Quick Questions for Ellen D. Wu, author of The Color of Success

7W8A1140Ellen D. Wu is assistant professor of history at Indiana University where she conducts research on issues of race, immigration, citizenship, and nation through the lens of Asian American history. She is also author of The Color of Success:Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, a recent book that tells of the astonishing transformation of Asians in the United States from the “yellow peril” to “model minorities”–peoples distinct from the white majority but lauded as well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values–in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

Now, on to the questions!

 

What inspired you to get into your field?

As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I was originally drawn to Asian American history as a way to understand my own place in the world. (I always felt a little bit freakish, growing up in Indiana.) But I soon learned that it is much more than that. The founders of Asian American Studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s emphasized the importance of research and education relevant to Asian American communities. They also believed that it was possible not only to fight oppression, but to end it completely.

The original, radical vision of Asian American Studies continues to invigorate me. I strive to tell new stories in such a way that is meaningful to Asian Americans from all walks of life.  I aim to highlight the diversity of Asian America. And I am interested in the actions that ordinary people have taken in the face of racism and other dehumanizing challenges.

What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about what you do?


The reigning misconception of Asians in the United States is that we are “model minorities.”


People often think that history is just a string of dates and facts about “great” white men.  (Is it a coincidence that many of those who believe this also tell me that they think history is boring?)  I would also say that most non-historians have no idea how historians actually go about doing what they do (i.e. archival research)—probably because it’s pretty bizarre from an outsider’s perspective! A friend of mine explains it this way: we read other people’s mail. While that makes us sound like NSA employees, that description works for me.

What would you have been if not a historian?

I have fantasies about being/becoming a documentary filmmaker, a food writer, and an independently wealthy lady of leisure.

What are you reading right now?

This summer I plan to dig in to some of my favorite literary writers: Jhumpa Lahiri, Monique Troung, and Junot Diaz. I can’t wait to be inspired by their words, sentences, and storytelling. Meanwhile, I’m reading lots of things via my Twitter feed.

What was the most influential book you’ve read?

Ummmm… The Bible?

Why did you write The Color of Success?

It was a book that I wished had already existed.

What was the biggest challenge involved with bringing this book to life?


[Book] titles are so hard! They’re akin to naming one’s child.


Conceptually it was quite difficult for me to figure out how to move from dissertation to book. It’s the kind of thing (at least in my experience) that one doesn’t really know how to do until one has done it, if that makes sense. But now I can say the process has been demystified and hopefully all the pieces will fall into place much faster with the next book.

What do you think is the book’s most important contribution?

Today the reigning misconception of Asians in the United States is that we are “model minorities”—people of color who are naturally smart and hardworking, socio-economically mobile, etc. Observers often attribute the putative “success” of Asian Americans to “culture.”  By excavating the origins of the “model minority” image (it’s a relatively recent creation, dating back only to the 1940s-60s), The Color of Success shows that it is an invented fiction rather than timeless truth. Certain Asian American spokespersons, government officials, social scientists, journalists, and others conjured up the “model minority” for various political purposes. For those invested in delegitimizing the African American freedom movement, the “model minority” stereotype served as handy “evidence” that the United States was indeed a land of opportunity for all, including racial minorities. People are often surprised to hear that the “model minority” stereotype, while ostensibly positive, is actually highly problematic and pernicious.

The value of tracing the relatively recent emergence of a stereotype that is prevalent today is that it drives home the point that race is a social process rather than a fact of nature. That gives me hope that racial stereotypes and categories can be “unmade” as well as “made.”

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

My goal with The Color of Success was to generate something empirically-rich and stimulating for professional scholars, but also significant and accessible in a broader way. I wanted to write for “lay” Asian Americans and others interested in historical and present-day conditions and consequences of race in the United States. Additionally, I tried to produce something that my friends and relatives might actually read. (A shout out to my cousin Denise in Logan, Utah for being my first family member to finish it!) I’m crossing my fingers that the book will speak to this these disparate audiences.

k10134[1]How did you come up with the title or jacket?

Titles are so hard! They’re akin to naming one’s child: it’s a heavy decision because it seems that it will seal the fate of the book forever. I definitely wanted something that conveyed the main themes of the book, but I didn’t want it to sound too boring or “academic-y” (hopefully I succeeded?). I went through about a million titles before my husband came up with The Color of Success at the eleventh hour.

On the other hand, the cover image (a photograph of the 1956 San Francisco Chinese basketball team, clad in “USA” jackets and holding “USA”-stamped balls), was something that I had kept in mind for years.  I first spotted it in a 1956 issue of San Francisco’s bilingual Chinese World newspaper when I started my research.  It was one of those ah-ha! moments. Like other notable American artists and athletes at the time, the team had been tapped by the US State Department to tour Asia as “goodwill” ambassadors—essentially Cold War cultural diplomats. It’s a great double-take image that plays with the tenacious notion that Asians remain “forever foreigners” in the United States, that Asian Americans have never truly been seen by others as “real” Americans.  And like Linsanity, it also messes with assumptions that Asian Americans make good scientists or violinists or whatever, but not good basketball players.

Several years after I initially ran across the photo, I wrote to a senior Asian American historian to ask if she knew how I might get a hold of it for the book. She forwarded my message to her contacts in San Francisco Chinatown, and, voila!, I tracked down Percy Chu, the 80-something coach of the basketball team. Mr. Chu not only kindly sent me the photo, but now he’s also my penpal. Every Chinese holiday, he sends me little gifts in the mail—zongzi (Chinese tamales) for the Dragon Boat festival, mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, red envelopes for Lunar New Year. (Maybe he feels sorry for me for living in Bloomington, so far removed from the epicenters of Chinese America?) So that’s been unexpected and fun!

 

Ellen is the author of:

bookjacket

The Color of Success:
Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority
Ellen D. Wu
Hardcover | $39.50 / £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691157825
376 pp. | 6 x 9 | 19 halftones.eBook | ISBN: 9781400848874
Endorsements | Table of Contents
Introduction pdf-iconThe Color of Success embodies exciting developments in Asian American history. Through the lens of racial liberalism and cultural diplomacy, Ellen Wu offers a historically grounded analysis of the Asian American model minority in the contexts of domestic race politics and geopolitics, and she unveils the complexities of wartime and postwar national inclusion.”–Eiichiro Azuma, University of Pennsylvania

Quick Questions for Michael Scott, author of Delphi

Michael Scott, credit, David WilsonMichael Scott is an assistant professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Warwick, though he is perhaps most recognized as a presenter for ancient history documentaries on National Geographic, the History channel, Nova, and the BBC. His new book on Delphi has been getting excellent reviews so far, including this from The Spectator: “Tells you everything there is to know about Delphi.” We couldn’t agree more and hope you will sample this complimentary chapter.

The book presents a thorough history of this historical site–expanding our understanding beyond the oracle to incorporate Delphi’s importance as a site of commerce, international politics, sporting competitions, culture, and on and on. It also includes a brief chapter for present-day visitors with insider’s tips on the sights to see making it the perfect companion for anyone planning a trip to see Delphi for themselves.

Now, on to the questions!

PUP: What inspired you to get into your field?

Michael Scott: A trip to Greece–indeed to Delphi–when I was 17 at school convinced me to study Classics at University. Whilst there, I was lucky enough to study at the British Schools at Rome and at Athens and to study in and amongst a wide range of fascinating archaeological sites. From that point on, I never looked back

What do you think is the book’s most important contribution?

For me, this book highlights what history, and particularly ancient history, really is. Not a list of undisputed facts about what happened, but a continuing dialogue–from then right up to now–of different, sometimes overlapping, sometimes contradictory arguments about how to understand the past, and the place of the past in our present and future. As the saying goes, ‘the future is certain, the past just keeps on changing.’


To properly understand any one moment and event, I argue that we need to connect histories from around the globe.


What was the most influential book you’ve read?

Tough one. In regard to the study of the ancient world, probably E R Dodds’s Greeks and the Irrational. I remember reading it just before starting my undergraduate degree and it entirely changing my perception of what studying the ancient world would be like.

Why did you write this book?

I wrote this book because while Delphi has been extensively studied, that study has often been piecemeal (in focusing on one particular activity at Delphi), or compartmentalized (in terms of focusing on what particular period of its 1000+ year history), or written from the standpoint of a particular kind of evidence (literary, inscriptional or archaeological). But that is not how the ancients saw, used or perceived Delphi. If we are to understand Delphi and its unique place and longevity within the ancient world, we have to get to grips with how the different sources portray Delphi’s portfolio of activities interacting across its lifespan to create a place that remained at the centre of the ancient world for so long.

PUP: What is your next project?

In my next book project, I want to break down some of the disciplinary boundaries between arenas of study in our ancient past. The book will focus on some of the most famous dates in our ancient story: 2000 BC and the completion of Stonehenge; 508 BC and the origins of democracy; 218 BC and Hannibal’s march across the Alps as well as 312 AD Constantine’s victory at the battle of Milvian Bridge. But exploring these critical moments is only the beginning. To properly understand any one moment and event, I argue that we need to connect histories from around the globe to examine what was happening elsewhere at these crucial times. So, yes, democracy may have been invented in ancient Greece in 508 BC, but what was happening politically at that time in Italy, or indeed in China? Constantine may have begun Rome’s march to Christianity in 312 AD, but what great shifts in religious observance were happening in India or North Africa? In asking that question, this book will connect up our different pasts and as a result enable us to understand the varying speeds, and kinds, of evolution that the regions of our world have been through. It will open up a window onto the similar and different challenges and issues we have faced, as well as the responses and ideas we have developed as a result.


Michael is the author of:

bookjacket Delphi
A History of the Center of the Ancient World

Michael Scott
Cloth | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691150819
448 pp. | 6 x 9 | 8 color illus. 41 halftones. 3 maps.
eBook | ISBN: 9781400851324″Like the two eagles released by Zeus from opposite ends of the world who then met in Delphi, Michael Scott gets to the heart of antiquity’s most celebrated and enigmatic oracle. A vivid and lucid study that reanimates the mentality of those who consulted Apollo more convincingly than any other I have read.”–Tom Holland, author of Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West

Quick Questions for Tim Chartier, author of Math Bytes

Tim Chartier, Photo  courtesy Davidson CollegeTim Chartier is author of Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing. He agreed to be our first victi… interview subject in what will become a regular series. We will ask our authors to answer a series of questions in hopes to uncover details about why they wrote their book, what they do in their day job, and what their writing process is. We hope you enjoy getting to know Tim!

PUP: Why did you write this book?

Tim Chartier: My hope is that readers simply delight in the book.  A friend told me the book is full of small mathematical treasures.  I have had folks who don’t like math say they want to read it.  For me, it is like extending my Davidson College classroom.  Come and let’s talk math together.  What might we discover and enjoy?  Don’t like math?  Maybe it is simply you haven’t taken a byte of a mathematical delight that fits your palate!

PUP: Who do you see as the audience for this book?

TC: I wanted this book, at least large segments of it, to read down to middle school.  I worked with public school teachers on many of the ideas in this book.  They adapted the ideas to their classrooms.  And yet, the other day, I was almost late taking my kids to school as I had to pull them from reading my book, a most satisfying reason.  In my mime training, Marcel Marceau often said, “Create your piece and let the genius of the audience teach you what you created.”  I see this book that way.  I wrote a book that I see my students and the many to whom I speak in broad public settings smiling at as they listen.  Who all will be in the audience of this book?  That’s for me to learn from the readers.  I look forward to it.


Don’t like math? Maybe it is simply you haven’t taken a byte of a mathematical delight that fits your palate!


PUP: What do you think is the book’s most important contribution?

TC: When I describe the book to people, many respond with surprise or even better a comment like, “I wish I had a teacher like you.”  My current and former students often note that the book is very much like class.  Let’s create and play with ideas and discover how far they can go and, of great interest to me, how fun and whimsical they can be.

PUP: What inspired you to get into your field?

TC: My journey into math came via my endeavors in performing arts.  I was performing in mime and puppetry at international levels in college.  Math was my “back-up” plan.  Originally, I was taking math classes as required courses in my studies in computer science.  I enjoyed the courses but tended to be fonder of ideas in computer science.  I like the creative edge to writing programming.  We don’t all program in the same way and I enjoyed the elegance of solutions that could be found.  This same idea attracted me to math — when I took mathematical proofs.  I remember studying infinity – a topic far from being entirely encompassed by my finite mind.  Yet, through a mathematical lens, I could examine the topic and prove aspects of it.  Much like when I studied mime with Marcel Marceau, the artistry and creativity of mathematical study is what drew me to the field and kept me hooked through doctoral studies.

PUP: What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about what you do?

TC: Many think mathematics is about numbers.  Much of mathematics is about ideas and concepts.  My work lies at the boundary of computer science and mathematics.  So, my work often models the real world so often mathematics is more about thinking how to use it to glean interesting or new information about our dynamic world.  Numbers are interesting and wonderful but so is taking a handful of M&Ms and creating a math-based mosaic of my son or sitting with my daughter and using chocolate chips to estimate the value of Pi.  And, just for the record, the ideas would be interesting even without the use of chocolate but that doesn’t hurt!

PUP: What would you have been if not a mathematician?

TC: Many people think I would have been a full-time performer.  I actually intentionally walked away from that field.  I want to be home, have a home, walk through a neighborhood where I know my neighbors.  To me, I would have found a field, of some kind, where I could teach.  Then, again, I always wanted to be a creative member of the Muppet team – either creating ideas or performing!


I pick projects that I believe aren’t just exciting now, but will be exciting in retrospect.


PUP: What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

TC: At one time, I was quite ill.  It was a scary time with many unknowns.  I remember resting in a dark room and wondering if I could improve and get better.  I reflected on my life and felt good about where I was, even if I was heading into my final stretch.  I remember promising myself that if I ever got better that I would live a life that later — whether it be a decade later or decades and decades later — that I would try to live a life that I could again feel good about whenever I might again be in such a state.  I did improve but I pick projects that I believe aren’t just exciting now, but will be exciting in retrospect.  This book is easily an example of such a decision.

PUP: Describe your writing process. How long did it take you to finish your book? Where do you write?

TC: The early core of the book happened at 2 points.  First, I was on sabbatical from Davidson College working at the University of Washington where I taught Mathematical Modeling.  Some of the ideas of the book drew from my teaching at Davidson and were integrated into that course taught in Seattle.  At the end of the term, my wife Tanya said, “You can see your students and hear them responding.  Sit now and write a draft. Write quickly and let it flow.  Talk to them and get the class to smile.”  It was great advice to me.  The second stage came with my first reader, my sister Melody.  She is not a math lover and is a critical reader of any manuscript. She has a good eye.  I asked her to be my first reader.  She was stunned.  I wanted her to read it as I knew if she enjoyed it, even though there would be parts she wouldn’t understand fully, then I had a draft of the book I wanted to write.  She loved it and soon after I dove into the second draft.

PUP: Do you have advice for other authors?

TC: My main advice came from award-winning author Alan Michael Parker from Davidson College.  As I was finishing, what at the time I saw as close to my final draft, Alan said, “Tim, you are the one who will live with this book for a lifetime.  Many will read it only once.  You have it for the rest of your life.  Write your book. Make sure it is your voice.  Take your time and know it is you.”  His words echoed in me for months.  I put the book down for several months and then did a revision in which I saw my reflection in the book’s pages — I had seen my reflection before but never as clearly.


Tim is the author of:

bookjacket

Math Bytes
Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing
Tim Chartier

“A magnificent and curious romp through a wonderful array of mathematical topics and applications: maze creation, Google’s PageRank algorithm, doodling, the traveling salesman problem, math on The Simpsons, Fermat’s Last Theorem, viral tweets, fractals, and so much more. Buy this book and feed your brain.”–Clifford A. Pickover, author of The Math Book

Math Bytes is a playful and inviting collection of interesting mathematical examples and applications, sometimes in surprising places. Many of these applications are unique or put a new spin on things. The link to computing helps make many of the topics tangible to a general audience.”–Matt Lane, creator of the Math Goes Pop! Blog

 

Princeton authors speaking at Oxford Literary Festival 2014

We are delighted that the following Princeton authors will be speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival in Oxford, UK, in the last week of March. Details of all events can be found at the links below:images5L8V7T97

Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, husband and wife popular astronomy writers and authors of From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System and Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe respectively, will be speaking  on Monday 24 March at 4:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/in-search-of-our-cosmic-origins-from-the-big-bang-to-a-habitable-planet

David Edmonds, author of Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us  about Right and Wrong will be speaking on Monday 24 March at 6:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/morality-puzzles-would-you-kill-the-fat-man

Robert Bartlett, author of Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation will be speaking on Tuesday 25 March at 2:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Tuesday-25/why-can-the-dead-do-such-great-things

Michael Scott, author of Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/delphi-a-history-of-the-centre-of-the-ancient-world

Simon Blackburn, author of Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 4:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/mirror-mirror-the-uses-and-abuses-of-self-love

Roger Scruton author of the forthcoming The Soul of the World will be speaking Thursday 27 March 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-soul-of-the-world

Alexander McCall Smith, author of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You will be speaking about how this poet has enriched his life and can enrich yours too on Friday 28 March at 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/what-w-h-auden-can-do-for-youMcCallSmith_Auden

Averil Cameron, author of Byzantine Matters will be speaking on Friday 28 March at 2:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/byzantine-matters

Edmund Fawcett, author of Liberalism: The Life of an Idea will be speaking on Saturday 29 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Saturday-29/liberalism-the-life-of-an-idea

In addition, Ian Goldin will be giving the inaugural “Princeton Lecture” at The Oxford Literary Festival, on the themes within his forthcoming book, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It on Thursday 27 March at 6:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-princeton-lecture-the-butterfly-defect-how-globalisation-creates-system

 

Gillen D’Arcy Wood discusses his new book TAMBORA: The Eruption That Changed the World

Please enjoy Gillen D’Arcy Wood discussing his new book TAMBORA: The Eruption That Changed the World, due out from Princeton University Press in May.

Edmund Fawcett discusses Liberalism: The Life of an Idea [VIDEO]

Love it or hate it, liberalism is here to stay–and it has a long and fascinating history. Edmund Fawcett explains more about his forthcoming book Liberalism: The Life of an Idea in this wonderful video interview with Natalia Nash. How do we define liberalism? Edmund Fawcett explores the underlying ideas that guide the liberal story here:

Learn more about Edmund Fawcett and Liberalism at the Princeton University Press site.

Einstein’s Real Breakthrough: Quantum Theory

Thank you to Yale University for recording this fantastic interview between A. Douglas Stone and Ramamurti Shankar.

People may be surprised to hear that Einstein could well be the father of quantum theory in addition to the father of relativity. In part this is because Einstein ultimately rejected quantum theory, but also because there is very little published evidence of his work. However, as he researched his new book Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian, Stone discovered letters and correspondence with other scientists that demonstrate the extent of Einstein’s influence in this area.

If you would like to learn more about Einstein’s contributions to quantum theory, grab a copy of Einstein and the Quantum which you can sample here.

PUP News of the World, January 31, 2014

NewsOfTheWorld_Banner

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!


Well, folks, we’re one month in, and 2014 is off to a stellar start for PUP books and authors. We rounded out the month of January with some great reviews in publications from around the world. Check them out below!

The one-week countdown to Sochi has arrived. And as athletes from around the world travel to the games, all eyes have turned to the games’ host. PUP author Angela Stent–director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University–is our in-house expert for all things “Russia.” This week, the New York Times published a piece by Stent, where she discusses the implications of the upcoming games for Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin. She writes:

The Olympic Games are supposed to symbolize international cooperation as well as competition. Of course, any country hosting the Games wants to highlight its best features. But Sochi may be one of those times in Olympic history when a leader wants to use the Games for a much more specific political purpose — in this case, to prove that the system he presides over is preferable to that in many participating countries.

Read the whole article here. Want to brush up more on US-Russian relations before the games? Professor Stent’s new book, The Limits of Partnership, offers a riveting narrative on U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet collapse and on the challenges ahead. It reflects the unique perspective of an insider who is also recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship. The book was reviewed in the Economist this week, the review saying that “Ms Stent tells the story clearly and dispassionately.” View the introduction of the book here.

World News 1-31

It seems like some people have all the luck, doesn’t it? Or perhaps certain people really do have better track records of “making it.” While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, our new PUP book, The Son Also Rises, proves that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries. Using a novel technique–tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods–renowned economic historian Gregory Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies.

Intrigued? Check out Gregory Clark’s recent interview, which ran on the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog. Clark says:

Another remarkable feature of the surname data is how seemingly impervious social mobility rates are to government interventions. In all societies, what seems to matter is just who your parents are. At the extreme, we see in modern Sweden an extensive system of public education and social support. Yet underlying mobility rates are no higher in modern Sweden than in pre-industrial Sweden or medieval England.

You can also preview the introduction of The Son Also Rises here.


While we’re on the topic of economics, check out this Financial Times review of Eswar Prasad’s The Dollar Trap, the book that argues that the dollar is the cornerstone of global finance–and will be for the foreseeable future. Henry Sender of the FT says, “To understand how the world of international finance works, what the agendas are and what is at stake, this work is indispensable.” Prasad was also interviewed on Marketplace:

Next, we move to a review in the Times Literary Supplement of Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold’s Newton and the Origin of Civilization. Scott Mandelbrote writes:

‘This argument for intellectual unity in Newton’s method of working gives Newton and the Origin of Civlization philosophical as well as historical originality and importance … represents a climacteric in our understanding of its subject’s life and thought.’

Newton and the Origin of Civilization tells the story of how one of the most celebrated figures in the history of mathematics, optics, and mechanics came to apply his unique ways of thinking to problems of history, theology, and mythology, and of how his radical ideas produced an uproar that reverberated in Europe’s learned circles throughout the eighteenth century and beyond. Preview the introduction for more about this title.

 

 

PUP News of the World, January 24, 2014

NewsOfTheWorld_Banner

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!


News of the World Jan 24

THIS WEEK IN REVIEWS

We start this week across the pond from our Princeton, NJ, office to the home of our Woodstock office. We saw some great reviews in UK publications recently and have included two here.

If Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris “the capital of the nineteenth century,” which city takes that title during the much darker twentieth century? Derek Sayer’s new book argues that Prague, with its astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, is that city. Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement by Marci Shore, who called the book “[a] pleasure to read, luscious in a sultry kind of way.” Learn more about this book–which was named one of the Financial Times‘ Best History Books of 2013–and view the introduction here.

Next, we turn to Francisco Bethencourt’s Racisms, the first comprehensive history of racism, from the Crusades to the twentieth century. The New Statesman reviewed the title calling it “[an] impressive book.” Joanna Bourke of the New Statesman points out the importance of Bethencourt’s work as a lens for current debates about events like George Zimmerman’s acquittal after the killing of Trayvon Martin. She writes:

Bethencourt addresses the “scientific” turn in racial classification systems. There is a vast literature on the ideas of influential men such as […] Charles Darwin and many others. However, Bethencourt’s summary is the clearest and most sophisticated to date.

View the book’s introduction here.

We return stateside for the next PUP book. Check out this interview with Eswar Prasad, author of The Dollar Trap. He speaks with the Wall Street Journal‘s Jon Hilsenrath about why the dollar didn’t collapse after the events of the past few years and what this means for the future.

You can check out the preface here. Visit Eswar Prasad’s website for more information about the book, including a book trailer.

The WSJ‘s China RealTime blog also featured a question and answer piece with Prasad, who gives more explanation for his argument that no currency can rival the dollar.

PUP author and Princeton professor Jacob N. Shapiro writes his own piece this week for the Boston Globe. His piece, entitled “108 Terrorist Memoirs, Analyzed,” discusses how Shapiro prepared to write his book The Terrorist’s Dilemma and the surprising things that his research uncovered. He read 108 memoirs of terrorists, or former terrorists, in order to get to the bottom of what makes them tick. Shapiro writes:

Collectively, they form a valuable window into one of the core security challenges facing the world today. They help clarify what drives individuals to participate, expose groups’ internal conflicts to public scrutiny, and illuminate the political thinking behind their campaigns. The memoirs can occasionally be chilling for their sheer callousness towards human life. But reading them is surprisingly reassuring, because they reveal something else as well: the ordinariness and the incompetence that are common hallmarks of terrorist life.

Check out the full piece for more on the details that Shapiro’s reading revealed, and take a look at the first chapter of The Terrorist’s Dilemma.

PUP News of the World

NewsOfTheWorld_Banner
Welcome to the next edition 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/articles, etc. that took place in the last week.


http://press.princeton.edu/images/k9383.gifThis week our article of the week comes from Financial Times! In the spirit of the holidays, the FT has posted a list of the best books of 2013 as chosen by FT writers and guests, including six Princeton University Press titles!
In the category of Business, Marc Levinson’s book, The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, was chosen by none other than the Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates! Of the book, he said, “[This book] was published in 2006 but I read it just this year, around the time I visited the Panama Canal. A book about metal boxes may not sound like a thrill ride, but Levinson keeps it moving with compelling characters and surprising details. He unravels the history of how the shipping container revolutionised the way the world does business, affecting everything from shipping times to the depth of ports. A helpful guide to one of the cornerstones of globalisation. I won’t look at a cargo ship in quite the same way again.”
In the category of Economics, three of our books were chosen by Martin Wolf. The first, The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, Wolf called “[T]he most important book to have come out of the financial crisis”. The second, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps was called “[E]xtraordinary… Phelps has addressed some of the big questions about our future”. Last but not least, the third selection was The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present by Paul Seabright, which Wolf says “With characteristic brilliance, Seabright uses biology, sociology, anthropology and economics to explain the war of the sexes”.
In the category of History, Tony Barber chose two PUP titles. Barber called the first Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek Sayer, “[T]houghtful, witty and well-illustrated”. He also selected Benn Steil’s The Battle of Bretton Woods:John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, of which he said, “Steil’s book is an object lesson in how to make economic history entertaining and instructive”.
Lastly, in the category of Art, Jackie Wullschlager chose T.J. Clark’s Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, calling it “[A] brilliant art-historical analysis… The most original book on Picasso for years”.


j10074[1]Robert Herritt of the Daily Beast reviewed Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong by David Edmonds, calling it “[I]mpressive…[A] walking tour of moral philosophy organized around one of the most well-known thought experiments of the last half century….By weaving together abstract principles, biographical sketches, historical examples, and trendy research in this just-so way, Edmonds has figured out how to illustrate the dimensions and consequences of moral decision-making without sacrificing entertainment value…[A] carefully executed book”.


There was a review in The Guardian for Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation by Robert Bartlett, in which Diarmaid MacCulloch said “… there is much to enjoy in the array of human behaviour, sacred and by our standards profane or just downright mad, chronicled in Bartlett’s excellent study.”


cookingAnne Kingston of Maclean’s wrote a feature on Cooking for Crowds: 40th Anniversary Edition by Merry White this week, saying “Recipes ahead of the curve 40 years ago—dirty rice, pork vindaloo— remain au courant; others—Swedish meatballs, Charlotte Malakoff au chocolat—exude a retro ’70s vibe that’s also au courant. Prep details for six, 12, 20 and 50 servings of each recipe are provided. Practical advice abounds, including not to multiply powerful spices like other ingredients… [Cooking for Crowds] remains a boffo resource for those hankering to make chicken Bengal for 12 or baklava for 50.”


Nicholas Kristof mentioned The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton in his New York Times Sunday Review column discussing foreign aid this past weekend.


Joan Acocella reviewed The Book of Job: A Biography by Mark Larrimore in The New Yorker.


Gordon Marino had an Op-Ed  piece about Nelson Mandela and Kierkegaard on the Chronicle’s “The Conversation” blog, which mentions The Quotable Kierkegaard, Marino’s most recent publication. Similarly, Marino had an Op-Ed in The New York Times this week in which he discusses Vitali Klitschko’s run for the Ukranian presidency.


David Wessel recently wrote an article about The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance by Eswar S. Prasad in the Wall Street Journal, calling it “[A] surprising argument….[L]ucid….”. Prasad also did an interview with Wessel, which can be found here. Lastly, Prasad wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about the argument his new book makes.


What W. H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall Smith was reviewed by Times Higher Education this week. Chris Jones called it  “charming”.


On a very international note, Edmund Phelps was interviewed about his book, Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change, by Die Welt (The World), a German national daily newspaper, this past weekend. Phelps also did a Q&A recently with Dylan Matthews that appeared on WashingtonPost.com’s Wonkblog in which they discuss his book, plus Arnold Kling reviewed Mass Flourishing on his blog, Econlib, saying “Phelps has given us a clear warning of the dangers of corporatism. I hope that more people hear and heed the warning.”


Sides_TheGamble3National Journal published their featured list of “The Best Political Books We Read in 2013” this week, which included The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck. Of this selection, Steven Shepard said, “What really mattered in last year’s elections? George Washington University professor John Sides and UCLA professor Lynn Vavreck, in a remarkably fast turnaround for an academic work, applied social science to the developments of last year’s presidential election in The Gamble. It turns out that the events journalists described in real time (including this one) weren’t as important as they were made out to be. And Sides and Vavreck provide an important reality check that observers should heed before the daily doings of 2016 consume us all.”


Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll, was recently listed in The Atlantic’s Best Book’s of the Year roundup. Alexis Madrigal said, “If books can be tools, Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts for understanding the digital age—a lever, perhaps, to pry ourselves from the grasp of the coercive loops that now surround us.”


With Christmas rapidly approaching, Irish Independent put together a Christmas books round-up, which included The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil, which they referred to as a “masterful account”.


The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century by Angela E. Stent was recently reviewed in the Kirkus Reviews. In the article they called it “[L]ucid….[R]eadable and sometimes surprising…..”.


Times Higher Education reviewed The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present by David Runicman this week, calling it “[I]nsightful”, and saying that “Runciman has written a brilliant book in which both the prose and the ideas sparkle”.


Lastly, a number of PUP books are featured in Bloomberg Businessweek’s best books of 2013 feature, “Buffett, Slim, Greenspan, El-Erian, Lew Pick Best Books of 2013.” The list includes Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman, The Banker’s New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton, An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions by Jean Drèze & Amartya Sen, and The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil.


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.

PUP News of the World

NewsOfTheWorld_Banner
Welcome to the next edition 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.


Sides_TheGamble3By an astounding margin, our PUP Title of the Week this week is The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck! Rick Hasen of The Slate Book Review chose The Gamble as his best book of 2013, calling it “A necessary corrective to the personality-driven and hyperventilating accounts of presidential campaigns driven by a news media out to sell half-baked narratives….Eminently readable.” It was also called “Probably the most successful attempt to integrate political science and narrative to date…If you really want to understand the 2012 elections, you should rely on The Gamble”, by Sean Trende in a review of the book by Real Clear Books. The Fix on The Washington Post said they read The Gamble over the holiday break, while Spundge included the book in a round-up of good gift suggestions. Plus The Independent wrote an article about it, as did Harvard Political Review. It also received kind mentions at Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, The Arkansas Times, and The Capital Times!


 Next, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton was reviewed in The Australian and declared “splendid” while Forbes named it the “Best Book of 2013″. Plus, Paul Theroux, writer for Barron’s, said “In his new book, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality, economist Angus Deaton questions the usefulness of all aid, and describes how the greater proportion of the world’s poor are found not in Africa but in the booming, yet radically unequal, economies of China and India.” Deaton was also interviewed recently for Social Science Bites on his recent trip to the UK.


http://press.princeton.edu/images/k10099.gifThe Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. & Donald S. Lopez Jr. was mentioned in a piece on scholarly religion in Publishers Weekly, along with The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the ‘People of the Book’ in the Language of Islam by Sidney H. Griffith. The Wild Fox Zen blog from the Patheos Buddhist Channel posted about ‘The Dictionary’ as well, saying: “One of the take-a ways is how we’re just scratching the surface on what we have translated into English. I almost regret the decision I made about 25 years ago not to shift my focus from training to learning languages so I could be a Buddhist scholar. Particularly, I was struck by how little I know about the Korean tradition! Except for Buswell’s work, there’s still very little translated into English, as far as I know.”


Short and sweet, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s books gift guide included Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 by Italo Calvino.


Rahul Sagar, author of Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy, had an Op Ed in CNN International about government secrecy.


New Scientist recently listed Bugs Rule!: An Introduction to the World of Insects by Whitney Cranshaw & Richard Redak in its ‘Gift Guide: Pick of the Best Science Books’, saying “When two entomologists who clearly love their subject get stuck in, the result is pure joy. With more than 830 colour photos, this book is a great desk guide to help you tell a crane fly from a giant mosquito.”


Ara Norenzayan,  author of Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict, was interviewed on BBC World Service The Forum recently. (Ara comes in about 30 minutes in).


Margaret Lock’s title, The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging, was reviewed on Psychology Today where they said: “Comprehensive, cogent, and densely detailed, The Alzheimer Conundrum provides a useful antidote to media hype about ‘silver bullets’ that are ‘just around the corner’ and makes an important contribution to our understanding of an achingly tragic disease that touches virtually all of us.” Lock also did an interview recently with Everyday Health.


Helmreich_NewYorkBill Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, recently wrote an op-ed for The Independent, talking about his experiences while writing his book. Helmreich also got two positive reviews this week. The first, from The New York Times, said that “[the] book is a chatty, buoyant and, despite his four decades in academia teaching classes on New York City and sociology, an unstuffy love letter to the delights of street-smart walking.” The second, from The Guardian called the book “excellent” and claimed that “It’s refreshing to read a book that celebrates so unreservedly the ethnic diversity of a city and entirely fitting that it should be about a metropolis that has always been defined by its cosmopolitan culture.”


The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens is still receiving some buzz as well as Stephen Moss of The Guardian named it one of his Best Nature Books of 2013. He called it “…a revolutionary new bird book”.


In a review for The Independent, Richard Holloway called Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation by Robert Bartlett a “magisterial work of scholarship”. Also, the Financial Times reviewed the book this week, saying “Devotion to the saints is manifestly still alive and well in the Catholic Church, and Bartlett’s impressive compendium will serve to explain the cult’s historical origins and evolution.” Lastly, Bartlett was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland (he comes in about 1hr 40 minutes in).


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.

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!