McGovern scholar Thomas Knock on classic presidential reads

election blog banner logoThomas Knock is the author of The Rise of a Prairie Statesman: The Life and Times of George McGovern, the first volume of the first major biography of the 1972 presidential candidate and eloquent critic of the Vietnam War. Called “the standard bearer of all future biographies” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Knock’s reconsideration of the politician is a perfect pick for election season. Recently we asked Knock what classic books on presidents we would find in his own library.

By Thomas Knock

I’m happy to recommend five books about major presidents and the politics of their times— from the early 20th century to the early 21st century—all classics in their field and favorites of mine. My list of personal favorites encompasses several historically great presidents or otherwise quite notable ones—Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton— who still have something to say to us today.

1.  John Milton Cooper, The Warrior and the Priest, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt (Harvard, 1983).  This is a dual biography of two progressive presidents—one a Republican, one a Democrat—and the two most literate chief executives of the 20th century.  Together TR and Wilson recreated the modern presidency and, in their respective programs (the New Nationalism and the New Freedom) they laid the foundations for Big Government as we have come to know it today.  Cooper has definite and persuasive reveries about who is the Warrior and who is the Priest.

2.  Robert McElvaine, The Great Depression and the New Deal (Times Books, 1993).  A sweeping account of the crisis of the 1930s that gives both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt their due and even stresses a significant element of continuity between the policies of the two antagonists.  In this, while providing a most lucid interpretation of New Deal politics and culture, one also can see a parallel between Hoover and FDR, on the one hand, and George W. Bush and Barack Obama, on the other, as the latter pair struggled to contain the gathering disaster of 2008-09.

3.  Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lyndon Johnson and his America (St. Martin’s, 1976, 1991).  This remains one of the two or three best, and most moving, books ever written about Lyndon Johnson, who I myself would describe as half a great president.  Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this work are the implications of a single remark of Johnson’s to Goodwin:  that he believed when he entered office that he had only 18 months or so to get done whatever it was he was going to accomplish.  And that—the concept of the 18-Month Presidency, so to speak—is something that too many presidents have never grasped.

4.  Sidney Blumenthal, Pledging Allegiance, The Last Campaign of the Cold War (Harper/Collins, 1990).  This study offers a trove of insights into American politics at the end of the Cold War.  Its most significant achievement is to establish Reagan and Gorbachev as an irreducible team–that the advent of each was fundamental to the other’s well being if either was to have the salutary legacy that they are both credited with today.  Along with the entire cast of candidates in the 1988 knock-down, the volume also addresses the matter of the presidential sex scandal, something new in the politics of the ensuing post-Cold War era, which fatally ensnared the formidable Gary Hart, a former McGovern protege.

5.  David Maraniss, First in His Class, A biography of Bill Clinton (Simon and Schuster, 1995).  An essential work about the first post-Cold War president, this biography also includes substantial instructive coverage of the early life of Hillary Rodham.  The thrust is the striving of the first Boomer to enter the White House, who left Arkansas to be schooled at Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale Law; lived the politics of the Sixties and Vietnam and earnestly embraced McGovern’s campaign (learning chastening lessons along the way); and then returned to Arkansas as his means to power.  From a 2016 perspective, one can fully appreciate his enormous capacities while apprehending the bridge the two Clintons constitute between past, present and future.

KnockThomas J. Knock is Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of the prize-winning To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order and the coauthor of The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century (both Princeton). He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Dynamic Ecology is searching for the best books in the field

Do you think Princeton University Press publishes some of the best books on ecology? You’re in good company! The Dynamic Ecology blog is hosting a vote to find those books that appeal to ecologists and students the most and they’ve included thirteen PUP books in the mix. Vote for up to three of your favorites.

Ecology

Ecological Communities
Donald R. Strong, Jr., Daniel Simberloff, Lawrence G. Abele, & Anne B. Thistle

Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement
Anne E. Magurran

Resource Competition and Community Structure
David Tilman

The Ecological Detective
Ray Hilborn & Marc Mangel

Geographical Ecology
Robert H. MacArthur

The Theory of Sex Allocation
Eric L. Charnov

Ecological Models and Data in R
Benjamin M. Bolker

Stability and Complexity in Model Ecosystems
Robert M. May

Spatial Ecology
David Tilman & Peter Kareiva

Ecological Stoichiometry
Robert W. Sterner & James J. Elser

Foraging Theory
David W. Stephens & John R. Krebs

The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography
Stephen P. Hubbell

The Theory of Island Biogeography
Robert H. MacArthur & Edward O. Wilson

Ecology

#NewBooks from Princeton University Press

Books released spanning the weeks of May 26th and June 1st, 2015.

The past two weeks have been full of exciting new releases for Princeton University Press. Included is Stephen Macedo’s Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage, which  takes an in-depth look at the convention of marriage in the modern age. Einstein fans will rejoice as a 100th anniversary edition of Albert Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and the General Theory is released. This new edition includes special features such as an authoritative English translation of the text, covers from selected early editions, and many more exciting extras. As history shows, the library is something that will never go out of style.  Alice Crawford’s The Meaning of the Library: A Cultural History is full of illustrations and rich commentary, highlighting the significance of the library throughout history as well as evaluating its importance in the 21st century.

New in Hardcover

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New in Paperback

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Writers on Writers Giveaway

writersonwriters

We have a new giveaway! Enter for a chance to win the complete set of Writers on Writers, a series of brief, personal books by contemporary writers about an author, past or present, who has inspired or influenced them in some way.

Each book gives the reader a window into both the life and work of the chosen author and the mind of the writer. In On Elizabeth Bishop, Colm Tóibín highlights the parallels between his life and that of his subject, particularly in their experience of loss and exile. He traces her footsteps to Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil and shows the reader how her influence helped to shape him as a novelist. Compared to Tóibín’s measured, deeply personal account, Alexander McCall Smith’s contribution, What W.H. Auden Can Do For You, is a playful, charming take on the manifold ways that Auden has been a guiding force in his life. McCall Smith calls him one of the best guides on how to live. He shows us how he has been inspired by Auden and how each of us can benefit from his work.

One of the most famous nineteenth-century novelists, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has provided inspiration to many. On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Pulitzer-prize winning critic Michael Dirda is not only an engaging introduction to the author and his work, it is a rare glimpse into the best-known of all Sherlockian groups, the Baker Street Irregulars, of which Dirda is a member. Another famous nineteenth-century author, Walter Whitman, is the subject of Pulitzer-prize winning poet C.K. Williams. On Whitman explores the reasons why Leaves of Grass continues to inspire. Williams shows what Whitman had in common with other poets of his time and how his influence continues to be felt today.

Finally, renowned essayist Phillip Lopate describes Sontag as one of the “foremost interpreters of…our recent contemporary moment” in Notes on Sontag. While admiring her free-thinking originality, Lopate is critical of her tendency toward exaggeration, feeling that it undermines her common sense. Lopate provides a clever and enjoyable reflection on his chosen writer through a series of essays, a form used by Sontag herself.

Writers on Writers is necessary reading for anyone interested in the creative process and the often-complex relationship between writers. To enter for a chance to win the complete series, please follow the directions in the RaffleCopter box below. Winners will be selected on or around May 19, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christopher Bail talks to Salon about “Terrified”

Christopher Bail, author of Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, recently spoke with Paul Rosenberg for a feature in Salon on how anti-Muslim sentiment is fostered by the broader cultural landscape, and the innovative new methodology he has used to study that process. Paul Rosenberg at Salon writes:

It may be hard to fathom or remember, but in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the American public responded with an increased level of acceptance and support for Muslims. President Bush—who had successfully courted the Muslim vote in 2000—went out of his way to praise American Muslims on numerous occasions in 2001 and 2002. However, the seeds were already being planted that would change that drastically over time.  Within a few short years, a small handful of fringe anti-Muslim organizations—almost entirely devoid of any real knowledge or expertise, some drawing on age-old ethno-religious conflicts—managed to hijack the public discourse about Islam, first by stoking fears, grabbing attention with their emotional messaging, then by consolidating their newfound social capital, forging ties with established elite organizations, and ultimately building their own organizational and media infrastructure.

How this all happened is the subject of a fascinating new book, “Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream,” by sociologist Christopher Bail, of the University of North Carolina.  The book not only lays bare the behind-the-scenes story of a momentous shift in public opinion, it employs cutting-edge computer analysis techniques applied to large archives of data to develop a new theoretical outlook, capable of making sense of the whole field of competing organizations struggling to shape public opinion, not just studying one or two the most successful ones. The result is not only a detailed account of a specific, significant, and also very pernicious example of cultural evolution, but also a case study in how to more rigorously study cultural evolution more generally in the future. In the process, it sheds considerable light on the struggles involved, and the difficulties faced by those trying to fight back against this rising tide of misdirected fear, anger and hatred.


Read the full interview with Christopher Bail that follows here.

Terrified, by Christopher Bail

Princeton University Press’s best-sellers for the last week

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

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
4-10 Drezner_TheoriesZombies_cvr Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel W. Drezner
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman
Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide by Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorp, Leif L. Richardson & Sheila R. Colla
OnBullshit On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
RoughCountry Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State by Robert Wuthnow
The Banker's New Clothes
The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig
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Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
The I Ching or Book of Changes edited by Hellmut Wilhelm

Announcing Throwback Thursdays: Celebrating the Revival of the Princeton Legacy Library


THE PRINCETON LEGACY LIBRARY


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On July 14th, 2014, Princeton University Press began to breathe life back into over 3,000 out of print books. How, you might wonder?

Answer: the Princeton Legacy Library.

Director of the Press Peter J. Dougherty summed up this development in the Press’s release statement, saying that past publications are now “readily available to readers all over the world,” and that “researchers and students in many developing countries will have access to our historical titles for the first time ever.” These books will be available digitally in both print-on-demand editions, and as ebooks for libraries and scholarly institutions through leading library aggregators.

And if you’re like me and you’re into “old book smell” and appropriately vintage filters, you’ll appreciate our new weekly series, aptly titled “Throwback Thursday.” For the first several weeks, we’ll be posting pictures of books that this grand effort is reviving, coupled with brief descriptions of their content. Although these books are no longer enshrined in the original jackets that appear in the pictures, the content remains the same: original, informative, and of the highest academic caliber. It’ll be great fun to glance back at these texts with our audience; we’ve already scoured the stacks to find old favorites like Gladys Reichard’s Navaho Religion and Bruce Aune’s Kant’s Theory of Morals, so be on the lookout!

We’ll eventually work our way to hidden PUP gems that, while not included in the Legacy Library, are certainly worth mentioning (no one would dare discount The Collected Works of Samuel Coleridge). Let us know in the comments section which ones you own, and which ones you’re looking forward to reading. See you on Thursday!

Take It to Go: Princeton University Press Collaborates with Scribd and Oyster


7-23 GotIt!

Princeton University Press is excited to offer a new way for ebook customers to read our content: via the subscription platforms Scribd and Oyster. Think of them as “Netflix for ebooks.” Subscribers pay a modest monthly fee in return for which they have access to the entire library of content on the platform – that is, from all publishers who participate – and can browse and read in entirety as many books as they want. PUP is offering 2,000+ titles and joins major publishers like HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Perseus. You can access and sync content on multiple devices through iOS, Android, and KindleFire apps. We’re always looking to meet our customers where they live – check them out!

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Win your choice of books with our #springbooks giveaway

spring book contest

There are three ways to enter this giveaway:

1.) Leave a comment below with the title of the book you would most like to win.

2.) Tweet the title of the book you would like to win with the hashtag #springbooks.

3.) Send an email to blog@press.princeton.edu with the title of the book you would like to win.

 

This giveaway ends today at 5 PM, so make sure you submit your entry!

 

[Update: This giveaway has concluded and the winners have been notified, 6/5/14]

Princeton University Press’s Best-selling Books for the Past Week

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

 

Rare Birds of North America by Steve Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell
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Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin
by Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny, and Bob Montgomerie
Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor and Eugen Jost
The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance by Eswar S. Prasad
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman
What W.H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall-Smith
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 Burger and Michael Starbird
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt

Princeton University Press’s Best-Selling Titles for the Past Week

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

 

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
k10054 The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton
What W.H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall-Smith
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance by Eswar S. Prasad
The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich
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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff
Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor and Eugen Jost

Princeton University Press’s Best-selling Titles for the Last Week

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

 

What W.H. Auden Can Do for You by Alexander McCall-Smith
Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor and Eugen Jost
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
Maimonides: Life and Thought by Moshe Halbertal
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. & Donald S. Lopez Jr.
Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History by Donald E. Canfield
k10054 The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward Burger and Michael Starbird
On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
k8967
Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion
by Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke