PUP News of the World — September 5, 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!


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The Passenger Pigeon

This week marked the 100th centennial of the death of the last passenger pigeon, Martha. She was living in the Cincinnati Zoo as the last living member of her species. The Financial Times‘ Matthew Engel commemorates the anniversary in a feature entitled “The extinction of the passenger pigeon.” Engel writes:

No one knows when the last great auk died. Or the last dodo. But the last passenger pigeon’s death can be dated more or less exactly: the afternoon of September 1 1914. There was something else extraordinary about this extinction. This was not some marginal species, retiring from trying to eke out an existence on a remote island or a lonely mountainside. When the white man arrived in North America, this was almost certainly the most common bird on the continent, quite possibly the most common in the world.

Some calculations suggest there were 3bn to 5bn. Others suggest there could have been up to 3bn in a single flock. This is like the extinction of the house fly. Or of grass. Or, perhaps, of the galumphing, domineering, myopic two-legged mammal whose presence did for the passenger pigeon. As the title of a centenary exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington has it, Once There Were Billions. And then there were none.

Engel interviews PUP author Errol Fuller in this piece, and Fuller, who is a world authority on bird and animal extinction, has studied the story of Martha’s species extensively. His new book, The Passenger Pigeon, features rare archival images as well as haunting photos of live birds. Fuller shows how widespread deforestation, the demand for cheap and plentiful pigeon meat, and the indiscriminate killing of Passenger Pigeons for sport led to their catastrophic decline. Fuller provides an evocative memorial to a bird species that was once so important to the ecology of North America, and reminds us of just how fragile the natural world can be.

In a review of the book, Adrian Barnett of the New Scientist calls “visually beautiful” and writes that it “gives a fine account of the species, its biology and its demise.”

Preview the Introduction of The Passenger Pigeon.

Philosophy of Biology

Looking for an explanation of the most important topics debated by biologists today? Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Philosophy of Biology is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. The title is reviewed on Forbes.com, and John Farrell argues that “non-specialists should not be put off. Godfrey-Smith’s style is engaging, almost conversational.”

Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin’s mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature.

Authoritative and up-to-date, Philosophy of Biology is an essential guide for anyone interested in the important philosophical issues raised by the biological sciences. Check out Chapter One of The Philosophy of Biology for yourself.

The New York Nobody Knows

Put on your walkin’ shoes — we’re off to explore New York with PUP author, William Helmreich. As a kid growing up in Manhattan, Helmreich played a game with his father they called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever.

Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His epic journey lasted four years and took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and from every walk of life, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayors Rudolph Giuliani, David Dinkins, and Edward Koch.

Their stories and his are the subject of his captivating and highly original book, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City. The book is reviewed on TravelMag, and reviewer Paul Willis recalls one story of Helmreich’s many stories:

Helmreich, a sociology professor at New York’s City University (CUNY), is at his best when examining these broader demographic trends. He’s less good at giving life to the colour and flavor of the city. A New York native he grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a relatively privileged neighbourhood that borders Central Park. Maybe it’s this background that gives some of his encounters with new immigrants an awkward quality, such as when he meets a Honduran man waving a flag outside a Lower Manhattan car park to alert drivers that there’s space within and then asks if he can have a go at waving the flag himself.

“’Are you okay?’ he asked, a worried tone creeping into his voice.”

Helmreich reassures the man by telling him it’s alright because he’s a professor.

You don’t need to be a professor — or even leave the comfort of your favorite reading spot — to enjoy the city of New York through The New York Nobody Knows. Truly unforgettable, the book will forever change how you view the world’s greatest city. View Chapter One of The New York Nobody Knows, and tweet us your thoughts using #NYNobodyKnows.

Obscura Society is Holding a William Helmreich Event #WhereInNYC

The Obscura Society seeks out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Having a description like that, it only makes sense that they asked someone like William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, to speak at the ACME Studio in New York City on December 2nd. His salon-style lecture will go from 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM and books will also be for sale at this event. To learn more, click here.


Helmreich_NewYorkIn a quest to truly know and understand the vast city that he had spent his entire life in, William Helmreich took on an epic undertaking: to walk every single block of New York City.

Over the course of four years Helmreich walked over 6,000 miles of city streets, thoroughly exploring all five boroughs and accumulating a wealth of stories about the people he met and places he found along the way.  Helmreich will be joining the Obscura Society December 2 at Acme Studio to share a truly intimate portrait of the heart and soul of New York, from its most overlooked and hidden corners to the diversity and determination of the people who have made this city home.

William B. Helmreich is the author of the recently published book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City.  He is a professor of sociology at the City University Graduate Center (CUNY) and the City College of New York as well as a life-long New Yorker.  He’s been an avid explorer of the hidden outskirts of the city since he was a young child, when his father invented a game called “Last Stop” in which the two would take a subway to the very end of the line and spend the day exploring the surrounding area on foot.


Want more Helmreich? Check out our Tumblr page where we post photos and quotes from Helmreich himself all about the Big Apple.
Or check out our Facebook page where we post about reviews and events involving The New York Nobody Knows.


#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 3 – Solution

We challenged readers to identify where this peace of art can be seen:

quiz

 

Did anyone guess it right? The fence is part of a larger mural at the Centro de La Paz (Center for Peace); motivating ghetto youth. 124th Street between Second and Third Avenues.

solution

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 2 – Solution

We asked you where in NYC you can find Superman:

 

quiz

 

How many of you got this one right?

You can find Superman flying out of a house in Brooklyn surrounded by other icons of history in Brooklyn at Steve’s Place. 2056 Eighty-fifth Street.

solution

 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

 

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf

#WhereInNYC Photo Quiz 2

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…

Where in NYC does Superman fly?

 

quiz

 

As featured in:

bookjacket

The New York Nobody Knows
Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
William B. Helmreich

Read chapter 1: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10060.pdf