PUP News of the World — June 13, 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!


A SOCIAL STRATEGY

Planning to hop on Uber to find a ride during your upcoming weekend trip? Was it a tweet from a coworker or a status update from an old college friend that put this ride request app on your radar? PUP author Misiek Piskorski appears on Bloomberg TV to examine the story behind how Uber came to flood your Facebook newsfeed. He also takes a closer look at the company’s $17 billion valuation. How do companies like Uber and Twitter make money? Piskorski lends his insight.

The segment mentions Piskorski’s new book, A Social Strategy, which was reviewed in the Financial Times. Maija Palmer says:

For companies that are struggling to measure social media, Piskorski offers a different way of looking at the problem, and his three tests – the social utility test, the social solution test and the business value test – provide a way to check if a project is working.

In the book, Piskorski examines what makes social media so different from traditional media, and he argues that answering that question is the key to making social media work for any business. In A Social Strategy, he provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express.

A Social Strategy was also reviewed on PopMatters and featured on Crowdly.

Take a break from drafting witty tweets about the upcoming weekend, and take a look at this interview with Piskorski on Yahoo! Finance. You can also view Chapter One of A Social Strategy.


THE EXTREME LIFE OF THE SEA

To celebrate World Oceans Day, the Guardian‘s GrrlScientist reviewed Stephen and Anthony Palumbi’s The Extreme Life of the Sea. The review says that “regardless of your level of knowledge, this quietly joyful and informative book has something of value for everyone.”

The Extreme Life of the Sea takes readers to the absolute limits of the ocean world–the fastest and deepest, the hottest and oldest creatures of the oceans. It dives into the icy Arctic and boiling hydrothermal vents–and exposes the eternal darkness of the deepest undersea trenches–to show how marine life thrives against the odds. This thrilling book brings to life the sea’s most extreme species, and tells their stories as characters in the drama of the oceans. Coauthored by Stephen Palumbi, one of today’s leading marine scientists, The Extreme Life of the Sea tells the unforgettable tales of some of the most marvelous life forms on Earth, and the challenges they overcome to survive. Modern science and a fluid narrative style give every reader a deep look at the lives of these species.

You can preview the book, which GrrlScientist calls “sweetly enthusiastic, enlightening and witty and, at times, inspired,” by viewing the prologue. Check out this fun video from author Stephen Palumbi — it will get you in gear to celebrate the ocean’s fastest creatures.


CHILD MIGRATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN A GLOBAL AGE

On Thursday, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo spoke about the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram more than 60 days ago, and he said he believed that some of the girls “will never return.” Reuters reports on Obasanjo’s interview with the BBC, where he said he would consider it a “near-miracle” if all of the girls were returned to their families.

As PUP author Jacqueline Bhabha says in her recent Project Syndicate op-ed, it is nothing new that young Nigerian women are taken from their homes; each year, thousands of Nigerian girls are forced into prostitution:

Six of every ten people trafficked to the West are Nigerian, and at least 60% of trafficked sex workers in Italy and Belgium are Nigerian girls. Across Europe, North America, Russia, and the Middle East, these young women are visible to all who bother to look – and have been for decades.

Why is no one outraged? The inconsistency is rooted in the girls’ circumstances: the schoolgirls are innocent victims crying out for protection, while the child sex workers are illegal immigrants, slated for deportation as soon as they are caught.

View the entire op-ed, which is entitled “The Nigerian Schoolgirls Near You.”

Bhabha is no stranger to the research behind issues like this. A professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, director of research at Harvard’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, and the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer at Harvard Law School, Bhabha argues that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children–one we need to address head-on. Her new book Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age offers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children’s human rights. View the introduction here.


WHY GOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN

Finally, we bring you a review from this week’s Wall Street Journal. Yuval Levin calls Peter Schuck’s Why Government Fails So Often “an essential manual for 21st-century policy makers.” In the book, lawyer and political scientist Peter Schuck provides a wide range of examples and an enormous body of evidence to explain why so many domestic policies go awry–and how to right the foundering ship of state.

Schuck argues that Washington’s failures are due not to episodic problems or partisan bickering, but rather to deep structural flaws that undermine every administration, Democratic and Republican. These recurrent weaknesses include unrealistic goals, perverse incentives, poor and distorted information, systemic irrationality, rigidity and lack of credibility, a mediocre bureaucracy, powerful and inescapable markets, and the inherent limits of law. To counteract each of these problems, Schuck proposes numerous achievable reforms, from avoiding moral hazard in student loan, mortgage, and other subsidy programs, to empowering consumers of public services, simplifying programs and testing them for cost-effectiveness, and increasing the use of “big data.”

Michael Barone includes Schuck’s book in a recent column discussing the VA, and the book is included in a feature in the Miami Herald on the same subject.

Check out Chapter One of Why Government Fails So Often.

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PUP News of the World — June 6, 2014

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


THE COSMIC COCKTAIL

Shaken or stirred? When it comes to questions on all things dark matter, PUP author Katherine Freese’s new book is the perfect recipe. The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter is the inside story of the epic quest to solve one of the most compelling enigmas of modern science–what is the universe made of?–told by one of today’s foremost pioneers in the study of dark matter. Many cosmologists believe we are on the verge of solving the mystery. The Cosmic Cocktail provides the foundation needed to fully fathom this epochal moment in humankind’s quest to understand the universe.

The Washington Post reviewed The Cosmic Cocktail this week. Nancy Szokan writes:

Freese….tells a lively personal tale of her trajectory through the world of science….You end up thinking that being a physicist is certainly important and definitely difficult—but it could also be a lot of fun.

Freese’s book was also reviewed on the Space Review, and Nature ran a review, where Francis Halzen calls the book “clear and accessible” and “an excellent primer for the intrigued generalist, or for those who have spent too much time in particle-physics labs and want to catch up on what cosmologists are up to.”

Blending cutting-edge science with her own behind-the-scenes insights as a leading researcher in the field, acclaimed theoretical physicist Katherine Freese recounts the hunt for dark matter, from the discoveries of visionary scientists like Fritz Zwicky–the Swiss astronomer who coined the term “dark matter” in 1933–to the deluge of data today from underground laboratories, satellites in space, and the Large Hadron Collider. Read Chapter One of The Cosmic Cocktail here.

DELPHI

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

The Guardian reviewed Delphi, and James Davidson writes:

The oracle is not the main concern of this fine, scholarly book. Although you can hardly write about Delphi without writing about the Pythia, Scott’s interest is much more in the site itself, the way it developed from a couple of buildings on a mountainside into the elaborate sanctuary of the classical period and beyond….Because Delphi was the focus of so much ancient attention, this rich but remote archaeological site gives us a keyhole view of the history of the ancient world as a whole, as cities are founded and proclaim their existence to the international community; as cities fall and find their monuments encroached on, buried or pecked at by prophetic crows; as dedications to commemorate victories over foreigners at Salamis give way to trophies of victories over other Greeks; as the Spartans inscribe their name on a gift of Croesus and hope no one will notice.

Delphi was also reviewed in the Ekathimerini, where Alex Clapp calls the book “an engaging tribute to a site that enjoined its visitors to know themselves – a demand that, in turn, requires us to know the Greeks.”

Check out the prologue of Delphi here.

WHY GOVERNMENT FAILS SO OFTEN

Why does government fail so often? With the VA scandal running front page, PUP author, lawyer, and political scientist Peter Schuck addresses the behind-the-scene issues in a recent Washington Post op-ed, entitled “The real problem with the VA? Congress.” He writes:

Another day, another scandal at the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs. The real scandal, however, is not just the cynical manipulation of waiting lists but also the agency’s routine failure to deliver benefits and services to those who desperately need them. This more systemic failure will become even clearer once the inspector general submits a final report to an irate White House and the Republicans and many Democrats pile on.

Read the full op-ed, and view Chapter One of Schuck’s new book, Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better.

In his book, Schuck provides a wide range of examples and an enormous body of evidence to explain why so many domestic policies go awry–and how to right the foundering ship of state. Schuck argues that Washington’s failures are due not to episodic problems or partisan bickering, but rather to deep structural flaws that undermine every administration, Democratic and Republican. These recurrent weaknesses include unrealistic goals, perverse incentives, poor and distorted information, systemic irrationality, rigidity and lack of credibility, a mediocre bureaucracy, powerful and inescapable markets, and the inherent limits of law.

To counteract each of these problems, Schuck proposes numerous achievable reforms, from avoiding moral hazard in student loan, mortgage, and other subsidy programs, to empowering consumers of public services, simplifying programs and testing them for cost-effectiveness, and increasing the use of “big data.” The book also examines successful policies–including the G.I. Bill, the Voting Rights Act, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and airline deregulation–to highlight the factors that made them work.

Why Government Fails So Often was reviewed in the Shanghai Daily. The Federalist‘s William Voegeli also features the book in his recent column entitled “Buying People Stuff Doesn’t Mean You Care, VA Edition.”

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Princeton at Hay Festival


Hay on Monday evening
Blackburn at Hay
Simon Blackburn talks to Rosie Boycott
Mitton at Hay
Jacqueline Mitton broadens our knowledge of the solar system
Bethencourt at Hay
Francisco Bethencourt discusses “Racisms”

Last week was an important week in the British literary calendar–the week of Hay Festival! Set in beautiful Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh Borders, and running since 1988, the festival attracts thousands of book and culture enthusiasts from around the world every year. This year’s line-up was as strong as ever: with names such as Toni Morrison, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Mervin King, Jeremy Paxman, Simon Schama, Sebastian Faulks, William Dalrymple, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bear Grylls, Max Hastings, Rob Brydon, Bill Bailey and Dame Judi Dench (to name but a few to catch my eye in the jam-packed programme), 2014′s Festival could not fail to enthrall and delight anyone who walked its muddy paths.

And of course, Princeton University Press authors have been gracing the Hay stages this year, with a variety of wonderful events. From Diane Coyle, explaining GDP to us in plain English (and lo0king very stylish in her Hay wellies) to Michael Wood (translator of Dictionary of Untranslatables) discussing words that defy easy–or any–translation from one language and culture to another, to Ian Goldin’s talk about globalization and risk (The Butterfly Defect), last weekend got off to a great start.

Then, earlier in the week, Jacqueline Mitton (author of From Dust to Life) took a gripped audience on a journey through the history of our solar system in her “John Maddox Lecture”.  On Tuesday, Rosie Boycott spoke to Simon Blackburn about his book Mirror, Mirror–a fascinating conversation which covered everything from psychopathic tendencies displayed in senior management to whether Facebook is really that damaging to the young. Francisco Bethencourt, meanwhile, managed to squeeze a history of racisms into an hour and gave us lots to ponder.

If all this leaves you wishing you’d been there, there is still more to envy! Later in the week, Roger Scruton, Will Gompertz and others discussed the value of a Fine Art degree – does contemporary art celebrate concept without skill? On a parallel stage, renowned historian Averil Cameron (author of Byzantine Matters) convinced us that an understanding of the Byzantine era is just as important as studying, say, Rome or Greece. Finally, Michael Scott (author of Delphi), whom it is almost impossible to miss on the BBC these days, delivered a talk about Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World on Friday.

Whether you swoon for science are potty for poetry, whether you want to dance the night away in a frenzy of jazz or are hoping to meet your favourite on-screen star, Hay Festival offers something new and exciting every year.

PUP News of the World, May 30, 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!


We’re starting this week off with BIG things. First up, we bring you a book that is large in terms of page count and scope: Jürgen Osterhammel’s The Transformation of the World, translated by Patrick Camiller. A monumental history of the nineteenth century, this book offers a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of a world in transition. Jürgen Osterhammel, an eminent scholar who has been called the Braudel of the nineteenth century, moves beyond conventional Eurocentric and chronological accounts of the era, presenting instead a truly global history of breathtaking scope and towering erudition.

The Transformation of the World is reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. Jeffrey Wasserstrom writes:

Some history books resemble miniatures in lockets: delicate renderings of an individual. Others move across larger canvases, as authors try to bring to life complex events, such as wars, or convey a country’s changes over time. But sometimes members of the historian’s guild take on topics of such staggering scope that the final work is more akin to the sprawling panoramas, filling whole rooms, that were popular in Europe during the 1800s—the period of focus in Jürgen Osterhammel’s “The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century.”

Osterhammel’s book is also reviewed in Standpoint, and Jeremy Black calls the book “massive,” “interesting,” and “impressive.”

Read the introduction to The Transformation of the World. You can also view a Q&A with Jürgen Osterhammel.

Osterhammel_Transformation

Are online daters getting more when they break out their wallets to join paid dating websites? Or are free services just as useful? NYT economics reporter Shalia Dewan addresses the conundrum of these middlemen of the internet, specifically online dating websites that boast about match-making algorithms. Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, author of A Social Strategy, provides part of the answer in the article. Dewan writes:

Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, a Harvard Business School professor and author of “A Social Strategy,” examined hundreds of thousands of interactions on dating sites and found that the profiles people view on eHarmony­ are very similar to the profiles people view on other sites. The vaunted matching algorithm, he says, doesn’t really do that much that you can’t do for yourself. And as much as we may appreciate having our choices limited, if only to save us from being overwhelmed, from a purely economic standpoint, there is no benefit to limiting your own options, even if it means getting sucked into a time-consuming rabbit hole.

Check out the full NYT article: “Who Wants Free Love Anyway?”

What makes social media so different from traditional media? Answering that question is the key to making social media work for any business, Piskorski argues in his book. In A Social Strategy, he provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express. For more on Piskorski’s findings about social media, you can preview the preface and first chapter of his new book.

Pistorski_Social_S14

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown.

How did it happen? PUP author Eric Cline has an explanation.

In this major new account of the causes of this “First Dark Ages,” 1177 B.C., Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. 1177 B.C. is reviewed by NRC Handelsblad. An English translation of the review has been posted on reviewer Jona Lendering’s blog. Lendering writes:

Cline’s Bronze Age shares characteristics with our own age, and if we accept this, we can only conclude that Cline has written one of this year’s most interesting books.

For more from author Eric Cline, check out his recent NYT op-ed. You can read the prologue of 1177 B.C. here.

Cline_1177B.C

“What links Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Turner’s red skyscapes, starving Irish peasants and the rise of the international drugs trade? They all came into being because on April 10, 1815, a volcano blew its top on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa.”

So writes the Times‘ Robbie Millen, who reviews Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s TamboraSo what is the story behind Tambora? When Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. On the eve of the bicentenary of the great eruption, Tambora tells the extraordinary story of the weather chaos it wrought, weaving the latest climate science with the social history of this frightening period to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.

Wood_Tambora_jkt

Millen goes on to call the book “earth-shaking… told with gusto.” Check out the introduction for yourself and take a look at this video from the author:

PUP News of the World — May 19, 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!


A SOCIAL STRATEGY

Before you head to check your Facebook news feed this afternoon, we bring you some insights regarding social media from PUP author Mikolaj Piskorski. Almost no one had heard of social media a decade ago, but today websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have more than 1 billion users and account for almost 25 percent of Internet use.

What makes social media so different from traditional media? Piskorski, one of the world’s leading experts on the business of social media, provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express. Check out this recording of a recent event on World Bank Live, where Piskorski discusses how companies can leverage social platforms to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

In his new book, A Social Strategy, Piskorski argues that the secret of successful ones is that they allow people to fulfill social needs that either can’t be met offline or can be met only at much greater cost. This insight provides the key to how companies can leverage social platforms to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Companies need to help people interact with each other before they will promote products to their friends or help companies in other ways. Done right, a company’s social media should benefit customers and the firm. Piskorski calls this “a social strategy,” and he describes how companies such as Yelp and Zynga have done it.

Groundbreaking and important, A Social Strategy provides not only a story- and data-driven explanation for the explosion of social media but also an invaluable, concrete road map for any company that wants to tap the marketing potential of this remarkable phenomenon.

blog 5.19

Calling all philosophers — do we have two books for you. Next up this week, we bring you two Princeton University Press titles, each reviewed in the Wall Street Journal last week. But don’t worry, you don’t have to choose between them. Check out both below:

REVOLUTIONARY IDEAS

Historians of the French Revolution used to take for granted what was also obvious to its contemporary observers–that the Revolution was caused by the radical ideas of the Enlightenment. Yet in recent decades scholars have argued that the Revolution was brought about by social forces, politics, economics, or culture–almost anything but abstract notions like liberty or equality. In Revolutionary Ideas, one of the world’s leading historians of the Enlightenment restores the Revolution’s intellectual history to its rightful central role. Drawing widely on primary sources, Jonathan Israel shows how the Revolution was set in motion by radical eighteenth-century doctrines, how these ideas divided revolutionary leaders into vehemently opposed ideological blocs, and how these clashes drove the turning points of the Revolution.

Jonathan Israel’s book was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal by Ruth Scurr. She writes:

“[C]losely argued….Israel can be understood as a historian in the long liberal tradition stretching back to Madame de Stael, who herself witnessed the revolution and saw it as a story of the betrayal of liberty.”

Revolutionary Ideas demonstrates that the Revolution was really three different revolutions vying for supremacy–a conflict between constitutional monarchists such as Lafayette who advocated moderate Enlightenment ideas; democratic republicans allied to Tom Paine who fought for Radical Enlightenment ideas; and authoritarian populists, such as Robespierre, who violently rejected key Enlightenment ideas and should ultimately be seen as Counter-Enlightenment figures. The book tells how the fierce rivalry between these groups shaped the course of the Revolution, from the Declaration of Rights, through liberal monarchism and democratic republicanism, to the Terror and the Post-Thermidor reaction.

Preview Chapter One here.

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

In The Soul of the World, renowned philosopher Roger Scruton defends the experience of the sacred against today’s fashionable forms of atheism. He argues that our personal relationships, moral intuitions, and aesthetic judgments hint at a transcendent dimension that cannot be understood through the lens of science alone. To be fully alive–and to understand what we are–is to acknowledge the reality of sacred things. Rather than an argument for the existence of God, or a defense of the truth of religion, the book is an extended reflection on why a sense of the sacred is essential to human life–and what the final loss of the sacred would mean. In short, the book addresses the most important question of modernity: what is left of our aspirations after science has delivered its verdict about what we are?

The Soul of the World was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal by Ian Marcus Corbin:

“[Scruton’s] philosophical work is simply too sharp and cogent to be ignored. “The Soul of the World” is an example of what conservatism can be, at its best—a clear-eyed, affectionate defense of humanity and a well-reasoned plea to treat the long-loved with respect and care….He makes his case with bravado and sensitivity, exploring the role of the sacred in such realms as music, city planning and moral reasoning.”

Check out the article for the rest of the review.

You can preview Chapter One of the book here. Drawing on art, architecture, music, and literature, Scruton suggests that the highest forms of human experience and expression tell the story of our religious need, and of our quest for the being who might answer it, and that this search for the sacred endows the world with a soul. Evolution cannot explain our conception of the sacred; neuroscience is irrelevant to our interpersonal relationships, which provide a model for our posture toward God; and scientific understanding has nothing to say about the experience of beauty, which provides a God’s-eye perspective on reality.

THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES

We switch gears for this next title and take a critical look at today’s banking system. The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig’s The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid. PUP released a paperback edition of the title, complete with a new preface by the authors. The New York Review of Books reviewed the book, and Roger Alcaly says:

“In their recent book, Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig convincingly make the case for much stronger and simpler borrowing limitations for banks.”

Anat Admati was also recently interviewed for the Swiss paper Finanz und Wirtschaft. View the interview (published in English) here.

Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of its benefits, and at essentially no cost to society. They seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms. Check out Chapter One here.

 

PUP News of the World, May 9, 2014

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


 THE EXTREME LIFE OF THE SEA

We’re diving deep with our first title this week. PUP author Steve Palumbi was interviewed for a segment on Morning Edition this week. He discusses California’s Monterey Bay, which becomes home to sea life from anchovies to orca as a result of nutrient-rich water. Listen to the full interview from NPR.

“Steve Palumbi is director of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, where the university’s students study the ocean. The marine lab sits practically on the bay, and Palumbi says it’s hard sometimes to keep his students’ attention when a pod of whales or dolphins comes swimming by the window.”

We don’t blame them! For more on the sea’s creatures, check out Steve Palumbi’s book, The Extreme Life of the Sea, which he co-authored with his son, Anthony Palumbi. This book shows you the world’s oldest living species. It describes how flying fish strain to escape their predators, how predatory deep-sea fish use red searchlights only they can see to find and attack food, and how, at the end of her life, a mother octopus dedicates herself to raising her batch of young. This wide-ranging and highly accessible book also shows how ocean adaptations can inspire innovative commercial products–such as fan blades modeled on the flippers of humpback whales–and how future extremes created by human changes to the oceans might push some of these amazing species over the edge.

MIRROR, MIRROR

#Selfie. In an upcoming issue, the New Yorker examines two new books on the subject of narcissism, including PUP author Simon Blackburn’s recent book, Mirror, Mirror. Joan Acocella uses the books to explore narcissism from it’s history in myth, to its categorization as a mental disorder. She says of Professor Blackburn’s book:

Mirror, Mirror is a short, relaxed book, for the educated lay reader….Reading him, we feel as if we were sitting in a comfortable chair, after dinner, listening to our friend Blackburn tell us not so much about politics or social history as about what lies behind them: morals—that is, what we owe to others, as opposed to what we want for ourselves.…[H]is prose is clear. It is also unostentatious.”

Check out the introduction to Mirror, Mirror here.

NOTW

THE NEW TERRAIN OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

We turn to international law expert Karen J. Alter for our next item this week. In a piece in US News and World Report entitled “Let Nations, Not the World, Prosecute Corruption,” Alter argues against involving international prosecution when corruption occurs within a state. Professor Alter uses the Watergate scandal as an example of a situation that would not have benefited from international action. She says of the International Criminal Court:

Before we give the court a new and even harder crime to prosecute, we must make sure that it can succeed in its core mandate. What international criminal law does best is prosecute those most responsible, at the apex of the pyramid, when individual nations are unwilling or unable to do so.

Read her full piece here. You can also check out Chapter One of her book, The New Terrain of International Law.

AFTER CIVIL RIGHTS

Fifty years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, is race still an issue in the American workplace? PUP author John Skrentny argues that it is. Skrentny says that some employers practice “racial realism,” where they view race as real–as a job qualification. Many believe employee racial differences, and sometimes immigrant status, correspond to unique abilities or evoke desirable reactions from clients or citizens. The problem is that when employers see race as useful for organizational effectiveness, they are often in violation of civil rights law.

Professor Skrentny addresses the issue of racial realism in an opinion piece in the New York Times entitled, “Only Minorities Need Apply.” He writes:

“America has changed significantly since the Civil Rights Act. But we are still a long way from the day when race no longer plays a role in society. Racial realism may be unavoidable for the time being, but we must still be wary of its excesses, lest it lead us back down the road toward racial discrimination.”

Check out Skrentny’s full piece, and preview Chapter One of his book After Civil Rights.

 

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TAMBORA

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

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

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

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

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

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

View Chapter One here.

Princeton University Press Europe at the Oxford Literary Festival 2014

 

By Hannah Dummett, Princeton University Press Europe intern

McCall SmithLast Sunday marked the end of the 2014 Oxford Literary Festival: “bigger, better and more ambitious than ever”. A whirlwind nine days of authors, talks, photographers, book signings and  lunches, and amongst all of it the Princeton authors met with full auditoriums and avid audiences, often followed by a glass of Prosecco in the green room.

The Soul of the World author Roger Scruton had the audience in stitches of laughter (perhaps not what you’d expect from a talk by a philosopher) as he shed light on his idea of the sacred, at the same time as shamelessly, and hilariously, plugging his new books. Meanwhile, David Edmonds entered a lively discussion with Nigel Warburton. The audience were eager to join in and soon the topic of moral dilemma had led to a debate on the fate of flight MH370.

As one of the festival’s better-known authors, Alexander McCall Smith was hounded by the ‘literary paparazzi’, and one of our publicists was even coerced into being used as a photographer’s assistant (read: prop-holder). Over at Christ Church, Averil Cameron took us back more than 2500 years in time and explained why Byzantium is key to our understanding of other historical periods. Michael Scott argued his own case for the Greek city of Delphi – and gave us all a reason to visit this summer.

His book may be over 800 pages long, but Robert Bartlett kept things succinct and made sure that his audience were keen to discover what the other 700 pages hold in store. He was even awarded a printed apology from the Oxford Mail’s Jeremy Smith after he commented on Bartlett’s “modest attire” while introducing the talk. Husband and wife astronomer/authors Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, both struck down with a virus picked up on a recent cruise, put on a brave face despite their illness and managed to plunge their audience into the depths of the history of the universe, visiting far-away galaxies via new-born stars and black holes.

The increasingly relevant topic of narcissism and self-love was examined by Simon Blackburn, discussing his new book Mirror, Mirror, and political journalist Edmund Fawcett kept the audience listening with an absorbing talk on differing forms of liberalism. To top it off, the “charming, charismatic” Ian Goldin gave an excellent lecture on how the recent financial crash could have an extreme effect on a wide range of factors in our everyday lives. We’ve been out of the office again this week, this time for London Book Fair – the fun is non-stop this month!