BOOK FACT FRIDAY

Fact: Les Misérables was one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century and Tolstoy called it “the greatest of all novels.” The novel took seventeen years to complete. The first version of the manuscript was written in Paris between 1845 and 1848–Les Miséres–and the definitive version was written in Guernsey between 1860 and 1862.

The book lives on and new generations enjoy plays, musicals and movies based on Les Misérables. In The Temptation of the Impossible, one of the world’s great novelists, Mario Vargas Llosa, helps us to appreciate the incredible ambition, power, and beauty of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece and, in the process, presents a humane vision of fiction as an alternative reality that can help us imagine a different and better world.

We invite you to read the introduction:
http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i8358.html

The Temptation of the Impossible:
Victor Hugo and Les Misérables

by Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
Translated by John King

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “No sooner did the Tacoma Narrows Bridge—the world’s third longest suspension bridge, and the pride of Washington State—open in July 1940 than it earned its epitaphic nickname, “Galloping Gertie.” The 4,000-foot structure, its main span reaching 2,800 feet, twisted and bucked in the wind. The pronounced heave, or more technically speaking the longitudinal undulation, caused some automobile passengers to complain of seasickness during crossings. Others observed oncoming cars disappearing from sight as if traveling a hilly country road. By November 7, amid 39-mile-an-hour winds, the $6,400,000 bridge wobbled and flailed, then rippled and rolled, then twisted like a roller coaster, until in its final throes it plunged, with a beastly roar, 190 feet into the waters of Puget Sound.” -Siobhan Roberts, from chapter 1 of Wind Wizard

We invite you to read the full chapter online at:
http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9824.pdf

Wind Wizard:
Alan G. Davenport and the Art of Wind Engineering

by Siobhan Roberts

With Wind Wizard, Siobhan Roberts brings us the story of Alan Davenport (1932-2009), the father of modern wind engineering, who investigated how wind navigates the obstacle course of the earth’s natural and built environments–and how, when not properly heeded, wind causes buildings and bridges to teeter unduly, sway with abandon, and even collapse.

In 1964, Davenport received a confidential telephone call from two engineers requesting tests on a pair of towers that promised to be the tallest in the world. His resulting wind studies on New York’s World Trade Center advanced the art and science of wind engineering with one pioneering innovation after another. Establishing the first dedicated “boundary layer” wind tunnel laboratory for civil engineering structures, Davenport enabled the study of the atmospheric region from the earth’s surface to three thousand feet, where the air churns with turbulent eddies, the average wind speed increasing with height. The boundary layer wind tunnel mimics these windy marbled striations in order to test models of buildings and bridges that inevitably face the wind when built. Over the years, Davenport’s revolutionary lab investigated and improved the wind-worthiness of the world’s greatest structures, including the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Tower, Shanghai’s World Financial Center, the CN Tower, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Sunshine Skyway, and the proposed crossing for the Strait of Messina, linking Sicily with mainland Italy.

Chronicling Davenport’s innovations by analyzing select projects, this popular-science book gives an illuminating behind-the-scenes view into the practice of wind engineering, and insight into Davenport’s steadfast belief that there is neither a structure too tall nor too long, as long as it is supported by sound wind science.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT:  “In 2012, the year 1433 of the Muslim calendar, the Islamic population throughout the world was estimated at approximately a billion and a half, representing about one-fifth of humanity. In geographical terms, Islam occupies the center of the world, stretching like a big belt across the globe from east to west. From Morocco to Mindanao, it encompasses countries of both the consumer North and the disadvantaged South. It sits at the crossroads of America, Europe, and Russia on one side and Africa, India, and China on the other. Historically, Islam is also at a crossroads, destined to play a world role in politics and to become the most prominent world religion during the 21st century. Islam is thus not contained in any national culture; it is a universal force.

“In creating The Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (EIPT), our goal was to provide a solid and innovative reference work that would trace the historical roots of Islamic political thought and demonstrate its contemporary importance. The editors first met for a workshop in fall of 2007 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where we agreed on a framework for the encyclopedia and drafted a list of entries. The EIPT was conceived as a combination of broad, comprehensive articles on core concepts and shorter entries on specific ideas, movements, leaders, and related topics. We intended to make the EIPT accessible, informative, and comprehensive with respect to the contemporary political and cultural situation of Islam, while also providing in-depth examination of the historical roots of that situation. The core articles on central themes were designated to provide the framework for the reader to integrate and contextualize the information provided by the plethora of articles on more specific subjects. It is our hope that this organizational structure will enable the EIPT to serve as a reference work of the first order for both beginners and specialists and to support undergraduate and graduate courses on Islamic political thought.”

–Gerhard Bowering, from the introduction of The Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought

We invite you to read the full introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9446.pdf

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought
Edited by Gerhard Bowering
Patricia Crone, Wadad Kadi, Devin J. Stewart, Muhammad Qasim Zaman, associate editors
Mahan Mirza, assistant editor

The first encyclopedia of Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today, this comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible reference provides the context needed for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. With more than 400 alphabetically arranged entries written by an international team of specialists, the volume focuses on the origins and evolution of Islamic political ideas and related subjects, covering central terms, concepts, personalities, movements, places, and schools of thought across Islamic history. Fifteen major entries provide a synthetic treatment of key topics, such as Muhammad, jihad, authority, gender, culture, minorities, fundamentalism, and pluralism. Incorporating the latest scholarship, this is an indispensable resource for students, researchers, journalists, and anyone else seeking an informed perspective on the complex intersection of Islam and politics.

For more information and sample entries, please visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9446.html

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “Argentina’s first coup, supported by middle-class groups, occurred in 1930 when General José F. Uriburu attempted to establish a praetorian regime in some ways akin to Benito Mussolini’s fascist state. Following Uriburu’s brief reign, the military was in an out of power—with truly civilian governments seldom enjoying more than a few consecutive years in office—until 1983. The army’s political involvement was partially motivated by their aversion to Peronist influences in politics. Juan Perón, a former army colonel who took an important role in the 1943 coup and subsequently served as minister of labor, was thrice elected president (1946, 1952, and 1973) and became immensely popular among the lower classes. The armed forces detested Perón’s left-wing populist polices and, backed by opposition parties and the Roman Catholic Church, toppled his regime in 1955. Following an eighteen-year exile, Perón returned to Buenos Aires and to power in 1973 only to be felled by heart attacks nine months later.”

The Soldier and the Changing State: Building Democratic
Armies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas

by Zoltan Barany

The Soldier and the Changing State is the first book to systematically explore, on a global scale, civil-military relations in democratizing and changing states. Looking at how armies supportive of democracy are built, Zoltan Barany argues that the military is the most important institution that states maintain, for without military elites who support democratic governance, democracy cannot be consolidated. Barany also demonstrates that building democratic armies is the quintessential task of newly democratizing regimes. But how do democratic armies come about? What conditions encourage or impede democratic civil-military relations? And how can the state ensure the allegiance of its soldiers?

Barany examines the experiences of developing countries and the armed forces in the context of major political change in six specific settings: in the wake of war and civil war, after military and communist regimes, and following colonialism and unification/apartheid. He evaluates the army-building and democratization experiences of twenty-seven countries and explains which predemocratic settings are most conducive to creating a military that will support democracy. Highlighting important factors and suggesting which reforms can be expected to work and fail in different environments, he offers practical policy recommendations to state-builders and democratizers.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9903.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Upon his inauguration, Obama was in a position somewhat similar to Ronald Reagan’s in 1980. Both took office when Americans were pessimistic about the economy and dissatisfied with the incumbent president. In a late November 1980 Gallup poll, only 31% of Americans approved of the job Jimmy Carter was doing. At the same point in time in 2008, only 29% approved of George W. Bush.”

“The Hand You’re Dealt” from The Gamble:
Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election

by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck

“The Hand You’re Dealt” is the first of a series of free eBook preview chapters from John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s groundbreaking Fall 2013 book, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election. These eBook chapters are scheduled to be released between August and December 2012.

What are the odds that Barack Obama will be reelected in November, despite a weak economy? Many answers to this question are backed by little more than speculation and spin. But what does current and historical data—and political science—suggest? In this chapter, political analysts John Sides and Lynn Vavreck show that Obama is surprisingly popular given the state of the economy, and they offer several explanations—including Obama’s likability and the fact that more people blame George W. Bush for the country’s economic problems than blame Obama. But Sides and Vavreck also show that the mixed economic picture and the events of Obama’s first term make it likely that the election will be close. These are just some of the points that Sides and Vavreck make in this incisive chapter as they gauge the most important factors in the political and economic landscape going into the election campaign—and what they portend for Obama’s (and Mitt Romney’s) chances.

This book represents an unprecedented effort to use a “Moneyball” approach to tell the story of what promises to be a dramatic election campaign, drawing on large quantities of data about the economy, public opinion, news coverage, and political advertising to determine the factors that really make a difference. At the same time, Sides and Vavreck will be visiting the campaign trail to find out what matters most to both of the campaigns and to voters. The result promises to be the only book about the election that combines on-the-ground reporting, social science, and quantitative data in order to look beyond the anecdote, folklore, and conventional wisdom that too often pass for analysis of presidential elections.

To find out more, download this chapter and begin reading the authors’ special introduction to this and the other free chapters that will follow as the election campaign unfolds.

The Gamble is scheduled to be published as a complete print and ebook in September 2013.

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “Farming began in Bali with the arrival of the Austronesians, who colonized the Indonesian archipelago between 4,500 and 3,000 years ago. The Austronesians were farmers and fishermen whose agricultural assemblage included pigs, dogs, and chickens; root and tree crops such as coconuts, bananas, taro, and bamboo; and a tool technology that included stone adzes.”

Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali
by J. Stephen Lansing

Along rivers in Bali, small groups of farmers meet regularly in water temples to manage their irrigation systems. They have done so for a thousand years. Over the centuries, water temple networks have expanded to manage the ecology of rice terraces at the scale of whole watersheds. Although each group focuses on its own problems, a global solution nonetheless emerges that optimizes irrigation flows for everyone. Did someone have to design Bali’s water temple networks, or could they have emerged from a self-organizing process?

Perfect Order—a groundbreaking work at the nexus of conservation, complexity theory, and anthropology—describes a series of fieldwork projects triggered by this question, ranging from the archaeology of the water temples to their ecological functions and their place in Balinese cosmology. Stephen Lansing shows that the temple networks are fragile, vulnerable to the cross-currents produced by competition among male descent groups. But the feminine rites of water temples mirror the farmers’ awareness that when they act in unison, small miracles of order occur regularly, as the jewel-like perfection of the rice terraces produces general prosperity. Much of this is barely visible from within the horizons of Western social theory.

The fruit of a decade of multidisciplinary research, this absorbing book shows that even as researchers probe the foundations of cooperation in the water temple networks, the very existence of the traditional farming techniques they represent is threatened by large-scale development projects.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8186.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “In 1964, Ronald Reagan was co-chair of Barry Goldwater’s campaign in California. He spoke out frequently in support of Goldwater’s brand of conservative Republicanism. But Reagan’s big moment in the campaign, the event that would put him on a trajectory for the White House, came by accident. Shortly before the November election, Goldwater canceled a major Los Angeles fund-raising speech. The organizers asked Reagan to fill in. Reagan, though tailoring his remarks to promote Goldwater, gave the same basic speech he had been honing for years. However, few Americans outside of GE plants or what Reagan self-mockingly called the ‘mashed potato’ lecture circuit had ever heard it. The crowd of bigwig Republican donors was starstruck by Reagan’s performance. Especially as compared to Goldwater (but really as compared to any contemporary political figure), Reagan was, as soon would be said everywhere, a great communicator. A group of wealthy men asked Reagan to repeat the speech on national television. They would buy the airtime.”

The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism:
A Short History

by David Farber

The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism tells the gripping story of perhaps the most significant political force of our time through the lives and careers of six leading figures at the heart of the movement. David Farber traces the history of modern conservatism from its revolt against New Deal liberalism, to its breathtaking resurgence under Ronald Reagan, to its spectacular defeat with the election of Barack Obama.

Farber paints vivid portraits of Robert Taft, William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater, Phyllis Schlafly, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. He shows how these outspoken, charismatic, and frequently controversial conservative leaders were united by a shared insistence on the primacy of social order, national security, and economic liberty. Farber demonstrates how they built a versatile movement capable of gaining and holding power, from Taft’s opposition to the New Deal to Buckley’s founding of the National Review as the intellectual standard-bearer of modern conservatism; from Goldwater’s crusade against leftist politics and his failed 1964 bid for the presidency to Schlafly’s rejection of feminism in favor of traditional gender roles and family values; and from Reagan’s city upon a hill to conservatism’s downfall with Bush’s ambitious presidency.

The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism provides rare insight into how conservatives captured the American political imagination by claiming moral superiority, downplaying economic inequality, relishing bellicosity, and embracing nationalism. This concise and accessible history reveals how these conservative leaders discovered a winning formula that enabled them to forge a powerful and formidable political majority.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9119.pdf

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: 100 years ago, on September 12, 1912, Woodrow Wilson delivered a talk to New York State Democratic Leaders in Syracuse, NY. Here’s a snippet of his talk that day:

“…there is no use being the representative of the party for the time being unless you understand it, unless you know the man you are dealing with. I must in candor, I must in faithfulness to you, try to show you the inside of my mind, and if I have found the words to do so, I am very happy.”

The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 25: Aug.-Nov., 1912
by Woodrow Wilson
Edited by Arthur S. Link

This volume opens with Wilson’s speech of August 7, 1912, accepting the Democratic presidential nomination, and ends with his election as President of the United States on November 5, 1912.

All of Wilson’s significant extant personal and political correspondence and all significant incoming correspondence for this period is published, most of it for the first time. The most important contents of this volume are the texts of Wilson’s campaign speeches. A few have been omitted, and some are excerpted to avoid undue repetition. Most of his speeches are included, however, not only because they are essential to understanding his political philosophy and oratorical style, but also because all previous editions were found to be both incomplete and defective. The major accomplishment of this volume is the textual restoration of the great New Freedom speeches to their original majestic language and form. Altogether, they constitute one of the great oratorical accomplishments in modern history. Complete texts or substantial portions are provided of forty major addresses and many short speeches and remarks.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “The forerunner of the modern gambling machine was invented in Brooklyn in the early 1880s, based on draw poker. The countertop contraption contained five drums with fifty card faces, five of which flipped up into a viewing window after a player set the drums in motion by pulling a side handle. Versions of this model, some with the cards affixed to five reels, became popular in cigar stands and bars across the country, and were known as ‘nickel-in-the-slots.’”

Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
by Natasha Dow Schüll

Recent decades have seen a dramatic shift away from social forms of gambling played around roulette wheels and card tables to solitary gambling at electronic terminals. Addiction by Design takes readers into the intriguing world of machine gambling, an increasingly popular and absorbing form of play that blurs the line between human and machine, compulsion and control, risk and reward.

Drawing on fifteen years of field research in Las Vegas, anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll shows how the mechanical rhythm of electronic gambling pulls players into a trancelike state they call the “machine zone,” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Once in the zone, gambling addicts play not to win but simply to keep playing, for as long as possible—even at the cost of physical and economic exhaustion. In continuous machine play, gamblers seek to lose themselves while the gambling industry seeks profit. Schüll describes the strategic calculations behind game algorithms and machine ergonomics, casino architecture and “ambience management,” player tracking and cash access systems—all designed to meet the market’s desire for maximum “time on device.” Her account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Addiction by Design is a compelling inquiry into the intensifying traffic between people and machines of chance, offering clues to some of the broader anxieties and predicaments of contemporary life.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9156.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “A feature of the ‘great compromise’ between the North and the slave-holding South was the provision for electing two senators from each state. That arrangement has given those chosen to represent small, sparsely populated states—then Rhode Island and Delaware, now Vermont and Wyoming—equal power with the most populous. In 1790 Virginia had ten times the population of Rhode Island; California now has more than seventy times the population
of Wyoming.”

Reading Obama:
Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition

by James T. Kloppenberg
With a new preface by the author

Derided by the Right as dangerous and by the Left as spineless, Barack Obama puzzles observers. In Reading Obama, James T. Kloppenberg reveals the sources of Obama’s ideas and explains why his principled aversion to absolutes does not fit contemporary partisan categories. Obama’s commitments to deliberation and experimentation derive from sustained engagement with American democratic thought. In a new preface, Kloppenberg explains why Obama has stuck with his commitment to compromise in the first three years of his presidency, despite the criticism it has provoked.

Reading Obama traces the origins of his ideas and establishes him as the most penetrating political thinker elected to the presidency in the past century. Kloppenberg demonstrates the influences that have shaped Obama’s distinctive worldview, including Nietzsche and Niebuhr, Ellison and Rawls, and recent theorists engaged in debates about feminism, critical race theory, and cultural norms. Examining Obama’s views on the Constitution, slavery and the Civil War, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement, Kloppenberg shows Obama’s sophisticated understanding of American history. Obama’s interest in compromise, reasoned public debate, and the patient nurturing of civility is a sign of strength, not weakness, Kloppenberg argues. He locates its roots in Madison, Lincoln, and especially in the philosophical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, which nourished generations of American progressives, black and white, female and male, through much of the twentieth century, albeit with mixed results.

Reading Obama reveals the sources of Obama’s commitment to democratic deliberation: the books he has read, the visionaries who have inspired him, the social movements and personal struggles that have shaped his thinking. Kloppenberg shows that Obama’s positions on social justice, religion, race, family, and America’s role in the world do not stem from a desire to please everyone but from deeply rooted—although currently unfashionable—convictions about how a democracy must deal with difference and conflict.

“James Kloppenberg, one of America’s foremost intellectual historians, persuasively argues that [there is] a broader shift in American philosophy away from appeal to general principles, valid at all times and in all places, toward a reliance on local, historically particular values and ideals. Kloppenberg’s own endeavor, in surveying the work in political and legal theory that seems to have shaped President Obama’s thinking, is to argue for the coherence, the Americanness, and the plausibility of Obama’s approach to politics and to the Constitution.”—Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Review of Books

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9277.pdf

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “China has pushed to increase both the quantity of students and the quality of its universities. The total number of undergraduate and graduate degrees quadrupled from 1999 to 2005, while the government spent more than 30 billion yuan
($4.4 billion at 2009 conversion rates) on a group of forty leading universities in an effort to vault them into the top tier worldwide.”

The Great Brain Race:
How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World

by Ben Wildavsky
With a new preface by the author

In The Great Brain Race, former U.S. News & World Report education editor Ben Wildavsky presents the first popular account of how international competition for the brightest minds is transforming the world of higher education—and why this revolution should be welcomed, not feared. Every year, nearly three million international students study outside of their home countries, a 40 percent increase since 1999. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia are competing with the likes of Harvard and Oxford for faculty, students, and research preeminence. Satellite campuses of Western universities are springing up from Abu Dhabi and Singapore to South Africa. Wildavsky shows that as international universities strive to become world-class, the new global education marketplace is providing more opportunities to more people than ever before.

Drawing on extensive reporting in China, India, the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, Wildavsky chronicles the unprecedented international mobility of students and faculty, the rapid spread of branch campuses, the growth of for-profit universities, and the remarkable international expansion of college rankings. Some university and government officials see the rise of worldwide academic competition as a threat, going so far as to limit student mobility or thwart cross-border university expansion. But Wildavsky argues that this scholarly marketplace is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone—both educationally and economically. In a new preface, Wildavsky discusses some of the notable developments in global higher education since the book was first published.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9694.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Both sides in the presidential contest of 1800 used religion for political advantage. While many of Jefferson’s opponents deemed him unfit for high national office because he was an infidel or atheist, at the same time Jeffersonian Republicans made the cynical and inaccurate charge that John Adams was intent on the establishment of a national church in order to bring religious dissenters over to his side. Alexander Hamilton charged Jefferson and his supporters with hyperbolic opposition to the ‘honest enthusiasm of Religious Opinion,’ while engaging in their own ‘Phrenzy of Political fanaticism.’”

Religion in American Politics: A Short History
by Frank Lambert

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention blocked the establishment of Christianity as a national religion. But they could not keep religion out of American politics. From the election of 1800, when Federalist clergymen charged that deist Thomas Jefferson was unfit to lead a “Christian nation,” to today, when some Democrats want to embrace the so-called Religious Left in order to compete with the Republicans and the Religious Right, religion has always been part of American politics. In Religion in American Politics, Frank Lambert tells the fascinating story of the uneasy relations between religion and politics from the founding to the twenty-first century.

Lambert examines how antebellum Protestant unity was challenged by sectionalism as both North and South invoked religious justification; how Andrew Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth” competed with the anticapitalist “Social Gospel” during postwar industrialization; how the civil rights movement was perhaps the most effective religious intervention in politics in American history; and how the alliance between the Republican Party and the Religious Right has, in many ways, realized the founders’ fears of religious-political electoral coalitions. In these and other cases, Lambert shows that religion became sectarian and partisan whenever it entered the political fray, and that religious agendas have always mixed with nonreligious ones.

Religion in American Politics brings rare historical perspective and insight to a subject that was just as important—and controversial—in 1776 as it is today.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i8616.pdf

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.