PUP News of the World — July 17, 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

THE FUTURE OF THE BRAIN

We begin this week with that gray matter in your head. We will get your brain working with our list of News of the World books, especially this first pick. What do you know about your brain — besides the fact that it feels a bit fuzzy around that 2:00 p.m. work day slump? We turn to expert and PUP author Gary Marcus for more on cerebral matters. Marcus wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled “The Trouble with Brain Science,” and he discusses what we do and don’t know about our brains.

Marcus writes:

Are we ever going to figure out how the brain works?

After decades of research, diseases like schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s still resist treatment. Despite countless investigations into serotonin and other neurotransmitters, there is still no method to cure clinical depression. And for all the excitement about brain-imaging techniques, the limitations of fMRI studies are, as evidenced by popular books like “Brainwashed” and “Neuromania,” by now well known. In spite of the many remarkable advances in neuroscience, you might get the sinking feeling that we are not always going about brain science in the best possible way.

Check out the full op-ed on the New York Times‘ website. Marcus is the co-editor of a forthcoming Princeton book entitled The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists. An unprecedented look at the quest to unravel the mysteries of the human brain, the book takes readers to the absolute frontiers of science.

Original essays by leading researchers such as Christof Koch, George Church, Olaf Sporns, and May-Britt and Edvard Moser describe the spectacular technological advances that will enable us to map the more than eighty-five billion neurons in the brain, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in understanding the anticipated deluge of data and the prospects for building working simulations of the human brain.

You’ll have this book on your BRAIN all day, so go ahead and pre-order your copy of The Future of the Brain now. It’s the smart thing to do.

 THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD

When your country has just won the World Cup and you look to celebrate your sixtieth birthday, what author should you choose to share in the celebration? When you are German chancellor Angela Merkel, you look to the best, and you find one of the best in German historian Jürgen Osterhammel. Bloomberg reports that Merkel’s birthday present to herself was a speech by Osterhammel at CDU headquarters.

Osterhammel is a professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz, and he is a recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany’s most prestigious academic prize. His most recent book, The Transformation of the World, is a monumental history of the nineteenth century, and Merkel read it for herself.

In the book, Osterhammel, 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. He examines the powerful and complex forces that drove global change during the “long nineteenth century,” taking readers from New York to New Delhi, from the Latin American revolutions to the Taiping Rebellion, from the perils and promise of Europe’s transatlantic labor markets to the hardships endured by nomadic, tribal peoples across the planet.

Osterhammel describes a world increasingly networked by the telegraph, the steamship, and the railways. He explores the changing relationship between human beings and nature, looks at the importance of cities, explains the role slavery and its abolition played in the emergence of new nations, challenges the widely held belief that the nineteenth century witnessed the triumph of the nation-state, and much more.

The book is mentioned in a “Summer Reads” feature in the Times Higher Education, which quotes “scholars and senior sector figures on two books they plan to devour on holiday.” Linda Colley, Shelby M. C. Davis 1958 professor of history at Princeton University, names the title as her summer read.

The Transformation of the World also reviewed on naked capitalism. Satyajit Das writes:

Jürgen Osterhammel’s fine The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century … swoops, shimmies and carves ellipses and spirals through the facts to give readers an insightful view of the nineteenth century in all its complexity and confusion. In a great work of scholarship, Professor Osterhammel…and his able translator…Patrick Camiller have fashioned a remarkable picture of the nineteenth century….[It] brings a new meaning to the term block buster.

Looking to grab a copy for your own reading? You can preview the introduction of The Transformation of the World here.

 DICTIONARY OF UNTRANSLATABLES

Next, we bring you a title focused on words that defy translation. Princeton University Press’s Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that cannot be easily translated 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.

This week, a piece by Dictionary of Untranslatables translator Jacques Lerza ran in the Washington Post. Lerza describes his work on the title:

The project provided me, and my co-editors, with a vivid sense of the history of how people think, and how societies think differently from one another. The “Dictionary” aspires to do the same. For example: spirit is not the same as mind, but both are used to translate the German Geist. Happiness, which retains an old etymological connection to chance and happenstance (in English, at least), is different from bonheur, which doesn’t, and from German Glück and Seligkeit, which split “happiness-as-good-fortune” and “happiness as moral virtue.”

View some sample entries for yourself:

RIGHT/JUST/GOOD         MEDIA

The Dictionary of Untranslatables was reviewed in this month’s issue of Asymptote. Michael Kinnucan writes:

“[A]stonishingly successful….entertaining and revealing…strikingly complete and correct….[A] fascinating book…. The translation of European “philosophy” into American “theory” has probably been the most consequential event in American intellectual life in the last fifty years, but it has entailed a great deal of “mistranslation”…. The Dictionary of Untranslatables, in addition to its other pleasures, has a great deal to teach American scholars of the humanities about the depth and complexity of the languages and discourses we’ve picked up only recently—and a few powerful suggestions about what we may find waiting when we choose to turn back to our own.”

PUP News of the World — July 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!


now 7.11

BEAUTIFUL GAME THEORY

It’s finally here. After weeks of World Cup action, all eyes will be on Germany and Argentina on Sunday when the teams face off during the World Cup final. In a piece in the New York Times, John Tierney discusses the role of luck in the past weeks’ soccer match-ups. He writes:

I’ve been watching the World Cup with some frustrated American social scientists. When they see an underdog team triumph with a miraculous rebound or an undeserved penalty kick, they don’t jump up and scream “Goooaaalll!” They just shake their heads and mutter, “Measurement error.”

If you regard a soccer match as an experiment to determine which team is better, then it’s not much of an experiment. It involves hundreds of skillful moves and stratagems, yet each team averages only a dozen shots, and the outcome is decided by several quick and often random events. In most games, no more than three goals are scored, and the typical margin of victory is a single goal.

To a scientist, the measurements are too few to draw a statistically reliable conclusion about which team is more skilled. The score may instead be the result of measurement error, a.k.a. luck.

So what’s luck got to do with it? And what kind of measurements can social scientists apply to the “beautiful game”? Tierney quotes PUP author Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, who discusses why the second team to shoot in penalty shootouts is less likely to win the game by scoring more “GOOOOOAAAAAALS.” Looking to prep for Sunday? Read the full article for more on how much of an impact the pressure of going second can have. Luckily for us fans, the pressure is off. Regardless, we’ll be glued to our TV screens on Sunday.

For more from Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, take a look at his new book, BEAUTIFUL GAME THEORY: How Soccer Can Help Economics. This brilliant and entertaining book illuminates economics through the world’s most popular sport. He offers unique and often startling insights into game theory and microeconomics, covering topics such as mixed strategies, discrimination, incentives, and human preferences. He also looks at finance, experimental economics, behavioral economics, and neuroeconomics. Soccer provides rich data sets and environments that shed light on universal economic principles in interesting and useful ways. Preview the introduction to Beautiful Game Theory here.

MIRROR, MIRROR

From Tour de France near-misses to a viral EDM hit, the art of the selfie has people talking. But behind the Instagram filters and hashtags, is there a lesson about narcissism? PUP author Simon Blackburn discusses narcissism in a recent interview with the Irish Times:

When does self-esteem cross over into narcissism?

Simon Blackburn: “A modest degree of self-esteem is what Milton called a ‘pious and just honouring of ourselves’. It is no more than a decent self-respect. It can actually stand in the way of vanity, which is an undue concern for the admiration of others.

“The road to narcissism, or a fixated self-love, goes via conceit: if the vain person is too concerned with how he stands in the eyes of others, the conceited person has learned to ignore the others and just thrive on his own good opinion of himself. Narcissism is the fatal extreme of this.”

For more on the subject, check out the introduction of Blackburn’s book, MIRROR, MIRROR: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love. A sparkling mixture of learning, humor, and style, Mirror, Mirror examines what great thinkers have said about self-love–from Aristotle, Cicero, and Erasmus to Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, and Iris Murdoch. It considers today’s “me”-related obsessions, such as the “selfie,” plastic surgery, and cosmetic enhancements, and reflects on connected phenomena such as the fatal commodification of social life and the tragic overconfidence of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Ultimately, Mirror, Mirror shows why self-regard is a necessary and healthy part of life. But it also suggests that we have lost the ability to distinguish–let alone strike a balance–between good and bad forms of self-concern.

PHILOLOGY

Calling all liberal arts graduates! Can you describe what “philology is”? For those who can’t quite recall the definition (don’t worry), we bring you PUP author James Turner, whose new book, PHILOLOGY: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, has your answer. Many today do not recognize the word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. But around 1800, Turner explains, these interlinked philological and antiquarian studies began to fragment into distinct academic fields. These fissures resulted, within a century or so, in the new, independent “disciplines” that we now call the humanities. Yet the separation of these disciplines only obscured, rather than erased, their common features.

Philology is reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and Tom Shippey says that the book “must be the most wide-ranging work of intellectual history for many years.” More from Shippey on philology below:

Its original meaning, “love of words,” is unhelpful. “Tough love” would be a better description: a critical attitude toward words, their roots and their meanings—one that admits no exceptions. It could well be said that a readiness to scrutinize anything, treating even the Bible “like any other book,” is still one of the distinctive marks of Western civilization, seen in every discipline, from literary criticism to theology, history to anthropology.

The first philologists, back in the pre-Christian era, took that attitude with Homer’s epics, which were already deeply venerated and formed the basis of young men’s education. But “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” were centuries old by the time of the great librarians of Alexandria Eratosthenes and Zenodotus. The poems’ texts had been passed on first by word of mouth and then by scribes prone to error or deliberate meddling. The early philologists, then, compared different versions of texts, noted repetitions and struck out dubious lines, such as those added to cover up the non-participation of Athens in the Trojan War.

Well-meaning Americans cleaned up George Washington’s spelling and vulgar idioms; philological historians put them back again. Noah Webster’s 1828 “American Dictionary” piously traced etymologies back to the biblical language Aramaic: After Webster’s death a German philologist removed them. J.M. Kemble swallowed Suhm hook, line and sinker in his first 1833 edition of “Beowulf” but repudiated his mistake in a panic only four years later.

Check out the full review in the Wall Street Journal. The book was also reviewed in Books & Culture, where Timothy Laren writes:

“Sell all the books you have which purport to explain the nature of the academic disciplines and buy James Turner’s Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. If you want to understand higher education in its current configuration of departments, divisions, and professional associations, I can commend no better book….Mind-invigoratingly entertaining.”

PUP News of the World — July 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!


now 7.7

THERE GOES THE GAYBORHOOD?

Are gayborhoods an endangered species? So begins the recent Gay City News op-ed written by Princeton University Press author Amin Ghaziani. The piece coincided with this summer’s pride marches across the United States. Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. Ghaziani writes:

There are numerous benefits that gay districts, and perhaps only gay districts, provide. It is in these spaces that LGBT people create unique ways of life and expressions of community like annual Pride parades; articulate a distinct political voice; gestate organizations and businesses from bars and bookstores to community centers and nonprofits; find each other for friendship and fellowship; nurture our families (same-sex couples with children tend to live in similar areas of the city); and feel an incomparable sense of safety from hate crimes, discrimination, bigotry, and bias.

Check out the full piece on the Gay City News website.

Amin Ghaziani’s forthcoming book, There Goes the Gayborhood?, was featured in a book roundup “Pride reading list: LGBTrue stories” in the Bay Area Reporter. Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of gayborhoods, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future. Drawing on a wealth of evidence–including census data, opinion polls, hundreds of newspaper reports from across the United States, and more than one hundred original interviews with residents in Chicago, one of the most paradigmatic cities in America–There Goes the Gayborhood? argues that political gains and societal acceptance are allowing gays and lesbians to imagine expansive possibilities for a life beyond the gayborhood. The dawn of a new post-gay era is altering the character and composition of existing enclaves across the country, but the spirit of integration can coexist alongside the celebration of differences in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

Read the introduction of There Goes the Gayborhood? here.

THE BUTTERFLY DEFECT

Globalization has changed the modern world, allowing people to escape poverty and get access to better healthcare. However, PUP authors Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan argue that globalization has also increased systemic risks, as the repercussions of local events now cascade over national borders and the fallout of financial meltdowns and environmental disasters affects everyone. Their new 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.

Mariathasan wrote a piece for the London School of Economics blog entitled “To preserve the benefits from globalization, global connectivity requires global coordination.” He writes:

We have built globalization on a variety of complex and interconnected networks, without which many of the vital functions of our societies can no longer be provided. The speed with which technological progress and innovation have allowed these networks to grow since the turn of the century has outpaced the institutional structures that support them. The governance regimes available for many of the aforementioned global networks are less sophisticated than that of finance, and the structures available to respond to risks cascading across domains are even more limited.

Visit the LSE blog to view the entire piece, including the authors’ six guiding principles for global governance, and check out the book trailer below.

You can preview the introduction to The Butterfly Defect here.

LIBERALISM

Is liberalism dead? PUP author and former editor for the Economist Edmund Fawcett says no. In a recent piece entitled “Reclaiming Liberalism,” Fawcett addresses the current problems facing the ideology today. Fawcett writes:

Liberals are living in alarming times. A few years before his death in 2012, the British historian Eric Hobsbawm passed summary judgment on the future of liberal democracy. ‘None of the major problems facing humanity in the 21st century can be solved,’ he wrote in the British magazine Prospect, ‘by the principles that still dominate the developed countries of the West: unlimited economic growth and technical progress, the ideal of individual autonomy, freedom of choice, electoral democracy.’ Hobsbawm did not say which were more at fault: liberal aims or liberal capacities. It hardly mattered. His prophetic voice seemed to echo the gathering fears of liberals themselves that perhaps their day was done.

More is in play here than an irrational loss of nerve. Much of what has shaken liberal self-belief since the 1990s is real enough and well-attested: external shocks from violent Islamism; injury to liberal values done by espionage, war-making and torture; a global banking collapse with its costly rescues and enduring economic harm.

Fawcett goes on to argue that the ideals of liberalism are still important but that liberalism must change radically if it is to survive in the future. View the entire piece in Aeon Magazine.

Check out the introduction of Fawcett’s new book, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea. In this engrossing history of liberalism–the first in English for many decades–Fawcett traces the ideals, successes, and failures of this central political tradition through the lives and ideas of a rich cast of European and American thinkers and politicians, from the early nineteenth century to today. Using a broad idea of liberalism, the book discusses celebrated thinkers from Constant and Mill to Berlin, Hayek, and Rawls, as well as more neglected figures. Its twentieth-century politicians include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Willy Brandt, but also Hoover, Reagan, and Kohl. The story tracks political liberalism from its beginnings in the 1830s to its long, grudging compromise with democracy, through a golden age after 1945 to the present mood of challenge and doubt.

Fawcett was recently interviewed on BBC Radio’s Free Thinking. Hear more from him in the video below, as he discusses Liberalism:

PUP News of the World — June 20, 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!


now 6.20

MASS FLOURISHING

What do you say to chatting over soup with a Nobel Laureate? We like the idea too. Check out this Financial Times piece by Martin Wolf, where he recounts his lunch discussion with Edmund Phelps, the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics and author of Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change. The men discuss Phelps’ feelings on creativity, innovation in Europe, and the decision to rescue the financial sector in 2008. Phelps speaks about his book, and Wolf writes:

What, I ask, led to writing Mass Flourishing? He tells me he started thinking about capitalism and socialism in the 1990s. But “it was only around 2002 that I began to think about creativity. I realised that the economics profession was mired in the idea that advance is ultimately the result of scientific discovery.

“Joseph Schumpeter [an Austrian economist of the first half of the 20th century] said that it requires entrepreneurs to do the work of building commercial applications. Yet he also argued one hardly ever sees creativity in entrepreneurs.

“I was appalled by this. So I started to think about what drives innovation and what its social significance might be. The next step was to think: innovators are taking a leap into the unknown. That led me to the thought that it is also a source of fun and employee engagement.”

Read the rest of Phelps’ thoughts in the full Financial Times article.

In Mass Flourishing, Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper–and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”–meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges.

These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing–a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense–was created by this mass innovation.

Read the introduction of Mass Flourishing here.

The book is also mentioned in a post about patent and copyright laws on the AEI Ideas blog. James Pethokoukis looks to a quote from Mass Flourishing, in which Phelps argues that “now the economy is clogged with patents.” Check out the full post on the AEI Ideas blog.

RULING RUSSIA

“What’s the Matter with Russia?” asks Keith Gessen in a recent article in Foreign Affairs. Gessen, a Russian-born journalist who co-edits n+1, recounts a recent trip on Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, where he spoke with a fellow passenger about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He writes:

I kept thinking — I keep thinking — what, exactly, is wrong with Russia? Why is it still so aggressive nearly 30 years after the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched the process of “normalizing” Russia and its relations with the world? Why, despite two decades of optimistic predictions that it was on the path to becoming, or was on the verge of becoming, or had already become a “normal” country, had it never become one? Why couldn’t it be more like Germany, another country that used to invade other countries but now focuses on making quality automobiles and protecting the health of the euro?

Gessen turns to two books, including William Zimmerman’s Ruling Russia: Authoritarianism from the Revolution to Putin, to explore the history that led to the Russia of today. Check out the full article in Foreign Affairs.

Ruling Russia is the only book of its kind to trace the history of modern Russian politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the presidency of Vladimir Putin. It examines the complex evolution of communist and post-Soviet leadership in light of the latest research in political science, explaining why the democratization of Russia has all but failed.

Library Journal also reviews Ruling Russia, saying:

“Western democracies often view the Russian political structure as something ‘abnormal.’ Zimmerman peels back this Western lens and looks systematically into Russian political history from Vladimir Lenin to Vladimir Putin. He delves into how a consolidated political structure solidified with each passing generation of rulers.”

See for yourself, and view the introduction of Ruling Russia here.

 

 TAMBORA

When PUP author Gillen D’Arcy Wood talks about a big volcanic explosion, he means big. On the volcanic explosivity index (VEI), the 1815 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Tambora registered a seven out of eight. Wood’s new book, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, chronicles the aftermath of the explosion, which unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. Wood is interviewed on Voice of America’s Science World to discuss the book. Hear Wood’s portion of the program below (at about 16:10).

Tambora is reviewed in the South China Morning Post and given four stars. Matthew Scott writes:

“Gillen D’Arcy Wood tells this story with skill and convincing research in Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, bringing together science, historic records and anecdotes from 200 years ago….Wood delivers an intriguing anecdote of historical science, describing how humans are oblivious to the links to nature all around us.”

The book also made the Edmonton Journal nonfiction bestseller list. Preview the introduction here.

 

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.

now 6.13

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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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.

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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.

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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 23, 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!


BirdGenie

Planning your outdoor adventures for the upcoming summer? Picnic baskets, sunscreen — the list of outdoor essentials goes on. But this summer, PUP is adding another item to the list, and you won’t want to leave home without it.

BirdGenie™ is a remarkable app that enables anyone with a supported Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet to identify birds in the backyard, at the local park, or on the nature trail–all with the tap of a button! It’s like Shazam® for nature–just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie tells you what bird it is! This summer, PUP will be releasing two apps, each covering a separate region: Backyard Birds East and Backyard Birds West. This week, the apps were featured in Inside Higher Ed, and the article quotes one of the developers, Tom Stephenson, author of The Warbler Guide:

“The one thing about field guides is that the print medium isn’t quite sufficient for the information that you’re trying to relay, but it’s been the only vehicle up until recently. Having a vehicle like an app or an ebook that has multimedia capabilities is not only natural, but really adds a lot value. The song identification app is another step further.”

Each regional app contains eighty vocalization types for sixty bird species, covering almost all of the birds you are likely to encounter. When you hear a singing bird and make a clear recording with your smartphone or tablet, BirdGenie identifies the bird if it is an included species, tells you exactly how confident it is that the identification is correct, and provides audio samples of the bird’s various songs to compare with your own recording, as well as color photos, useful information, and links to further reading. No internet connection is needed, making BirdGenie accessible everywhere you go.

COUNT LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

For those who have mastered — or almost mastered — modern math, we’re traveling back in time to bring you a curve-ball problem. David Reimer’s Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals may have been calculated–they technically didn’t exist in the land of the pharaohs. You’ll be counting like an Egyptian in no time, and along the way you’ll learn firsthand how mathematics is an expression of the culture that uses it, and why there’s more to math than rote memorization and bewildering abstraction.

The book was reviewed in the Washington Post. Nancy Szokan says:

You get the feeling that David Reimer must be a pretty entertaining teacher. An associate professor of mathematics at the College of New Jersey, he has taken on the task of explaining ancient math systems by having you use them. And though it’s not easy, he manages to lead you, step by step, through a hieroglyphic based calculation of how many 10-pesu loaves of bread you can make from seven hekat of grain.

Professor Reimer also puts his book to the “Page 99 test” (open your book to page 99 and see a snapshot of the book). Check it out! Prefer to start from the beginning? You can also read the introduction here.

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ENLIGHTENING SYMBOLS

Don’t leave the post just yet, mathematics fans. Our author, Joseph Mazur, wrote a piece for the Guardian this week about the origins of mathematical symbols. His book, Enlightening Symbols, explains the fascinating history behind the development of our mathematical notation system. He shows how symbols were used initially, how one symbol replaced another over time, and how written math was conveyed before and after symbols became widely adopted.

He writes:

A few years ago friends and I were talking about the origins of written music. When the conversation turned to the origins of math symbols, I was surprised to learn that few people knew that almost all maths was written rhetorically before the 16th century, often in metered poetry. Most people think symbols for addition, subtraction or equality had been around long before Euclid wrote his Elements in the first century BCE. No! The original Elements is rhetorical. There are no symbols in Euclid’s works, aside from the letters marking the ends of lines and corners of geometric objects. There are no symbols in any early Arab algebra books. Nor do we find any in early European printed algebra books.

Check out Chapter One of his book.

LIBERALISM

This week, the Economist published a review of a new book by Edmund Fawcett, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea. The piece says:

Sometimes it seems as if liberalism is slowly caving in. Western democracies are battered by partisanship and populism. Inequality is undermining social cohesion. Governments are unconvincingly shoring up expensive welfare states that have failed to match their promise. Meanwhile, the running is being made by places such as Turkey, which has an intolerant majority, and China and Russia, where power cannot be contested. “Liberalism” by Edmund Fawcett is not only a gripping piece of intellectual history, it also equips the reader to understand today’s threats—and how they might be withstood.

Check out the review in its entirety. Liberalism was released this spring. In this engrossing history of liberalism–the first in English for many decades–veteran political observer Edmund Fawcett traces the ideals, successes, and failures of this central political tradition through the lives and ideas of a rich cast of European and American thinkers and politicians, from the early nineteenth century to today.

Using a broad idea of liberalism, the book discusses celebrated thinkers from Constant and Mill to Berlin, Hayek, and Rawls, as well as more neglected figures. Its twentieth-century politicians include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Willy Brandt, but also Hoover, Reagan, and Kohl. The story tracks political liberalism from its beginnings in the 1830s to its long, grudging compromise with democracy, through a golden age after 1945 to the present mood of challenge and doubt.

Read the Introduction here.

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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