Author profile: Ken Elzinga

An inside look at one of the men behind the Henry Spearman Mystery trilogy.

If you haven’t picked up copies of the mysteries, check out the first chapters of each for free (linked below). You will not be disappointed.

A Deadly Indifference: A Henry Spearman Mystery
Murder at the Margin: A Henry Spearman Mystery
The Mystery of the Invisible Hand: A Henry Spearman Mystery

 


 

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A Deadly Indifference:
A Henry Spearman Mystery

Marshall Jevons

 

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Murder at the Margin:
A Henry Spearman Mystery

Marshall Jevons
With a new foreword by Herbert Stein and a new afterword by the author
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The Mystery of the Invisible Hand:
A Henry Spearman Mystery

Marshall Jevons

Mass Flourishing by Edmund Phelps is a certified bestseller in China

Nobel prize-winning economist, Edmund Phelps’s book Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change is a bestseller in China. Phelps’s success in China includes the prestigious Friendship Award, “China’s highest honor for foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress.” He was also named dean of China’s New Huadu Business School, which operates in Fuzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai. More information on Phelps’s achievements in China can be found, here.

Congratulations to Edmund Phelps!


 

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Mass Flourishing:
How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change
Edmund Phelps

Princeton University Press’s best-selling books for the last week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

Alan Turing: The Enigma, The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game by Andrew Hodges
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm edited by Jack Zipes
Irrational Exuberance: Revised and Expanded Third edition by Robert J. Shiller
Mastering ’Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke
1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke
On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt
How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method by G. Polya
Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School by Shamus Rahman Khan
The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973 by Mark Greif

Drumroll, please…. Introducing Princeton University Press’s best-selling books for 2014

With 2014 in the history books and the media already predicting which books will be big in 2015, we are happy to look back at our best-selling titles for the year. It is a list noticeable for diversity of subject (fairy tales, math, ancient history, and birds all make an appearance) and for what it says about the longevity of some of our older titles, (say hello to stalwart books like On Bullshit, The I Ching, and The Box). We hope you find something wonderful to read on this list and if you’ve already read any of these books, let us know in the comments section below.

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm edited by Jack Zipes
Alan Turing: The Enigma, The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game by Andrew Hodges
1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt
The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
The I Ching or Book of Changes edited by Hellmut Wilhelm
The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century by Jürgen Osterhammel
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit by Charles W. Calomiris & Stephen H. Haber
The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide by Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson & Sheila R. Colla
The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus by Adrian Banner
Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better by Peter H. Schuck
The Soul of the World Roger Scruton
The Age of the Vikings Anders Winroth
Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke
Rare Birds of North America by Steve N. G. Howell, Ian Lewington & Will Russell

New Year, New Books

Books released during the week of January 5, 2015
American Insecurity: Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction<br>Adam Seth Levine American Insecurity:
Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction
Adam Seth Levine
“The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, growing financial threats to the middle class, and the biggest political movement is the antigovernment Tea Party. What gives? The answer is that Americans buffeted by economic risks don’t give. They don’t give money or time to political organizations seeking to improve economic security. When you try to rally people to the cause, you inadvertently but powerfully deter their political participation. Levine has provided a compelling new account of a profound, and profoundly important, paradox.”–Jacob S. Hacker, author of The Great Risk Shift

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend?<br>Julian Le Grand & Bill New Government Paternalism:
Nanny State or Helpful Friend?
Julian Le Grand & Bill New
“This well-structured, clearly presented, and well-written book steers a sophisticated course between the extremes of antipaternalism and paternalism by identifying the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate paternalism. The current debate on the policies that nudge individuals to make better decisions makes this discussion timely. There is no book available that treats the same subject with as much range.”–Alan Hamlin, University of Manchester

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

Higher Education in the Digital Age<br>Updated edition<br>William G. Bowen <br>With a new foreword by Kevin M. Guthrie and a new appendix by the author Higher Education in the Digital Age
Updated edition
William G. Bowen
With a new foreword by Kevin M. Guthrie and a new appendix by the author
“A slim and highly readable volumne. . . . The collection of voices provides a thoughtful and provocative discussion of the emergence of online education.”–Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation

Paperback | 2015 | $16.95 / £11.95
eBook available

Irrational Exuberance<br>Revised and Expanded Third edition<br>Robert J. Shiller Irrational Exuberance
Revised and Expanded Third edition
Robert J. Shiller
Praise for the previous edition: From review of Princeton’s previous edition: “Robert J. Shiller . . . has done more than any other economist of his generation to document the less rational aspects of financial markets.”–Paul Krugman, New York Times

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education<br>William G. Bowen & Eugene M. Tobin Locus of Authority:
The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education
William G. Bowen & Eugene M. Tobin
“Withering critiques of the academy appear daily, predicting the end of higher education as we know it. Bowen and Tobin step into this fray with insight, deep knowledge of the field, data, and a good eye for history. Their eminently sensible book convincingly argues that higher education institutions have evolved over time in response to pressures and challenges, and that they are capable of continuing this evolution.”–Lawrence S. Bacow, president emeritus, Tufts University

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series: Volume 11: 19 January to 31 August 1817<br>Thomas Jefferson<br>Edited by J. Jefferson Looney The Papers of Thomas Jefferson:
Retirement Series:
Volume 11: 19 January to 31 August 1817
Thomas Jefferson
Edited by J. Jefferson Looney
The 584 documents in this volume cover the period from 19 January to 31 August 1817, during which Jefferson devotes much time and energy to founding Central College, the predecessor of the University of Virginia.

Hardcover | 2015 | $125.00 / £85.00

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Volume 41: 11 July to 15 November 1803<br>Thomas Jefferson<br>Edited by Barbara B. Oberg The Papers of Thomas Jefferson:
Volume 41: 11 July to 15 November 1803
Thomas Jefferson
Edited by Barbara B. Oberg
The Louisiana Purchase dominates the months covered in this volume. Jefferson departs for Monticello to enjoy a needed respite after the busy three and a half months he has just spent in the nation’s capital. Shortly before leaving Washington, he has a last meeting with his cabinet, after which he issues a proclamation to reconvene Congress on 17 October, three weeks early. It is the “great and weighty” business of the French government’s stunning offer to transfer all of the Louisiana Territory to the United States that necessitates this important gathering.

Hardcover | 2015 | $125.00 / £85.00

Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History<br>Derek Sayer Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century:
A Surrealist History
Derek Sayer
“[A] pleasure to read, luscious in a sultry kind of way.”–Marci Shore, Times Literary Supplement

Paperback | 2015 | $27.95 / £19.95
Hardcover | 2013 | $35.00 / £24.95
eBook available

Sleepwalking into a New World: The Emergence of Italian City Communes in the Twelfth Century<br>Chris Wickham Sleepwalking into a New World:
The Emergence of Italian City Communes in the Twelfth Century
Chris Wickham
“Wickham’s expert analysis and meticulous academic approach build on previous. Limited examinations and substantial documentation to turn established research on its head, as he presents a fresh look into how communes in the mid-12th century successfully prepared Italian power structures for the cultural significance they would later have.”–Publishers Weekly

Hardcover | 2015 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

Books released during the week of December 29, 2014
The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973<br>Mark Greif The Age of the Crisis of Man:
Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973
Mark Greif
“‘One of the striking features of the discourse of man to modern eyes, in a sense the most striking, is how unreadable it is, how tedious, how unhelpful. The puzzle is why it is unreadable.’ Thus, Mark Greif in his exhilarating study The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America 1933-1973. By ‘the discourse of man’ Greif means the vast midcentury literature on human dignity, from Being and Nothingness, to the ‘Family of Man’ photo exhibition, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights–a discourse that Greif interrogates with verve, erudition, sympathy, and suspicion, and that he follows into the fiction of our time.”–Lorin Stein, Paris Review

Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment<br>Dallas G. Denery II The Devil Wins:
A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment
Dallas G. Denery II
“In this exquisitely written book, Denery draws on centuries of rumination on the moral issues surrounding lying to address the question of how we should live in a fallen world. The serpent in the Garden of Eden led humankind astray with lies. The Devil is the father of lies. Premodern sources agonized constantly over the act of lying. Denery not only superbly narrates the long history of this obsession, but also locates the conditions that reveal an Enlightenment shift toward a not entirely comfortable modernity.”–William Chester Jordan, Princeton University

Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

The Fascinating World of Graph Theory<br>Arthur Benjamin, Gary Chartrand & Ping Zhang The Fascinating World of Graph Theory
Arthur Benjamin, Gary Chartrand & Ping Zhang
“In this attractive introduction to the world of graphs, the authors entice and enthuse readers through a number of fun problems which present various aspects of the subject. Many of these problems are familiar–the four-color problem, the Königsberg Bridge problem, and ‘instant insanity’–while others are less well known or of a more serious nature. This book can be used in different ways–as an entertaining book on recreational mathematics or as an accessible textbook on graph theory. I warmly recommend it.”–Robin J. Wilson, author of Introduction to Graph Theory

Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

The Match Girl and the Heiress<br>Seth Koven The Match Girl and the Heiress
Seth Koven
“Rutgers University historian Koven (Slumming) has fashioned a scholarly yet highly readable jewel that tackles the big issues of early-20th-century England in an intimate way. Through the lives of Muriel Lester and Nellie Dowell, he brilliantly illuminates the growth of global capitalism, a revolutionary ‘God is love’ Christian theology, war and pacifism, feminism and sexuality, and class and gender relations.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review

Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95
eBook available

Mathematics without Apologies: Portrait of a Problematic Vocation<br>Michael Harris Mathematics without Apologies:
Portrait of a Problematic Vocation
Michael Harris
“Michael Harris writes with all-absorbing exuberance and intensity about what it feels like from the inside to do mathematics, and he succeeds, for the uninitiated like myself, in conveying the motives and the pleasure that have impelled him and his precursors and peers to seek to understand. But Mathematics without Apologies is many things besides: it combines thoughtful personal memoir, sharp social chronicle, entertaining literary analysis, and jeux d’esprit reflecting on formulae for love or on the hidden structures in the fiction of Thomas Pynchon. Most importantly, however, Harris issues a clarion call for the autonomy of research in our time. He defends–fiercely and lucidly–the pursuit of understanding without recourse to commercial interests or other principles of utility. This is an original and passionate book; Michael Harris has fashioned much-needed luminous arguments for the cause of intellectual independence.”Marina Warner, professor of English and creative writing, Birkbeck, University of London, and author of Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights

Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95
eBook available

Playing at Acquisitions: Behavioral Option Games<br>Han Smit & Thras Moraitis Playing at Acquisitions:
Behavioral Option Games
Han Smit & Thras Moraitis
“This book brings together the best insights from strategy, corporate finance, and psychology to explore in a real, fine-grained, and practical way how to derive winning acquisition strategies using both real options and game theory to optimally time and leverage investments. It is a must-read for serious practitioners and those aiming to get into the game.”–Dan Lovallo, University of California, Berkeley

Hardcover | 2014 | $55.00 / £37.95
eBook available

The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History<br>Edited by Joseph C. Miller Vincent Brown, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Laurent Dubois & Karen Ordhal Kupperman, associate editors The Princeton Companion to Atlantic History
Edited by Joseph C. Miller
Vincent Brown, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Laurent Dubois & Karen Ordhal Kupperman, associate editors
Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, the connections among Africa, the Americas, and Europe transformed world history—through maritime exploration, commercial engagements, human migrations and settlements, political realignments and upheavals, cultural exchanges, and more. This book, the first encyclopedic reference work on Atlantic history, takes an integrated, multicontinental approach that emphasizes the dynamics of change and the perspectives and motivations of the peoples who made it happen. The entries—all specially commissioned for this volume from an international team of leading scholars—synthesize the latest scholarship on central themes, including economics, migration, politics, war, technologies and science, the physical environment, and culture.

Hardcover | 2014 | $65.00 / £44.95
eBook available

Sea of Storms: A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina<br>Stuart B. Schwartz Sea of Storms:
A History of Hurricanes in the Greater Caribbean from Columbus to Katrina
Stuart B. Schwartz
“In this magisterial study, the histories of colonization, state formation, empire, slavery, and emancipation come into sharp relief when viewed through the eye of the hurricane. Sea of Storms is a tightly focused study that delivers perspectives as sweeping as the history of the Caribbean itself.”–Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, University of Texas at Austin

Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95
eBook available

Sexing the World: Grammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome<br>Anthony Corbeill Sexing the World:
Grammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome
Anthony Corbeill
“Demonstrating wide reading and a command of lesser-known texts and sources, this enjoyable book offers a highly original and interesting look at gender in both Latin grammar and Roman society. It explores the grammar of nouns where gender is fluid, and takes into consideration poetic intent and Roman cultural-sexual history. There is no other book quite like it.”–Michael Fontaine, Cornell University

Hardcover | 2014 | $45.00 / £30.95
eBook available

New Economics and Finance Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new economics and finance catalog!

Of particular interest is Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet by Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman. If you had a 10 percent chance of having a fatal car accident, you’d take necessary precautions. If your finances had a 10 percent chance of suffering a severe loss, you’d reevaluate your assets. So if we know the world is warming and there’s a 10 percent chance this might eventually lead to a catastrophe beyond anything we could imagine, why aren’t we doing more about climate change right now? We insure our lives against an uncertain future—why not our planet?

In Climate Shock, Wagner and Weitzman explore in lively, clear terms the likely repercussions of a hotter planet, drawing on and expanding from work previously unavailable to general audiences. They show that the longer we wait to act, the more likely an extreme event will happen. A city might go underwater. A rogue nation might shoot particles into the Earth’s atmosphere, geoengineering cooler temperatures. Zeroing in on the unknown extreme risks that may yet dwarf all else, the authors look at how economic forces that make sensible climate policies difficult to enact, make radical would-be fixes like geoengineering all the more probable. What we know about climate change is alarming enough. What we don’t know about the extreme risks could be far more dangerous. Wagner and Weitzman help readers understand that we need to think about climate change in the same way that we think about insurance—as a risk management problem, only here on a global scale.

More of our leading titles in economics and finance can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. (Your e-mail address will remain confidential!)

If you’re heading to the annual Allied Social Sciences Association meeting in Boston, MA January 3rd–5th, come visit us at booth 314.

Join us Sunday, January 4th at 4:00 p.m. for a glass of wine to celebrate the publication of Mastering ‘Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect. See you there!

Fragile by Design, The Limits of Partnership, and others among Bloomberg Businessweek’s favorite books of 2014

Happy new year 2014It’s nearing the end of the year and that means everyone is taking a look back at the best and worst of the past twelve months. Bloomberg Businessweek recently published a “Best Books of ’14,” list to their site, and five Princeton University Press titles were selected as some of the best of the year!

Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, got things going; “Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber’s Fragile by Design is a magnificent study of the economics and politics of banking.”fragile

Bjorn Wahlroos, Chairman of Nordea Bank AB (NDA), selected Edmund S. Phelps’s Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change and wrote, “[Phelps] redraws many political front lines and provides us with an answer to those who believe more public funding for investment and innovation is the road forward for our stagnant economies. It is a marvelous book that deserves to be read by everyone, but particularly by those entrusted with the design of the European future.”mass flourishing

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond selected both Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit by Calomiris and Haber and Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth has Made Us Smarter–and More Unequal by Brink Lindsey as his must reads of the year.human

“[Fragile by Design is] hands down the best single book for understanding the historical journey that laid the groundwork for the financial crisis.”

“[Lindsey] argues the case that economic inequality is more deeply intertwined with human capital accumulation and the process of economic growth than you thought.”

Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Loomis Sayles & Co., named The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century by Angela E. Stent as his choice for favorite book of 2014, while Satyajit Das, author of Traders, Guns, and Money selected The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century by Jürgen Osterhammel to round out the list of PUP titles. “Professor Jorgen Osterhammel’s fine book is anything but a linear recitation of events. Instead, it swoops, shimmies, and carves ellipses and spirals through the facts to give readers a remarkable picture of the 19th century, which has shaped much of the present world.”

angela stent world

Congratulations to all the PUP authors on the list! The rest of the article can be found, here.

 

Princeton University Press’s extended best-seller list for the holidays

What are people picking up for the holidays? Our best-seller list provides lots of clues — biography, literature, history, and birds!

Alan Turing: The Enigma, The Book That Inspired the Film The Imitation Game by Andrew Hodges
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm edited by Jack Zipes
1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record by Errol Fuller
The Age of the Vikings Anders Winroth
The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists edited by Gary Marcus & Jeremy Freeman
On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt
The Mystery of the Invisible Hand: A Henry Spearman Mystery by Marshall Jevons
Mastering ’Metrics: The Path from Cause to Effect by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke
The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter Richard P. Feynman
Penguins: The Ultimate Guide by Tui De Roy, Mark Jones & Julie Cornthwaite
The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle

Ian Goldin on Ebola and the consequences of globalization

goldinIan Goldin, co-author (with Mike Mariathasan) of The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It, voiced (or rather, wrote) his opinion on the Ebola outbreak and the role globalization has played thus far. In his PBS Newshour article, which can be read in its entirety, here, Goldin states, “globalization does not only lead to the spreading of ‘goods,’ such as economic opportunity and vaccines, but also to the spreading of ‘bads,’ such as diseases, financial crises and cyber attacks.” Ebola is just the most recent “bad” to come from greater globalization.

Goldin’s solution to prevent future infectious disease outbreaks (and other “bads”)  may not be popular among government officials responsible for budgeting resources, but it may be the only option. Outbreaks, like we’ve seen with Ebola, might become more common in an age of higher population density and increased international travel, yet the organization most responsible for preventing the spread of these diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO), is terribly underfunded according to Goldin.

“A breakdown or absence of public health infrastructure is the driving factor in over 40 percent of infectious disease outbreaks internationally,” writes Goldin. He also notes that the international organizations–WHO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and UN Security Council, to name a few–needed to handle international crises “lack the leadership, legitimacy or capability to manage the spill-overs of globalization or emergent threats” because “national governments have stymied vital reforms…and attempt[ed] to wrest power back from what they think are mysterious, distant institutions.”

Goldin concludes his article with an ultimatum: “In order to harvest the ‘goods’ of globalization we need to invest in the institutions that manage the ‘bads.'”

 

Final stop on the Gayborhood tour- Seattle, Washington

Ghaziani _ Elliott Bay_image

Amin Ghaziani will make his sixth and final stop of his There Goes the Gayborhood tour at Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, Washington at 7PM on December 12th. All of Amin’s previous events have been standing-room-only, people-spilling-out-of-the-doors types of events, so arrive early to grab a seat.

More information can be found on Elliot Bay Book Company’s website as December 12th gets closer.

If you’re in the area, be sure to catch this event!

Happy birthday, Gita

001_Davis_figEvery great living religious work must have had a birth, but not many celebrate their birthdays. The Bhagavad Gita, a classic Hindu scripture, does. This year Hindus are celebrating the Gita Jayanti today, December 2.

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The Bhagavad Gita records a conversation on the battlefield of Kurukshetra between two figures, Krishna and Arjuna, just before the start of a great eighteen-day battle. The warrior Arjuna is distraught over the prospect of fighting against his relatives and teachers, and Krishna seeks to persuade him to engage in the upcoming battle. The discussion deals not just with the propriety of war, but also with the ethical dilemmas, the religious practices, and the philosophical issues that concerned Indian elites at the time of its composition. And we are told in the Mahabharata, the massive epic poem of which the Bhagavad Gita is a small portion, that their dialogue took place on the eleventh day of the waxing moon in the lunar month of Marghashirsha. This year, that day falls on December 2 of our solar calendar.When I visited Kurukshetra in 2011 for the Gita Jayanti, a local official told me with great confidence that the Gita was celebrating its 5103rd birthday. That would make the Gita 5106 years old today. Textual historians are more circumspect. According to current scholarship, the Bhagavad Gita was composed in the century or two before or after the time of Christ. But scholarly skepticism does not diminish the observances that mark the birth and life of this classic text.Around the world, in Singapore or Malaysia, the United Kingdom or the United States, wherever Hindus have come to live, the Gita Jayanti is celebrated. Most often it is a modest festival. It may consist entirely of a collective recitation of the seven-hundred verses of the Bhagavad Gita text. Some communities organize competitions for children in Gita recitation. One group, the Swadhyay Parivar, arranges for young people to give speeches on the philosophy of the Gita. According to its website, 2.2 million children participated last year. For the International Society of Krishna Consciousness devotees, recitation of the text is combined with distribution of copies of the Gita, as translated by the founder of ISKCON, Swami Prabhupada.Nowhere is the Gita Jayanti celebrated with greater élan than in Kuruksetra, a small pilgrimage town in the state of Haryana, where according to tradition the Gita took birth. Since 1989, the Kurukshetra Development Board has organized and promoted the celebration of Gita Jayanti as part of a larger five-day Kurukshetra Festival. In addition to recitations and discourses on the work, Kurukshetra hosts a procession of musician and holy men, cultural performances in several great tents, political leaders being felicitated, fireworks, an enormous crafts fair of over five hundred displays from throughout India, and a lovely Deep Daan, where hundreds of dainty clay oil-lamps are set afloat at nightfall in the water-tank at the center of town. My teenaged friend Akash Rana writes that he and his friends are “enjoying too much” the festival this year, with the dances of all the different states and the spicy foods from all around India. He wishes I could be there.Like many great religious works, the Bhagavad Gita has lived a long and varied life since its time of birth. Readings and recitation, translations and commentaries have reinscribed this classical Sanskrit work into new currents and disputes for two millennia. Medieval Brahmin scholars and Krishna devotees, British colonial scholars and German Romantics, globe-trotting Hindu gurus and Indian anticolonial freedom fighters, and modern spiritual seekers in India and around the world have all kept the work alive through their own dialogues with the Gita. In celebrating the birthday of the Bhagavad Gita today, we can also celebrate this long interpretive history.


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This is a guest post by Richard H. Davis, professor of religion at Bard College and author of The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography.

Ai Weiwei exhibition at Blenheim Palace: Our UK publicity assistant investigates!

Visitors can expect to experience something different this autumn at Blenheim Palace. Tradition meets modernity as the 18th century baroque architecture of Blenheim, the birthplace of wartime British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, is host to an exhibition of the artwork of Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei.Ai weiwei sign

This exciting exhibition is especially relevant to Princeton University Press for two reasons: not only is Blenheim Palace a stone’s throw from Princeton University Press’s European office in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, but Princeton University Press published Ai Weiwei’s ‘Little Black Book’, Weiwei-isms, last year.

Weiwei-isms is a collection of quotes demonstrating Ai Weiwei’s thoughts on key aspects of his art, politics and life, carefully selected by Larry Warsh from articles, tweets and interviews.

“Everything is art. Everything is politics.” — Weiwei-isms

Like Weiwei-isms, the exhibition at Blenheim Palace clearly demonstrates Ai Weiwei’s commitment to art as a powerful political statement, as a means of reacting against injustice, and inspiring others to do the same.

Blenheim chandelier“I want people to see their own power.” – Weiwei-isms

This certainly becomes clear as you enter the exhibition. You are given a leaflet which serves as a guide to Ai’s artwork, dispersed throughout the rooms of the palace. Despite this, none of the artwork is signposted and it becomes the visitor’s responsibility to seek it out and take meaning and inspiration from what they see.

The collection brings together pieces created by the artist over the past 30 years. It is especially impressive given that it was curated remotely, Ai Weiwei having been under house arrest since 2011. The old and new are often brought together, with artefacts from the past being reimagined in novel ways. Take, for example, the Han Dynasty vases transformed beyond recognition by car paint or by being ‘rebranded’ with the Coca Cola logo.

Blenheim zodiacHis ‘Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads’ (2010), previously displayed at a year-long exhibition at Princeton University, is also at Blenheim. This work is an ironic interpretation of the bronze zodiac head statues that were looted from the Emperor’s summer palace (Yuan Ming Yuan) in Beijing in 1860.

Other highlights include ‘He Xie’ (2012), a work comprised of 2,300 porcelain crabs on the floor of the Red Drawing Room (‘He Xie’, meaning ‘river crabs’, puns on the Chinese phrase for ‘harmony’).

While some pieces are the first thing you see when you walk into a room, other pieces are integrated more subtly into the sumptuous interiors of Blenheim Palace. The Wave Plate (2014) is seamlessly integrated into the lavish table decoration as the centrepiece in the Salon, and a pair of handcuffs made of Huali wood (2012) – a reminder of Ai Weiwei’s current situation – placed suggestively on the bed in Churchill’s birth room might escape your attention due to the large number of visitors moving from room to room, all engrossed in the same treasure hunt as you.

Blenheim crabsAll in all, the collaboration between Blenheim Palace and Ai Weiwei really does merit a visit. Ai Weiwei’s work is all the more interesting and thought-provoking for being situated in the context of Blenheim Palace and its grounds.

The exhibition at Blenheim Palace highlights the ‘clash’ of the old and new, which is indeed something that is key to much of Ai Weiwei’s work.

“If a nation cannot face its past, it has no future.” – Weiwei-isms

In years to come, the Ai Weiwei exhibition at Blenheim Palace is sure to become part of the artist’s legacy and a poignant reminder of his struggle for justice and truth.

“The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay.” – Weiwei-isms

The exhibition runs until 14th December.