On rumors, 1984, and a post-truth world

Princeton University Press has published a number of titles that focus on the timely issue of deceptive public discourse. Cass Sunstein’s 2014 book, On Rumors takes a look at our vulnerability to falsehoods, with special attention to the ambiguous impact of social media, while Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works offers an ominous examination of how the public is subtly manipulated in a “post-truth” age. But talk of “alternative facts”, reminiscent to many of newspeak and doublethink, is sending droves of readers to the fiction section. George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, surged in sales recently, becoming a surprise New York Times bestseller.  

This led us to wonder just how well the books we published in 1984 have aged. Here’s a look at a few:

The lead book in our Spring 1984 catalog was a history title by Sarah Ann Gordon. Hitler, Germans, and the Jewish Question examined German reactions to the murder of millions of European Jews, showing that a minority of extreme anti-Semites coexisted in Germany with the indifferent or fearfully disapproving majority. Next on the front-list, by Walter Kimball, was the complete correspondence of two of history’s most charismatic men. Churchill and Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence includes every written communication that passed between the two leaders during the five and a half years of their wartime leadership. 1984 also saw the publication of Uncertain Alliance: the Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army: 1948-1983, by former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and Third Parties in America: Citizen Response to Major Party Failure, by Steven J. Rosenstone, Roy L. Behr and Edward H. Lazarus. Now out of print, the latter identified the situations in which Americans abandon the major parties and showed how third parties encourage major party responsiveness.

Interested in reading more about the Orwellian classic? You might want to check out On Nineteen-Eighty-Four: On Orwell and our Future, edited by Abbott Gleason, Jack Goldsmith, and Martha Nussbaum. As they say, the future is now.

 

 

Congratulations to Rasmus Kleis Nielsen for winning the 2014 Doris Graber Book Award for the Political Communication Section of the American Political Science Association

05-20 NielsenRasmus Kleis Nielsen’s book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns, is the 2014 winner of The Doris Graber Book Award for the Political Communication Section of the American Political Science Association. The Doris Graber Book Award is an annual prize given to the best book published on political communication in the last ten years, in order to foster the “study of political communications within the discipline of political science including research on mass media, telecommunications policy, new media technologies, and the process of communicating and understanding.”

In his book, Nielsen examines how American political operatives use “personalized political communication” to engage with the electorate, and delves into the myriad forms of political participation with their specific implications. Ground Wars demonstrates a challenge to popular imaginings of the political campaign as a tightly-controlled and highly monitored operation, and carefully traces the infiltration of specialized tactics into romanticized notions of grassroots-style volunteerism.

The chair of the committee commented that the committee voted for Nielsen’s book unanimously, “…finding it to be innovative, engaging and of very high quality relative to the terrific pool of nominee books.”

Nielsen will be officially honored at the annual APSA meeting in Chicago in August, 2014.