PUP News of the World, May 30, 2014


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!

We’re starting this week off with BIG things. First up, we bring you a book that is large in terms of page count and scope: Jürgen Osterhammel’s The Transformation of the World, translated by Patrick Camiller. A monumental history of the nineteenth century, this book offers a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of a world in transition. Jürgen Osterhammel, an eminent scholar 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.

The Transformation of the World is reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. Jeffrey Wasserstrom writes:

Some history books resemble miniatures in lockets: delicate renderings of an individual. Others move across larger canvases, as authors try to bring to life complex events, such as wars, or convey a country’s changes over time. But sometimes members of the historian’s guild take on topics of such staggering scope that the final work is more akin to the sprawling panoramas, filling whole rooms, that were popular in Europe during the 1800s—the period of focus in Jürgen Osterhammel’s “The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century.”

Osterhammel’s book is also reviewed in Standpoint, and Jeremy Black calls the book “massive,” “interesting,” and “impressive.”

Read the introduction to The Transformation of the World. You can also view a Q&A with Jürgen Osterhammel.


Are online daters getting more when they break out their wallets to join paid dating websites? Or are free services just as useful? NYT economics reporter Shalia Dewan addresses the conundrum of these middlemen of the internet, specifically online dating websites that boast about match-making algorithms. Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, author of A Social Strategy, provides part of the answer in the article. Dewan writes:

Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, a Harvard Business School professor and author of “A Social Strategy,” examined hundreds of thousands of interactions on dating sites and found that the profiles people view on eHarmony­ are very similar to the profiles people view on other sites. The vaunted matching algorithm, he says, doesn’t really do that much that you can’t do for yourself. And as much as we may appreciate having our choices limited, if only to save us from being overwhelmed, from a purely economic standpoint, there is no benefit to limiting your own options, even if it means getting sucked into a time-consuming rabbit hole.

Check out the full NYT article: “Who Wants Free Love Anyway?”

What makes social media so different from traditional media? Answering that question is the key to making social media work for any business, Piskorski argues in his book. In A Social Strategy, he provides the most convincing answer yet, one backed by original research, data, and case studies from companies such as Nike and American Express. For more on Piskorski’s findings about social media, you can preview the preface and first chapter of his new book.


In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown.

How did it happen? PUP author Eric Cline has an explanation.

In this major new account of the causes of this “First Dark Ages,” 1177 B.C., Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. 1177 B.C. is reviewed by NRC Handelsblad. An English translation of the review has been posted on reviewer Jona Lendering’s blog. Lendering writes:

Cline’s Bronze Age shares characteristics with our own age, and if we accept this, we can only conclude that Cline has written one of this year’s most interesting books.

For more from author Eric Cline, check out his recent NYT op-ed. You can read the prologue of 1177 B.C. here.


“What links Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Turner’s red skyscapes, starving Irish peasants and the rise of the international drugs trade? They all came into being because on April 10, 1815, a volcano blew its top on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa.”

So writes the Times‘ Robbie Millen, who reviews Gillen D’Arcy Wood’s TamboraSo what is the story behind Tambora? When Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, it unleashed the most destructive wave of extreme weather the world has witnessed in thousands of years. The volcano’s massive sulfate dust cloud enveloped the Earth, cooling temperatures and disrupting major weather systems for more than three years. Amid devastating storms, drought, and floods, communities worldwide endured famine, disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. On the eve of the bicentenary of the great eruption, Tambora tells the extraordinary story of the weather chaos it wrought, weaving the latest climate science with the social history of this frightening period to offer a cautionary tale about the potential tragic impacts of drastic climate change in our own century.


Millen goes on to call the book “earth-shaking… told with gusto.” Check out the introduction for yourself and take a look at this video from the author:

This post is part of a series, explore additional posts here<< PUP News of the World, May 23, 2014PUP News of the World — June 6, 2014 >>