PUP News of the World, April 25, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


k10195Can you fathom a natural disaster that caused years of disastrous climate change after its occurrence? The year following Mount Tambora’s 1815 eruption became known as the “Year without a Summer,” when weather anomalies in Europe and New England ruined crops, displaced millions, and spawned chaos and disease. In the book Tambora, for the first time, Gillen D’Arcy Wood traces Tambora’s full global and historical reach: how the volcano’s three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, set the stage for Ireland’s Great Famine, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster, inspired by Tambora’s terrifying storms, embodied the fears and misery of global humanity during this transformative period, the most recent sustained climate crisis the world has faced.

Bringing the history of this planetary emergency grippingly to life, Tambora sheds light on the fragile interdependence of climate and human societies, and the threat a new era of extreme global weather poses to us all.

Tambora was recently named one of Publishers Weekly’s “PW Picks: Books of the Week, April 21, 2014.”  Check out the list here and start reading the Introduction to Tambora here!


k10192Looking for a book about the difficult role our government plays in society?  Check out Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better by Peter H. Schuck.  From healthcare to workplace conduct, the federal government is taking on ever more responsibility for managing our lives. At the same time, Americans have never been more disaffected with Washington, seeing it as an intrusive, incompetent, wasteful giant. The most alarming consequence of ineffective policies, in addition to unrealized social goals, is the growing threat to the government’s democratic legitimacy. Understanding why government fails so often–and how it might become more effective–is an urgent responsibility of citizenship. In this book, lawyer and political scientist Peter Schuck provides a wide range of examples and an enormous body of evidence to explain why so many domestic policies go awry–and how to right the foundering ship of state.

An urgent call for reform, Why Government Fails So Often is essential reading for anyone curious about why government is in such disrepute and how it can do better.

Author Peter H. Schuck recently wrote op-ed pieces for the Los Angeles Times and for Slate, in which he elaborates on campaign donation restraint issues and historical government programs that have been extremely effective.  And if you’re interested in beginning Why Government Fails So Often, you can start reading Chapter 1 here.


k10055Why do democracies keep lurching from success to failure? The current financial crisis is just the latest example of how things continue to go wrong, just when it looked like they were going right. In this wide-ranging, original, and compelling book, David Runciman tells the story of modern democracy through the history of moments of crisis, from the First World War to the economic crash of 2008.

The Confidence Trap by David Runciman shows that democracies are good at recovering from emergencies but bad at avoiding them. The lesson democracies tend to learn from their mistakes is that they can survive them–and that no crisis is as bad as it seems. Breeding complacency rather than wisdom, crises lead to the dangerous belief that democracies can muddle through anything–a confidence trap that may lead to a crisis that is just too big to escape, if it hasn’t already. The most serious challenges confronting democracy today are debt, the war on terror, the rise of China, and climate change. If democracy is to survive them, it must figure out a way to break the confidence trap.

The Times Literary Supplement recently reviewed The Confidence Trap which can be found here.

“Runciman’s book abounds with fresh insights, arresting paradoxes, and new ways of posing old problems. It is part intellectual history, an absorbing study of the modern debate on democracy through the contrasting perspectives of key public intellectuals, such as Walter Lippmann, George F. Kennan, Francis Fukuyama and Friedrich Hayek, and part analysis of the problem of political leadership in democracies, explored through the decisions taken by leaders, particularly US presidents, and the constraints under which they operate.”- The Times Literary Supplement

Does the Confidence Trap sound appealing? Start reading the Introduction here.


We are all familiar with the flood of year end lists ranking top books, innovators, movies, and so on. But seeing as we a few months out from that January rush, it seems like a great time for a mid-year round up list. On April 23, 2014, Prospect Magazine posted a ranking of the world’s leading thinkers of 2014, according to its readers.  Although the entire list contains 50 top thinkers, a few of our authors were highlighted amongst the top ten.

Coming in at number one on this list is Amartya Sen, author of An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions. Sen is praised for his economic prowess and incredible achievements, including a 1998 Nobel Prize and over 100 honorary degrees. He is also currently a professor at Harvard University.

At number two, we have Raghuram Rajan who is currently the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.  He is known for successfully predicting the 2008 financial crisis and has also authored Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy.

And at number six on the list, we have Kaushik Basu, the Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the World Bank.  Basu has authored many books, his most significant being Beyond the Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics in which he promotes the consideration of culture and custom in the practice of economics.

With a list full of scholars and world changers, check out Prospect Magazine’s “World Thinkers 2014” list here.Capture

Economist Amartya Sen to speak at Free Library of Philadelphia

Nobel Laureate in Economics and Princeton University Press author Amartya Sen will speak at the Free Public Library of Philadelphia on Thursday, April 24 (tomorrow). As part of the Sandra Shaber Memorial Lecture, Dr. Sen will address topics presented in his new book, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions.

In this important book, Dr. Sen and co-author Jean Drèze argue that India’s main problems lie in the lack of attention paid to the essential needs of the people, especially of the poor, and often of women. There have been major failures both to foster participatory growth and to make good use of the public resources generated by economic growth to enhance people’s living conditions. There is also a continued inadequacy of social services such as schooling and medical care as well as of physical services such as safe water, electricity, drainage, transportation, and sanitation. The deep inequalities in Indian society tend to constrict public discussion, confining it largely to the lives and concerns of the relatively affluent. Sen and Drèze present a powerful analysis of these deprivations and inequalities as well as the possibility of change through democratic practice.

Hear more about Dr. Sen’s argument and findings by attending the lecture. Purchase your tickets here.

DETAILS

Amartya Sen | An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:30PM

Central Library

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(between 19th and 20th Streets on the Parkway)

(Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students)

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PUP News of the World, April 18, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


k10177In today’s world, economic instability seems commonplace, but does it have to be? What are the key factors contributing to this problem and how do they vary between countries? Fragile by Design demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers. The well-being of banking systems depends on the abilities of political institutions to balance and limit how coalitions of these various groups influence government regulations.

Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.

The book was recently reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, where the reviewer said,

“Brilliant….[I]f you are looking for a rich history of banking over the last couple of centuries and the role played by politics in that evolution, there is no better study. It deserves to become a classic.”

― Liaquat Ahamed, New York Times Book Review

Fragile by Design was also mentioned in another article for the New York Times  found here.

Beyond the New York Times, Fragile by Design was mentioned in a piece by the AEI Ideas blog by economic writer James Pethokoukis. You can find that article here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the economy and what makes it tick, start reading Chapter 1 of Fragile by Design here.


Fall2014International_April18We don’t know many people who would hope to be called a coward. It’s a deep insult that carries a lot of weight and can easily offend.  Not so surprisingly, there is an incredible amount of history and cultural context related to this word that we lose sight of in this day and age. What exactly is cowardice? When terrorists are called cowards, does it mean the same as when the term is applied to soldiers? Our forthcoming book Cowardice by Chris Walsh seeks to examine and explain this commonly understood insult.  Bringing together sources from court-martial cases to literary and film classics such as Dante’s Inferno, The Red Badge of Courage, and The Thin Red Line, Cowardice recounts the great harm that both cowards and the fear of seeming cowardly have done, and traces the idea of cowardice’s power to its evolutionary roots. But Chris Walsh also shows that this power has faded, most dramatically on the battlefield. Misconduct that earlier might have been punished as cowardice has more recently often been treated medically, as an adverse reaction to trauma, and Walsh explores a parallel therapeutic shift that reaches beyond war, into the realms of politics, crime, philosophy, religion, and love.

Although the book has not yet been released, author Chris Walsh has recently written on the topic of cowardice for Salon magazine as well as the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Judging by Walsh’s work on the subject, Cowardice is sure to be an impressing work on the topic of cowardice. Look out for this release in October of this year!


k10068Although quantum mechanics may not be the simplest topic of study, we can still understand the fact that made Einstein’s incredible contributions to the subject.  Einstein and the Quantum by A. Douglas Stone reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein’s contributions to quantum theory. Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice. But, in fact, he thought more about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light–the core of what we now know as quantum theory–than he did about relativity.

A compelling blend of physics, biography, and the history of science, Einstein and the Quantum shares the untold story of how Einstein–not Max Planck or Niels Bohr–was the driving force behind early quantum theory. It paints a vivid portrait of the iconic physicist as he grappled with the apparently contradictory nature of the atomic world, in which its invisible constituents defy the categories of classical physics, behaving simultaneously as both particle and wave. And it demonstrates how Einstein’s later work on the emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led directly to Erwin Schrödinger’s breakthrough to the modern form of quantum mechanics. The book sheds light on why Einstein ultimately renounced his own brilliant work on quantum theory, due to his deep belief in science as something objective and eternal.

A book unlike any other, Einstein and the Quantum offers a completely new perspective on the scientific achievements of the greatest intellect of the twentieth century, showing how Einstein’s contributions to the development of quantum theory are more significant, perhaps, than even his legendary work on relativity.

Einstein and the Quantum was recently reviewed in the April issue of Physics today.

“Einstein and the Quantum is delightful to read, with numerous historical details that were new to me and cham1ing vignettes of Einstein and his colleagues. By avoiding mathematics, Stone makes his book accessible to general readers, but even physicists who are well versed in Einstein and his physics are likely to find new insights into the most remarkable mind of the modern era.”–Daniel Kleppner, Physics Today

Want to start reading? Check out the Introduction to Einstein and the Quantum today.


k10195Thankfully, volcanic eruptions aren’t something we commonly have to deal with, but for this reason we can lose sight of the devastating and life-changing affects they can have.When Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. On the eve of the bicentenary of the great eruption, Tambora tells the extraordinary story of the weather chaos it wrought, weaving the latest climate science with the social history of this frightening period to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

The year following Tambora’s eruption became known as the “Year without a Summer,” when weather anomalies in Europe and New England ruined crops, displaced millions, and spawned chaos and disease. Here, for the first time, Gillen D’Arcy Wood traces Tambora’s full global and historical reach: how the volcano’s three-year climate change regime initiated the first worldwide cholera pandemic, expanded opium markets in China, set the stage for Ireland’s Great Famine, and plunged the United States into its first economic depression. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster, inspired by Tambora’s terrifying storms, embodied the fears and misery of global humanity during this transformational period, the most recent sustained climate crisis the world has faced.

Tambora was recently reviewed in Nature magazine, which said

“Wood broadens our understanding beyond the ‘year without a summer’ cliché….Wood’s command of the scientific literature is impressive, and more than matched by his knowledge of world history during this horrific episode of catastrophic global climate change. With the mass of information he has assimilated, he skillfully weaves a tale full of human and cultural interest….”― Ted Nield, Nature

Author Gillen D’Arcy Woods also wrote a piece on climate change for Grist which you can find here.

Interested in learning more about this devastating natural disaster? Start reading the Introduction to Tambora here.

 

PUP News of the World: April 11, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


Covers

DELPHI

Our first stop in this week’s News of the World takes us around the world from our Princeton and Oxford offices. It also takes us back a bit — we’re talking a jump back to A.D.

The oracle and sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo at Delphi were known as the “omphalos”–the “center” or “navel”–of the ancient world for more than 1000 years. Individuals, city leaders, and kings came from all over the Mediterranean and beyond to consult Delphi’s oracular priestess; to set up monuments to the gods in gold, ivory, bronze, marble, and stone; and to take part in athletic and musical competitions. This book provides the first comprehensive narrative history of this extraordinary sanctuary and city, from its founding to its modern rediscovery, to show more clearly than ever before why Delphi was one of the most important places in the ancient world for so long.

Michael Scott’s richly illustrated Delphi covers the whole history and nature of Delphi, from the literary and archaeological evidence surrounding the site, to its rise as a center of worship with a wide variety of religious practices, to the constant appeal of the oracle despite her cryptic prophecies.

Delphi was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal:

“Judicious, measured and thorough…Mr. Scott, like Pausanias before him, is a handy companion to what remains—and what we can only wish was still to be seen.”   – Brendan Boyle

Read Delphi‘s prologue and Chapter One here.

 FRAGILE BY DESIGN

The United States has had twelve systemic banking crises since 1840. In contrast, the United States’ northern neighbors in Canada haven’t had one. How can that be?

PUP’s Fragile by Design examines the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Authors Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.

This title was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review:

“Brilliant….[I]f you are looking for a rich history of banking over the last couple of centuries and the role played by politics in that evolution, there is no better study. It deserves to become a classic.”   — Liaquat Ahamed

Fragile by Design was also mentioned in another New York Times Book Review article. Read Chapter One of the book here.

 

  THE GREAT ESCAPE

The inequality debate has gained new momentum in the US in recent months. However, PUP author Angus Deaton takes this conversation to a broader level as he discusses the remarkable story of how, starting 250 years ago, some parts of the world began to experience sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today’s hugely unequal world.

The world is a better place than it used to be. People are wealthier and healthier, and live longer lives. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many have left gaping inequalities between people and between nations. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and he addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind.

Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts–including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions–that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape.

Deaton’s recent book, The Great Escape, was reviewed this week by Bill Gates on his blog, Gates Notes:

“If you want to learn about why human welfare overall has gone up so much over time, you should read The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality”     – Bill Gates

 Check out the video below, and preview the introduction here

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TAMBORA

When Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years.

Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. On the eve of the bicentenary of the great eruption, Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s Tambora tells the extraordinary story of the weather chaos it wrought, weaving the latest climate science with the social history of this frightening period to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

Tambora is reviewed in the Asian Review of Books. Wood also contributes a piece to The Conversation. Check out Chapter One here.

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

We are excited to report that a PUP book was listed as the fourth best-selling book at the Oxford Literary Festival. Robert Scruton’s The Soul of the World defends the experience of the sacred against today’s fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive–and to understand what we are–is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things.

Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life–and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are?

View Chapter One here.

PUP Book Chosen for Princeton Pre-Read

For incoming Princeton University freshmen, the first piece of required reading will come from the shelves here at Princeton University Press. As part of the university’s Pre-Read program, which was initiated last year by President Christopher L. Eisgruber, members of the class of 2018 will be reading Meaning in Life and Why It Matters by Susan Wolf.

So, what is the idea behind this book? When we pick up a friend from the airport, bake a chocolate cake, or visit a loved one in the hospital, we’re not doing it for our own self-interest or for the greater good. In fact, the reasons and things that make our lives worth living often have nothing to do with the egoistic or altruistic motives that most people, including philosophers, think drive people to act. According to Susan Wolf, meaningfulness—not happiness or morality—makes our lives worth living.

In Meaning in Life and Why It Matters, Wolf argues that meaning comes from loving objects worthy of love and engaging with them in a positive way. That is, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love—and it is these actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this kind of meaningfulness is an essential element of human well-being.

Princeton reports on the choice of Wolf’s book in a recent article, which includes the president’s thoughts on this year’s selection:

“It is a superb example of engaged, ethical writing, and I hope that it will introduce the freshmen to the kinds of scholarship they will encounter at Princeton,” President Eisgruber says. “The book also includes short critical comments by four distinguished scholars, along with reply from Wolf — as such, it models for students how one can disagree with a thesis in a way that is simultaneously rigorous, constructive and collegial. Finally, a key point in Wolf’s argument pertains to the objectivity of value and why it matters; that question is important, and it inspires lively argument among undergraduates.”

Read the full story from Princeton here.

 

Meaning in Life

 

Looking to find out more about this year’s selection?

Read the introduction of Meaning in Life and Why It Matters for yourself here. You can also check out a review of the book on the New York Times‘ Opinionator blog.

PUP News of the World, March 21, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


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THE EXTREME LIFE OF THE SEA

Ahoy, there! Our first book this week is certainly a trip. It dives into the icy Arctic and boiling hydrothermal vents–and exposes the eternal darkness of the deepest undersea trenches–to show how marine life thrives against the odds. This thrilling book brings to life the sea’s most extreme species, and tells their stories as characters in the drama of the oceans. Coauthored by Stephen Palumbi, one of today’s leading marine scientists, The Extreme Life of the Sea tells the unforgettable tales of some of the most marvelous life forms on Earth, and the challenges they overcome to survive.

This title was reviewed this week in the New Scientist. Adrian Barnett writes:

The whole safari is conducted with a verve and joy that only comes from a deep love of the subject, a life-long dedication to its exploration and a true communicator’s sense of the mot juste. This experience and range means the Palumbis can write comfortably about research and researchers, and about the physical and mental exploration of the ocean’s ecology.

Nature also reviewed the book this week, saying that it is “a brilliant use of the rich store of research into Earth’s largest habitat.”

Think you have your sea legs ready? Read the prologue here. You can also listen to an interview with authors Stephen and Tony Palumbi, where host Judith Siers-Poisson says that a “really great” book like this can rock your world.

THE BUTTERFLY DEFECT & WHAT W.H. AUDEN CAN DO FOR YOU

Two Princeton University Press authors contributed op-eds to the Financial Times‘ special weekend issue devoted to the upcoming Oxford Literary Festival. University of Oxford professor Ian Goldin discusses how globalization is both vital and risky. Read the full FT article for more on his reasoning. Professor Goldin’s forthcoming book, The Butterfly Defect, addresses the widening gap between systemic risks and their effective management. It shows how the new dynamics of turbo-charged globalization has the potential and power to destabilize our societies. Drawing on the latest insights from a wide variety of disciplines, Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan provide practical guidance for how governments, businesses, and individuals can better manage risk in our contemporary world. Check out the introduction here.

Up next is Alexander McCall Smith, author of What W.H. Auden Can Do for You. When facing a moral dilemma, Isabel Dalhousie–Edinburgh philosopher, amateur detective, and title character of a series of novels by McCall Smith–often refers to the great twentieth-century poet W. H. Auden. This is no accident: McCall Smith has long been fascinated by Auden. Indeed, the novelist, best known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, calls the poet not only the greatest literary discovery of his life but also the best of guides on how to live.

In this recent op-ed, McCall Smith discusses “What W.H. Auden can teach us in times of crisis.” Auden, who left England for the United States during WWII, has been criticized for leaving his country when conflict was brewing. McCall Smith writes:

My personal experience of writing or talking about Auden and what he has to say to us has surprisingly often been met by objections that he was, to put it bluntly, a coward. It seems that people are not prepared to forgive what they see as Auden’s failure to serve his country in its hour of need. The facts, though, are not quite as simple as that.

Read the full piece in the FT for more on Auden, who McCall Smith argues is a source of wisdom for how to act in a time of crisis. You can also view Chapter One of McCall Smith’s book here.

 1177 B.C.

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What could cause the collapse of an entire civilization? In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown. How did it happen?

Eric H. Cline’s forthcoming 1177 B.C. tackles this mystery. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

This week, the book was reviewed in the New Yorker. Adam Gopnik writes:

The memorable thing about Cline’s book is the strangely recognizable picture he paints of this very faraway time….It was as globalized and cosmopolitan a time as any on record, albeit within a much smaller cosmos. The degree of interpenetration and of cultural sharing is astonishing.

So what does this mean for us today? Professor Cline addresses this in an op-ed for the Huffington Post. Cline writes:

Today, in the current global economy, and in a world recently wracked by earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan and the “Arab Spring” democratic revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the fortunes and investments of the United States and Europe are inextricably intertwined within an international system that also involves East Asia and the oil-producing nations of the Middle East. It is, I would argue, a situation with parallels from the Late Bronze Age.

News of the World, March 14, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


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Wishing that you had a retro selfie like Colin Powell? We can relate. But what about the motivation behind acts of vanity like selfies? Are narcissism and vanity really as bad as they seem? Can we avoid them even if we try? In Mirror, Mirror, Simon Blackburn, the author of such best-selling philosophy books as Think, Being Good, and Lust, says that narcissism, vanity, pride, and self-esteem are more complex than they first appear and have innumerable good and bad forms. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, literature, history, and popular culture, Blackburn offers an enlightening and entertaining exploration of self-love, from the myth of Narcissus and the Christian story of the Fall to today’s self-esteem industry.

Mirror, Mirror was named as the book of the week in the Times Higher Education:

“Blackburn is not just a sure and supremely knowledgeable narrator in whom we can have utmost confidence, but one with a quirky ear, alert to the curious side note and irrefutable detail that can make his sometimes dusty discipline gleam with a new sheen and edge.” — Shahidha Bari, Times Higher Education

Read the introduction of Mirror, Mirror here.


The weekend is the perfect time to break out those oven mitts, and luckily, we have inspiration for your upcoming kitchen session. When Merry White’s Cooking for Crowds was first published in 1974, home cooks in America were just waking up to the great foods the rest of the world was eating, from pesto and curries to Ukrainian pork and baklava. Now Merry White’s indispensable classic is back in print for a new generation of readers to savor, and her international recipes are as crowd-pleasing as ever–whether you are hosting a large party numbering in the dozens, or a more intimate gathering of family and friends.

In this delightful cookbook, White shares all the ingenious tricks she learned as a young Harvard graduate student earning her way through school as a caterer to European scholars, heads of state, and cosmopolitans like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With the help of her friend Julia Child, the cook just down the block in Cambridge, White surmounted unforeseen obstacles and epic-sized crises in the kitchen, along the way developing the surefire strategies described here.

Check out this recent BBC highlight about how Julia Child helped Merry White to remedy a burnt dish. You can also view an interview with Merry White on Midweek.

 

Ready to try your hand at a recipe? Try this sample recipe for tabbouleh and comment below with which recipe from the book you plan to try.


Good things come in small packages. Next up on our list is Diane Coyle’s new book, GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. This book traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today. The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented, how it has changed over the decades, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

The book explains why even small changes in GDP can decide elections, influence major political decisions, and determine whether countries can keep borrowing or be thrown into recession. The book ends by making the case that GDP was a good measure for the twentieth century but is increasingly inappropriate for a twenty-first-century economy driven by innovation, services, and intangible goods.

 

“[A] little charmer of a book…GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History is just what the title promises….Cowperthwaite himself would nod in agreement over Ms. Coyle’s informed discussion of what the GDP misses and how it misfires…Ms. Coyle—a graceful and witty writer, by the way—recounts familiar problems and adds some new ones….[E]xcellent”—James Grant

 


How are you handling the stress? The stress of making your March Madness brackets, of course. Unsure of where to start? Is this the year you will finally use something other than jersey color to make your bracket? PUP author Tim Chartier has your answers. He was featured this week on Bloomberg’s website, and he spoke about his strategy for creating a bracket that places him in the 97th percentile of brackets submitted to ESPN.

Ready to go in on Warren Buffet’s $1 Billion basketball challenge? We want Professor Chartier on our team. In the meantime, check out his new book, Math Bytes. This book provides a fun, hands-on approach to learning how mathematics and computing relate to the world around us and help us to better understand it. How can reposting on Twitter kill a movie’s opening weekend? How can you use mathematics to find your celebrity look-alike? What is Homer Simpson’s method for disproving Fermat’s Last Theorem?

Each topic in this refreshingly inviting book illustrates a famous mathematical algorithm or result–such as Google’s PageRank and the traveling salesman problem–and the applications grow more challenging as you progress through the chapters. But don’t worry, helpful solutions are provided each step of the way. Math Bytes shows you how to do calculus using a bag of chocolate chips, and how to prove the Euler characteristic simply by doodling. Generously illustrated in color throughout, this lively and entertaining book also explains how to create fractal landscapes with a roll of the dice, pick a competitive bracket for March Madness, decipher the math that makes it possible to resize a computer font or launch an Angry Bird–and much, much more. All of the applications are presented in an accessible and engaging way, enabling beginners and advanced readers alike to learn and explore at their own pace–a bit and a byte at a time.

 

News of the World, February 28, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


The lottery of your lineage — we turn to PUP author Gregory Clark to unravel how your great, great, great-grandparents are affecting your social status today. His op-ed in the New York Times this week discusses how “where we will fall within the social spectrum is largely fated at birth.” In his new book, The Son Also Rises, Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies. The good news is that these patterns are driven by strong inheritance of abilities and lineage does not beget unwarranted advantage. The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage. Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies.

The Son Also Rises was featured in the Independent, and it was also included in Jim Surowiecki’s column in the New Yorker this week. Surowiecki writes:

The Son Also Rises….suggests that dramatic social mobility has always been the exception rather than the rule. Clark examines a host of societies over the past seven hundred years and finds that the makeup of a given country’s economic élite has remained surprisingly stable.”

Curious to know more? You can listen to an interview with the author, recorded for the Economist. You can also read the introduction here.

World News 2-27

Why did the size of the U.S. economy increase by 3 percent on one day in mid-2013–or Ghana’s balloon by 60 percent overnight in 2010? Why did the U.K. financial industry show its fastest expansion ever at the end of 2008–just as the world’s financial system went into meltdown? And why was Greece’s chief statistician charged with treason in 2013 for apparently doing nothing more than trying to accurately report the size of his country’s economy? The answers to all these questions lie in the way we define and measure national economies around the world: Gross Domestic Product. For more on what these three letters mean, check out Diane Coyle’s new book, GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. The book was recently reviewed by Tyler Cowen in the Washington Post. Cowen writes:

If you are going to read only one book on GDP, Diane Coyle’s GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History should be it. More important, you should read a book on GDP, as many of the political debates of our time revolve around this concept.

Check out these additional reviews in the Independent and the American. You can read the book’s introduction here.


Next up we take a trip to the past with Errol Fuller’s Lost Animals, a book that brings back to life some of the animals that we have lost forever. Often black and white or tinted sepia, the remarkable images included in this book have been taken mainly in zoos or wildlife parks, and in some cases depict the last known individual of the species. Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Richly illustrated throughout, this handsome book features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that witnessed the demise of the Hawaiian Po’ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to birds such as the Heath Hen and the Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the story of each animal, explains why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography.

This week, Lost Animals was featured in the Boston Globe. Chris Wright says:

The photographs are often grainy, or poorly framed, or badly lit. But this fact, oddly, is also part of the book’s power—the everyday nature of these snapshots somehow hammers home the enormity of the subject matter.

You can read endorsements for this new PUP title on the book’s webpage.


PUP author S. Frederick Starr has a message for US officials focused on relations with the Muslim world: you may do well to look elsewhere. In this week’s International New York Times, Starr speaks about the importance of relations with Central Asia. He writes:

For more than a decade, the United States has been reaching out to the Muslim world, courting Islamic moderates even as it wages war with religious extremists. Washington’s efforts have been concentrated mostly on the Middle East, with little success. The Americans might do better to focus on another region that has an equal claim to being Islam’s true heartland — the new nations along the old Silk Road through Central Asia.

Read the entire The New York Times op-ed here.

S. Frederick Starr’s new book, Lost Enlightenment, tells the fascinating but largely unknown story of Central Asia’s medieval enlightenment through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds–remarkable figures who built a bridge to the modern world. Because nearly all of these figures wrote in Arabic, they were long assumed to have been Arabs. In fact, they were from Central Asia–drawn from the Persianate and Turkic peoples of a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China. Lost Enlightenment chronicles this forgotten age of achievement, seeks to explain its rise, and explores the competing theories about the cause of its eventual demise. Informed by the latest scholarship yet written in a lively and accessible style, this is a book that will surprise general readers and specialists alike. You can preview Chapter 1 here.

 

News of the world 2-27a

For more than a decade, Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr. have been writing, researching, and compiling the work that resulted in the next book on these week’s list: The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. With more than 5,000 entries totaling over a million words, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of Buddhism ever produced in English. It is also the first to cover terms from all of the canonical Buddhist languages and traditions: Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Unlike reference works that focus on a single Buddhist language or school, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism bridges the major Buddhist traditions to provide encyclopedic coverage of the most important terms, concepts, texts, authors, deities, schools, monasteries, and geographical sites from across the history of Buddhism.

Buddhadharma reviewed The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, saying:

[T]he dictionary includes an impressive set of reference tools….Much more than a compilation of the philosophies of elite Buddhist figures, the Dictionary deepens our understanding of local traditions and their unique approaches to Buddhist practice, offering glimpses into the many Buddhisms and Buddhist belief systems that have developed over the past two and a half millennia. Both professional and amateur scholars will want to keep The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism within easy reach.

You can view the preface of the dictionary here.

It’s Time To Re-Center Your Round-Up

A lot of people look at the holidays as a time to decompress, re-center themselves, and re-energize for the new year. Plus with New Year’s Resolutions flying  around, it’s the perfect time to read some books about how to better yourself both inside and out. No, I’m not saying you need to read a self-help book and cry into a pint of ice cream over your failures, but maybe you could get in touch with your spiritual, creative, mellow side with some poetry, yoga, and a bottle of Chardonnay.

Listed below we have six of our titles that we think will be perfect for helping you relax amongst the crazy and find a little inner peace . Plus, depending on how much of that wine you’ve had, you might even learn some interesting things to apply to your everyday life. Enjoy!

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Yoga in Practice

Edited by David Gordon White
Yoga is a body of practice that spans two millennia and transcends the boundaries of any single religion, geographic region, or teaching lineage. Yoga in Practice is an anthology of primary texts drawn from the diverse yoga traditions of India, greater Asia, and the West. Emphasizing the lived experiences to be found in the many worlds of yoga, Yoga in Practice includes David Gordon White’s informative general introduction as well as concise introductions to each reading by the book’s contributors.

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The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams

By: C. G. Jung, Translated by R.F.C. Hull
“The Undiscovered Self” is a plea for Jung’s generation–and those to come–to continue the individual work of self-discovery and not abandon needed psychological reflection for the easy ephemera of mass culture. Only individual awareness of both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the human psyche will allow the great work of human culture to continue and thrive. Jung’s reflections on self-knowledge and the exploration of the unconscious carry over into the second essay, “Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams,”. Describing dreams as communications from the unconscious, Jung explains how the symbols that occur in dreams compensate for repressed emotions and intuitions.

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Self-Fulfillment

By: Alan Gewirth
Cultures around the world have regarded self-fulfillment as the ultimate goal of human striving and as the fundamental test of the goodness of a human life. The ideal has also been criticized, however, as egotistical or as so value-neutral that it fails to distinguish between, for example, self-fulfilled sinners and self-fulfilled saints. Alan Gewirth presents here a systematic and highly original study of self-fulfillment that seeks to overcome these and other arguments and to justify the high place that the ideal has been accorded by developing an ethical theory that ultimately grounds the value of self-fulfillment in the idea of the dignity of human beings.

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The Brain and the Meaning of Life

By: Paul Thagard
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? This book draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life’s nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living. Thagard shows how brain science helps to answer questions about the nature of mind and reality, while alleviating anxiety about the difficulty of life in a vast universe.

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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

By: Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
This book presents practical, lively, and inspiring ways for you to become more successful through better thinking. The idea is simple: You can learn how to think far better by adopting specific strategies. Brilliant people aren’t a special breed–they just use their minds differently. By using these straightforward and thought-provoking techniques, you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself–revealing previously hidden opportunities. Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, this book will inspire and guide you on your way.

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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition

Roland Greene, editor in chief
Over more than four decades, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics has built an unrivaled reputation as the most comprehensive and authoritative reference for students, scholars, and poets on all aspects of its subject: history, movements, genres, prosody, rhetorical devices, critical terms, and more. Now the book has been thoroughly revised and updated for the twenty-first century. Compiled by an entirely new team of editors, the fourth edition reflects recent changes in literary and cultural studies, providing up-to-date coverage and giving greater attention to the international aspects of poetry, all while preserving the best of the previous volumes.

PUP News of the World

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This is Week Two of our brand new series, PUP News of the World. Every week we will be posting a round-up of all of our most exciting national AND international reviews/interviews/events/etc. that took place in the last week.


http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9943.gifTo start, we have one of our top articles of the week! (Drum roll please…) The Guardian posted an article this past week titled “Writers and critics on the best books of 2013″, which includes an impressive resume of experts of literature who recommended some of the books that impressed them the MOST over this entire year. The list just happened to include FOUR of our Princeton University Press titles, including: Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman, Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985, and Kafka: The Years of Insight and Kafka: The Decisive Years, both written by Reiner Stach and translated by Shelley Frisch.


On top of that, Kafka: The Years of Insight was also included in the Wall Street Journal’s Holiday Gift Guide to Books, saying “[Stach's] resplendent Kafka: The Years of Insight, tracking Kafka’s final eight years, meditates on the limits of the knowable even as it exhibits unparalleled dedication to the Kafka’s life and work.”


Next, Redeeming The Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece by Maurizio Viroli received a glowing review from Michael Ignatieff at The Atlantic. He says that “Maurizio Viroli wants us to grasp that The Prince was not the cynically devious tract it seems, but rather a patriotic appeal for a redeemer politician to arise and save Italy from foreign invaders and its own shortsighted rulers.” Also, Strategy+Business‘ Theodore Kinni reviewed the title this past week, saying “[Viroli] makes a strong argument for rethinking widely held assumptions about The Prince.”


Undiluted Hocus PocusA blog post went up on our site a few days ago about the article written by our own Vickie Kearn (PUP Mathematics Editors) on Wild About Math, in which she defends Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner, which some critics have been saying was not actually written by Gardner before he passed away soon after the book’s completion. Wrong! Thanks for the help Vickie. Gardner’s book was also reviewed by this Saturday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, in which writer Jordan Ellenberg states: “For those of us who believe that the sciences and the humanities don’t have to be enemies, Martin Gardner is an inspiring model. Undiluted Hocus-Pocus reveals a man immersed in philosophy, religion and literature, even as he makes a career writing about science.”


Brian Bethune of Maclean’s Magazine said of The Book of Job: A Biography by Mark Larrimore: “Princeton University’s excellent series on the lives—meaning the changing interpretations—of great religious books continues with this study of the knottiest of all Biblical texts, a key work in Western culture’s eternal debate over why bad things happen to good people….[Larrimore] is subtle and superbly thorough as he navigates his way not just through Jewish, Christian and secular readings but also the uncertainties about the text and the misconceptions that have grown up around it.”


What W. H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall Smith received some attention this week from the Sydney Morning Herald, and from Jones Atwater of January Magazine, who said “For some people The Art of War is a touchstone. A guide to living and to life. For others it is Tao Te Ching or even The Tao of Pooh. In his latest book, number one detective Alexander McCall Smith has an admission to make: his own personal touchstone is Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden…..If you are a fan of Auden’s work, this is a must-read.”  Plus, Barbara Berman at The Rumpus selected this book as one of her holiday books column picks, saying “McCall Smith makes an excellent case for a young generation to get acquainted with the life trajectory of Auden as poet and as struggling human.”


http://press.princeton.edu/images/k10074.gifThe Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds in their holiday gift books section, saying: “David Edmonds’s vastly more ambitious ‘Would You Kill the Fat Man?’ has the cartoons—and just about everything else you could want in a thoughtful popular treatment of [the trolley problem]. A marvel of economy and learning worn lightly, Mr. Edmonds’s book ranges pleasurably back to Aquinas and forward into the future of robots, who will of course need an ethics just as much as people do.” The title was also an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times Book Review and Katherine Mangu-Ward reviewed it in Reason, saying: “Edmonds enjoyably traces the ever-expanding sub-genre of trolleyology through debates about language, abortion, cannibals, war, and a complicated love quadrangle involving the novelist Iris Murdoch and the philosopher Philippa Foot, offering insights on ethics, politics, and sex along the way.”


Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor & Eugen Jost received an early review in Scientific American, in which stated: “Mathematicians sometimes compare well-constructed equations to works of art. To them, patterns in numbers hold a beauty at least equal to that found in any sonnet or sculpture. In this book, Maor, a math historian, teams with Jost, an artist, to reveal some of that mathematical majesty using jewel-like visualizations of classic geometric theorems….The result is a book that stimulates the mind as well as the eye.” The book also received mention from a blog called Lifelong Dewey in which the writer is trying to read a book from every Dewey Decimal Section.


Our theme this week seems to be group reviews as three of our titles were featured in The Observer’s “Books of the Year” column for The Guardian. The first, The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future by Geoff Mulgan, was called “[A] rare combination of breadth and detail” by Julian Baggini. The second, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner, was chosen by Simon Singh, and the third, Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica by T. J. Clark, prompted John Banville to say “Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, by TJ Clark (Princeton), is the best thing in a long time on this still contentious painter. Whether or not you agree with Clark’s take on Picasso, you will not look at his paintings in quite the same way ever again.”


Merry White was interviewed about her book, Cooking for Crowds: 40th Anniversary Edition on Talk Radio Europe this week. (She comes in about 40 minutes in)


The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It by Peter Temin & David Vines was reviewed by Diane Coyle in The Enlightened Economist blog. Of the book, she says: “I would make all political leaders read this book over the holidays – whether in December or a bit later for Chinese New Year – and hope that it prompts them to make a New Year resolution to show true leadership.”


The Enlightened Economist also reviewed The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present by David Runciman, calling it “superb”.


There was a discussion of The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei: Volume Five: The Dissolution translated by David Tod Roy on the BBC World Service’s Weekend program.  Patricia Sieber of Ohio State University was interviewed about the collection, and the discussion starts about 46 minutes in.


In yet another group review, The Financial Times posted their Books of the Year, which included a long list of PUP titles:


Last, but not least, Holland Cotter of The New York Times chose Michael Ann Holly’s The Melancholy Art as one of his holiday art book picks, calling it “enchanting”.


COMING SOON: An interactive map of the world where you can check out all of our reviews from multiple countries and continents, sorted by publication.

Princeton University Press’s best-selling titles for the last week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

Mass Flourishing Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps
k10054 The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
McCallSmith_Auden What W. H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall Smith
Helmreich_NewYork The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
Stephenson_WarblerG The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
The Five Elements of Effective Thinking The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
k8967 Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
k9383 The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
k9687 The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman

Alan Greenspan Calls The Battle of Bretton Woods “Excellent”

Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently recommended The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order in an interview for the Associated Press, calling it “excellent”. The author of the book, Benn Steil, was delighted to see this tweet from Liberty News a few days ago, spreading the news of this exciting endorsement. You can read the full article from the Associated Press here.

Liberty News