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.

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “According to the archaeological record, the cranial capacity of humans living 250,000 years ago was roughly the same as ours (about 1300-1500 cubic centimeters), granting individual variation then, as now. (For comparison, chimpanzee brains are about 400 cc, and the Homo erectus brain was only about 800-1100 cc, based on cranial size.) Whether the details of neural anatomy were the same is of course unknown, since the brain rapidly decays after death.”

Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality
by Patricia S. Churchland

What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior. The result is a provocative genealogy of morals that asks us to reevaluate the priority given to religion, absolute rules, and pure reason in accounting for the basis of morality.

Moral values, Churchland argues, are rooted in a behavior common to all mammals—the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes, and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves—first offspring, then mates, kin, and so on, in wider and wider “caring” circles. Separation and exclusion cause pain, and the company of loved ones causes pleasure; responding to feelings of social pain and pleasure, brains adjust their circuitry to local customs. In this way, caring is apportioned, conscience molded, and moral intuitions instilled. A key part of the story is oxytocin, an ancient body-and-brain molecule that, by decreasing the stress response, allows humans to develop the trust in one another necessary for the development of close-knit ties, social institutions, and morality.

A major new account of what really makes us moral, Braintrust challenges us to reconsider the origins of some of our most cherished values.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9399.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Around 100 million Americans were contacted at the door or over the phone by various political organizations during the 2008 elections. Millions of volunteers and tens of thousands of paid part-time workers did the contacting. Thousands of full-time staffers organized their efforts. At the surface it looked like nothing new under the sun. Even if the number of contacts made varies over time (and it has increased dramatically from 2000 onward), canvassing voters, by foot or by phone, is a staple of American politics.”

Ground Wars:
Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns

by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Political campaigns today are won or lost in the so-called ground war—the strategic deployment of teams of staffers, volunteers, and paid part-timers who work the phones and canvass block by block, house by house, voter by voter. Ground Wars provides an in-depth ethnographic portrait of two such campaigns, New Jersey Democrat Linda Stender’s and that of Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut, who both ran for Congress in 2008.

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen examines how American political operatives use “personalized political communication” to engage with the electorate, and weighs the implications of ground war tactics for how we understand political campaigns and what it means to participate in them. He shows how ground wars are waged using resources well beyond those of a given candidate and their staff. These include allied interest groups and civic associations, party-provided technical infrastructures that utilize large databases with detailed individual-level information for targeting voters, and armies of dedicated volunteers and paid part-timers. Nielsen challenges the notion that political communication in America must be tightly scripted, controlled, and conducted by a select coterie of professionals. Yet he also quashes the romantic idea that canvassing is a purer form of grassroots politics. In today’s political ground wars, Nielsen demonstrates, even the most ordinary-seeming volunteer knocking at your door is backed up by high-tech targeting technologies and party expertise.

Ground Wars reveals how personalized political communication is profoundly influencing electoral outcomes and transforming American democracy.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9616.pdf

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

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “During his 1992 campaign for president, Bill Clinton called for increasing federal fuel economy standards from about twenty-eight to forty miles per gallon within a mere eight years. Clinton’s election—and that of his running mate, Al Gore, whose best-selling book Earth in the Balance had called the conventional car ‘a moral threat to the security of every nation’—was greatly regretted, therefore, by American automakers. In the previous Congress, they had narrowly managed to block legislation raising mileage standards, which they feared would help their Japanese and European competitors (who fielded fleets of smaller and more efficient cars) at their expense.”

Collaborative Governance:
Private Roles for Public Goals in Turbulent Times

by John D. Donahue & Richard J. Zeckhauser

All too often government lacks the skill, the will, and the wallet to meet its missions. Schools fall short of the mark while roads and bridges fall into disrepair. Health care costs too much and delivers too little. Budgets bleed red ink as the cost of services citizens want outstrips the taxes they are willing to pay. Collaborative Governance is the first book to offer solutions by demonstrating how government at every level can engage the private sector to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems and achieve public goals more effectively.

John Donahue and Richard Zeckhauser show how the public sector can harness private expertise to bolster productivity, capture information, and augment resources. The authors explain how private engagement in public missions—rightly structured and skillfully managed—is not so much an alternative to government as the way smart government ought to operate. The key is to carefully and strategically grant discretion to private entities, whether for-profit or nonprofit, in ways that simultaneously motivate and empower them to create public value. Drawing on a host of real-world examples-including charter schools, job training, and the resurrection of New York’s Central Park—they show how, when, and why collaboration works, and also under what circumstances it doesn’t.

Collaborative Governance reveals how the collaborative approach can be used to tap the resourcefulness and entrepreneurship of the private sector, and improvise fresh, flexible solutions to today’s most pressing public challenges.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9401.pdf

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

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “From the Middle Bronze Age, when they first became relatively common, swords were a standard accouterment in well-outfitted men’s graves; graves, in other words, that contained other special kinds of objects, such as feasting vessels, wheeled vehicles, and gold ornaments. A sword can thus be seen as a standard part of the elite man’s outfit from the middle of the second millennium BC until the seventh and eighth centuries AD, when the practice of outfitting graves with goods gradually declined in much of Europe. Swords almost never occur in otherwise ‘poor’ graves, and it is unusual to find a wealthy man’s grave that does not have a sword (or, during the sixth and early fifth centuries BC, a dagger).”

How Ancient Europeans Saw the World: Vision, Patterns, and the Shaping of the Mind in Prehistoric Times
by Peter S. Wells

The peoples who inhabited Europe during the two millennia before the Roman conquests had established urban centers, large-scale production of goods such as pottery and iron tools, a money economy, and elaborate rituals and ceremonies. Yet as Peter Wells argues here, the visual world of these late prehistoric communities was profoundly different from those of ancient Rome’s literate civilization and today’s industrialized societies. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, Wells reconstructs how the peoples of pre-Roman Europe saw the world and their place in it. He sheds new light on how they communicated their thoughts, feelings, and visual perceptions through the everyday tools they shaped, the pottery and metal ornaments they decorated, and the arrangements of objects they made in their ritual places—and how these forms and patterns in turn shaped their experience.

How Ancient Europeans Saw the World offers a completely new approach to the study of Bronze Age and Iron Age Europe, and represents a major challenge to existing views about prehistoric cultures. The book demonstrates why we cannot interpret the structures that Europe’s pre-Roman inhabitants built in the landscape, the ways they arranged their settlements and burial sites, or the complex patterning of their art on the basis of what these things look like to us. Rather, we must view these objects and visual patterns as they were meant to be seen by the ancient peoples who fashioned them.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9831.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Typically the party of a sitting president in midterm elections can count on dropping about twenty-five seats in the House of Representatives. On Election Day 1934, however, the Democrats made dramatic gains, winning twenty-three additional seats in the House and nineteen in the Senate. Included among the victorious were another ten leftward-leaning representatives, seven from the Wisconsin Progressive Party and three from the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. On the front page of the New York Times, Arthur Krock called the congressional results ‘the most overwhelming victory in the history of modern politics’ for a sitting president.”

When Movements Matter:
The Townsend Plan and the Rise of Social Security

by Edwin Amenta

When Movements Matter accounts for the origins of Social Security as we know it. The book tells the overlooked story of the Townsend Plan—a political organization that sought to alleviate poverty and end the Great Depression through a government-provided retirement stipend of $200 a month for every American over the age of sixty.

Both the Townsend Plan, which organized two million older Americans into Townsend clubs, and the wider pension movement failed to win the generous and universal senior citizens’ pensions their advocates demanded. But the movement provided the political impetus behind old-age policy in its formative years and pushed America down the track of creating an old-age welfare state.

Drawing on a wealth of primary evidence, historical detail, and arresting images, Edwin Amenta traces the ups and downs of the Townsend Plan and its elderly leader Dr. Francis E. Townsend in the struggle to remake old age. In the process, Amenta advances a new theory of when social movements are influential.

The book challenges the conventional wisdom that U.S. old-age policy was a result mainly of the Depression or farsighted bureaucrats. It also debunks the current view that America immediately embraced Social Security when it was adopted in 1935. And it sheds new light on how social movements that fail to achieve their primary goals can still influence social policy and the way people relate to politics.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i8325.pdf

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

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “When the Umayyad kingdom of Córdoba was established in 756, the city was the largest in Europe, with a population of about 100,000 people.”

The Chosen Few:
How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492

by Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein

In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? The Chosen Few presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history.

Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein show that, contrary to previous explanations, this transformation was driven not by anti-Jewish persecution and legal restrictions, but rather by changes within Judaism itself after 70 CE–most importantly, the rise of a new norm that required every Jewish male to read and study the Torah and to send his sons to school. Over the next six centuries, those Jews who found the norms of Judaism too costly to obey converted to other religions, making world Jewry shrink. Later, when urbanization and commercial expansion in the newly established Muslim Caliphates increased the demand for occupations in which literacy was an advantage, the Jews found themselves literate in a world of almost universal illiteracy. From then forward, almost all Jews entered crafts and trade, and many of them began moving in search of business opportunities, creating a worldwide Diaspora in the process.

The Chosen Few offers a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights to the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.

We invite you to read the Introduction here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9744.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “In his farewell address of 1797, George Washington warned against the dangerous ‘spirit of Party,’ which he said ‘serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It ignites the Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot & insurrection.’ Yet in opposing the formation of political parties, Washington was voicing a vain hope. During Washington’s first term as president, his treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, had already formed the Federalist Party and his secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, had founded the opposition Democratic-Republic Party.”

The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American
Political History

Edited by Michael Kazin
Rebecca Edwards & Adam Rothman, associate editors

With 150 accessible articles written by more than 130 leading experts, this essential reference provides authoritative introductions to some of the most important and talked-about topics in American history and politics, from the founding to today. Abridged from the acclaimed Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, this is the only single-volume encyclopedia that provides comprehensive coverage of both the traditional topics of U.S. political history and the broader forces that shape American politics–including economics, religion, social movements, race, class, and gender. Fully indexed and cross-referenced, each entry provides crucial context, expert analysis, informed perspectives, and suggestions for further reading.

Contributors include Dean Baker, Lewis Gould, Alex Keyssar, James Kloppenberg, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Lisa McGirr, Jack Rakove, Nick Salvatore, Stephen Skowronek, Jeremi Suri, Julian Zelizer, and many more.

Entries cover:

—Key political periods, from the founding to today

—Political institutions, major parties, and founding documents

—The broader forces that shape U.S. politics, from economics, religion, and social movements to race, class, and gender

—Ideas, philosophies, and movements

—The political history and influence of geographic regions

We invite you to read the Preface here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/p9518.pdf

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

BOOK FACT FRIDAY

FACT: “The most enduring tradition of the ancient sports is the Olympic Games, founded by the Greeks in 776 BCE. The ancient Olympics involved 200-meter and 400-meter sprints, the pentathlon, long jump, discus and javelin throwing, forms of athletic competition that have more immediacy for us than any other ancient sports. Ancient Greece was a patchwork of independent city-states and overseas colonies, frequently at war with each other. Each city would organize their own games, but festivals such as the Olympics were ‘Panhellenic’—open to all Greeks. Games were held in honor of specific gods (the Olympics for Zeus, the Pythian Games for Apollo, the Isthmian Games for Poseidon), and the sanctity of the Olympics was indicated by the requirement that all military engagements cease during the games so that soldiers could attend.”

Playbooks and Checkbooks:
An Introduction to the Economics of Modern Sports

by Stefan Szymanski

What economic rules govern sports? How does the sports business differ from other businesses? Playbooks and Checkbooks takes a fascinating step-by-step look at the fundamental economic relationships shaping modern sports. Focusing on the ways that the sports business does and does not overlap with economics, the book uncovers the core paradox at the heart of the sports industry. Unlike other businesses, the sports industry would not survive if competitors obliterated each other to extinction, financially or otherwise—without rivals there is nothing to sell. Playbooks and Checkbooks examines how this unique economic truth plays out in the sports world, both on and off the field.

Noted economist Stefan Szymanski explains how modern sporting contests have evolved; how sports competitions are organized; and how economics has guided antitrust, monopoly, and cartel issues in the sporting world. Szymanski considers the motivation provided by prize money, uncovers discrepancies in players’ salaries, and shows why the incentive structure for professional athletes encourages them to cheat through performance-enhancing drugs and match fixing. He also explores how changes in media broadcasting allow owners and athletes to play to a global audience, and why governments continue to publicly fund sporting events such as the Olympics, despite almost certain financial loss.

Using economic tools to reveal the complex arrangements of an industry, Playbooks and Checkbooks illuminates the world of sports through economics, and the world of economics through sports.

“Mr. Szymanski, an economics professor at the Cass Business School at City University in London, tackles the apparent paradoxes of the sports business in the head-on style of an N.F.L. linebacker. . . . He displays an impressive global knowledge of sports ranging from basketball and cricket to tennis and rugby, and provides a wealth of revealing financial information as well as entertaining sports trivia.”—Harry Hurt III, New York Times

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8888.pdf

ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “The gap between how the rich and poor vote was large in the 1940s, declined to near zero in the 1950s (a period in which there was little difference between the two parties on economic issues), increased during the 1960s and 1970s, and has been wide ever since, with the Republicans typically doing about 20% better among high-income voters than low-income voters. The rich-poor gap in recent decades has been large in elections such as in 1976 (when Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter offered relatively moderate economic platforms) as well as in years such as 1984 (when there was a clear distinction between Walter Mondale and Ronald Reagan).”

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State:
Why Americans Vote the Way They Do

by Andrew Gelman

On the night of the 2000 presidential election, Americans watched on television as polling results divided the nation’s map into red and blue states. Since then the color divide has become symbolic of a culture war that thrives on stereotypes—pickup-driving red-state Republicans who vote based on God, guns, and gays; and elitist blue-state Democrats woefully out of touch with heartland values. With wit and prodigious number crunching, Andrew Gelman debunks these and other political myths.

This expanded edition includes new data and easy-to-read graphics explaining the 2008 election. Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State is a must-read for anyone seeking to make sense of today’s fractured political landscape.

“Gelman and a group of fellow political scientists crunch numbers and draw graphs, arriving at a picture that refutes the [idea] . . . of poor red-staters voting Republican against their economic interests. Instead, Gelman persuasively argues, the poor in both red states and blue still mostly vote Democratic, and the rich, nationally speaking, overwhelmingly vote Republican.”—Leo Carey, New Yorker

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9030.pdf

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