#AskAnEditor Twitter party to celebrate University Press week

Do you have questions about how to submit a manuscript, what our acquisitions editors look for, or what it’s like to work as an editor at Princeton University Press? This Wednesday, November 8, we’ll be throwing an #AskAnEditor Twitter party. If you have questions for our wonderful acquisitions team, this is your chance to ask them directly. Just tweet to @PrincetonUPress using the hashtag #AskAnEditor. Here’s who will be taking questions and a bit about each of their programs:

11 am-12 pm

Matt Rohal is a junior acquisitions editor at Princeton University Press, working in philosophy, political theory, and the ancient world. He is interested in publishing books that further the conversation in these fields, by presenting innovative insights that are both practical and theoretical, or shedding new light on age-old thinking. Matt has an honors degree in philosophy, a background in publishing political science textbooks, and a lifetime obsession with the ancient world.

12-1 pm

Eric Henney is a science editor, working in physics, astronomy, earth science, and computer science. He is looking for books that change how we see the physical world. Currently he is obsessed with biophysics, materials science, and the collision of computation and society. Eric’s authors include Robbert Dijkgraaf, Mark Serreze, Marcia Bjornerud, Skylar Tibbits, and Carl Landwehr. Though he’s not a scientist, he did have a rock collection when he was a kid.

1-2 pm

Michelle Komie is executive editor at Princeton University Press, and acquires titles in art, architectural, and urban history. Recent titles include On Weaving, by Anni Albers, Mariposas Nocturnas, by Emmet Gowin, Bosch and Bruegel, by Joseph Koerner, and Designing San Francisco, by Alison Isenberg.

2-3 pm

Vickie Kearn is executive editor of mathematics. She taught school in Virginia for 8 years before moving to NYC and taking a job as a Developmental Editor at Academic Press. After editing calculus textbooks and writing solution manuals for three years, she became an Acquisitions Editor. She worked for a commercial press and a mathematics society before coming to PUP. Some of her standout titles include The Seduction of Curves by Allan McRobie, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali by Lewis Carroll, and Magical Mathematics by Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham.

3-4 pm

Fred Appel is executive editor at Princeton University Press. He acquires books in both the social sciences and humanities, focusing in particular on the areas of religion and religious studies (including Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, American religion and religious history) and cultural anthropology. Fred has worked as an acquisitions editor at Princeton for 16 years. Examples of books he has edited at Princeton include Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World; E. Gabriella Coleman’s Coding Freedom, James Scott’s Two Cheers for Anarchism, Noah Feldman’s The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Thomas Barfield’s Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, John C. Collins’ The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography, Shahab Ahmed’s What is Islam?, and Bible Nation by Candida Moss and Joel Baden.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Wednesday and tweet your question to @PrincetonUPress with the hashtag #AskAnEditor. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Wealth of Ideas Conference in honor of Peter Dougherty

As a publisher, Peter J. Dougherty has been one of the most ardent advocates of the book’s power to convey important ideas and to change the “conversations that are changing the world.” In honor of his career as an editor and his tenure as director of Princeton University Press, Friday’s Wealth of Ideas conference at the Princeton University Friend Center was devoted to demonstrating how scholarly research via the durable medium of the book has shaped our world and can continue to have a lasting impact.

On hand to mark the day were W. Drake McFeely, Chairman, W. W. Norton & Company, Christopher L. Eisgruber, President of Princeton University, and Diana Kormos Buchwald, California Institute of Technology. The morning opened with a session on Economics and Economic History with presentations from Joel Mokyr, Robert Shiller, and Diane Coyle. Politics and economic sociology were discussed by Daniel Chirot of University of Washington, Viviana A. Zelizer of Princeton University, and Jerry Z. Muller of Catholic University of America. The afternoon saw presentations on education topics from Nancy Weiss Malkiel of Princeton University, Andrew Delbanco of Columbia University, and James Shulman of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Presentations on publishing from Adam Bellow, Editorial Director, All Points Books, St. Martin’s Press, Marilyn Moller, Editor and Vice President, W. W. Norton & Company, and Stephan Chambers, Director, Marshall Institute, London School of Economics rounded out the afternoon.

Outgoing director Peter Dougherty and incoming director Christie Henry

At the reception that followed at 41 William Street, members of the Princeton University Press Staff awarded Peter with a gorgeous, hand-knit commemorative blanket, bound copies of his wisdom in Confessions of a Scholarly Publisher, several pieces of artwork, and a plaque memorializing the William Street lobby of the Scribner Building in his name.

Peter admires a handmade retirement gift from PUP staff

Peter writes:

“I want to thank each and every one of you for the wonderful reception and recognition, and especially those of you who put so much of yourselves into the many gifts I received that evening and will cherish forever. I am humbled by your generosity, and am hopeful and indeed confident that you will capture the spirit you brought to Friday’s reception and direct that spirit in support of Christie Henry as she leads the Press into its next exciting generation.”

A 1971 graduate of LaSalle College in his hometown of Philadelphia, Peter J. Dougherty began his publishing career as a college textbook salesperson for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1972. After becoming sociology editor at Harcourt in 1979, he went on to work as an editor at McGraw-Hill, W. H. Freeman, St. Martin’s Press, Basil Blackwell, and The Free Press before coming to Princeton University Press as its senior economics editor in 1992.

At Princeton, he published some of the most noted economists and social scientists in the world, including nine Nobel Prize winners. Among the most celebrated books on his list are Robert J. Shiller’s international bestseller, Irrational Exuberance, and Animal Spirits, coauthored by Shiller and George Akerlof; Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s Women Don’t Ask; Joel Mokyr’s Gifts of Athena; Harold Kuhn and Sylvia Nasar’s The Essential John Nash; Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence; and Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms. He also built the Press’s distinguished list in higher education, including William G. Bowen and Derek Bok’s groundbreaking The Shape of the River. Dougherty was named director of the Press in 2005 and served in that role until 2017. As director, he oversaw some of the Press’s most successful years, both academically and financially, as well as an expansion of its international presence with the opening of an office in Beijing—the first for a US university press.

He is a past president of the Association of American University Presses and previously served on the board of the Association of American Publishers. His first book, Who’s Afraid of Adam Smith?, was published by John Wiley and Sons in 2002.

Currently, Peter is editor-at-large at Princeton University Press and Fox Family Pavilion Scholar and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Robert A. Fox Leadership Program.

 

Peter Dougherty, Christie Henry, and Walter Lippincott in the Press courtyard

Why Luck Is the Silent Partner of Success

Princeton University Press is partnering with Knowledge@Wharton, The Wharton School’s online business analysis journal, to bring you regular thought pieces from our authors. Our inaugural post is from economist Robert Frank. The piece appeared initially on the Knowledge@Wharton site. 

Why do the rich underestimate the role of luck in their success? Why does that mindset hurt society? What can be done about it? These are some of the questions that Robert H. Frank, author of Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, addresses in this opinion piece. Frank is an economist at Cornell University and an economics columnist for the New York Times. His books, which include Success and Luck and The Winner-Take-All Society, have been translated into 24 languages.

As the essayist E.B. White once wrote, “Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” Some people are of course quick to acknowledge the good fortune they’ve enjoyed along their paths to the top.  But White was surely correct that such people are in the minority. More commonly, successful people overestimate their responsibility for whatever successes they achieve.

Even lottery winners are sometimes blind to luck’s role. In his 2012 book, The Success Equation, Michael Mauboussin describes a man inspired by a succession of dreams to believe he’d win the Spanish National Lottery if he could purchase a ticket number whose last two digits were 48. After an extensive search, he located and bought such a ticket, which indeed turned out to be a winner. When an interviewer later asked why he’d sought out that particular number, he said, “I dreamed of the number 7 for seven straight nights. And 7 times 7 is 48.”

The tendency to overestimate the predictability of events extends well beyond lottery winners. The sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld illustrated this tendency, known as “hindsight bias,” with people’s reactions to a study that investigated how different groups of men adjusted to the rigors of military life. As he described the study to his subjects, its principal finding was that men who had grown up in rural areas adjusted far more successfully than their urban counterparts. Many of Lazarsfeld’s subjects reacted exactly as he had expected. Why, they wondered, was a costly study needed to confirm something so obvious?

The twist was that Lazarsfeld’s description of the study was a fabrication. The study had actually discovered that men who had grown up in urban settings adjusted to military life more successfully. If Lazarsfeld had reported the actual finding to his subjects, of course, they would have found it just as easy to construct a compelling narrative to explain its truth.

“An unfortunate consequence of seeing ourselves as entirely self-made … [is that it] makes us much less likely to support the public investments that made our own successes possible….”

In similar fashion, when successful people reflect on their paths to the top, they tend to view their success as having been all but inevitable. In their attempts to construct narratives to explain it, they search their memory banks for details that are consistent with successful outcomes. And because the overwhelming majority of successful people are in fact extremely talented and hardworking, they’ll find many ready examples of the long hours they logged, the many difficult problems they solved, and the many formidable opponents they vanquished.

But as the psychologist Tom Gilovich has shown, they’re much less likely to remember external events that may have helped them along the way — the teacher who once steered them out of trouble, perhaps, or the early promotion received only because a slightly more qualified colleague had to care for an ailing parent. This asymmetry, Gilovich points out, resembles the one with which people react to headwinds and tailwinds.

When you’re running or bicycling into a strong headwind, for example, you’re keenly aware of the handicap you face. And when your course shifts, putting the wind at your back, you feel a momentary sense of relief. But that feeling fades almost immediately, leaving you completely unmindful of the tailwind’s assistance. Gilovich’s collaborations with the psychologist Shai Davidai demonstrate the pervasiveness of analogous asymmetries in memory. People are far more cognizant of the forces that impede their progress than of those that boost them along.

An unfortunate consequence of seeing ourselves as entirely self-made — rather than as talented, hardworking, and lucky—is that this perception makes us much less likely to support the public investments that made our own successes possible in the first place.

Being born in a good environment is an enormously lucky thing and one of the only lucky things we can actually control. Basically, we get to decide how lucky our children will be. But that requires extensive investment in the future, something we’ve been reluctant to undertake of late. Even as a shrinking group among us has been growing steadily luckier, a growing number of the unluckiest have been falling still further behind.

The good news is that we can easily do better. It turns out that when successful people are prompted to reflect on how chance events affected their paths to the top, they become much more inclined to pay forward for the next generation.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that simply telling successful people that they’ve been lucky will elicit this reaction. On the contrary, it seems to have precisely the opposite effect, making them angry and defensive. It’s as if you’ve told them that they don’t really deserve to be on top, that they aren’t who they think they are.

Consider Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 you-didn’t-build-that speech, in which she reminded successful business owners that they had shipped their goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for, they had hired workers educated at taxpayer expense, and they had been safe in their factories because of police and firefighters the community hired. In return, she then reminded them, the social contract asks them to pay forward for the next group that comes along.

It is difficult to spot anything controversial in these words. Yet shortly after she spoke them, the video of her speech went viral, provoking outraged comments by the millions.

“Don’t remind your successful friends that they’ve enjoyed a bit of luck. Instead, ask them to recall examples of lucky breaks….”

No, simply telling rich people that they’ve been lucky won’t make them more willing to invest in the next generation. Mysteriously, however, an ostensibly equivalent rhetorical move seems to have precisely that effect: If you ask your successful friends whether they can think of any lucky breaks they might have enjoyed, you’ll almost invariably discover that they seem to enjoy trying to recall examples. You’ll see, too, that their eyes light up as they describe each one they remember.

Research has demonstrated that priming people to experience the emotion of gratitude significantly increases their willingness to incur costs to promote the common good. And people who recall instances in which they’ve been lucky reliably experience gratitude, even when there is no specific person to whom they feel grateful.

The economist Yuezhou Huo, for example, asked one group of people to list three external causes for something good that had recently happened to them, a second group to list three personal traits or actions that had contributed to the good thing, and a third group merely to report a good thing that had recently happened. Subjects received a bonus payment for their participation in this study, and  Huo offered them a chance to donate some or all of that payment to a charity when the study ended. Those who had been asked to list external causes — many of whom mentioned luck explicitly — donated 25% more than those who were asked to name personal traits or behaviors. The control group’s donations fell squarely in the middle.

As psychologists have long understood, logically equivalent statements often elicit very different emotional responses. Calling a glass half empty, for example, conveys something quite different from calling it half full. So, too, with our statements about luck. Don’t remind your successful friends that they’ve enjoyed a bit of luck. Instead, ask them to recall examples of lucky breaks they might have enjoyed along the way. Even if their recollections don’t prompt them to adopt a more generous posture toward future generations, you’re bound to hear some interesting stories.

Richard H. Thaler wins the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 2017

Princeton, NJ, October 9, 2017—Upon today’s announcement that Dr. Richard H. Thaler is the winner of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2017, Princeton University Press extends hearty congratulations to the celebrated economist.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Science recognizes Dr. Thaler “for his contributions to behavioural economics.”

Dr. Thaler is the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Economics and Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business where he directs the Center for Decision Research. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research where he codirects the Behavioral Economics Project. Dr. Thaler’s research bridges the gap between psychology and economics. He is considered a pioneer in the fields of behavioral economics and finance.

Princeton University Press is deeply gratified to be the publisher of Dr. Thaler’s The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life (1994) and Advances in Behavioral Finance, Volume II (2005).

According to Joe Jackson, Senior Economics Editor at Princeton University Press, “Dr. Thaler’s is an edifying story of how economics adapts and, over time, can come to embrace new perspectives that at first might seem at odds with the whole tradition, but that stand the test of extensive scrutiny and experimentation and end up broadly changing the field.  Princeton University Press is proud to have played a minor but relatively early part in that story by publishing the paperback of The Winner’s Curse, shortly after it was published in hardcover by the Free Press in 1992, which is still in print today.”

Since 1905, Princeton University Press has remained committed to publishing global thought leaders in the economic sciences and beyond. We are honored to count Dr. Thaler’s work as a cornerstone of this legacy.

Richard Thaler joins a number of esteemed PUP authors who have won the Nobel Prize in Economics, among them Angus Deaton, Jean Tirole, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert J. Shiller, Thomas J. Sargent, Peter A. Diamond, Elinor Ostrom, Edmund Phelps, Robert J. Aumann, George Akerlof, Robert Engle, John Nash, and Alvin Roth.

Vickie Kearn kicks off Global Math Week

October 10 – 17 marks the first ever Global Math Week. This is exciting for many reasons and if you go to the official website, you’ll find that there are already 736,546—and counting— reasons there. One more: PUP will be celebrating with a series of posts from some of our most fascinating math authors, so check this space tomorrow for the first, on ciphers, by Craig Bauer. Global Math Week provides a purposeful opportunity to have a global math conversation with your friends, colleagues, students, and family.

Mathematics is for everyone, as evidenced in the launch of Exploding Dots, which James Tanton brilliantly demonstrates at the link above. It is a mathematical story that looks at math in a new way, from grade school arithmetic, all the way to infinite sums and on to unsolved problems that are still stumping our brightest mathematicians. Best of all, you can ace this and no longer say “math is hard”, “math is boring”, or “I hate math”.

Vickie Kearn visits the Great Wall during her trip to our new office in Beijing

I personally started celebrating early as I traveled to Beijing in August to attend the Beijing International Book Fair. I met with the mathematics editors at a dozen different publishers to discuss Chinese editions of our math books. Although we did not speak the same language, we had no trouble communicating. We all knew what a differential equation is and a picture in a book of a driverless car caused lots of hand clapping. I was thrilled to be presented with the first Chinese editions of two books written by Elias Stein (Real Analysis and Complex Analysis) from the editor at China Machine Press. Although I love getting announcements from our rights department that one of our math books is being translated into Chinese, Japanese, German, French, etc., there is nothing like the thrill I had of meeting the people who love math as much as I do and who actually make our books come to life for people all over the world.

Because Princeton University Press now has offices in Oxford and Beijing, in addition to Princeton, and because I go to many conferences each year, I am fortunate to travel internationally and experience global math firsthand. No matter where you live, it is possible to share experiences through doing math. I urge you to visit the Global Math Project website and learn how to do math(s) in a global way.

Check back tomorrow for the start of our PUP blog series on what doing math globally means to our authors. Find someone who says they don’t like math and tell them your global math story.

Read like a Nobel Prize-winning physicist

This morning Princeton University Press was thrilled to congratulate PUP author and celebrated physicist Kip Thorne on being a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017. Dr. Thorne’s research has focused on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes, and especially gravitational waves. The latter observation, made in September 2015, validated a key prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Princeton University Press is honored to be the publisher of Dr. Thorne’s Modern Classical Physics, co-authored with Roger Blandford, and the new hardback edition of the renowned classic, Gravitation, co-authored with Charles Misner and the late John Wheeler, forthcoming this fall.

Over the years, we’ve published several Nobel winners, including:

  • Einstein
  • Richard Feynman (QED)
  • P.W. Anderson (the classic and controversial Theory of Superconductivity in the High-Tc Cuprates)
  • Paul Dirac (General Theory of Relativity)
  • Werner Heisenberg (Encounters with Einstein)

Interested in learning more about physics yourself? We put together the ultimate Nobel reading list. Click the graphic for links to each book.

PUP congratulates Kip S. Thorne, joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics

New Books Gravitation and Modern Classical Physics Publishing in October 2017

Princeton, NJ, October 3, 2017—Upon today’s announcement that Dr. Kip S. Thorne is the joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017, Princeton University Press would like to extend hearty congratulations to the celebrated physicist.

The Royal Swedish Academy recognizes Dr. Thorne, along with Rainer Weiss and Barry C. Barish, for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”.

Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. Thorne has focused his research on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and on astrophysics, with emphasis on relativistic stars, black holes, and especially gravitational waves. The latter observation, made in September 2015, validated a key prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Princeton University Press is honored to be the publisher of Dr. Thorne’s Modern Classical Physics, co-authored with Roger Blandford, and the new hardback edition of the renowned classic, Gravitation, co-authored with Charles Misner and the late John Wheeler, publishing in October 2017.

According to Christie Henry, director of Princeton University Press, “Dr. Thorne’s creativity and brilliance have been as grounding to Princeton University Press’s publishing program in the physical sciences as gravitation is to the human experience.  His recently released Princeton University Press contributions, Gravitation and Modern Classical Physics, are vital to our mission of illuminating spheres of knowledge to advance and enrich the human conversation, and today we celebrate his commitment to science with the Nobel committee and readers across the universe.”

Since the publication of Albert Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity in 1922, Princeton University Press has remained committed to publishing global thought leaders in the sciences and beyond. We are honored to count Dr. Thorne’s work as part of this legacy.

Thorne

For more information, please contact:

Julia Haav, Assistant Publicity Director

Julia_Haav@press.princeton.edu, 609.258.2831

 

A. James McAdams on Vanguard of the Revolution

Vanguard of the Revolution is a sweeping history of one of the most significant political institutions of the modern world. The communist party was a revolutionary idea long before its supporters came to power. A. James McAdams argues that the rise and fall of communism can be understood only by taking into account the origins and evolution of this compelling idea. He shows how the leaders of parties in countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, Germany, Yugoslavia, Cuba, and North Korea adapted the original ideas of revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to profoundly different social and cultural settings. The first comprehensive political history of the communist party, Vanguard of the Revolution is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand world communism and the captivating idea that gave it life. Read on to learn more about the origins and evolution of the communist party in Russia.

What led you to write a book about the communist party?

My initial motivation was that I couldn’t find any systematic political histories of the party. I felt that scholars and other interested readers would benefit from a broad comparative study that accounted for both this institution’s tremendous staying-power over the past century and then its swift collapse by the early 1990s. The communist party was more than a fleeting political organization. It was the principal rival to the other, prevailing form of party rule in modern times—liberal democracy. During the past century, over a billion and a half people were ruled by communist parties, roughly 38 percent of the world’s population.

I was also motivated by a factor that was missing in my discipline. Political scientists have written an impressive number of books on party behavior in both developing and advanced democracies. But they have generally neglected the communist party. This may be due to the assumption that that all communist parties have adhered to a stereotyped definition of “Leninism,” i.e., an organization characterized by dictatorial practices, rigid hierarchies, and rampant brutality. Yet, as I show in my book, the communist party took multiple forms over its long history, just like liberal-democratic parties did in the West. Although all communist parties had certain features in common—especially the conviction that the progressive march of history was on their side—they also differed in significant ways. Just look at the variation in the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. This was not only true of dictatorships. There were notable differences among the communist parties that competed in national and local elections in the West, such as the French and Italian communist parties.

Communist parties also assumed different identities over time. Lenin’s Bolsheviks were vastly different from what the communist party became under Joseph Stalin. Likewise, Nikita Khrushchev’s and Leonid Brezhnev’s conceptions of party leadership were different as well. One of the most important things Mikhail Gorbachev did when he came to power was to attempt to transform the party according to a highly idealized vision of Leninist rule. Yet, his efforts to reform the idea of the party inadvertently resulted in the institution’s total loss of legitimacy.

What do you mean by referring to “the global idea” of the party in the subtitle of Vanguard of the Revolution?

I am a big believer in the role of ideas in driving human behavior. You can’t understand the communist party’s lasting appeal unless you recognize that the party was an idea before it took the form of a fully fleshed-out organization. When Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, he did not trouble himself with the issue of party organization. He was so convinced about the immediacy of the proletarian revolution that he assumed that the party would simply materialize as the prophetic voice of the working class. Over the following century, his ideas about the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressed and the inevitable victory of good over evil galvanized the emotions of revolutionaries in as disparate locations as Hungary, the United States, Poland, Yugoslavia, and China. Although the conditions these radicals faced were very different from those that Marx encountered in England and Germany, his and his successors’ ideas gave them the confidence that they, too, would be victorious.

Of course, I don’t mean to attribute the longevity of communist parties to ideas alone. As I emphasize in Vanguard of the Revolution, a political order based solely on the idea of constantly revolutionizing society would explode. At one point or another, all communist leaders recognized that their movements would not survive without effective organizations. Yet these parties would not have lasted if they had lacked the ideas to motivate their followers. It’s when you put ideas and organizations together that you get a viable institution, one that lasts a long time.

What is so exciting about the communist party is that it was a truly global institution. Long before the advent of the internet and social media, a combination of factors—advances in communications media, repeated military conflicts, and social upheaval—made it possible for communists and other sympathetic radicals to bring the idea of an international revolution to life. These revolutionaries were not only focused on their own countries, they drew upon a vast network of personal ties to spread the good word about communism around the world.

Why were so many party members willing to sacrifice their lives—or the lives of others, including comrades and family members—in defense of their cause?

This question haunts everyone who seeks to make sense of the history of world communism.  Certainly one motivating factor was fear. During Stalin’s Terror or Mao’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, if you failed to denounce someone who was accused of being a “counterrevolutionary,” you would be accused of the same crime. Another factor was opportunism. For many party cadres, these times presented opportunities for moving up the social and political ladder.

But the factor I consider the most important—and disturbing—was the rigid psychology of many of the true-believers. As writers like Arthur Koestler, Wolfgang Leonhard, and George Orwell, have beautifully captured in their accounts, there was an intoxicating element of messianism in these movements. Party cadres were prepared to do normally unthinkable things to others because they truly believed that they were on the right side of history. As we know about all messianic movements, the more deeply such believers are immersed in their cause, the more they are inclined to engage in cognitive denial. In the face of all contradictory evidence, they can be convinced that people they have known their entire lives are spies, saboteurs, and “wreckers.”

Your book covers an extraordinary number of communist parties over long periods. How did you become interested in the study of communism?

Well, I began with East Germany. I was studying German at the Free University in West Berlin in 1973, and went to East Berlin on a regular basis. Crossing through the Berlin Wall was always an adventure. When I stepped into the Eastern side of the city, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to live under communism. As I passed people on the street, they would invariably look at my shoes and my jeans—both signs of capitalist affluence. Clearly, they were wondering what it was like to live in the West.

Once I had become familiar with one communist country, I couldn’t resist the temptation to visit all of them! Everywhere I went, whether to Cuba, Poland, or China, I found intriguing similarities and differences among their regimes. One of my goals in writing Vanguard of the Revolution was to account for some of these differences.

What is the most unusual communist country you’ve visited?

It would have to be North Korea, although strictly speaking, its government no longer has the formal attributes of a communist regime. When one sees pictures of North Korea, it looks like a very strange place. But when you get there, the country seems even more unfathomable. There are statues of the “eternal leader” Kim Il-sung everywhere, colorful mosaics of the “dear son,” Kim Jong-il, and endless monuments to heroic military battles. When I was there in 2006, I witnessed tens of thousands of parading students, jubilantly preparing for mass games to celebrate their leaders’ achievements. The word “bizarre” does not begin to capture the fervor you experience.

In building this anti-Disneyland, the North Korean government has been remarkably successful in blocking the flow of information into and out of the country. The first thing the police take from you when you arrive at Pyongyang International Airport is your cell phone. As a result of this enforced isolation, the country’s citizens have an almost childlike understanding of the outside world. They also know next to nothing about conditions in their own country. Our tour guide practically fell over from disbelief when I told her that Kim Jong-il had three sons. Now that one of those sons, Kim Jong-un, holds the reins of power, she undoubtedly reveres him as a divine presence who will safeguard her needs.

If you could go back in time, what aspect of the communist party’s history would you like to experience?

I would like to have been a “fly on the wall” during the early battles among Leftist radicals that led to the formation of communist parties, such as the founding congress of the International Workingmen’s Association (the so-called First International) in 1864 or the French socialists’ Congress of Tours in 1920. These were fantastically dramatic events. Both the passions and the animosities that they generated contributed substantially to the character of communist parties in subsequent decades. They also played a huge role in the terrible tragedies that were to come to the movement in later years.

Did writing Vanguard of the Revolution present any special challenges?

The biggest challenge was to get inside the heads of the people I was describing. Why were so many party members willing to sacrifice their lives—or the lives of others, their comrades-in-battle, and family members—in defense of their cause?

During my travels to Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Asia, this was the first question I posed to long-time communists, people who had become disaffected with liberal democracy and capitalism at an early age and had experienced the tumult of war and other upheavals. Invariably, they convinced me that they were not opportunists; they sincerely believed that they were building a better world.

My challenge was to imagine what these and other communists were thinking and feeling as they lived their lives forward. To satisfy my curiosity, I not only familiarized with the relevant secondary literature.  I also read a lot of biographies, interviews, and even popular literature. These revolutionaries’ ideas directly reflected the cultures of which they were a part.

You call your study of the communist party a post-mortem. Why should we care today about the life and death of this particular institution?

If we interpret the party’s history in the right way, we can gain insight into the vitality of our own political system. The communist parties that ruled countries like the Soviet Union and East Germany didn’t come out of the blue. They were the product of the distinct political and social conditions of the twentieth century—war, economic collapse, and revolution. Strictly speaking, we will never again see this specific type of party. Even the few parties that are still labelled as communist, such as those in China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba, long ago shed the features that identified them with the Leninist tradition. However, this does not mean that we won’t encounter other militant parties that are equally opposed to liberal democracy. It all depends on having sufficiently turbulent conditions that allow incipient rabble-rousers and demagogues to convince their followers that the prevailing order should be replaced. We see signs of the potential for such extremist movements in the rise of right-wing populism in Europe today. Vladimir Putin’s perversion of Russian democracy is a good example of this trend.  Alas, even parties in the US are not immune to this authoritarian temptation.

McAdamsA. James McAdams is the William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs and director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His many books include Judging the Past in Unified Germany and Germany Divided: From the Wall to Reunification (Princeton). He lives in South Bend, Indiana.

Princeton University Press seeks Director of Marketing

Princeton University Press is keen to welcome applicants for a new Director of Marketing, to join and lead a remarkable team of sales, publicity, marketing, and e-publishing staff. PUP is a dynamic, mission based institution committed to bringing the very best trade, academic, and text books to readers and conversations around the world. A recently opened office in Beijing and a remarkable team in Europe offer a unique opportunity to initiate and lead teams and programs at a global scale. The Director of Marketing collaborates directly with the Press Director, and plays a vital role in all strategic initiatives, working with all departments at the Press, from acquisitions to design to production in addition to direct reports.

Responsibilities include:

  • Provide vision, leadership and management of the Press’ global marketing, sales, digital publishing, and publicity departments and establishes strategic direction for these functions. This includes staying abreast of industry trends, crafting and implementing innovative programs and experiments to help insure that the press maintains its leadership position within the university press community.
  • Maintain a leadership role in the development and execution of marketing, sales, and publicity plans in order to meet and exceed the Press’ fiscal year financial targets, cultivate author loyalty, and build upon the press reputation of publishing excellence.
  • Serve as a member of the management team, advising the Director and executive management of the Press on a myriad of strategic issues related to the conduct of our business and mission.
  • Recruit, manage, and develop talented, creative, and qualified personnel (current staff of 33) who understand the mission and objectives of the Press while keeping them motivated and engaged in the conduct of their work. Exercise excellent judgment, foster a culture of creativity and experimentation, and help managers prioritize their work and establish their goals, develop and manage their programs and budgets, continually improve in their professional development, and maintain a collaborative and innovative spirit.
  • Collaborate closely with other departments in helping to set Press priorities and procedures, establishing the seasonal list planning, and takes a critical role in the integration of a new title management and distribution and fulfillment system.
  • In partnership with Press staff in international offices, lead the Press in innovating global initiatives in marketing, sales, and publicity, particularly in Europe and China.
  • Provide vision and leadership role in the Press’ digital publishing sales initiatives and work closely with the senior management of the Press informing them of all major developments and makes strategic recommendations to the Director and senior management team.
  • Work closely with Sales Director and major business partners (including Amazon.com, Two Rivers/Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Barnes & Noble), in order to maintain strong relationships and negotiate favorable terms.

Qualifications:

  • A minimum of 10 years publishing experience with demonstrated excellence in marketing, publicity, or sales leadership positions.
  • Strength and experience in building and leading teams, and developing staff.
  • Strategic thinker with experience creating and implementing strategic change.
  • Extensive experience in trade and scholarly publishing, sales, and publicity – domestically and internationally preferred. Experience in digital publishing and textbook publishing preferred. Experience in social media and digital marketing preferred.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in all types of business situations and cultures – internal and external. Experience leading committees and chairing meetings.
  • Understands and fully supports the fundamental mission statement of the Press.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter with salary requirements and resumé to: resumes@press.princeton.edu.

Note that applications will only be accepted from Tuesday, September 19th to Friday, October 6th.

Only finalists will be contacted. For more information on Princeton University Press, visit http://press.princeton.edu/.

EOE/AA/M/F/D/V

Princeton University Press is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

The ampersand: everyone’s favorite glyph

September 8th is national ampersand day. That’s right, the ampersand, a quirky little character that’s practical, pretty and beloved by typographers and book-nerds alike, has a day of its own. Technically a ligature of “e” & “t” (et in Latin, meaning and), the ampersand is a visual stunner that certainly deserves the shout-out. We asked our own designers and creative director to comment on their favorite ampersand fonts, and they were all too eager to oblige.

“Poetica, by Adobe type designer Robert Slimbach, is a typophile’s dream. Based on chancery script handwriting of the Italian Renaissance, this gorgeous typeface has a profusion of ampersands: an extremely impressive 59 variations! Check out those swash-y ones in the bottom row!” – Chris Ferrante, designer and ampersand aficionado

“My favorite kinds of ampersands tend to be the ones that have a really high contrast between the thick and thin strokes. My current favorite would have to be Bauer Bodoni Std 2.” – Jess Massabrook, designer

“I love ampersands. They remind me of treble clefs and Dali’s mustache—playful and lyrical. My favorite is Caslon 540 Italic because its curves and tentacle-like squiggles are simultaneously elegant and fun.” – Maria Lindenfeldar, Creative Director

Want more ampersands? Check out our “PUP ampersands in the wild” post on Instagram from earlier today and this great article on Spoon Graphics on the sexiest ampersands.

Welcome to our new director, Christie Henry

Just before Labor Day, we warmly welcomed Christie Henry, formerly of University of Chicago Press, as she began her tenure as the new director of Princeton University Press. Her distinguished list at Chicago and extensive knowledge of the landscape of university press publishing are incredible assets as she leads the PUP team into the next era. We’re thrilled to have her on board.

Recently The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Rachel Toor interviewed Christie as part of their Scholars Talk Writing series. In it she discusses the relationships that drive success in the world of books, the job of an editorial director, the financial landscape of academic publishing, how to bring scholarship to a general audience, publishing challenges, and more:

That Christie Henry has left the University of Chicago Press after 24 years to take over as director of Princeton University Press is a boon for her and her new colleagues. For the staff at Chicago — and its authors, including me — well, it’s been bittersweet.

As editorial director for the sciences, social sciences, and reference at Chicago, Christie was involved with my book project from its inception, providing enthusiastic support and smart suggestions. My editor, Mary Laur, credits her former boss with teaching her how not to be a “crappy editor.” (Mary is, in fact, anything but.) At Chicago, Christie published a distinguished list that included The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss, The Oldest Living Things In the World, How Animals Grieve, and Relentless Evolution.

When I got the advance copy of my new book, it came gift-wrapped in University of Chicago Press paper. Then Mary emailed asking me for the name of an administrator at my university so she could send a copy of my book announcing its publication. Mary credits Christie Henry with those nice touches. That made Christie a good candidate for the Scholars Talk Writing series, for both personal and professional reasons.

Let’s talk about some of these publishing lagniappes.

Henry: Truly, I can take no credit for the gift wrap. I think it came with the founding of the press in 1891! The experience of wrapping a book to me is a moment of reflection — a poignant reminder that we occasionally do need to pause, to celebrate what we have accomplished, and to then regift. The return of a published book to an author is a gift of collaboration. That final published form needs to be celebrated by all of those who touched its pages, its endpapers, and I think the wrapping paper symbolizes that celebration.

And for the additional copies we gift, this ensures that the celebration is not too localized. It takes more than a proverbial village to make books, including the support of administrators and peers. We all know of the disruption books can cause in an author’s life. In the sciences, I found that, because journal articles are the tools of professional evolution and credentialing, department chairs and deans were often unaware of book-length authorial endeavors. I felt it necessary to share the successes on behalf of the authors, and ensure their administrators were aware of their accomplishments.

Read the full piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education here. You can find another great interview with Christie in Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.

Scheidel, Lo, and Tirole longlisted for FT & McKinsey Business Books of the Year

Scheidel Great Leveler jacketThe longlist for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Books of the Year Award was announced on August 14th, and we’re thrilled that once again the list of finalists includes several Princeton University Press books:

The Great Leveler by Walter Scheidel, the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

Economics for the Common Good by French winner of the Nobel prize in economics, Jean Tirole, a passionate manifesto for a world in which economics, far from being a “dismal science,” is a positive force for the common good.

Adaptive Markets by Andrew Lo, a new, evolutionary explanation of markets and investor behavior.

Economics for the Common Good by Jean TiroleThe shortlist for this highly distinguished prize will be announced on September 19th. The winner of the Business Book of the Year Award will be awarded £30,000, and £10,000 will be awarded to each of the remaining shortlisted books.

Take a look at all the finalists for this honor during the past decade here.

LoA heartfelt congratulations to our authors.