PUP News of the World — July 17, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


News of the World

THE FUTURE OF THE BRAIN

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

Marcus writes:

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

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

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

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

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

 THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD

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

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

In the book, Osterhammel, who has been called the Braudel of the nineteenth century, moves beyond conventional Eurocentric and chronological accounts of the era, presenting instead a truly global history of breathtaking scope and towering erudition. He examines the powerful and complex forces that drove global change during the “long nineteenth century,” taking readers from New York to New Delhi, from the Latin American revolutions to the Taiping Rebellion, from the perils and promise of Europe’s transatlantic labor markets to the hardships endured by nomadic, tribal peoples across the planet.

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

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

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

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

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

 DICTIONARY OF UNTRANSLATABLES

Next, we bring you a title focused on words that defy translation. Princeton University Press’s Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that cannot be easily translated from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities.

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

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

View some sample entries for yourself:

RIGHT/JUST/GOOD         MEDIA

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

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

Untranslatable Tuesdays – Kitsch

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To mark the publication of Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, we are delighted to share a series of playful graphics by our design team which illustrate some of the most interesting terms from the Dictionary. This second week in the “Untranslatable Tuesdays” series we present Kitsch (German):

ENGLISH      junk art, garish art, kitsch

The word Kitsch is German in origin and had previously been translated into French as art de pacotille (junk art) or art tape-á-l’oeil (garish art), but the original term has now become firmly established in all European languages. Used as an adjective, kitsch or kitschy qualifies cultural products intended for the masses and appreciated by them….As a kind of debased popularization, it offers a decadent model that is all the more alluring for being so easily accessible. This is, at least, what its detractors say.

PUP News of the World, March 28, 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!


untranslatablesHow many times do we search for the perfect word for what we are trying to express? Sometimes, this goal is made entirely unattainable by linguistic differences between languages. In Dictionary of Untranslatables, Barbara Cassin compiles an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy–or any–translation from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities. The entries, written by more than 150 distinguished scholars, describe the origins and meanings of each term, the history and context of its usage, its translations into other languages, and its use in notable texts.

Dictionary of Untranslatables was recently reviewed by the South China Morning Post where it received a five star review. The book has also been featured in Dublin Review of Books, as well as in Independent.

“[G]reat success….By preserving the specificity of words in their source languages, but then proceeding though so many near-synonyms in other tongues, the Dictionary bridges this ideological divide, providing a different way of understanding what it is to be in, and between, languages.”—Tom Bunstead, Independent

Check out this innovative new book today! Read the Preface and Introduction here.


strategicWith China a steadily rising world power, there are many theories as to the future of U.S.-China relations discussed; some theories end in extreme conflict, and others in strong cooperation and interdependence.  In Strategic Reassurance and Resolve, James Steinberg and Michael O’Hanlon stake out a third, less deterministic position. They argue that there are powerful domestic and international factors, especially in the military and security realms, which could well push the bilateral relationship toward an arms race and confrontation, even though both sides will be far worse off if such a future comes to pass. They contend that this pessimistic scenario can be confidently avoided only if China and the United States adopt deliberate policies designed to address the security dilemma that besets the relationship between a rising and an established power. The authors propose a set of policy proposals to achieve a sustainable, relatively cooperative relationship between the two nations, based on the concept of providing mutual strategic reassurance in such key areas as nuclear weapons and missile defense, space and cyber operations, and military basing and deployments, while also demonstrating strategic resolve to protect vital national interests, including, in the case of the United States, its commitments to regional allies.

Strategic Reassurance and Resolve was reviewed in Publishers Weekly, which said,

 “[T]he points Steinberg and O’Hanlon make deserve the attention of all readers interested in the connection between U.S. and China going forward.”― Publishers Weekly

With subject matter related to the future of our country and its foreign relations, this book is a must read for anyone interested in international politics and the U.S. relationship with China.


son also rises We like to take pride in the “American Dream” and accomplishing goals our family, and ancestors before them, have never accomplished. But how much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? How much does this influence our children? More than we wish to believe. While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, The Son Also Rises proves that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries. Using a novel technique–tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods–renowned economic historian Gregory Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies. The good news is that these patterns are driven by strong inheritance of abilities and lineage does not beget unwarranted advantage. The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage. Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies. Challenging popular assumptions about mobility and revealing the deeply entrenched force of inherited advantage, The Son Also Rises is sure to prompt intense debate for years to come.

Author Gregory Clark recently had an interview with Marketplace found here.The Son Also Rises was also featured in The Globe & Mail, where it was referred to as “Deeply challenging….” by reviewer Margaret Wente.

Get your hands on a copy of this intriguing book now and start reading the Introduction here.


fragile by design Economic crises seem to be a more and more regular occurrence, but how does politics effect the severity and frequency of these economic problems? Fragile by Design is a revealing exploration of the ways that politics inevitably intrudes into bank regulation. Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber combine political history and economics to examine how coalitions of politicians, bankers, and other interest groups form, why some endure while others are undermined, and how they generate policies that determine who gets to be a banker, who has access to credit, and who pays for bank bailouts and rescues.

Fragile by Design was recently reviewed in the Financial Times, where it was praised for offering necessary explanation of the way the economy operates in relation to politics.

“ One reason why economists did not see the financial crisis coming is that the models most macro and financial economists deal in are free of politics. Fragile by Design offers a much-needed supplement.”-Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

Want to better understand the complex relationship between economics and politics? Begin reading Chapter 1 of Fragile by Design here.


dollar trap Speaking of economic crises, the importance  of the U.S. dollar has been called into question in recent years. How is it that a currency which seems to fluctuate so frequently is still an international standard in many regards.  The near collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008-2009, political paralysis that has blocked effective policymaking, and emerging competitors such as the Chinese renminbi have heightened speculation about the dollar’s looming displacement as the main reserve currency. The Dollar Trap powerfully argues, the financial crisis, a dysfunctional international monetary system, and U.S. policies have paradoxically strengthened the dollar’s importance.

Eswar Prasad examines how the dollar came to have a central role in the world economy and demonstrates that it will remain the cornerstone of global finance for the foreseeable future. Marshaling a range of arguments and data, and drawing on the latest research, Prasad shows why it will be difficult to dislodge the dollar-centric system. With vast amounts of foreign financial capital locked up in dollar assets, including U.S. government securities, other countries now have a strong incentive to prevent a dollar crash.

The Dollar Trap author Eswar Prasad recently wrote an op-ed piece for the International New York Times further discussing the state of the U.S. dollar today and its persisting power.

Begin reading the Preface and Chapter 1 of The Dollar Trap now to learn more about where the U.S. dollar currently stands and how it has come to its current significance.