Lerza describes his work on the title:
The project provided me, and my co-editors, with a vivid sense of the history of how people think, and how societies think differently from one another. The “Dictionary” aspires to do the same. For example: spirit is not the same as mind, but both are used to translate the German Geist. Happiness, which retains an old etymological connection to chance and happenstance (in English, at least), is different from bonheur, which doesn’t, and from German Glück and Seligkeit, which split “happiness-as-good-fortune” and “happiness as moral virtue.”
View some sample entries for yourself:
The Dictionary of Untranslatables was reviewed in this month’s issue of Asymptote. Michael Kinnucan writes:
“[A]stonishingly successful….entertaining and revealing…strikingly complete and correct….[A] fascinating book…. The translation of European “philosophy” into American “theory” has probably been the most consequential event in American intellectual life in the last fifty years, but it has entailed a great deal of “mistranslation”…. The Dictionary of Untranslatables, in addition to its other pleasures, has a great deal to teach American scholars of the humanities about the depth and complexity of the languages and discourses we’ve picked up only recently—and a few powerful suggestions about what we may find waiting when we choose to turn back to our own.”