Steven A. Barnes Wins 2013 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize

Steven A. Barnes - Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society
Winner of the 2013 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize, American Historical Association

The American Historical Association offers the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize annually for a distinguished book by an American author in the field of European history. The Adams prize was established in 1905 in memory of the first secretary of the Association, Herbert Adams of Johns Hopkins University, who was also one of the Association’s founders. The Adams Prize and the Leo Gershoy Award (also bestowed by the AHA) are widely considered to be the most prestigious prizes in the field of European history.

To read more about the award, click here.

Death and RedemptionDeath and Redemption offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the role of the Gulag–the Soviet Union’s vast system of forced-labor camps, internal exile, and prisons–in Soviet society. Soviet authorities undoubtedly had the means to exterminate all the prisoners who passed through the Gulag, but unlike the Nazis they did not conceive of their concentration camps as instruments of genocide. In this provocative book, Steven Barnes argues that the Gulag must be understood primarily as a penal institution where prisoners were given one final chance to reintegrate into Soviet society. Millions whom authorities deemed “reeducated” through brutal forced labor were allowed to leave. Millions more who “failed” never got out alive.

Drawing on newly opened archives in Russia and Kazakhstan as well as memoirs by actual prisoners, Barnes shows how the Gulag was integral to the Soviet goal of building a utopian socialist society. He takes readers into the Gulag itself, focusing on one outpost of the Gulag system in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, a location that featured the full panoply of Soviet detention institutions. Barnes traces the Gulag experience from its beginnings after the 1917 Russian Revolution to its decline following the 1953 death of Stalin.

Death and Redemption reveals how the Gulag defined the border between those who would reenter Soviet society and those who would be excluded through death.

Steven A. Barnes is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Mason University.

The Buzz on Angus Deaton Events

The Great EscapeAngus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality recently did a podcast with Russ Roberts to talk about our standard of living and The Great Escape. Deaton surveys the improvements in life expectancy and income both in the developed and undeveloped world. Inequality of both health and wealth are discussed as well. The conversation closes with a discussion of foreign aid and what rich nations can do for the poor.

The interview was then discussed on another popular economics blog, Café Hayek, which includes an excerpt of the interview.

He will also be at an event at the World Bank on December 2nd at 12:30. Unfortunately, there isn’t an event page for this anywhere yet, but we’ll sure to post more about it when we can!

More Upcoming Ruth Wisse Events You Don’t Want to Miss

NoJokeAuthor Ruth R. Wisse will be making several appearances in the next couple of months to discuss her new book, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. In this book, Ruth Wisse evokes and applauds the genius of spontaneous Jewish joking–as well as the brilliance of comic masterworks by writers like Heinrich Heine, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, S. Y. Agnon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Philip Roth. At the same time, Wisse draws attention to the precarious conditions that have called Jewish humor into being–and the price it may exact from its practitioners and audience.

The next two events will be held in November, the first being November 20th at 7:00 PM at the APJCC Auditorium in Silicon Valley. To learn more about the event, click here.

The second event will be held at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on November 21st at 7:00 PM. To learn more about the event, click here.

For both events, Wisse will discuss “No Joke: Making Jewish Humor,” her book about the most celebrated of all Jewish responses to modernity. Ruth R. Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University. She is the author of The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture, which won a National Jewish Book Award. Her other books include Jews and Power (Schocken) and The Schlemiel as Modern Hero.

Steven Barnes Shortlisted for the 2013 Central Eurasian Studies Society Book Award

Steven A. Barnes - Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society
Shortlisted for the 2013 Central Eurasian Studies Society Book Award

Each year the CESS Book Award and a monetary prize of $500 is presented to the author of the research monograph, published in the preceding two years, that represents the most important contribution to Central Eurasian studies, or that holds the greatest potential for furthering scholarship on the Central Eurasian region.  Although Barnes’ book did not win, it was one of a “very strong shortlist of six books.”

Death and RedemptionDeath and Redemption offers a fundamental reinterpretation of the role of the Gulag– the Soviet Union’s vast system of forced-labor camps, internal exile, and prisons– in Soviet society. Soviet authorities undoubtedly had the means to exterminate all the prisoners who passed through the Gulag, but unlike the Nazis they did not conceive of their concentration camps as instruments of genocide. In this provocative book, Steven Barnes argues that the Gulag must be understood primarily as a penal institution where prisoners were given one final chance to reintegrate into Soviet society. Millions whom authorities deemed “reeducated” through brutal forced labor were allowed to leave. Millions more who “failed” never got out alive.

Drawing on newly opened archives in Russia and Kazakhstan as well as memoirs by actual prisoners, Barnes shows how the Gulag was integral to the Soviet goal of building a utopian socialist society. He takes readers into the Gulag itself, focusing on one outpost of the Gulag system in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan, a location that featured the full panoply of Soviet detention institutions. Barnes traces the Gulag experience from its beginnings after the 1917 Russian Revolution to its decline following the 1953 death of Stalin.

Death and Redemption reveals how the Gulag defined the border between those who would reenter Soviet society and those who would be excluded through death.

Steven A. Barnes is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Mason University.

Financial Times Interview Angus Deaton

Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, recently did an interview with John McDermott of Financial Times. Deaton spoke about his book and the past and present of global inequality.

NYU Book Launch for Author Angus Deaton

 Deaton_Great_author photoThe NYU Development Research Institute presents a book launch: The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Featuring author Angus Deaton:

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School and the Economics Department at Princeton

With an introduction from William Easterly

  • Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute
Thursday, October 24, 2013

REGISTER HERE for free!
5pm-6pm: Wine and cheese reception at 44 Washington Mews
6pm-7pm: Talk and Q&A with Angus Deaton across the street at 14A Washington Mews
7pm-7:30pm: Book Signing at 14A Washington Mews


The Great EscapeThe 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. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton–one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty–tells 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.

“This is a must-read for anybody interested in the wealth and health of nations.”–Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail

Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. 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.

To go to the event page, click here.

Upcoming Ruth Wisse Events You Don’t Want To Miss

NoJokeAuthor Ruth R. Wisse will be making several appearances in the next couple of months to discuss her new book, No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. In this book, Ruth Wisse evokes and applauds the genius of spontaneous Jewish joking–as well as the brilliance of comic masterworks by writers like Heinrich Heine, Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Babel, S. Y. Agnon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Philip Roth. At the same time, Wisse draws attention to the precarious conditions that have called Jewish humor into being–and the price it may exact from its practitioners and audience.

The first two events will be held in October, the first being October 16th from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Mid-Manhattan Public Library. To learn more about the event, click here.

The second event will be held at the Princeton Public Library in the Community Room on October 17th from 7:00-9:00 PM. To learn more about the event, click here.

For both events, Wisse will discuss “No Joke: Making Jewish Humor,” her book about the most celebrated of all Jewish responses to modernity.

Two for Tuesday – The Book of Common Prayer and The Book of Job

The Lives of Great Religious Books is a series offering fascinating histories of important religious texts from around the world.  These short volumes are written for general readers and examine the historical origins of texts from the great religious traditions, and trace how their reception, interpretation, and influence have changed–often radically–over time. For “Two for Tuesday” we highlight two new books published in the series and invite you to read their introductions online.

commonThe Book of Common Prayer: A Biography
by Alan Jacobs

While many of us are familiar with such famous words as, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here. . .” or “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” we may not know that they originated with The Book of Common Prayer, which first appeared in 1549. Like the words of the King James Bible and Shakespeare, the language of this prayer book has saturated English culture and letters. Here Alan Jacobs tells its story. Jacobs shows how The Book of Common Prayer–from its beginnings as a means of social and political control in the England of Henry VIII to its worldwide presence today–became a venerable work whose cadences express the heart of religious life for many.

Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program at Baylor University.

Read the introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10076.pdf

 

jobThe Book of Job: A Biography
by Mark Larrimore

The book of Job raises stark questions about the nature and meaning of innocent suffering and the relationship of the human to the divine, yet it is also one of the Bible’s most obscure and paradoxical books, one that defies interpretation even today. Mark Larrimore provides a panoramic history of this remarkable book, traversing centuries and traditions to examine how Job’s trials and his challenge to God have been used and understood in diverse contexts, from commentary and liturgy to philosophy and art. Offering rare insights into this iconic and enduring book, Larrimore reveals how Job has come to be viewed as the Bible’s answer to the problem of evil and the perennial question of why a God who supposedly loves justice permits bad things to happen to good people.

Mark Larrimore directs the Religious Studies Program at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts.

Read the introduction online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i10075.pdf

For more books in the Lives of Great Religious Books series, visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/series/lgrb.html

Jeremy Adelman’s “Worldly Philosopher” One of Financial Times Econ Books of 2013

Jeremy Adelman – Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman
One of Financial Times (Alphachat)’s Econ Books of the Year for 2013

Diane Coyle and Tyler Cowen of Alphachat, a podcast of Financial Times Alphaville, listed their top picks for economic books published in 2013. They both placed Worldly Philosopher:The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman at the top of their lists of five books.

Worldly PhilosopherWorldly Philosopher chronicles the times and writings of Albert O. Hirschman, one of the twentieth century’s most original and provocative thinkers. In this gripping biography, Jeremy Adelman tells the story of a man shaped by modern horrors and hopes, a worldly intellectual who fought for and wrote in defense of the values of tolerance and change.

Born in Berlin in 1915, Hirschman grew up amid the promise and turmoil of the Weimar era, but fled Germany when the Nazis seized power in 1933. Amid hardship and personal tragedy, he volunteered to fight against the fascists in Spain and helped many of Europe’s leading artists and intellectuals escape to America after France fell to Hitler. His intellectual career led him to Paris, London, and Trieste, and to academic appointments at Columbia, Harvard, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was an influential adviser to governments in the United States, Latin America, and Europe, as well as major foundations and the World Bank. Along the way, he wrote some of the most innovative and important books in economics, the social sciences, and the history of ideas.

Throughout, he remained committed to his belief that reform is possible, even in the darkest of times.

This is the first major account of Hirschman’s remarkable life, and a tale of the twentieth century as seen through the story of an astute and passionate observer. Adelman’s riveting narrative traces how Hirschman’s personal experiences shaped his unique intellectual perspective, and how his enduring legacy is one of hope, open-mindedness, and practical idealism.

Jeremy Adelman is the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor of Spanish Civilization and Culture and director of the Council for International Teaching and Research at Princeton University. His books include Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World and Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton)

Angela E. Stent Interviews with TVO About “The Limits of Partnership”

The conflict in Syria has strained an already tenuous relationship between the United States and Russia. The Story of the Week over at TVO: the US and Russian clash over what to do about Syria.

Angela E. Stent, a professor of government and foreign service and director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University, weighs in on the conflict. Her recent book, The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century, makes her an expert on the topic.

FINANCIAL TIMES/GOLDMAN SACHS: The Great Escape is longlisted for the 2013 Business Book of the Year Award

ANGUS DEATON - The Great Escape:
Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Longlisted for the 2013 Business Book of the Year Award, Financial Times/Goldman Sachs

Angus Deaton’s The Great Escape traces advances in wealth and health that offer hope of an exit from historic human inequality.

Committee statement about the award:

“This annual Award, promoted by the Financial Times Limited (“FT”) and the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc (“GS”), aims to identify the book that provides the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues, including management, finance and economics. The winner will receive an award of £30,000, and shortlisted authors will receive £10,000 each. A shortlist of up to 6 titles will be announced in early autumn, and the winner will be announced at an Award Dinner in London in November 2013 (the “Award Ceremony”). Submissions are invited from publishers or bona fide imprints based in any country (“Publishers”).”–Financial Times

Learn more about the 2013 Business Book of the Year Award on the Financial Times website: FT.com PDF

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus DeatonThe 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. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton–one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty–tells 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. 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 describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. 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.

Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations.

Angus Deaton is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University. His many books include The Analysis of Household Surveys and Economics and Consumer Behavior. He is a past president of the American Economic Association.

Endorsement:

“There is nobody better than Angus Deaton to explain why our lives are longer, healthier, and more prosperous than those of our great-grandparents. The story he tells is much more than an inexorable march of progress–it has also been unequal, uneven, and incomplete, and at each step, politics has played a defining role. This is a must-read for anybody interested in the wealth and health of nations.”–Daron Acemoglu, coauthor of Why Nations Fail

“At once engaging and compassionate, this is an uplifting story by a major scholar.”–Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion

“Magisterial and superb.”–William Easterly, author of The White Man’s Burden

The Great Escape tells the two biggest stories in history: how humanity got healthy and wealthy, and why some people got so much healthier and wealthier than others. Angus Deaton, one of the world’s leading development economists, takes us on an extraordinary journey–from an age when almost everyone was poor and sick to one where most people have escaped these evils–and he tells us how the billion still trapped in extreme poverty can join in this great escape. Everyone who wants to understand the twenty-first century should read this book.”–Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules–for Now

Angus Deaton, author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality


About Angus Deaton:
  • Expertise: health, wellbeing, economic development, household surveys, the analysis of household behavior (especially at the microeconomic level), poverty in India and around the world
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Economics Department at Princeton University
  • Holds both American and British citizenship
  • Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in 2012
  • Was President of the American Economic Association in 2009
  • First recipient of the Society’s Frisch Medal in 1978
  • Holds a B.A. (1967), M.A. (1971), and Ph.D (1974) from Cambridge University
  • Author of The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality


Awards:

  • BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Economics, Finance, and Management, 2012
  • Honorary Doctor of Economics, University of Cyprus, 2012
  • Honorary Doctor of Science in Social Science, Edinburgh University, 2011
  • Hicks Lecture, Economics, Oxford, 2011
  • Stone Lecture, Department of Economics, Cambridge, 2010
  • Foundation Lecture, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, 2010
  • Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2010
  • Distinguished Fellow, American Economic Association, 2010
  • President, American Economic Association, 2009
  • Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, May 2009
  • John Kenneth Galbraith Award, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Foundation, July 2009
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of St. Andrews, June 2008

To read more about Angus Deaton, visit his Author Spotlight biography: http://blog.press.princeton.edu/angus-deaton-2/

Derek Sayer “succeeds in doing what might have seemed at the beginning an impossible task,” according to Leonardo Reviews

Derek Sayer’s Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, is warmly received by Jan Baetens of Leonardo Reviews:

Why Prague as ‘capital of the 20th Century’, and not Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angles, or, of course, New York? The answer that Derek Sayer, renowned specialist of Czech Modernism, gives to this question is multiple, but most crucial is here the symmetry he elaborates with Walter Benjamin’s landmark description of Paris, cultural capital of the 19th Century. Just as the Ville-Lumière could appear in Benjamin eyes‒and don’t we look all through his eyes nowadays?‒as the laboratory of 20th Century’s modernism, Prague may be the city that foreshadows the world in which we live today, a world that is less simply postmodern than the epitome of what Baudelaire defined as the landmark feature of all modernities ahead: “the ephemeral, the fleeting, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable” (“The Painter of Modern Life,” 1863). More than any other city in the (Western) world, Prague has become the symbol of that singular mix of constancy and instability that singles out modern as well as postmodern life. Much more than a city like New Work, Prague is deeply rooted in history, and much more than a city like Paris, this history is a never-ending chain of upheavals, turmoil, changes, revolutions, and destructions, in which the only certitude that remains can only be that of uncertainty itself.

Yet there is also a second reason to choose Prague as a new case in point for a Benjaminian revisiting of cultural history, in the very broad sense of the word bringing together art, politics, ideology, business, and daily life, combining both the well-known signposts of culture and the forgotten or despised details that only illuminated rag pickers are able to value. That reason is the necessity to rewrite a dramatically important chapter of history wiped out by post-iron curtain ideas on 20th Century modernism. Until the Second World War, Prague had been, indeed, one of the cradles of Surrealism, only second to Paris and, if not in depth than certainly in width, definitely more important than Brussels. Belgium may have had more radical avant-garde writers than Czechoslovakia (in comparison with Paul Nougé, the Nobel Prize winning Jaroslav Seifert will appear to many as a rather pale figure, for instance), and it may have hosted also more famous painters (needless to remind that Magritte has had a more lasting influence than his Czech colleagues), but Surrealism has pervaded the whole of culture and society more profoundly in the old kingdom of Bohemia than the country governed by King Albert I and King Leopold III, a country where Surrealism often narrowed down into softer, more user-friendly, sometimes almost petty-bourgeois forms, while Surrealism did never cease to have revolutionary undertones in Prague. Unfortunately, however, it is the fate of small countries and small cultures to be overlooked in history, which remains written and rewritten from the viewpoint of the global culture of the day. Hence, for instance, the complete neglect of Czech Surrealism in the show that has determined for many decades the US vision of modernity: William Rubin’s 1968 MOMA blockbuster retrospective “Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage”.

Read the complete review at Leonardo Reviews: http://leonardo.info/reviews/july2013/sayer-baetens.php


Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek SayerPrague, Capital of the Twentieth Century:
A Surrealist History

Derek Sayer

Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the “city of light,” Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris “the capital of the nineteenth century.” In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century. Ranging across twentieth-century Prague’s astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, this richly illustrated cultural history describes how the city has experienced (and suffered) more ways of being modern than perhaps any other metropolis.

“[A] captivating portrait of 20th-century Prague. . . . The breadth of Sayer’s knowledge is encyclopedic, and those willing to stay the course will be rewarded.”–Publishers Weekly

Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century is an erudite, comprehensive, well-illustrated and witty account of Czech art, design, architecture, literature and music in an era–stretching roughly from Czechoslovakia’s creation in 1918 to the end of the second world war–when few in Paris, Berlin, London or even New York would have thought of the Czechs as not being part of western civilisation. . . . [I]n this book [Sayer] has succeeded in bringing back to life a golden avant-garde era that not long ago was in danger of being written out of history altogether.”–Tony Barber, Financial Times