PUP News of the World — September 17, 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!


now 9.17

More Than You Wanted to Know

How much time do you take to read the iTunes terms you assent to, the doctor’s consent form you sign, or the pile of papers you get with your mortgage? Reading the terms, the form, and the papers is supposed to equip you to choose your purchase, your treatment, and your loan well. However, Omri Ben-Shahar & Carl E. Schneider’s More Than You Wanted to Know: The Failure of Mandated Disclosure surveys the evidence and finds that mandated disclosure rarely works. But how could it? Who reads these disclosures? Who understands them? Who uses them to make better choices?

Omri Ben-Shahar discusses the purpose and shortcomings of mandated disclosures in two recent interviews with Chicago Tonight and NPR’s All Things Considered. Check out both interviews below. You may not read Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, but we bet that you will want to read the introduction to this timely and provocative book.

 

Green

Which color provides a link between luck, greed, poison, and life? Michel Pastoureau’s new book, Green: The History of a Color, demonstrates that the history of the color is, to a large degree, one of dramatic reversal: long absent, ignored, or rejected, green today has become a ubiquitous and soothing presence as the symbol of environmental causes and the mission to save the planet.

In this beautiful and richly illustrated book, the acclaimed author of Blue and Black presents a fascinating and revealing history of the color green in European societies from prehistoric times to today. Examining the evolving place of green in art, clothes, literature, religion, science, and everyday life, Michel Pastoureau traces how culture has profoundly changed the perception and meaning of the color over millennia—and how we misread cultural, social, and art history when we assume that colors have always signified what they do today.

Green is reviewed in the New York Review of Books, where Michael Gorra writes:

“[S]umptuously illustrated….These are books to look at, but they are also books to read….Individual colors find their being only in relation to each other, and their cultural force depends on the particular instance of their use. They have no separate life or essential meaning. They have been made to mean, and in these volumes that human endeavor has found its historian.”

Michael Glover at the Independent calls the book “…ceaselessly fascinating and erudite.” Preview the introduction of Green here.

The Age of the Vikings

Were the Vikings really invincible warriors who wore horned helmets? PUP author Anders Winroth dispels these and other rumors in The Age of the Vikings. The Vikings maintain their grip on our imagination, but their image is too often distorted by medieval and modern myth. It is true that they pillaged, looted, and enslaved. But they also settled peacefully and developed a vast trading network. They traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships, not only to raid, but also to explore.

By exploring every major facet of this exciting age, Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage. He shows how the Vikings seized on the boundless opportunities made possible by the invention of the longship, using it to venture to Europe for plunder, to open new trade routes, and to settle in lands as distant as Russia, Greenland, and the Byzantine Empire.

The Age of the Vikings is reviewed in the New York Review of Books. Eric Christiansen writes:

“[Winroth] has an impressive knowledge of the sources, the archaeology, and the modern historical literature….Winroth really knows what he is writing about, and has done the research….I recommend the work to anyone with little knowledge of the subject and a wish to learn more.”

For more on these infamous berserkers, check out Michael Kane’s review The Age of the Vikings in the New York Post. In an article entitled “Everything you thought you knew about the Vikings is wrong,” Kane reviews Winroth’s explanation of the Vikings’ reputation. Kane writes:

Winroth illustrates the barbarian misconception by noting two words in usage today with Old Norse roots are “berserk” (literally meaning “bear-shirts,” from the Vikings’ attire) and “ransack” (from “ranna” meaning house and “saka” meaning search). Guys in bear shirts looking around. Much nicer than berserk ransackers.

So, why do we think of Vikings as one-dimensional, casting them as nothing more than an ax-wielding invasion force pulling up to shorelines around Europe and the British Isles in longboats?

Winroth believes it’s because the frequent victims of their raids were those with “a monopoly on writing.” Who wrote and preserved the texts of the time? Ripped-off monks. It’s no wonder that in Latin scrolls from the era that Vikings got a bad rep as “a most vile people” and a “filthy race” hell-bent on slaughtering and laying waste to the innocents.

Be sure to take a look at the full review on the New York Post‘s website.

Lastly, The Age of the Vikings is reviewed in the Literary Review:

“This book should prove a fascinating and rewarding read for those seeking to deepen their understanding of the Viking world”

– Philip Parker, Literary Review

 

PUP News of the World — September 5, 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!


now 9.5

The Passenger Pigeon

This week marked the 100th centennial of the death of the last passenger pigeon, Martha. She was living in the Cincinnati Zoo as the last living member of her species. The Financial Times‘ Matthew Engel commemorates the anniversary in a feature entitled “The extinction of the passenger pigeon.” Engel writes:

No one knows when the last great auk died. Or the last dodo. But the last passenger pigeon’s death can be dated more or less exactly: the afternoon of September 1 1914. There was something else extraordinary about this extinction. This was not some marginal species, retiring from trying to eke out an existence on a remote island or a lonely mountainside. When the white man arrived in North America, this was almost certainly the most common bird on the continent, quite possibly the most common in the world.

Some calculations suggest there were 3bn to 5bn. Others suggest there could have been up to 3bn in a single flock. This is like the extinction of the house fly. Or of grass. Or, perhaps, of the galumphing, domineering, myopic two-legged mammal whose presence did for the passenger pigeon. As the title of a centenary exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington has it, Once There Were Billions. And then there were none.

Engel interviews PUP author Errol Fuller in this piece, and Fuller, who is a world authority on bird and animal extinction, has studied the story of Martha’s species extensively. His new book, The Passenger Pigeon, features rare archival images as well as haunting photos of live birds. Fuller shows how widespread deforestation, the demand for cheap and plentiful pigeon meat, and the indiscriminate killing of Passenger Pigeons for sport led to their catastrophic decline. Fuller provides an evocative memorial to a bird species that was once so important to the ecology of North America, and reminds us of just how fragile the natural world can be.

In a review of the book, Adrian Barnett of the New Scientist calls “visually beautiful” and writes that it “gives a fine account of the species, its biology and its demise.”

Preview the Introduction of The Passenger Pigeon.

Philosophy of Biology

Looking for an explanation of the most important topics debated by biologists today? Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Philosophy of Biology is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. The title is reviewed on Forbes.com, and John Farrell argues that “non-specialists should not be put off. Godfrey-Smith’s style is engaging, almost conversational.”

Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin’s mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature.

Authoritative and up-to-date, Philosophy of Biology is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences. Check out Chapter One of The Philosophy of Biology for yourself.

The New York Nobody Knows

Put on your walkin’ shoes — we’re off to explore New York with PUP author, William Helmreich. As a kid growing up in Manhattan, Helmreich played a game with his father they called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.

Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch.

Their stories and his are the subject of his captivating and highly original book, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. The book is reviewed on TravelMag, and reviewer Paul Willis recalls one story of Helmreich’s many stories:

Helmreich, a sociology professor at New York’s City University (CUNY), is at his best when examining these broader demographic trends. He’s less good at giving life to the colour and flavor of the city. A New York native he grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a relatively privileged neighbourhood that borders Central Park. Maybe it’s this background that gives some of his encounters with new immigrants an awkward quality, such as when he meets a Honduran man waving a flag outside a Lower Manhattan car park to alert drivers that there’s space within and then asks if he can have a go at waving the flag himself.

“’Are you okay?’ he asked, a worried tone creeping into his voice.”

Helmreich reassures the man by telling him it’s alright because he’s a professor.

You don’t need to be a professor — or even leave the comfort of your favorite reading spot — to enjoy the city of New York through The New York Nobody Knows. Truly unforgettable, the book will forever change how you view the world’s greatest city. View Chapter One of The New York Nobody Knows, and tweet us your thoughts using #NYNobodyKnows.

PUP News of the World — August 22, 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!


blog 8.22

PERICLES OF ATHENS

He lent his name to an entire period of history and is considered one of the greatest statesman of the ancient world. But who was Pericles — general, orator, citizen? Vincent Azoulay’s PERICLES OF ATHENS offers a balanced look at the complex life and afterlife of the legendary “first citizen of Athens” who presided over the birth of democracy.

PERICLES OF ATHENS is reviewed in the Telegraph and given five stars! Iona McLaren calls the book ” a masterfully crisp study.”

In this compelling critical biography, Vincent Azoulay provides an unforgettable portrait of Pericles and his turbulent era, shedding light on his powerful family, his patronage of the arts, and his unrivaled influence on Athenian politics and culture. He takes a fresh look at both the classical and modern reception of Pericles, recognizing his achievements as well as his failings while deftly avoiding the adulatory or hypercritical positions staked out by some scholars today.

From Thucydides and Plutarch to Voltaire and Hegel, ancient and modern authors have questioned the great statesman’s relationship with democracy and Athenian society. Did Pericles hold supreme power over willing masses or was he just a gifted representative of popular aspirations? Was Periclean Athens a democracy in name only, as Thucydides suggests? This is the enigma that Azoulay investigates in this groundbreaking book.

‘Azoulay’s marvellous study should revive [Pericles],’ says McLaren.

You don’t have to travel to the Parthenon — a project that Pericles himself initiated — to hear his story. View the introduction of PERICLES OF ATHENS here.

BARRINGTON ATLAS  OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD

While we have you on your way back to ancient times, may we suggest one must-have for your trip? The BARRINGTON ATLAS  OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD is your window to the ancient world’s geography. This map re-creates the entire world of the Greeks and Romans from the British Isles to the Indian subcontinent and deep into North Africa.

Unrivaled for range, clarity, and detail, these custom-designed maps return the modern landscape to its ancient appearance, marking ancient names and features in accordance with modern scholarship and archaeological discoveries. Geographically, the maps span the territory of more than seventy-five modern countries. Chronologically, they extend from archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire.

And now, you can pack all of this in your pocket through the BARRINGTON ATLAS OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD app for iPad.

 

The app is reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, where Jude Biersdorfer calls it “impressive” and “engrossing.”  She continues:

Available in book form since 2000, this impressive tome has been converted into an engrossing iPad app. Spanning 16 centuries, it includes the text from the print edition and all 102 maps, now as high-resolution images that fill the screen….Getting lost here is educational.

 Learn more about the BARRINGTON ATLAS app and download it for yourself for a round trip ticket to 1000 B.C.

 PHILOLOGY

Friends, Princetonians, countrymen, lend me your ears. What exactly is this thing that we can “the humanities”? Who among us knows what “philology” is? Bonus points if you do!

Many today do not recognize that word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word?

In PHILOLOGY: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university.

Sunil Iyengar reviews PHILOLOGY in the Washington Post and writes:

Deft intellectual history…As Philology illustrates, more generous spirits — call them multidisciplinary research and learning — have always presided over the pursuit of the humanities. Even in earlier guises, the humanities never had it easy. Then as now, they had to contend with turbulent times and changing social and political pressures. But given all that philology has unearthed, we should honor its legacy, as Turner does in his definitive study.

Preview PHILOLOGY by reading Chapter One here.

Art work credit: "Pericles Pio-Clementino Inv269 n2" by Copy of Kresilas 
Jastrow (2006). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

News of the World — August 11, 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!


now 8.11

 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION

What if you could witness evolution in real time? Researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have spent time on the Galápagos Island named Daphne Major each year since 1973, have found that changes are happening–right now. The Grants are featured in a recent New York Times piece that details their years of research and the incredible discoveries that they have made. Jonathan Weiner writes:

Charles Darwin spent only five weeks on the Galápagos Islands, and at first, the British biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant didn’t plan to stay very long either — a few years at most.

They landed in 1973 on the tiny uninhabited island of Daphne Major, the cinder cone of an extinct volcano. (Darwin himself never set foot there.) Daphne is as steep as a roof, with cliffs running all around the base, and just one small spot on the outer slope flat enough to pitch a tent.

Their goal, as they relate in their new book, “40 Years of Evolution,” was to study finches in the genus Geospiza — the birds that gave Darwin some of his first inklings of evolution by natural selection — and to try to reconstruct part of their evolutionary history. Instead, they made an amazing discovery.

After several years of meticulous measurements, the Grants and their students realized that the finches’ dimensions were changing before their eyes. Their beaks and bodies were evolving and adapting from year to year, sometimes slowly, sometimes strikingly, generation after generation. The researchers were watching evolution in real time, evolution in the flesh.

Check out the full article, entitled “In Darwin’s Footsteps” in the New York Times.

daphne640h

In the richly illustrated 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island, the authors explore evolution taking place on a contemporary scale. By continuously tracking finch populations over a period of four decades, they uncover the causes and consequences of significant events leading to evolutionary changes in species.

The authors used a vast and unparalleled range of ecological, behavioral, and genetic data–including song recordings, DNA analyses, and feeding and breeding behavior–to measure changes in finch populations on the small island of Daphne Major in the Galápagos archipelago. They find that natural selection happens repeatedly, that finches hybridize and exchange genes rarely, and that they compete for scarce food in times of drought, with the remarkable result that the finch populations today differ significantly in average beak size and shape from those of forty years ago.

The authors’ most spectacular discovery is the initiation and establishment of a new lineage that now behaves as a new species, differing from others in size, song, and other characteristics. The authors emphasize the immeasurable value of continuous long-term studies of natural populations and of critical opportunities for detecting and understanding rare but significant events. By following the fates of finches for several generations, 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION offers unparalleled insights into ecological and evolutionary changes in natural environments.

View Chapter One of 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION for yourself.

 THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES

For PUP author Anat Admati, American banks are doing it all wrong — and the status quo needs to change.

Admati, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2014, argues that banks are as fragile as they are not because they must be, but because they want to be–and they get away with it. Whereas this situation benefits bankers, it distorts the economy and exposes the public to unnecessary risks. Weak regulation and ineffective enforcement allowed the buildup of risks that ushered in the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Much can be done to create a better system and prevent crises. Yet the lessons from the crisis have not been learned.

These arguments and her recent progress are highlighted in a recent NYT feature entitled “When She Talks, Banks Shudder.” The article begins by discussing Admati’s tenacity:

Bankers are nearly unanimous on the subject of Anat R. Admati, the Stanford finance professor and persistent industry gadfly: Her ideas are wildly impractical, bad for the American economy and not to be taken seriously.

But after years of quixotic advocacy, Ms. Admati is reaching some very prominent ears. Last month, President Obama invited her and five other economists to a private lunch to discuss their ideas. She left him with a copy of “The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong With Banking and What to Do About It,” a 2013 book she co-authored. A few weeks later, she testified for the first time before the Senate Banking Committee. And, in a recent speech, Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, praised her “vigorous campaign.”

Dennis Kelleher, chief executive of Better Markets, a nonprofit that advocates stronger financial regulation, said Ms. Admati has emerged as one of the most effective advocates of the view that regulatory changes since the 2008 crisis remain insufficient. “She has been, as one must be,” Mr. Kelleher said, “dogged from the West Coast to the East Coast to Europe and back again and over again.”

Read the full article in the New York Times.

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. THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES — now available in paperback — examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

Admati and co-author 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 the new preface from the paperback edition of THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES. And for more, watch Admati’s TED talk from earlier this year:

THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI

Yoga practitioners — is what you think you know about ancient yoga philosophy actually incorrect? PUP author David Gordon White brings us an exhaustively researched book that demonstrates why the yoga of India’s past bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced today.

Consisting of fewer than two hundred verses written in an obscure if not impenetrable language and style, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is today extolled by the yoga establishment as a perennial classic and guide to yoga practice. As David Gordon White demonstrates in this groundbreaking study, both of these assumptions are incorrect. Virtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status—and translated into more than forty languages—only in the course of the past forty years.

THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI: A Biography received great attention recently in three different publications. The book was reviewed in both Tricycle Magazine as well as in Shambhala Sun, which describes the book:

A lively account of this sutra’s unlikely history and how it has variously been interpreted, reinterpreted, ignored, and hailed. The colorful characters on these pages include Vivekananda and Krishnamacharya, two giants in modern yoga, as well as literary figures such as T.S. Eliot. There is also Alberuni, a Muslim scientist and scholar who translated a commentary on the Yoga Sutra a thousand years ago, and the outrageous Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who fused the principles of the Yoga Sutra with Western ideas of the occult.

Check out this author Q&A with David Gordon White for more on why he chose his area of study, and view Chapter One of THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI.

PUP News of the World — August 4, 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!


now 8.4

THE GOLDEN AGE SHTETL

Ready to take a trip back in time? Our destination? The shtetl. THE GOLDEN AGE SHTETL: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern provides the first grassroots social, economic, and cultural history of the shtetl. Challenging popular misconceptions of the shtetl as an isolated, ramshackle Jewish village stricken by poverty and pogroms, Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern argues that, in its heyday from the 1790s to the 1840s, the shtetl was a thriving Jewish community as vibrant as any in Europe.

The Golden Age Shtetl is reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. Jonathan Rosen writes:

Petrovsky-Shtern…succeeds in vividly evoking a Jewish world that survived not merely in spite of its neighbors but in complex collaboration with them….[A] moving feat of cultural reclamation and even, in its way, an act of quiet heroism.

In essence, the shtetl was a Polish private town belonging to a Catholic magnate, administratively run by the tsarist empire, yet economically driven by Jews. This book shows how its success hinged on its unique position in this triangle of power–as did its ultimate suppression. Shtetls were home to two-thirds of East Europe’s Jews in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, yet it has long been one of the most neglected and misunderstood chapters of the Jewish experience.

Petrovsky-Shtern brings this golden age to life, looking at dozens of shtetls and drawing on a wealth of never-before-used archival material. He reconstructs the rich social tapestry of these market towns, showing how Russian clerks put the shtetl on the empire’s map, and chronicling how shtetl Jews traded widely, importing commodities from France, Austria, Prussia, and even the Ottoman Empire.

Our website has a preview of the book — see Chapter One here.

THE AMAZING WORLD OF FLYING FISH

Don’t be mistaken — we haven’t dipped into the fiction section with this next title. THE AMAZING WORLD OF FLYING FISH by Stephen N. G. Howell explores the beautiful flying fish as you’ve never seen it before.

If you travel the open ocean anywhere in the tropics, you are very likely to see flyingfish. These beautifully colored “ocean butterflies” shoot out of the water and sail on majestic, winglike pectoral fins to escape from predators such as dolphins, swordfish, and tuna. Some can travel for more than six hundred feet per flight. Yet despite their prevalence in warm ocean waters and their vital role in the tropical food chain, surprisingly little is known about flyingfish—more than 60 species are said to exist, but nobody is sure of the number.

The pictures in this book are amazing. For a sneak peek, check out this slideshow on the Wall Street Journal‘s website with pictures like the one below. A full slideshow of pictures is available on the WSJ website.flyingfish

The Amazing World of Flying Fish is also reviewed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where Scott Shalaway calls the it “a memorizing natural history.”

This beautifully illustrated book features more than 90 stunning color photos by renowned naturalist Steve Howell, as well as a concise and accessible text that explores the natural history of flyingfish, where they can be found, how and why they fly, what colors they are, what they eat and what eats them, and more. View Chapter One of The Amazing World of Flying Fish for yourself.

THERE GOES THE GAYBORHOOD?

There goes the gayborhood? Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. But as our society increasingly accepts gays and lesbians into the mainstream, are “gayborhoods” destined to disappear? Our next book featured this week provides an incisive look at the origins of these unique cultural enclaves, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future.

THERE GOES THE GAYBORHOOD? by Amin Ghaziani argues that political gains and societal acceptance are allowing gays and lesbians to imagine expansive possibilities for a life beyond the gayborhood. Ghaziani draws on a wealth of evidence–including census data, opinion polls, hundreds of newspaper reports from across the United States, and more than one hundred original interviews with residents in Chicago, one of the most paradigmatic cities in America.

There Goes the Gayborhood? is featured in the Chicago Tribune. Ghaziani is quoted in the piece, talking about his time spent in Chicago’s Boystown:

“My friends and I began to notice changes in the character and composition of the neighborhood,” he said. “We’d notice more straight couples holding hands and more baby strollers. That became a symbol. Oftentimes a sex store would close and a nail salon would open in its place. Some people feel territorial about Boystown: ‘Why do straight people have to come and take over one spot we have?’ Other people said this is great; isn’t this what we’ve been fighting for?”

Check out the full feature, entitled “‘Gayborhoods’ are changing, researcher finds.”

Ghaziani’s title is discussed in an article on the front page of the Vancouver Sun. Yahoo Canada and the Huffington Post, Canada also pick up the story. Want to know more? Read the introduction of There Goes the Gayborhood? here.

PUP News of the World — July 17, 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!


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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.

Marcus writes:

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:

RIGHT/JUST/GOOD         MEDIA

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.”

PUP News of the World — July 11, 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!


now 7.11

BEAUTIFUL GAME THEORY

It’s finally here. After weeks of World Cup action, all eyes will be on Germany and Argentina on Sunday when the teams face off during the World Cup final. In a piece in the New York Times, John Tierney discusses the role of luck in the past weeks’ soccer match-ups. He writes:

I’ve been watching the World Cup with some frustrated American social scientists. When they see an underdog team triumph with a miraculous rebound or an undeserved penalty kick, they don’t jump up and scream “Goooaaalll!” They just shake their heads and mutter, “Measurement error.”

If you regard a soccer match as an experiment to determine which team is better, then it’s not much of an experiment. It involves hundreds of skillful moves and stratagems, yet each team averages only a dozen shots, and the outcome is decided by several quick and often random events. In most games, no more than three goals are scored, and the typical margin of victory is a single goal.

To a scientist, the measurements are too few to draw a statistically reliable conclusion about which team is more skilled. The score may instead be the result of measurement error, a.k.a. luck.

So what’s luck got to do with it? And what kind of measurements can social scientists apply to the “beautiful game”? Tierney quotes PUP author Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, who discusses why the second team to shoot in penalty shootouts is less likely to win the game by scoring more “GOOOOOAAAAAALS.” Looking to prep for Sunday? Read the full article for more on how much of an impact the pressure of going second can have. Luckily for us fans, the pressure is off. Regardless, we’ll be glued to our TV screens on Sunday.

For more from Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, take a look at his new book, BEAUTIFUL GAME THEORY: How Soccer Can Help Economics. This brilliant and entertaining book illuminates economics through the world’s most popular sport. He offers unique and often startling insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. He also looks at finance, experimental economics, behavioral economics, and neuroeconomics. Soccer provides rich data sets and environments that shed light on universal economic principles in interesting and useful ways. Preview the introduction to Beautiful Game Theory here.

MIRROR, MIRROR

From Tour de France near-misses to a viral EDM hit, the art of the selfie has people talking. But behind the Instagram filters and hashtags, is there a lesson about narcissism? PUP author Simon Blackburn discusses narcissism in a recent interview with the Irish Times:

When does self-esteem cross over into narcissism?

Simon Blackburn: “A modest degree of self-esteem is what Milton called a ‘pious and just honouring of ourselves’. It is no more than a decent self-respect. It can actually stand in the way of vanity, which is an undue concern for the admiration of others.

“The road to narcissism, or a fixated self-love, goes via conceit: if the vain person is too concerned with how he stands in the eyes of others, the conceited person has learned to ignore the others and just thrive on his own good opinion of himself. Narcissism is the fatal extreme of this.”

For more on the subject, check out the introduction of Blackburn’s book, MIRROR, MIRROR: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love. A sparkling mixture of learning, humor, and style, Mirror, Mirror examines what great thinkers have said about self-love–from Aristotle, Cicero, and Erasmus to Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, and Iris Murdoch. It considers today’s “me”-related obsessions, such as the “selfie,” plastic surgery, and cosmetic enhancements, and reflects on connected phenomena such as the fatal commodification of social life and the tragic overconfidence of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Ultimately, Mirror, Mirror shows why self-regard is a necessary and healthy part of life. But it also suggests that we have lost the ability to distinguish–let alone strike a balance–between good and bad forms of self-concern.

PHILOLOGY

Calling all liberal arts graduates! Can you describe what “philology is”? For those who can’t quite recall the definition (don’t worry), we bring you PUP author James Turner, whose new book, PHILOLOGY: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, has your answer. Many today do not recognize the word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. But around 1800, Turner explains, these interlinked philological and antiquarian studies began to fragment into distinct academic fields. These fissures resulted, within a century or so, in the new, independent “disciplines” that we now call the humanities. Yet the separation of these disciplines only obscured, rather than erased, their common features.

Philology is reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and Tom Shippey says that the book “must be the most wide-ranging work of intellectual history for many years.” More from Shippey on philology below:

Its original meaning, “love of words,” is unhelpful. “Tough love” would be a better description: a critical attitude toward words, their roots and their meanings—one that admits no exceptions. It could well be said that a readiness to scrutinize anything, treating even the Bible “like any other book,” is still one of the distinctive marks of Western civilization, seen in every discipline, from literary criticism to theology, history to anthropology.

The first philologists, back in the pre-Christian era, took that attitude with Homer’s epics, which were already deeply venerated and formed the basis of young men’s education. But “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” were centuries old by the time of the great librarians of Alexandria Eratosthenes and Zenodotus. The poems’ texts had been passed on first by word of mouth and then by scribes prone to error or deliberate meddling. The early philologists, then, compared different versions of texts, noted repetitions and struck out dubious lines, such as those added to cover up the non-participation of Athens in the Trojan War.

Well-meaning Americans cleaned up George Washington’s spelling and vulgar idioms; philological historians put them back again. Noah Webster’s 1828 “American Dictionary” piously traced etymologies back to the biblical language Aramaic: After Webster’s death a German philologist removed them. J.M. Kemble swallowed Suhm hook, line and sinker in his first 1833 edition of “Beowulf” but repudiated his mistake in a panic only four years later.

Check out the full review in the Wall Street Journal. The book was also reviewed in Books & Culture, where Timothy Laren writes:

“Sell all the books you have which purport to explain the nature of the academic disciplines and buy James Turner’s Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. If you want to understand higher education in its current configuration of departments, divisions, and professional associations, I can commend no better book….Mind-invigoratingly entertaining.”

A Look at De-Extinction on TED Radio Hour

What if you could bring an extinct animal back to life? This week on the TED Radio Hour, Guy Raz interviews Stewart Brand, an environmentalist and founder of The WELL and the Global Business Network. Brand says that we now have technology that is advanced enough to bring back extinct creatures like the passenger pigeon, a bird that became extinct when the last member, Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. This year marks the centennial anniversary of Martha’s death and the extinction of her species.

This NPR segment, entitled “The Hackers” takes us to visit Martha in her resting place at the Smithsonian Institute. Brand discusses how DNA taken from Martha’s remains can be inserted into the DNA sequence of a related species, the band-tailed pigeon. More from Brand in his TED Talk below.

Check out Brand’s section of this week’s TED Radio Hour as well as the full broadcast.

Curious to know more about Martha? PUP author Errol Fuller discusses the extinction of her species in his new book, THE PASSENGER PIGEON. This stunningly illustrated book also tells the astonishing story of North America’s passenger pigeon, a bird species that–like the Mammoth and the Dodo–has become one of the great icons of extinction.

For a look at another extinct species that Brand mentions, the tylacine, take a look at photos from LOST ANIMALS, another book by Errol Fuller. The New York Times ran a photo slideshow here of rare photos of extinct animals.

thylacine 2

PUP News of the World — July 7, 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!


now 7.7

THERE GOES THE GAYBORHOOD?

Are gayborhoods an endangered species? So begins the recent Gay City News op-ed written by Princeton University Press author Amin Ghaziani. The piece coincided with this summer’s pride marches across the United States. Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. Ghaziani writes:

There are numerous benefits that gay districts, and perhaps only gay districts, provide. It is in these spaces that LGBT people create unique ways of life and expressions of community like annual Pride parades; articulate a distinct political voice; gestate organizations and businesses from bars and bookstores to community centers and nonprofits; find each other for friendship and fellowship; nurture our families (same-sex couples with children tend to live in similar areas of the city); and feel an incomparable sense of safety from hate crimes, discrimination, bigotry, and bias.

Check out the full piece on the Gay City News website.

Amin Ghaziani’s forthcoming book, There Goes the Gayborhood?, was featured in a book roundup “Pride reading list: LGBTrue stories” in the Bay Area Reporter. Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of gayborhoods, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future. Drawing on a wealth of evidence–including census data, opinion polls, hundreds of newspaper reports from across the United States, and more than one hundred original interviews with residents in Chicago, one of the most paradigmatic cities in America–There Goes the Gayborhood? argues that political gains and societal acceptance are allowing gays and lesbians to imagine expansive possibilities for a life beyond the gayborhood. The dawn of a new post-gay era is altering the character and composition of existing enclaves across the country, but the spirit of integration can coexist alongside the celebration of differences in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

Read the introduction of There Goes the Gayborhood? here.

THE BUTTERFLY DEFECT

Globalization has changed the modern world, allowing people to escape poverty and get access to better healthcare. However, PUP authors Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan argue that globalization has also increased systemic risks, as the repercussions of local events now cascade over national borders and the fallout of financial meltdowns and environmental disasters affects everyone. Their new book, The Butterfly Defect, addresses the widening gap between systemic risks and their effective management. It shows how the new dynamics of turbo-charged globalization has the potential and power to destabilize our societies. Drawing on the latest insights from a wide variety of disciplines, Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan provide practical guidance for how governments, businesses, and individuals can better manage risk in our contemporary world.

Mariathasan wrote a piece for the London School of Economics blog entitled “To preserve the benefits from globalization, global connectivity requires global coordination.” He writes:

We have built globalization on a variety of complex and interconnected networks, without which many of the vital functions of our societies can no longer be provided. The speed with which technological progress and innovation have allowed these networks to grow since the turn of the century has outpaced the institutional structures that support them. The governance regimes available for many of the aforementioned global networks are less sophisticated than that of finance, and the structures available to respond to risks cascading across domains are even more limited.

Visit the LSE blog to view the entire piece, including the authors’ six guiding principles for global governance, and check out the book trailer below.

You can preview the introduction to The Butterfly Defect here.

LIBERALISM

Is liberalism dead? PUP author and former editor for the Economist Edmund Fawcett says no. In a recent piece entitled “Reclaiming Liberalism,” Fawcett addresses the current problems facing the ideology today. Fawcett writes:

Liberals are living in alarming times. A few years before his death in 2012, the British historian Eric Hobsbawm passed summary judgment on the future of liberal democracy. ‘None of the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century can be solved,’ he wrote in the British magazine Prospect, ‘by the principles that still dominate the developed countries of the West: unlimited economic growth and technical progress, the ideal of individual autonomy, freedom of choice, electoral democracy.’ Hobsbawm did not say which were more at fault: liberal aims or liberal capacities. It hardly mattered. His prophetic voice seemed to echo the gathering fears of liberals themselves that perhaps their day was done.

More is in play here than an irrational loss of nerve. Much of what has shaken liberal self-belief since the 1990s is real enough and well-attested: external shocks from violent Islamism; injury to liberal values done by espionage, war-making and torture; a global banking collapse with its costly rescues and enduring economic harm.

Fawcett goes on to argue that the ideals of liberalism are still important but that liberalism must change radically if it is to survive in the future. View the entire piece in Aeon Magazine.

Check out the introduction of Fawcett’s new book, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea. In this engrossing history of liberalism–the first in English for many decades–Fawcett traces the ideals, successes, and failures of this central political tradition through the lives and ideas of a rich cast of European and American thinkers and politicians, from the early nineteenth century to today. Using a broad idea of liberalism, the book discusses celebrated thinkers from Constant and Mill to Berlin, Hayek, and Rawls, as well as more neglected figures. Its twentieth-century politicians include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Willy Brandt, but also Hoover, Reagan, and Kohl. The story tracks political liberalism from its beginnings in the 1830s to its long, grudging compromise with democracy, through a golden age after 1945 to the present mood of challenge and doubt.

Fawcett was recently interviewed on BBC Radio’s Free Thinking. Hear more from him in the video below, as he discusses Liberalism:

PUP News of the World — June 27, 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!


ROUGH COUNTRY

Everything is bigger in Texas, right? Our first book is certainly worthy of the Lone Star State and the big things found there. This week we start off with Robert Wuthnow’s forthcoming book, ROUGH COUNTRY: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State. Tracing the intersection of religion, race, and power in Texas from Reconstruction through the rise of the Religious Right and the failed presidential bid of Governor Rick Perry, Rough Country illuminates American history since the Civil War in new ways, demonstrating that Texas’s story is also America’s. In particular, Wuthnow shows how distinctions between “us” and “them” are perpetuated and why they are so often shaped by religion and politics.

Rough Country received a starred review in Publishers Weekly:

Anyone seeking to examine the relationship between modern American religious conservatism and politics needs to look no further than Wuthnow’s authoritative, encyclopedic survey of Texas’s influence on national trends.

Check out the introduction here.

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD

We keep with big ideas and endeavors with our next title, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, written by Jürgen Osterhammel and translated by Patrick Camiller. A monumental history of the nineteenth century, The Transformation of the World offers a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of a world in transition. Jürgen Osterhammel, an eminent scholar 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.

The Transformation of the World was reviewed in the Shanghai Daily by Wan Lixin. Here is a preview of the review, entitled “To grasp history, look with heart at many sides and take the long view”:

THERE is a tale of the great scholar Wang Yangming (1472-1529) that says one day he tried to understand how a bamboo works. He gazed at a bamboo in his academy with such undeviating attention and energy that before he could arrive at any conclusion he collapsed after seven days of intensive effort.

Commenting on his failure in his later life, he pointed to the importance of methodology, citing the vital importance of the heart in the understanding of the external world.

When I was confronted with an English edition of Jürgen Osterhammel’s “The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century” (translated by Patrick Camiller), my curiosity was naturally aroused by the methodology used in organizing the enormous amount of material contained in this volume of 1,000 pages.

Although Osterhammel restricts his attention to the epic 19th century, he must look beyond that century of contacts, for the seeds of changes had been sowed long ago.

Read the rest of the article over at the Shanghai Daily‘s website. Curious about Osterhammel’s extensive research? Take a look at this Q&A with the author and read the introduction of The Transformation of the World.

TAMBORA

Next, we bring you a book that will blow the top off of your bookshelf. We’re talking about TAMBORAThe Eruption That Changed the World by Gillen D”Arcy Wood. When Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. On the eve of the bicentenary of the great eruption, Tambora tells the extraordinary story of the weather chaos it wrought, weaving the latest climate science with the social history of this frightening period to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

Tambora was named as the “Book of the Week” in the Times Higher Education. Alison Stokes writes:

Although Wood is a scholar of English literature, Tambora really showcases his skills as an environmental historian. He combines rigorously researched scientific information with a vivid and compelling narrative, assembling a complex jigsaw puzzle of anecdote and evidence into a coherent account that is further brought to life by a well-considered selection of historical artworks and scientific diagrams. By focusing on the human aspects of climate change, he demonstrates both the teleconnection of different climatic events linked to the eruption, and the (often overlooked) connectedness of seemingly disparate academic disciplines and fields of inquiry. This interdisciplinary approach is Tambora’s greatest strength and should assure it a wide readership.

View the introduction of Tambora here.

STRATEGIC REASSURANCE AND RESOLVE

Our final book takes a look at the rivalry between an established and a rising world power. STRATEGIC REASSURANCE AND RESOLVEU.S.-China Relations in the Twenty-First Century addresses the growing tension between the United States and China. In this book, James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon stake out a third, less deterministic position. They argue that there are powerful domestic and international factors, especially in the military and security realms, that could well push the bilateral relationship toward an arms race and confrontation, even though both sides will be far worse off if such a future comes to pass. They contend that this pessimistic scenario can be confidently avoided only if China and the United States adopt deliberate policies designed to address the security dilemma that besets the relationship between a rising and an established power.

The Wall Street Journal reviewed Strategic Reassurance and Resolve, saying that the book “furnishes an important and wide-ranging toolkit to keep the conversation between the U.S. and China going.”

Check out this mention of the book on the Diplomat, where Shannon Tiezzi discusses how U.S.-China military relations are improving.

 You can view the introduction for Strategic Reassurance and Resolve here.

NEWS OF THE WORLD

PUP News of the World — June 20, 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!


now 6.20

MASS FLOURISHING

What do you say to chatting over soup with a Nobel Laureate? We like the idea too. Check out this Financial Times piece by Martin Wolf, where he recounts his lunch discussion with Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics and author of Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change. The men discuss Phelps’ feelings on creativity, innovation in Europe, and the decision to rescue the financial sector in 2008. Phelps speaks about his book, and Wolf writes:

What, I ask, led to writing Mass Flourishing? He tells me he started thinking about capitalism and socialism in the 1990s. But “it was only around 2002 that I began to think about creativity. I realised that the economics profession was mired in the idea that advance is ultimately the result of scientific discovery.

“Joseph Schumpeter [an Austrian economist of the first half of the 20th century] said that it requires entrepreneurs to do the work of building commercial applications. Yet he also argued one hardly ever sees creativity in entrepreneurs.

“I was appalled by this. So I started to think about what drives innovation and what its social significance might be. The next step was to think: innovators are taking a leap into the unknown. That led me to the thought that it is also a source of fun and employee engagement.”

Read the rest of Phelps’ thoughts in the full Financial Times article.

In Mass Flourishing, Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper–and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”–meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges.

These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing–a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense–was created by this mass innovation.

Read the introduction of Mass Flourishing here.

The book is also mentioned in a post about patent and copyright laws on the AEI Ideas blog. James Pethokoukis looks to a quote from Mass Flourishing, in which Phelps argues that “now the economy is clogged with patents.” Check out the full post on the AEI Ideas blog.

RULING RUSSIA

“What’s the Matter with Russia?” asks Keith Gessen in a recent article in Foreign Affairs. Gessen, a Russian-born journalist who co-edits n+1, recounts a recent trip on Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, where he spoke with a fellow passenger about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He writes:

I kept thinking — I keep thinking — what, exactly, is wrong with Russia? Why is it still so aggressive nearly 30 years after the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched the process of “normalizing” Russia and its relations with the world? Why, despite two decades of optimistic predictions that it was on the path to becoming, or was on the verge of becoming, or had already become a “normal” country, had it never become one? Why couldn’t it be more like Germany, another country that used to invade other countries but now focuses on making quality automobiles and protecting the health of the euro?

Gessen turns to two books, including William Zimmerman’s Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin, to explore the history that led to the Russia of today. Check out the full article in Foreign Affairs.

Ruling Russia is the only book of its kind to trace the history of modern Russian politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the presidency of Vladimir Putin. It examines the complex evolution of communist and post-Soviet leadership in light of the latest research in political science, explaining why the democratization of Russia has all but failed.

Library Journal also reviews Ruling Russia, saying:

“Western democracies often view the Russian political structure as something ‘abnormal.’ Zimmerman peels back this Western lens and looks systematically into Russian political history from Vladimir Lenin to Vladimir Putin. He delves into how a consolidated political structure solidified with each passing generation of rulers.”

See for yourself, and view the introduction of Ruling Russia here.

 

 TAMBORA

When PUP author Gillen D’Arcy Wood talks about a big volcanic explosion, he means big. On the volcanic explosivity index (VEI), the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora registered a seven out of eight. Wood’s new book, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, chronicles the aftermath of the explosion, which unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. Wood is interviewed on Voice of America’s Science World to discuss the book. Hear Wood’s portion of the program below (at about 16:10).

Tambora is reviewed in the South China Morning Post and given four stars. Matthew Scott writes:

“Gillen D’Arcy Wood tells this story with skill and convincing research in Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, bringing together science, historic records and anecdotes from 200 years ago….Wood delivers an intriguing anecdote of historical science, describing how humans are oblivious to the links to nature all around us.”

The book also made the Edmonton Journal nonfiction bestseller list. Preview the introduction here.

 

PUP News of the World — June 13, 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

Planning to hop on Uber to find a ride during your upcoming weekend trip? Was it a tweet from a coworker or a status update from an old college friend that put this ride request app on your radar? PUP author Misiek Piskorski appears on Bloomberg TV to examine the story behind how Uber came to flood your Facebook newsfeed. He also takes a closer look at the company’s $17 billion valuation. How do companies like Uber and Twitter make money? Piskorski lends his insight.

The segment mentions Piskorski’s new book, A Social Strategy, which was reviewed in the Financial Times. Maija Palmer says:

For companies that are struggling to measure social media, Piskorski offers a different way of looking at the problem, and his three tests – the social utility test, the social solution test and the business value test – provide a way to check if a project is working.

In the book, Piskorski examines what makes social media so different from traditional media, and he argues that answering that question is the key to making social media work for any business. In A Social Strategy, he provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express.

A Social Strategy was also reviewed on PopMatters and featured on Crowdly.

Take a break from drafting witty tweets about the upcoming weekend, and take a look at this interview with Piskorski on Yahoo! Finance. You can also view Chapter One of A Social Strategy.


THE EXTREME LIFE OF THE SEA

To celebrate World Oceans Day, the Guardian‘s GrrlScientist reviewed Stephen and Anthony Palumbi’s The Extreme Life of the Sea. The review says that “regardless of your level of knowledge, this quietly joyful and informative book has something of value for everyone.”

The Extreme Life of the Sea takes readers to the absolute limits of the ocean world–the fastest and deepest, the hottest and oldest creatures of the oceans. It dives into the icy Arctic and boiling hydrothermal vents–and exposes the eternal darkness of the deepest undersea trenches–to show how marine life thrives against the odds. This thrilling book brings to life the sea’s most extreme species, and tells their stories as characters in the drama of the oceans. Coauthored by Stephen Palumbi, one of today’s leading marine scientists, The Extreme Life of the Sea tells the unforgettable tales of some of the most marvelous life forms on Earth, and the challenges they overcome to survive. Modern science and a fluid narrative style give every reader a deep look at the lives of these species.

You can preview the book, which GrrlScientist calls “sweetly enthusiastic, enlightening and witty and, at times, inspired,” by viewing the prologue. Check out this fun video from author Stephen Palumbi — it will get you in gear to celebrate the ocean’s fastest creatures.


CHILD MIGRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN A GLOBAL AGE

On Thursday, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo spoke about the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram more than 60 days ago, and he said he believed that some of the girls “will never return.” Reuters reports on Obasanjo’s interview with the BBC, where he said he would consider it a “near-miracle” if all of the girls were returned to their families.

As PUP author Jacqueline Bhabha says in her recent Project Syndicate op-ed, it is nothing new that young Nigerian women are taken from their homes; each year, thousands of Nigerian girls are forced into prostitution:

Six of every ten people trafficked to the West are Nigerian, and at least 60% of trafficked sex workers in Italy and Belgium are Nigerian girls. Across Europe, North America, Russia, and the Middle East, these young women are visible to all who bother to look – and have been for decades.

Why is no one outraged? The inconsistency is rooted in the girls’ circumstances: the schoolgirls are innocent victims crying out for protection, while the child sex workers are illegal immigrants, slated for deportation as soon as they are caught.

View the entire op-ed, which is entitled “The Nigerian Schoolgirls Near You.”

Bhabha is no stranger to the research behind issues like this. A professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, director of research at Harvard’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, and the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer at Harvard Law School, Bhabha argues that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children–one we need to address head-on. Her new book Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age offers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children’s human rights. View the introduction here.


WHY GOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN

Finally, we bring you a review from this week’s Wall Street Journal. Yuval Levin calls Peter Schuck’s Why Government Fails So Often “an essential manual for 21st-century policy makers.” In the book, lawyer and political scientist Peter Schuck provides a wide range of examples and an enormous body of evidence to explain why so many domestic policies go awry–and how to right the foundering ship of state.

Schuck argues that Washington’s failures are due not to episodic problems or partisan bickering, but rather to deep structural flaws that undermine every administration, Democratic and Republican. These recurrent weaknesses include unrealistic goals, perverse incentives, poor and distorted information, systemic irrationality, rigidity and lack of credibility, a mediocre bureaucracy, powerful and inescapable markets, and the inherent limits of law. To counteract each of these problems, Schuck proposes numerous achievable reforms, from avoiding moral hazard in student loan, mortgage, and other subsidy programs, to empowering consumers of public services, simplifying programs and testing them for cost-effectiveness, and increasing the use of “big data.”

Michael Barone includes Schuck’s book in a recent column discussing the VA, and the book is included in a feature in the Miami Herald on the same subject.

Check out Chapter One of Why Government Fails So Often.

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