PUP News of the World: April 11, 2014

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


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DELPHI

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

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

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

Delphi was reviewed in the Wall Street Journal:

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

Read Delphi‘s prologue and Chapter One here.

 FRAGILE BY DESIGN

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

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

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

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

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

 

  THE GREAT ESCAPE

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

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

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

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

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

 Check out the video below, and preview the introduction here

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TAMBORA

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

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

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

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

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

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

View Chapter One here.

PUP News of the World, April 4, 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!


k10074Interested in a seemingly simple philosophical quandary? A runaway train is racing toward five men who are tied to the track. Unless the train is stopped, it will inevitably kill all five men. You are standing on a footbridge looking down on the unfolding disaster. However, a fat man, a stranger, is standing next to you: if you push him off the bridge, he will topple onto the line and, although he will die, his chunky body will stop the train, saving five lives. Would you kill the fat man?

The question may seem bizarre. But it’s one variation of a puzzle that has baffled moral philosophers for almost half a century and that more recently has come to preoccupy neuroscientists, psychologists, and other thinkers as well. In Would You Kill the Fat Man?, David Edmonds, coauthor of the best-selling Wittgenstein’s Poker, tells the riveting story of why and how philosophers have struggled with this ethical dilemma, sometimes called the trolley problem. In the process, he provides an entertaining and informative tour through the history of moral philosophy. Most people feel it’s wrong to kill the fat man. But why? After all, in taking one life you could save five. As Edmonds shows, answering the question is far more complex–and important–than it first appears. In fact, how we answer it tells us a great deal about right and wrong.

The New York Review of Books recently reviewed Edmonds’ book.  Reviewer Cass Sunstein said of the book: “[E]legant, lucid, and frequently funny….Edmonds has written an entertaining, clear-headed, and fair-minded book.”

Want to start reading this funny yet complex book? Find Chapter 1 here.


k10120Nothing speaks more of an individual’s interest in a particular field than a life dedicated to its study, and David Roy is the prime example. Roy has been teaching Chinese literature since the 1960’s and after over a decade of work translating, has complete the fifth and final volume in one of the most famous and important novels in Chinese literature. The Plum in the Golden Vase or, Chin P’ing Mei is an anonymous sixteenth-century work that focuses on the domestic life of Hsi-men Ch’ing, a corrupt, upwardly mobile merchant in a provincial town, who maintains a harem of six wives and concubines. The novel, known primarily for its erotic realism, is also a landmark in the development of the narrative art form–not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context.

With the possible exception of The Tale of Genji (ca. 1010) and Don Quixote (1605, 1615), there is no earlier work of prose fiction of equal sophistication in world literature. Although its importance in the history of Chinese narrative has long been recognized, the technical virtuosity of the author, which is more reminiscent of the Dickens of Bleak House, the Joyce of Ulysses, or the Nabokov of Lolita than anything in earlier Chinese fiction, has not yet received adequate recognition. This is partly because all of the existing European translations are either abridged or based on an inferior recension of the text. This complete and annotated translation aims to faithfully represent and elucidate all the rhetorical features of the original in its most authentic form and thereby enable the Western reader to appreciate this Chinese masterpiece at its true worth.

With a project as compelling and committed as translating The Plum in the Golden Vase, it is helpful to better understand the man who has made it all possible. Author David Roy was recently interviewed by the South China Morning Post. Check out the interview here.

Start reading from this historic work with Chapter 1 of the final volume here.


k10185Interested in a bit of ancient history? 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed tells of 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?

In this major new account of the causes of this “First Dark Ages,” Eric 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. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

A review of 1177 B.C. was recently featured in The New York Post.

“In his new book, archaeologist Eric H. Cline introduces us to a past world with eerie resonance for modern times….However stark a bellwether this represents for us, we can at least take comfort in knowing that should our society collapse, chances are good that something fascinating will emerge in its place.“—Larry Getlen, The New York Post

Author Eric Cline was also interviewed for Newstalk Radio’s Moncrieff Show in Ireland. Listen to the interview below.


son also risesLast week, we took a look at The Son Also Rises, an in depth explanation of just how much ancestry does affect our social status.  In the book, author Gregory Clark uses a novel technique–tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods–to reveal that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies.

The Son Also Rises has since been reviewed in the Literary Review by Eric Kaufmann.

“Who should you marry if you want to win at the game of life? Gregory Clark, […]  offers some answers in his fascinating new book, The Son Also Rises.” -Eric Kaufmann, Literary Review

Want to start reading The Son Also Rises? Find the Introduction to the book here.

PUP News of the World, March 28, 2014

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


untranslatablesHow many times do we search for the perfect word for what we are trying to express? Sometimes, this goal is made entirely unattainable by linguistic differences between languages. In Dictionary of Untranslatables, Barbara Cassin compiles an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy–or any–translation from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities. The entries, written by more than 150 distinguished scholars, describe the origins and meanings of each term, the history and context of its usage, its translations into other languages, and its use in notable texts.

Dictionary of Untranslatables was recently reviewed by the South China Morning Post where it received a five star review. The book has also been featured in Dublin Review of Books, as well as in Independent.

“[G]reat success….By preserving the specificity of words in their source languages, but then proceeding though so many near-synonyms in other tongues, the Dictionary bridges this ideological divide, providing a different way of understanding what it is to be in, and between, languages.”—Tom Bunstead, Independent

Check out this innovative new book today! Read the Preface and Introduction here.


strategicWith China a steadily rising world power, there are many theories as to the future of U.S.-China relations discussed; some theories end in extreme conflict, and others in strong cooperation and interdependence.  In Strategic Reassurance and Resolve, James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon stake out a third, less deterministic position. They argue that there are powerful domestic and international factors, especially in the military and security realms, which could well push the bilateral relationship toward an arms race and confrontation, even though both sides will be far worse off if such a future comes to pass. They contend that this pessimistic scenario can be confidently avoided only if China and the United States adopt deliberate policies designed to address the security dilemma that besets the relationship between a rising and an established power. The authors propose a set of policy proposals to achieve a sustainable, relatively cooperative relationship between the two nations, based on the concept of providing mutual strategic reassurance in such key areas as nuclear weapons and missile defense, space and cyber operations, and military basing and deployments, while also demonstrating strategic resolve to protect vital national interests, including, in the case of the United States, its commitments to regional allies.

Strategic Reassurance and Resolve was reviewed in Publishers Weekly, which said,

 “[T]he points Steinberg and O’Hanlon make deserve the attention of all readers interested in the connection between U.S. and China going forward.”― Publishers Weekly

With subject matter related to the future of our country and its foreign relations, this book is a must read for anyone interested in international politics and the U.S. relationship with China.


son also rises We like to take pride in the “American Dream” and accomplishing goals our family, and ancestors before them, have never accomplished. But how much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? How much does this influence our children? More than we wish to believe. While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, 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. The good news is that these patterns are driven by strong inheritance of abilities and lineage does not beget unwarranted advantage. The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage. Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies. Challenging popular assumptions about mobility and revealing the deeply entrenched force of inherited advantage, The Son Also Rises is sure to prompt intense debate for years to come.

Author Gregory Clark recently had an interview with Marketplace found here.The Son Also Rises was also featured in The Globe & Mail, where it was referred to as “Deeply challenging….” by reviewer Margaret Wente.

Get your hands on a copy of this intriguing book now and start reading the Introduction here.


fragile by design Economic crises seem to be a more and more regular occurrence, but how does politics effect the severity and frequency of these economic problems? Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.

Fragile by Design was recently reviewed in the Financial Times, where it was praised for offering necessary explanation of the way the economy operates in relation to politics.

“ One reason why economists did not see the financial crisis coming is that the models most macro and financial economists deal in are free of politics. Fragile by Design offers a much-needed supplement.”-Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

Want to better understand the complex relationship between economics and politics? Begin reading Chapter 1 of Fragile by Design here.


dollar trap Speaking of economic crises, the importance  of the U.S. dollar has been called into question in recent years. How is it that a currency which seems to fluctuate so frequently is still an international standard in many regards.  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. The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance.

Eswar Prasad examines how the dollar came to have a central role in the world economy and demonstrates that it will remain the cornerstone of global finance for the foreseeable future. Marshaling a range of arguments and data, and drawing on the latest research, Prasad shows why it will be difficult to dislodge the dollar-centric system. With vast amounts of foreign financial capital locked up in dollar assets, including U.S. government securities, other countries now have a strong incentive to prevent a dollar crash.

The Dollar Trap author Eswar Prasad recently wrote an op-ed piece for the International New York Times further discussing the state of the U.S. dollar today and its persisting power.

Begin reading the Preface and Chapter 1 of The Dollar Trap now to learn more about where the U.S. dollar currently stands and how it has come to its current significance.

 

 

 

 

PUP News of the World, March 21, 2014

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


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THE EXTREME LIFE OF THE SEA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 1177 B.C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

News of the World, March 14, 2014

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


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

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

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

Read the introduction of Mirror, Mirror here.


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

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

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

 


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

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

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

 

News of the World, March 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!


While the unrest in Ukraine continues, experts on Russia are dusting off their interview materials. PUP author Angela Stent has seen her schedule fill up as Americans look for answers to the questions surrounding the status of Crimea and the relationship between the US and Russia. Stent is quoted in a recent New York Times article, where Jason Horowitz addresses the shortage of experts and scholars well-versed in all things Russia. Many in the field see the focus on other areas of the world, including Asia and the Middle East, as the reason for a drop-off in the US’s attention to Russia. Stent says:

When we’ve all retired, 10, 20 years down the road, I don’t know how many people will be left with this area of expertise. And we can’t assume that our relationship with Russia won’t suddenly command a lot of attention. Because as we can see, it does.

Stent’s recently-published book, The Limits of Partnership, reflects the unique perspective of an insider who is also recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship. Stent vividly describes how Clinton and Bush sought inroads with Russia and staked much on their personal ties to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin–only to leave office with relations at a low point–and how Barack Obama managed to restore ties only to see them undermined by a Putin regime resentful of American dominance and determined to restore Russia’s great power status. The book calls for a fundamental reassessment of the principles and practices that drive U.S.-Russian relations, and offers a path forward to meet the urgent challenges facing both countries.

Check out POLITICO’s Bookshelf blog list, which highlights The Limits of Partnership and other titles essential to understanding tomorrow’s headlines. To preview the book for yourself, read the introduction here.

Stent was recently interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Newsroom, as well as on WBUR’s “On Point.”  View this interview on PBS Newshour:

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Decision time is almost here. For high school seniors applying to colleges and universities, the nervous email checks and trips to the mailbox are almost over. So for students and parents waiting on those last few coveted acceptance letters, have you ever wondered what makes up your odds? Besides SATs and GPAs, is there another way to predict which students will be accepted to which colleges? Gregory Clark has your answer. In his new book, The Son Also Rises, Clark explains why many common ideas about social mobility are incorrect. Clark studied the frequency of admission to Oxford and Cambridge, looking back to as early as 1170 (no online applications then, right?), and he found that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries.

Using this novel technique–tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods–Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies. The good news is that these patterns are driven by strong inheritance of abilities and lineage does not beget unwarranted advantage. The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage. Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies.

The Son Also Rises was reviewed in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, featured on the WSJ.com’s Japan RealTime blog, and mentioned in both the Sunday Times and the Financial Times. You can check out one of the many intriguing graphs from the book on Slate‘s Moneybox blog.

Looking for a break from re-reading the Times Higher Education‘s recent ranking of the world’s most reputable universities? (Shout out to our very own taking number seven. Go Princeton!) Check out the introduction here.

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Why are banking systems unstable in so many countries–but not in others? The United States has had twelve systemic banking crises since 1840, while Canada has had none. The banking systems of Mexico and Brazil have not only been crisis prone but have provided miniscule amounts of credit to business enterprises and households.

 

Analyzing the political and banking history of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil through several centuries, the new book by Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber, Fragile by Design, demonstrates that chronic banking crises and scarce credit are not accidents due to unforeseen circumstances. Rather, these fluctuations result from the complex bargains made between politicians, bankers, bank shareholders, depositors, debtors, and taxpayers. The well-being of banking systems depends on the abilities of political institutions to balance and limit how coalitions of these various groups influence government regulations.

 

Check out this recent interview, where Calomiris discusses with Prospect‘s Jonathan Derbyshire why “there’s no way to get politics out of the banking system.” Calomiris was also interviewed on CNBC, and he gave a presentation to the RSA, which you can view below. Fragile by Design was mentioned in the Evening Standard. Chapter One is available to view here.

 

Intrigued when you stumble upon an undeveloped disposable camera from circa 1998? We can do you one better — we’re talking 1870. Errol Fuller’s Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Covering 28 extinct species, Lost Animals includes familiar examples like the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, and one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, photographed as it peers quizzically at the hat of one of the biologists who has just ringed it. But the book includes rare images as well, many never before published. Collected together here for the first time, these photographs provide a tangible link to animals that have now vanished forever, in a book that brings the past to life while delivering a warning for the future.

The book was recently featured in the Washington Post, where Nancy Szokan says:

Errol Fuller’s new book is a visual lament. Lost Animals is a handsome but sad record of animals that existed for millennia–long enough for photography to be invented–but have now disappeared from the face of the Earth. The images are accompanied by short, evocative texts about the creatures and the naturalists who recorded their existence.

Interested in a preview of the photos? The New York Times‘ 6th Floor blog recently ran an online slideshow of the photos. The writers there remark:

Erroll Fuller’s Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record is a sad and moving collection of passenger pigeons, heath hens, Tasmanian tigers and other vanished animals….[A] blurry glimpse is still a worthy glimpse when it comes to seeing a number of species in their last moments.”

 

News of the World, February 28, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Buddhadharma reviewed The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, saying:

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

You can view the preface of the dictionary here.

PUP News of the World, February 21, 2014

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


Even though this winter may feel like an eternity, we can still begin preparing for all the fun activities spring has to offer, like bird watching. Rare Birds of North America is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions–the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world’s oceans. It explains the causes of avian vagrancy and breaks down patterns of occurrence by region and season, enabling readers to see where, when, and why each species occurs in North America. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, age, sex, distribution, and status. This week, Parade ran a review of Rare Birds of North America. Want to preview the book? You can view a sample entry.


History is a tricky business. With so much happening all over the world every day, it becomes very easy to unintentionally downplay or overlook important events and natural disasters. One perfect example was the volcanic explosion on the island of Tambora in the East Indies. As volcanic explosions typically go, the explosion greatly  affected the environment and the lives of the island’s residents.  Gillen D’Arcy Wood, professor of English at the University of Illinois, does this disaster a great service by giving it the attention it deserves in his new book, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World.

Publishers Weekly’s recent starred review of Tambora said:

“The greatest volcanic eruption of modern times occurred in 1815 on the small island of Tambora in the East Indies. It spawned the most extreme weather in thousands of years. In what contemporaries described as the “year without a summer,” its immense ash cloud encircled and cooled the Earth. While historians have mostly ignored the decades of worldwide misery, starvation, and disease that followed, Wood (The Shock of the Real), professor of English at the University of Illinois, remedies this oversight, combining a scientific introduction to volcanism with a vivid account of the eruption’s cultural, political, and economic impact that persisted throughout the century.”

Interested in Tambora?  You can start reading the introduction here.

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The current state of the economy is always making news. People want to know how their country is surviving and thriving economically. In discussion of the economy, GDP almost always comes into play, but what is the real significance of this economic term.  Diane Coyle’s GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History traces the history of this artificial, abstract, complex, but exceedingly important statistic from its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursors through its invention in the 1940s and its postwar golden age, and then through the Great Crash up to today. The reader learns why this standard measure of the size of a country’s economy was invented, how it has changed over the decades, and what its strengths and weaknesses are. The book explains why even small changes in GDP can decide elections, influence major political decisions, and determine whether countries can keep borrowing or be thrown into recession. The book ends by making the case that GDP was a good measure for the twentieth century but is increasingly inappropriate for a twenty-first-century economy driven by innovation, services, and intangible goods.  Dianne Coyle recently wrote an articles for Foreign Affairs and VoxEU in which she explains the practical, or not so practical side of the GDP and elaborates on themes from GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History. You can also read the introduction here.


Just as the economy as a whole is a critical portion of the news cycle, so are the banking systems that play a part in the economy. But why are banking systems unstable in so many countries–but not in others? The United States has had twelve systemic banking crises since 1840, while Canada has had none. Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.

Influential economics blogger Arnold Kling recently reviewed Fragile by Design on his Askblog. Kling critiqued the content of the book from an economics perspective, but ultimately sang its praises with “Everyone, regardless of ideology, should read the book. It offers a lot of food for thought.”  In the review, Kling also referenced attending Russ Roberts’ Econtalk  live interview with the authors, Calomiris and Haber. Kling recommends, “You might look forward to listening–the authors are very articulate and they speak colorfully.”  You can listen to the Econtalk Live podcast here.

Charles W. Calomiris, along with colleague Allen H. Meltzer, recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Dodd-Frank Doubles Down on ‘Too Big to Fail”, in which he elaborates on a specific act which attempts to undo some of the damage from the 2008 financial crisis. Read the full Wall Street Journal article here.  Howard Davies of Times Higher Education also recently reviewed Fragile by Design, saying “Calomiris and Haber offer a thoughtful counter-argument to the current received wisdom.” You can find the full Times Higher Education review here.    Interested in reading more? Get a head start on Fragile by Design with Chapter 1 found here.

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Also recently reviewed for Times Higher Education was Charles L. Adler’s Wizards, Aliens and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction.  From teleportation and space elevators to alien contact and interstellar travel, science fiction and fantasy writers have come up with some brilliant and innovative ideas. Yet how plausible are these ideas–for instance, could Mr. Weasley’s flying car in the Harry Potter books really exist? Which concepts might actually happen, and which ones wouldn’t work at all? Wizards, Aliens, and Starships delves into the most extraordinary details in science fiction and fantasy–such as time warps, shape changing, rocket launches, and illumination by floating candle–and shows readers the physics and math behind the phenomena.  You can find the Times Higher Education review here and begin reading Chapter 1 of Wizards, Aliens and Starships here.


In last week’s PUP News of the World, we featured Bernard Williams: Essays and Reviews 1959 – 2002 which 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.  Bernard Williams: Essays and Reviews 1959 – 2002 has since been reviewed in the Telegraph by Roger Scruton.

Scruton’s review says, “This rigorous collection of essays and reviews reveals the brilliant and critical mind of Bernard Williams … In these reviews and essays Williams achieves something that philosophy always promises but seldom delivers: a view from the perspective of reason, on a cultural landscape where reason is only one of the landmarks.

Read the Foreword to this wonderful collection now.

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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.

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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.

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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.