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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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THE NEW TERRAIN OF INTERNATIONAL LAW

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

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

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

AFTER CIVIL RIGHTS

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

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

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

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

 

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TAMBORA

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

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

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

THE SOUL OF THE WORLD

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

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

View Chapter One here.

Show Me the Money: PUP Authors on the Role of Wealth in Politics

How much can your buck get you in politics today? A forthcoming paper by PUP author Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page puts a finer point on the idea that money can enhance your influence on political policy. In fact, the authors give us an actual number for gauging that influence. Fifteen times — that is how much more important the collective preferences of “economic elites” are than those of other citizens, Gilens and Page found. Yes, you read that correctly.

Gilens and Page’s paper, which will run in Perspectives on Politics, explains how they came to this conclusion, studying “1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change.” They write:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

In a recent article on the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog, PUP author and co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institution, Larry Bartels, examines Gilens and Page’s findings and other research that contributes to what we know about the effects of money on political influence. Check out the article for Bartels’ take on this issue.

In this midterm election year, following the McCutcheon v. FEC ruling, money is on everyone’s minds. Looking to brush up on the theories and research behind these issues? You can read more from Bartels and Gilens — we invite you to read the sample chapters and other supplementary materials from their award-winning Princeton University Press books. We have also included a peek at political scientists Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba and Henry E. Brady’s systematic examination of political voice in America.

 

 bookjacketRead Chapter One here. Using a vast swath of data spanning the past six decades, Unequal Democracy debunks many myths about politics in contemporary America, using the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Larry Bartels shows the gap between the rich and poor has increased greatly under Republican administrations and decreased slightly under Democrats, leaving America grossly unequal. This is not simply the result of economic forces, but the product of broad-reaching policy choices in a political system dominated by partisan ideologies and the interests of the wealthy. In this interview, Bartels answers tough questions about the effect of money in America.

 

bookjacket “We are the 99%” has quickly become the slogan of our political era as growing numbers of Americans express concern about the disappearing middle class and the ever-widening gap between the super-rich and everyone else. Has America really entered a New Gilded Age? What are the political consequences of the growing income gap? Can democracy survive such vast economic inequality? These questions dominate our political moment–and Larry Bartels provides answers backed by sobering data.Princeton Shorts are brief selections taken from influential Princeton University Press books and produced exclusively in ebook format. Providing unmatched insight into important contemporary issues or timeless passages from classic works of the past, Princeton Shorts enable you to be an instant expert in a world where information is everywhere but quality is at a premium.

 

 bookjacketPreview the introduction here. Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections.With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings are staggering: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans’ preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not. Yet Gilens also shows that under specific circumstances the preferences of the middle class and, to a lesser extent, the poor, do seem to matter. In particular, impending elections–especially presidential elections–and an even partisan division in Congress mitigate representational inequality and boost responsiveness to the preferences of the broader public.

 

bookjacketRead Chapter One here. Politically active individuals and organizations make huge investments of time, energy, and money to influence everything from election outcomes to congressional subcommittee hearings to local school politics, while other groups and individual citizens seem woefully underrepresented in our political system.Drawing on numerous in-depth surveys of members of the public as well as the largest database of interest organizations ever created–representing more than thirty-five thousand organizations over a twenty-five-year period — The Unheavenly Chorus conclusively demonstrates that American democracy is marred by deeply ingrained and persistent class-based political inequality. The well educated and affluent are active in many ways to make their voices heard, while the less advantaged are not. This book reveals how the political voices of organized interests are even less representative than those of individuals, how political advantage is handed down across generations, how recruitment to political activity perpetuates and exaggerates existing biases, how political voice on the Internet replicates these inequalities–and more.

 

Spring: The Season of Birds

As the countdown to the thaw of spring begins, over 200 species of birds are gearing up for their annual, epic journey. Some will clock 10,000 miles on their way back to the United States and Canada from the balmy climates of regions further south. Although birds are on the move nearly every day, this period of Neotropical migration is the most predictable time for movement, and volunteer birders across the country will take to the outdoors to count the traveling birds. In preparation for the return of these raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds, Princeton University Press brings you four essential birding guides.

crossley guides In both The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds and The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors, acclaimed photographer and birder Richard Crossley has introduced a new way to not only look at birds, but to truly see them. With a highly visual approach which emphasizes shape, size, and habitat through carefully designed scenes in which multiple birds of different sexes, ages, and plumages interact with realistic habitats, the birder can better grasp the characteristics of each species. Unlike other guides which provide isolated individual photographs or illustrations, these books feature large, lifelike scenes for each species, in order to bring a more practical approach to bird identification. There are also comparative, multispecies scenes and mystery photographs that allow readers to test their identification skills, along with answers and full explanations in the back of the book. Begin reading the Introduction of The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds and the Introduction of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors now.

warbler guideWith the hope of aiding birders in identifying one of the trickiest species, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle have created The Warbler Guide, in which the two experts offer a comprehensive look at the 56 species of warblers found in the U.S. and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you distinguish songs and calls.  As Robert Mortensen of Birding is Fun puts it, “The Warbler Bible has come forth! This is easily the most comprehensive and fantastic warbler specific guide covering North American Warblers. I am amazed and impressed with each of its features. . . . [A] must-have book.” 

nests, eggs, etcIn the tide of the bird’s natural mating cycle, there’s no book more relevant than Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds, Second Edition by Paul J. Baicich & J.O. Harrison. This guide provides a thorough, species-by-species look at the breeding biology of some 670 species of birds in North America. With complete basic information on the breeding cycle of each species, from nest habitat to incubation to nestling period, this book covers perhaps the most fascinating aspects of North American bird life, their reproduction and the care of their young, which are essential elements in the survival of any species.

There’s no better time to gain an understanding of your region’s birds than during this critical spring migration period.  Check out any and all of these informative books today!