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PUP News of the World, February 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!


With George Washington’s birthday approaching, it seems fitting that we start off this week with a look at good ol’ G.W. We depend on George Washington every day — on the front of the dollar, of course. For PUP author Eswar Prasad, it is all about the dollar. The U.S. dollar’s dominance seems under threat. The near collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008-2009, political paralysis that has blocked effective policymaking, and emerging competitors such as the Chinese renminbi have heightened speculation about the dollar’s looming displacement as the main reserve currency. Yet, as The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance. This week, the New York Times ran a review of The Dollar Trap in the Sunday Business section. Want to preview the book? You can view the preface and Chapter One. Professor Prasad is also included in this week’s edition of BBC World Service Business Matters.

World News
Has the mindless skimming of your Facebook and Instagram feeds gotten you down? We have the perfect, stimulating read for you to begin this weekend. Bernard Williams was one of the most important philosophers of the last fifty years, but he was also a distinguished critic and essayist with an elegant style and a rare ability to communicate complex ideas to a wide public. Essays and Reviews is the first collection of Williams’s popular essays and reviews, many of which appeared in the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. In these pieces, Williams writes about a broad range of subjects, from philosophy and political philosophy to religion, science, the humanities, economics, socialism, feminism, and pornography.

The Shanghai Daily‘s Wan Lixin reviewed Essays and Reviews, saying of the book:

[A] stimulating read for anyone who cares about the condition of the world. With characteristic clarity, insight, and humor, the author tackles a wide range of topics as diverse as philosophy, religion, science, the humanities, and pornography.


“Start spreading the news…” We reading today. We know you’d like to be a part of it — our new book on old New York. We’re channeling our inner Sinatra as we present our next book in this week’s News of the World: The New York Nobody Knows.

As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever. Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch. Their stories and his are the subject of this captivating and highly original book.

Professor Helmreich wrote an op-ed for the Daily News this week. The piece, entitled “I was on your block; here’s what I learned,” addresses what he sees as the “often underappreciated norm” of New York City’s tolerance for differences. He writes:

How is it, I wondered, that immigrants from more than 100 countries speaking more than 170 languages can coexist in relative peace and harmony, while European cities like Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam have far greater difficulty integrating their racial, ethnic and religious groups?

Wonder what he has discovered about the Big Apple? Read Helmreich’s conclusions in the full Daily News article. You can read Chapter One here and tweet your thoughts to us using #NYNobodyKnows.

 

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In Princeton, our fingers are crossed for an end to the cold and a start to spring. With the return to the outdoors on our minds, we present one of our new titles, Ten Thousand BirdsThis new book by Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny & Bob Montgomerie provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. The New Scientist has published a review of Ten Thousand Birds. Adrian Barnett calls the book “lovingly well-researched and beautifully written..” as well as “..definitive, absorbing and highly recommended.” You can preview this beautifully illustrated book here.

 


Looking for your weekly political science fix? We have a book for you. Why 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 The Confidence Trap, a 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. A global history with a special focus on the United States, The Confidence Trap examines how democracy survived threats ranging from the Great Depression to the Cuban missile crisis, and from Watergate to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Check out the reviews of The Confidence Trap in the the Sydney Morning Herald and the Tablet. John Keane, of the Sydney Morning Herald, writes that “Runciman is a good writer and brave pioneer….The picture he sketches is agreeably bold.” The Tablet‘s Chris Patten states that the book is ‘..excellent and interesting..’ as well as  ‘…admirable and very well written…’ Want to read more? You can view the introduction here.

 


If you have been following our News of the World series, then you are familiar with Angela Stent, a former officer on the National Intelligence Council and the author of The Limits of Partnership. This new book 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.

 

New this week, Professor Stent sits down with PBS Newshour and the Economist to discuss her views of the tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia as well as her personal interactions with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Check out these two videos:

 

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News of the World, February 7, 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!


Stop what you’re doing and take a breath. No, this isn’t a stress-relief exercise. (Although if you’re looking to unwind with a great book this weekend, you’ve come to the right place!) How much do you know about the air that we breathe every day? Donald E. Canfield has your answers.

His new book, Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History, was reviewed in Nature this week. This PUP book — which gives a rundown of all things “O” — is described as “engaging and authoritative.” Donald Canfield — one of the world’s leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans — covers the vast history of oxygen on Earth, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. With an accessible and colorful first-person narrative, he draws from a variety of fields, including geology, paleontology, geochemistry, biochemistry, animal physiology, and microbiology, to explain why our oxygenated Earth became the ideal place for life. Before you take another breath, check out Chapter 1 here.


Spending too much time this afternoon scrolling through #Sochi news? To get ready for the Russian-hosted games, we turn to PUP author Angela Stent. The Times Higher Education reviewed Stent’s new book, The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century, just in time for the upcoming games. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman of the THE writes, “Stent, a Sovietologist who served in government under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, expertly condenses the past two decades of this tumultuous relationship with an insider’s command of detail.”

Want to learn more about the host of the games? Pick up a copy of Angela Stent’s book for a look into what political issues may be the backdrop of the competition. You can view the introduction of the book here. Also, check out this NYT video, “Think Back: Olympics Meets Politics,” which highlights the inevitable political element that accompanies the world’s biggest games.

 


We jet-set to another area of the world, and another time, for our next book: Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane by S. Frederick Starr. This book received a starred review in Library Journal this week:

Starr is that rare scholar with the horsepower to write about the medieval culture of this vast region that is bounded by Persia to the west, and China to the east, and India to the southeast….An indispensable title for scholars, this lively study should prove equally compelling to serious lay readers with an interest in Arabic and medieval thought.

In this sweeping and richly illustrated history, S. Frederick Starr 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. PUP readers can view Chapter 1 here.

World News 2-7


What to do instead of waiting in line at Home Depot for rock salt and shovels? Pass the time with this new weather-related op-ed from PUP author Ian Roulstone. Roulstone takes on the question of how weathermen (and women) fare versus Mother Nature, writing:

We are often described as a nation preoccupied by weather, and we’ve certainly had plenty to talk about over the last few weeks. The wind and rain continue their relentless assault, and the headlines focus, quite rightly, on the plight of those worst affected – what should be done to help? Meanwhile flood waters continue to rise and this is not unexpected. The weather forecasters have done their job well: no Michael Fish moments to distract our attention from what’s important. Indeed, the last few winters have been marked by extremes – from snowbound Gatwick Airport to the St Jude Day Storm – and the weathermen have stayed ahead of the game. So is Mother Nature’s number finally up when it comes to blowing us away with a storm from out of the blue?

Can meteorologists, with the advanced technology of today, finally state that they have won the battle, out-predicting any storm that comes their way? For Roulstone’s answer, check out the full op-ed, which ran on Huff Post UK. You can also view chapter one of his and John Norbury’s book, Invisible in the Storm.

 

PUP News of the World, January 31, 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!


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.

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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

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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!


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.

Interested in Einstein?

Einstein

EVENT

On Wednesday 29th January, A.Douglas Stone will be giving a talk at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, one of Britain’s best loved and most famous bookshops.

Einstein’s development of Quantum theory has not really been appreciated before. Now A.Douglas Stone reveals how he was actually one of the most important pioneers in the field.  Einstein himself famously rejected Quantum mechanics with his “God does not play dice” theory, yet he actually thought more about atoms and molecules than he did about relativity. Stone’s book ‘Einstein and the Quantum‘, which was published in November by Princeton University Press, outlines Einstein’s personal struggle with his Quantum findings as it went against his belief in science as something eternal and objective. Professor Stone will be happy to take questions and sign copies at the end of his talk.

Wednesday, January 29th at 19:00

Tickets cost £3 and are available from Blackwell’s Customer Service desk in the shop; by telephoning 01865 333623; by emailing events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk

 

Diane Coyle becomes Manchester Professor

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Princeton author Diane Coyle, one of the UK’s leading economists, is to become a Professor at The University of Manchester. She will teach undergraduates at the university, give a public lecture each year and work with academic colleagues and policy makers. Diane, who is Vice Chair of the BBC Trust and a former Economics Editor of The Independent newspaper, will take on the part-time role in September 2014.

 

A Harvard PhD graduate, she runs the consultancy Enlightenment Economics.

Awarded an OBE in 2009, her books include ‘The Economics of Enoughand ‘The Soulful Science, as well as the forthcoming ‘GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History‘.

She said: “It’s a privilege for me to have this opportunity to teach undergraduates at Manchester, and I hope to offer them a distinctive perspective on economics from somebody who has been involved in the world of public policy as well as research and writing. Economics is particularly exciting and important when it engages with real world events, and I’m looking forward to debates with students as well as my new colleagues.”

Head of the University’s School of Social Sciences Professor Chris Orme said: “We are delighted that Diane has been able to accept this substantive academic appointment in Economics. Apart from the significant and important contribution to research and the wider current economic policy debates, she will also deliver her own research-informed economics teaching to undergraduates and assist us in curriculum innovation.”

 

PUP News of the World, 1/13/14

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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 BEST OF THE BEST, continues

We are a week into 2014, but we’re still looking backwards at some of the best of the year lists that came out in the final weeks of 2013.

The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction Books of the Year for 2013 in Business and Economics. It was also the most popular selection in Bloomberg News’ annual feature in which they ask CEOs, policy makers, investors, economists, and academics to pick their best books of the year. Other books selected by Bloomberg/Businessweek for the best of 2013 include Worldly Philosopher  by Jeremy Adelman, The Great Escape by Angus Deaton, The Bankers’ New Clothes by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig, and An Uncertain Glory by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen.

Matthew Bishop, Economics Editor of the Economist, posted his personal list of best books of 2013 on LinkedIn, and we were delighted to see some familiar titles among the bunch: Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change by Edmund Phelps alongside Angus Deaton’s The Great Escape.

Worldly Philosopher makes an appearance on the Guardian‘s list of Best Books of 2013 thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s recommendation, along with our collection of Calvino letters (selected by Pankaj Mishra) and two parts of our three-part Kafka biography by Reiner Stach (selected by Colm Tóibín).

The Atlantic editors were invited so “share their favorite titles…from a year of reading,” and we were delighted to see Alexis Madrigal picked Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll. Madrigal writes, “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.”

Not to be outdone, History Today selected The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power by Partha Chatterjee for its Best of list. In the commendation, Chandak Sengoopta writes, “the book is so richly detailed and so thoughtfully argued that it can serve as the perfect introduction to the history of British India and, indeed, of imperialism itself.”

Italo Calvino’s collection of Letters (1941-1985) makes an appearance on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Gift Guide for 2013 (yes, Christmas and Hannukah have passed, but presumably there will be additional gift-giving opportunities for 2014 and this recommendation has no expiration date!).

One of my personal favorites from 2013, Bernard Carlson’s biography Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age is recognized by Booklist Online as one of the Top 10 Science & Health Books 2013. Booklist says “in an exceptional fusion of technical analysis and imaginative sympathy, Carlson portrays the tormented Serbian-born genius Tesla as a scientific wizard and flamboyant showman.”

Our natural history books really made their mark in 2013. Stephen Moss makes his selection of the Best Nature Books of 2013 for the Guardian and we are delighted to see The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland (“…a revolutionary new bird book,” according to Moss) makes the cut, while New Scientist highlights Bugs Rule! by Whitney Cranshaw and Richard Redak in their Best Science Books for 2013 listing. The citation says, “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.” Clearly this is a valuable skill to further develop in 2014!

And now for something completely different as we move from Natural History to Middle Eastern politics. The Middle East Channel asked a panel of experts to come up with a list of the Top Five Books of 2013 and topping the list was Carrie Rosefsky Wickham’s The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement.


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THIS WEEK’S REVIEWS

In the US and still recovering from the polar vortex? Hurry to the warmth of your nearest bookstore and grab a copy of Planetary Climates by Andrew Ingersoll. This book examines the wide-ranging planetary climates of our solar system, describing what planetary exploration has revealed and what is still unknown. Sky at Night magazine’s Lewis Dartnell (BBC) recently reviewed the book, saying that “Prof Andrew Ingersoll has made many important contributions to planetary science through his career, and in Planetary Climates he wields his immense expertise to really get across the weirdness of weather systems on other worlds.” Check out the introduction here, mittens/hat not required.

The beginning of a new year always brings predictions. For the men in Walter A. Friedman’s Fortune Tellers, predictions were more than just a yearly tradition. This new book chronicles the lives and careers of the men who defined this first wave of economic fortune tellers, men such as Roger Babson, Irving Fisher, John Moody, C. J. Bullock, and Warren Persons. Check out this recent Wall Street Journal review by James Grant, where he discusses the history included in this “carefully wrought” book. Preview the book here.

Feeling slot-happy? Think again. Natasha Schüll’s Addiction by Design was recently featured in an article by Tim Harford in the Financial TimesHarford draws on Schüll’s book to discuss machine gambling, the spread of which “offers a worrisome portent of developments elsewhere in the economy.” Schüll’s account moves from casino floors into gamblers’ everyday lives, from gambling industry conventions and Gamblers Anonymous meetings to regulatory debates over whether addiction to gambling machines stems from the consumer, the product, or the interplay between the two.

Gardner fans rejoice. The autobiography, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus is here and causing a buzz. Teller, of Penn and Teller fame, writes in the New York Times Book Review: “[Gardner's] radiant self lives on in his massive and luminous literary output and shines at its sweetest, wittiest and most personal in Undiluted Hocus-Pocus.” In this book, Gardner shares colorful anecdotes about the many fascinating people he met and mentored, and voices strong opinions on the subjects that matter to him most, from his love of mathematics to his uncompromising stance against pseudoscience.

The Crossley Bird ID Contest: The Results!

We’re delighted–or rather, happy as a lark–to announce that we’ve drawn the lucky winner of the Crossley Bird ID Contest, featured in BBC Wildlife Magazine, December 2013 issue. Thank you to BBC Wildlife and to all of the keen birders who flocked to submit their entries for a chance to win a copy of The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens.

Could you tell a Bullfinch from a Chaffinch? Are you able to spot a Starling? The answers are below!

BBC Wildlife
The winner is picked from the Princeton bag!

Jenny pecks the winner out of a bag

Draw 2

Jenny chirps with delight as the winner is selected

Congratulations to Clare Adams from Nottingham who correctly identified all of the featured birds. A copy is “winging” its way to you now!

And here is the answer key. How many did you get right?

#1 Coal Tits
#2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
#3 Great Tit
#4 Common Buzzard
#5 Wood Pigeon
#6 Robin
#7 Great Tit
#8 Song Thrush
#9 Chaffinch
#10 Goldfinch
#11 Chaffinch
#12 Bullfinch
#13 Pied Wagtail
#14 Starling

Game of Tongues — PUP Director Peter Dougherty Reflects on the Importance of Translations (#UPWeek)

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This post is presented as part of the University Press Week Blog Tour. November 11-15 is set aside as a week to celebrate the myriad ways university presses contribute to scholarly communication and society at large. Please support our colleagues by exploring more posts in the tour via the links below. For a complete schedule, click here.

 

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If you want to get a great sense of the global reach of the university press and, not incidentally, of the potential of forthcoming publications, you could do worse than observing a few days’ worth of foreign rights meetings at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Perched in a folding chair at a card table in the Princeton University Press booth last month, I watched my colleague Kim Williams, PUP’s foreign rights manager (who operates from our office in Oxfordshire), hold 80 meetings with nearly 200 publishers from 22 countries, representing 17 languages around the world. Meetings such as Kim’s–going on eight frenetic, exhausting hours a day over the five-day forced march of Frankfurt–comprise the annual ritual wherein the world decides which books and which ideas get dispersed across nations. The word “dissemination” is sometimes used to characterize the mission of university presses. Frankfurt is an example of dissemination of the highest, most sophisticated, most intricately orchestrated kind.

Pitching our books to Chinese publishers at #fbf13 - cheers to Cheers Publishing!

Pitching our books to Chinese publishers at #fbf13 – cheers to Cheers Publishing! (credit: @PUP_Rights)

Not only geography, but history matters in the annual translation transaction Olympiad. Kim Williams knows her counterparts at the foreign publishers and has worked with many of them for years. She knows their tastes, interests, and strengths. The experience she brings to the task and the development of these relationships, invest her exchanges with insight and efficiency, providing a kind of multicultural shorthand for conducting the world’s book business.

And the game of tongues matters. Over the past ten years the number of Princeton’s translation licenses has nearly tripled. Rights deals in Chinese over this period have increased almost tenfold, translations into Japanese have almost tripled, and Korean rights deals have also increased dramatically. And this growth is not limited to Asian markets. We’ve seen equally strong growth in the number of Turkish, Czech, Brazilian Portuguese, and Spanish translations, among others. Taken all together this increased activity reflects changes in international economic development and national cultural priorities. This upward trend in translation activity will only increase as economic development rises. It would be interesting to know how many of our translated titles win awards and other accolades in their adopted languages.

And much as the annual idea-swap in Frankfurt provides us with a window on the world, it also tells us a lot about ourselves. From a distance, it tells us which subjects “travel” well, yielding valuable insights into list-planning and therefore into editorial acquisitions. From a closer standpoint, it provides a powerfully compelling preview of how a publisher’s upcoming list is likely to perform. If three dozen foreign publishers are panting over a particular title, chances are you’ve got a winner in English as well as around the world in other language markets.

Finally, a week at a rights table in Frankfurt gives a publisher a glimpse into its soul. Just how good are we? Are certain lists as strong as we think they are? Are we current or are we yesterday’s news? Do our lists have the three Ds–depth, dimension, and durability–or are we publishing mere ephemera? The five-day stress test in front of the world’s hard-bitten foreign publishers answers those questions, sometimes painfully, other times reassuringly.

As the global university press evolves, table talk in Frankfurt will continue to serve as a vital indicator of our impact around the world and our insight into ourselves.

Peter J. Dougherty
Director
Princeton University Press

 

Click through to check out the covers of various On Bullshit translations.

For more information about Princeton University Press’s foreign rights program, please visit http://press.princeton.edu/europe/content/pages/rights.html

No Matter How You Say It — It’s Still “On Bullshit” — books in translation for #UPWeek

Peter Dougherty’s consideration of the impact of translations for university presses is available here. One of the best parts of getting our books into translation, is seeing what the foreign publishers do with the cover, title, and design. This poster illustrates a few interpretations of the NY Times best-seller On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt. On Bullshit is one of our success stories. It has been published in more than 25 languages.

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*Happy British National Poetry Day!*

A Celebration of Poetry in the Past 20 Years by Princeton University Press intern, Oliver Newman

The cloning of Dolly the sheep, 9/11, the introduction of the Euro, the election of the first black American president, the birth of Justin Bieber… A lot has happened in the 20 years since the last edition of The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics was published. What, though, has happened in the world of contemporary poetry (not including Justin Bieber’s rise to fame)?

k9677T.S. Eliot once declared that, at its best, contemporary poetry ‘can give us a feeling of excitement and a sense of fulfilment different from any sentiment aroused even by very much greater poetry of a past age.’ Here, Eliot is implying that contemporary poetry can evoke powerful emotional reactions borne from its immediate relevance to, and subsequent reflection of, the age in which we live. Adopting this philosophy, poetry’s development during the last 20 years should reflect the development of modern society. This is immediately apparent with the rise of electronic poetry, which resembles our age through its inherent reliance upon modern technological advances and almost unlimited, instantaneous networking via the internet. However, the correlation between contemporary poetry and the present age is perhaps most interesting when examining the medium’s development as a social spectacle, and poetry is rarely more spectacular than when being “slammed” from one opponent to another.

Poetry slamming first appeared in 1984, and has generated heated reactions from poets and academics alike. Unlike electronic poetry, which leaves original material unaltered, poetry slamming is predominantly reliant upon impermanent, sensual reactions that manifest out of the spectacle surrounding the original material, lending it to comparisons with some of the most popular forms of entertainment available today. ‘Seeing poetry slams often reminds me of watching American Idol. You’ve got a series of judges, an audience that comes in looking for a certain shtick that they want to see and that’s what they’re going to cheer for’, stated University of South Carolina Professor Kip Fulbeck in an interview with the Santa Barbara Independent. Whether the audience is ‘looking for a certain kind of shtick’ is subjective, but poetry slamming’s resemblance to shows such as American Idol and X-Factor is certainly evident. Indeed, it follows the same basic formula – three minute rounds, multiple opponents who are graded respectively by a panel of judges, and a general emphasis upon personality and performance.

While academics such as Harold Bloom, who has labelled poetry slamming ‘the death of art’, denounce the form for its reliance upon exhibitionism and competition, it could be argued that these very features elevate the medium to an altogether new art form, one that ironically reflects our age in a way that ordinary poetry could never do. By consciously emphasising performance over artistry, purveyors of the form are unconsciously parodying the age’s fascination with spectacle over original material, a fascination displayed through the overwhelming popularity of shows such as X-Factor (the 2011 final of which garnered a viewing audience of just over 15 million people).

Whether or not these resemblances give the reader a feeling of excitement and a sense of fulfilment equal to poetry of a past age, or whether it simply distorts the artistry of the original material is just one of the many themes explored in the new edition of The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics. In fact this fourth edition, revised and updated for the twenty-first century, offers more than 250 new entries and covers all aspects of poetry from its history, movements and genres, to its rhetorical devices, critical terms and more, making it the most comprehensive and definitive edition yet.

Happy National Poetry Day!