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Friday, June 19th, 2015

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

This week, University of Chicago Press blog features an In These Times interview with Micah Uetricht and Andrew Hartman, author of The War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars , about whether or not the great American culture wars are over. They argue that the Christian Right is largely a “lost cause” and have retrenched from the national stage in favor of smaller factions that debate out of the public purview.

Over at University of Minnesota Press, Ryan Thomas Skinner, an Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology at the Ohio State University, discusses the complex and ever shifting character of Malian music. Drawing from years of personal observation and scholarly research, Skinner argues that despite the cultural and political disruption of the March 2012 military mutiny, Malian music is far from “dead”. In fact, Skinner claims that Malian music is defined by the convergence of ethnic, religious, urban, economic, etc. positions under which it’s produced.

University of Illinois Press blog features a video of Corrupt Illinois authors, Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson discussing the abundance of governmental corruption in the state. Though the news is saturated with high-level Illinois corruption with the recent investigation of Representative Aaron Schock and the indictment of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Gradel and Simpson claim that they uncovered corruption at all levels of public government. From state, aldermanic, and city corruption, to county employee and suburban corruption, it appears Illinois’ long history of machine politics continues to haunt the Land of Lincoln.

What is the fewest number of guards per shift an art museum can employ without sacrificing the security of any of the pieces? This question is the focus of this week’s Princeton University Press blog post by Marc Chamberland, author of Single Digits: In Praise of Small Numbers. Chamberland explains how to calculate it in a snappy video embedded in the post.

At the University of North Carolina Press blog, Erin Smith, author of What Would Jesus Read? Popular Religious Books and Everyday Life in Twentieth Century America, explores religious books’ lack of critical success despite their commercial popularity. In the post, Smith discusses the varying motivations of authors, publishers, and readers when it comes to religious scholarship.

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

In the wake of Charlie Hebdo, how should a liberal society deal with religious fanaticism? At Yale University Press’s blog, Stephen Eric Bronner, author of Modernism at the Barricades, discusses fanaticism and free speech and wrestles with the question of tolerating intolerance. Bronner notes that consistent application of freedom of speech means that a society that allows defamation of Allah or the Prophet must also permit defamation of the Holocaust. A society must permit or prohibit both.

UT Austin blog highlights their heavy hitter for the season We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in Space Program. The book has rightfully been featured everywhere. A thoughtful blogpost by Elizabeth Hodge Freeman, sociologist and author of The Color of Love, muses on Toni Morrison’s newly published novel God Help the Child. She writes about the dialogue of ideas about race between Morrison’s work of fiction and her own scholarship.

MIT Press commemorates the fourth anniversary of the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, MO and how the community embraced civic ecological principles in the aftermath. The effects of civic ecological principles are heartening. The city of Joplin repurposed debarked trees into public art, recreated their community, and more. Leslie Knope couldn’t have done better in Pawnee.

Today, Ireland is voting on a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage. At the OUP blog, Lorenzo Zucca covers how this will set a historic precedent by this culturally Catholic country. How will things change if the referendum passes? “If ‘Yes‘ wins, the following new wording will be added to the Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’.” Zucca argues in favor. Read his points here.

Can graduate students live by ramen alone? Harvard University Press’ blog features a blogpost by Leonard Casuto, author of The Graduate School Mess. Higher education is in flux in the US, and the main thrust of Casuto’s critique is about the hodgepodge selection of courses. Because the course offerings in today’s universities are specialized inquiries, the onus too often falls on graduate students to create a coherent and comprehensive program of study. Ramen is delicious but not quite nutritious (alone).

That’s all folks for the weekly round up! Thanks for reading! Do make the most of your Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Two Early Chicago Films Heading to Blu-Ray

The following post is by Michael Smith, co-author with Adam Selzer of Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry

In the introduction to Flickering Empire, Adam Selzer and I quote film scholar Susan Doll who said that it is Chicago’s “best kept secret” that it served as the nation’s filmmaking capital prior to the rise of Hollywood. That the vast majority of the films made in Chicago prior to 1920 have been either lost, destroyed or are otherwise difficult to see partly accounts for Chicago’s neglected status in the official film histories. Fortunately, the two most important Chicago-made silent films discussed in our book have both been recently restored and will receive re-releases on home video in HD in the next year. These releases will hopefully go some way towards giving Chicago the credit it deserves for the important role it played in our nation’s film history. The two films in question are:

His New Job—The one and only film Charlie Chaplin made in Chicago is this delightful 20-minute comedy short, the first he made for Essanay Studios (before fulfilling the rest of his contract at the company’s California branch). The plot sees Chaplin’s familiar “Little Tramp” character showing up to audition for a part in a movie at “Lodestone Studios.” The interior stages at Essanay in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood essentially play themselves as Lodestone and the movie thus becomes a fascinating peak into the process of silent moviemaking, at times achieving a near-documentary quality. The Tramp gets a job first as Production Assistant, then as a carpenter and finally as an extra in what appears to be a prestigious “period” film set in 19th century Russia. Of course, he wreaks havoc on the set and the entire production soon devolves into a state of slapstick anarchy. His New Job will be released on Blu-ray by Flicker Alley in Summer 2015. In the meantime, you can watch an unrestored version of the film here:

Within Our Gates—The earliest surviving feature film directed by an African American is this incendiary drama by the legendary Oscar Micheaux. Evelyn Preer plays Sylvia Landry, a young black woman from Chicago who tries to raise money to save a school for black children in the rural south. Micheaux’s story alternates between scenes taking place in the north and south as well as the past and the present in order to generate a suspenseful climax — a lengthy flashback to the events that led to Sylvia’s adoptive parents being lynched by an angry mob. This lynching scene is intercut with an equally horrifying scene where a villainous middle-aged white man attempts to rape the young Sylvia before recognizing a scar on her chest that identifies her as his own illegitimate daughter. The clever intercutting of this climax intentionally unpacks the racist ideology of the climax of D.W. Griffith’s similarly constructed The Birth of a Nation. Within Our Gates will be released on Blu-ray by Kino/Lorber in February 2016. In the meantime, you can watch an unrestored version of the film here:

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

New Book Tuesday: Intimate Rivals, The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China, and More New Books!

Intimate Rivals, Sheila SmithOur weekly listing of new titles:

Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China
Sheila A. Smith

The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation
Peter Schwieger

Studying Early and Silent Cinema
Keith Withall

U.S.-Latin American Relations
Karol Derwich

2012 U.S. Presidential Election: Challenges and Expectations
Edited by Pawel Laidler and Maciej Turek

Europe in the Time of Crisis
Stanislaw Konopacki

The Art of Literature, Art in Literature
Edited by Magdalena Bleinert, Izabela Curyllo-Klag, and Bozena Kucala

A Polyvalent Media Policy in the Enlarged European Union
Beata Klimkiewicz

Standard Turkic C-Type Reduplications
Kamil Stachowski

Friday, October 31st, 2014

University Press Roundup: Halloween Edition

Welcome to our Friday roundup of this week’s spookiest university press blog posts. As usual, feel free to stop by the comments if there’s anything you find particularly ghoulish!

We begin by embracing John Hopkins University Press’s call for a “Return of the Scary.” As part of an ongoing blog series that discusses current trends in poetry and literature, author Jerry Griswold observes that in recent years, children’s literature and media have perhaps been de-fanged. Recalling recent explorations of horror aimed at young audiences, such as Shrek or Monsters, Inc., it may be difficult to contextualize the success of Tim Burton’s twisted imaginings, or even the Gothic styling of Lemony Snicket. But rest assured, Griswold argues–despite our fond memories of sweeter childhood fairy tales–what we’re seeing is instead a return to the morbidity that has always characterized children’s stories. Just remember what happened to poor Ichabod Crane.

Speaking of horror in literature, Cambridge University Press author Andrew McCann touches on the popular idea of consciousness (or the partial surrender of consciousness) as relating to authorship and the occult. That is, for some the creative process remains a mystery even to the creators themselves, where origins of artistic expression seem to defy rational explanation and are instead credited to external–sometimes paranormal–means of inception and transmittance.

And who, if anyone, might embody the archetypal writer driven by some force beyond rationality, if not Poe? Kevin J. Hayes, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allen Poe and Edgar Allen Poe in Context, discusses the literary grotesqueries of Poe’s legacy and his associations in American culture with Halloween. But Poe’s no one-trick pony, asserts Hayes–the godfather of Goth also invented the detective story, experimented with science fiction, and could counterbalance the truly shocking with humor. “So, read some Poe this Halloween for a good scare. Read Poe the rest of the year for fascinating insights into his world—and ours.”

Apparently the University Press of Mississippi has Film Friday (!), and this one, of course, happens to fall on Halloween. So “what’s even scarier than watching a horror movie?”, they ask. Reading about them! As the press has recently begun growing its Film Studies list to include horror, we encourage readers and film buffs alike to take a look at some of their featured books here.

And lastly, we’d like to briefly join our university press friends in presenting some Halloween-appropriate academic texts. Fordham University Press today features Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women, which looks at the rise of “disturbing and uncanny tales” from American women authors between the Civil War and the 1930s.

McGill-Queen’s University Press features today Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination, which examines the underlying religious, pagan, mythological, and cultural beliefs and anxieties that present themselves as common motifs in fairy tales. Sweeping across a broad scope of Western literature–from pre-Christian European folk literature to the nineteenth century–author Jan Beveridge offers a compelling insight into “some of the most extraordinary worlds ever portrayed in literature.”

That’s it for this week’s university press roundup. Happy Halloween, everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 8th, 2014

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

First up, over at the Chicago Blog, author and popular science journalist Carl Zimmer helps us to examine the realistic implications of our current so-called Ebolapocalypse.

OUP author Daniel Romer wants to know: What’s next for youth and the emergence of new media? From online ads to video games, the way in which younger people have approached the proliferation of media has changed drastically in the last twenty years. One massive study undertaken in the UK sheds some light on the effects–both positive and negative–that have surfaced amid this transition.

While we’re at the OUP Blog, take a look at some artwork featuring the gods, heroes, and mythological creatures of Greek antiquity, taken from author Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

69 years ago this week, history’s first nuclear attack devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yale Press author Keiko Hirata discusses the circumstances surrounding these monumental events, as well as the complicated and resounding impacts they’ve carried for Japan’s subsequent outlook and regrowth in the following decades.

This week, Penn Press covered a History News Network blog post by one of their authors, Jeffrey Glover, discussing America’s first interracial marriage. Can you guess who was involved?

Lastly, we head over to Beacon Broadside, where the environmental effects of fracking on U.S. aquifers are examined alongside Michelle Bamberger’s and Robert Oswald’s book, The Real Cost of Fracking.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

The Nature of Value Allocation

The Nature of Value

“We organize our lives and resources “economically”, but what does that mean? Where is it all heading and how can one allocate those resources better? These are big questions, on which The Nature of Value seeks to provide perspective.” — Nick Gogerty

Last week our featured book was The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy, by Nick Gogerty, and, since last week was a short one with the July 4th holiday, we are keeping things rolling today with one final post. Today, we have an excerpt from the fifteenth chapter of The Nature of Value, “The Nature of Value Allocation,” as well as a list of the six things Nick Gogerty hopes that you will get out of his book:

New ideas. The Nature of Value should provide fresh ways to consider how innovation, economies, and investing work.

We organize our lives and resources “economically”, but what does that mean? Where is it all heading and how can one allocate those resources better? These are big questions, on which The Nature of Value seeks to provide perspective. Areas of exploration include but aren’t limited to:

-New economic concepts (panarchies, possibility spaces, inos, value based diversification, and much more)
-The dangers of price/value confusion
-Mental models of how economies work like nature, evolving and adapting
-A theory of portfolio allocation based on the credit money cycle to value flow relationship
-Sustainable value creation: who wins and why?
-The role of energy and information in ecology and economics

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for The Nature of Value by 1 PM Monday, July 7th (today)!

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Atheists in Love

Atheists in America

“My mother was right. It has been difficult for me to navigate my romantic relationships. I also believe that my father was right; I should not apologize for who I am and what I believe.” — Ethan Sahker

This week our featured book is Atheists in America, edited by Melanie E. Brewster. Today, we have an excerpt from Part 4 of Atheists in America: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Navigating Romantic Relationships as an Atheist,” including chapters by Ethan Sahker and Kristen Rurouni. Sahker and Rurouni describe their experiences with the complexities involved when religion and atheism become important issues in romantic relationships.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Atheists in America! Note: For readers in the Northeast, there will be a book release party for Atheists in America on June 25th at the Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan from 7pm-10pm. Authors from across the country will be flying in to read their works. Open to the public. Email Melanie Brewster for more details.

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes

Atheists in America

“[R]esearch suggests that this notable decrease in sectarianism and increase in overall tolerance of other religions is not extended to atheists. To put it mildly, attitudes toward atheists are wary and unaffirming. Survey data consistently find that atheists are regarded as “more troubling” than other groups of individuals on a long list of historically oppressed populations.” — Melanie E. Brewster

This week our featured book is Atheists in America, edited by Melanie E. Brewster. Today, we are happy to present “The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes,” the introduction to Atheists in America, written by editor Melanie Brewster. In this introduction, Brewster discusses the rise of New Atheism in America, takes a look at who atheists in the U.S. actually are (demographically speaking), and looks at the phenomenon of “closeting” as it relates to atheism.

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Atheists in America!

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A Q&A with Matthew Akester, translator of Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule

Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule

“The main gift of Khetsun’s book, however, is its vivid depiction of the banal horrors; how prisoners were forced to denude the hills around Lhasa to provide their captors with firewood, or carry them piggy-back across icy rivers in winter, or how prisoners’ lives were casually wasted in work accidents, how political campaigns crushed resistance cells inside prisons during the 1962 war, and so on.” – Matthew Akester

Today, we have a Q&A with Matthew Akester, the translator of Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule, Tibetan Tubten Khétsun’s autobiographical account of his time spent in Tibet after the Tibetan people’s uprising of March 10, 1959. In his answers below, Akester describes his history with the project and explains exactly why Khetsun’s book is so important.

Why Khetsun’s book?

It is widely recognised that published accounts of Tibet’s history under Chinese Communist occupation tend to be skewed by the dominant narratives promoted by the CCP and Tibet’s government in exile, both of which are by nature polemical and inadequate. Chinese language accounts are constrained by the ideological rigidity and censorship that prevails within the PRC, while Tibetan language accounts, at least of the period 1958-79, are limited to the memoirs of survivors. Those that have appeared in English have typically been ghost written by sympathetic collaborators seeking to promote the Tibetan cause (with just a few exceptions). As someone who works on modern history primarily from Tibetan language sources, I have tried to review as much of the memoir literature as I can, and that is how I came upon Khetsun’s book. It was first published in the rather drab format used by the exile government press in Dharmshala (1998), under the title ‘A testament of suffering’, suggesting another iteration of the maudlin lament in which exiled survivors of Maoism often frame their stories. Soon after opening the cover, however, I was drawn into an exceptionally detailed and evocative memoir, refreshingly free of self-pity and black-and-white hyperbole. Most of the accounts published by Khetsun’s generation are actually prison memoirs, since that is where the majority of educated Tibetan men spent the years 1959-79, but he was released early and thus in a position to describe the condition of civil society in Lhasa in those years. His language is clear and sympathetic, a pleasure to translate.

How representative is his account?

Khetsun’s family belonged to the minor nobility, and he was groomed to serve the Lhasa government, so he was by Chinese Communist norms a prima facie ‘class enemy’ and prime target of the ‘class struggle’ through which they sought to transform Tibetan society. The quotidien persecution and oppression he describes, however, will be familiar to Tibetans from all social classes and regions who lived through the Maoist era. Khetsun’s anecdotal assertion that two thirds of all adult males were incarcerated during and after the suppression of the 1959 uprising awaits conclusive corroboration, but he also reminds us that Tibetan society was divided into nine social classes by the Communist bureaucracy, of which only the bottom two or three were considered reliable supporters of the Party. This can be readily corroborated, but it raises a question that virtually no Tibetan account of the period has confronted frankly: who were the Tibetan footsoldiers of the occupation, and what motivated them to inflict ‘class struggle’ on their countrymen with such apparent readiness? Khetsun does not confront the question head-on, but offers some fascinating psychological sketches of individuals with conflicted loyalties.

What does it tell us that we did not already know?

Even seasoned and specialist readers will collect new information here. The Hui agitation of 1961, the abandoned proposal to establish the TAR capital in the more temperate climate of Powo in the south-east, the 1968 Tsuklakhang massacre, the mass executions of 1969-70, and the political campaigns of 1973 and ’74 have not been written about before, at least from an eyewitness viewpoint. The main gift of Khetsun’s book, however, is its vivid depiction of the banal horrors; how prisoners were forced to denude the hills around Lhasa to provide their captors with firewood, or carry them piggy-back across icy rivers in winter, or how prisoners’ lives were casually wasted in work accidents, how political campaigns crushed resistance cells inside prisons during the 1962 war, and so on. His images of soldiers destroying harvested swamp grass or hounding invalids from their beds in the middle of the night are in their own way as poignant as the headline images of the Cultural Revolution already known to many readers. (more…)

Friday, March 14th, 2014

“Do you believe in fate, Neo?” Law, Freedom, Representation, and Identity in THE MATRIX

Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation, Paul W. Kahn

Happy Friday, everyone! But before we continue on with the University Press Roundup, we’d like to conclude our week-long feature of Paul W. Kahn’s Finding Ourselves at the Movies. In the except below, Kahn illuminates the underlying philosophies of the Wachowski siblings’ The Matrix. Drawing from Kant’s delineation of the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, Kahn examines the ways in which the matrix, as an absolute manifestation of representation through law and code, separates itself from identity. This act eradicates any opportunity to “freely give the law to ourselves,” prompting violence, here the sole remaining performance of human freedom.

And of course, don’t miss Morpheus’s explanation of the matrix–troubled with the same issues that disturbed Descartes almost four hundred years ago.

Here’s your last chance to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Finding Ourselves at the Movies!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Philosophy in Film, Between Science and Opinion

Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation, Paul W. Kahn

Continuing our week-long feature of Paul W. Kahn’s Finding Ourselves at the Movies, we present today an excerpt from the opening chapter of the book, titled “Philosophy, Democracy, and the Turn to Film.” In it, Kahn grapples with the idea that philosophy has lost much of its mainstream acceptance, often viewed as immaterial, inaccessible, or esoteric by many. But defending philosophy from such criticism, Kahn argues, is the act of practicing philosophy itself. “We learn philosophy by engaging with each other in a critical examination of our own beliefs and practices.”

And what better place to begin such a discourse than with popular movies?

Also, don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Finding Ourselves at the Movies!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

University Press Roundup

And we’re back! Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

With the current crisis in Ukraine and Crimea at the forefront of the international community’s thoughts, Sage House News, the Cornell University Press Blog, has some in-depth reading suggestions for a more comprehensive understanding of the historical bases for the region’s political tensions, issues, and possible outcomes. Author Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, also contributes with advice to President Obama in helping to diffuse the situation as published in NYMag.

After the implosion of Mt. Gox, the subsequent suicide of a Bitcoin exchange’s CEO, the rising number of national governments ruling Bitcoin as illegitimate, and finally the revelation (and later denial) of the identity of Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator, the cryptocurrency, despite its esoteric origins and supporters, has remained in the spotlight these last few weeks. Harvard University Press author and self-proclaimed “cyber skeptic” David Golumbia raises a dialogue protesting the feasibility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as sustainable alternatives to fiat currencies. Citing “incredible volatility and lack of regulation” as insidious traits detrimental to Bitcoin’s mainstream acceptance, even among the most risk-tolerant, Golumbia concludes that only regulation–antithetical to the philosophies of cryptocurrency’s most outspoken proponents–would save Bitcoin from the boom and bust cycles that have plagued it.

Displeased with the unflinching barrage of historical inaccuracies throughout 300: Rise of an Empire, a follow-up to Zach Snyder’s grandiloquent retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, historian and OUP author Paul Cartledge speaks out to set the record straight with five things the film gets wrong. We’re not sure that the creators of the film intended for its events to align Herodotus’s The Histories with archaeological findings (indeed, the first film comports itself as a frame narrative in which a soldier with a penchant for exaggeration and story-telling attempts to rile up his brothers in arms), but Cartledge’s expertise on the Graeco-Persian wars, displayed more fully in his book After Thermopylae, is a more than welcome complement to what will likely be an over-the-top Spring flick.

Yale Press author Laura DeNardis wants to know, “How do we solve the problem of the Internet?” Describing the all-pervading quality of the Internet in our personal and professional lives, DeNardis, in her book The Global War for Internet Governance, looks to understand ways in which the Internet is already being governed, as well as the how, why, and who behind those seeking to govern it in the future. From privacy concerns over social media, to net neutrality and online surveillance, the Internet is a complex and technical landscape for governments and individuals alike to navigate in our increasingly digital world. You can watch DeNardis speak more on the subject here.

Happy belated Mardi Gras! To honor the Louisianian period of revelry culminating the day prior to Ash Wednesday, NYU Press’s From the Square shares an excerpt from Kevin Fox Gotham’s award-winning book, Authentic New Orleans, which touches on the celebration’s religious and cultural roots in history.

That’s it for this week. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The Middle East in the Eye of the Global Storm, by Joel Migdal

Shifting Sands

This week our featured book is Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East by Joel S. Migdal. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have an excerpt from Migdal’s first chapter, “The Middle East in the Eye of the Global Storm.”

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Shifting Sands!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Michael Yogg — Investment Profession Should Learn from Industry Pioneer who Spoke Out

“The investment profession must do a better job of policing its own or face the loss of public trust and ever more draconian regulation.”—Michael Yogg

The following post is by Michael Yogg, author of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot:

Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot“The manager was a horse’s ass of the first order. The most responsible job I ever had was going out and getting him a box of cigars.” Paul Cabot, the legendary investor and mutual fund pioneer, was recalling his first job after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1923, at an American bank in London. It was undemanding and left him time to pursue a personal interest, the study of British investment trusts. Cabot came from a well connected family, and he contacted a friend, Junius Morgan, grandson of J.P. Morgan, who introduced him to Robert Fleming, a bond investor and investment trust entrepreneur who had teamed up with the elder Morgan to help finance American railroads.

Fleming tutored Cabot on every aspect of his business; but Cabot had his own ideas. He was the son of a Boston trustee and, unlike Fleming, was comfortable investing in stocks, which he believed had superior long-term return prospects. He returned to Boston in late 1923 as stocks, in his words, “were just coming into fashion to be considered respectable moneymaking investments….I wasn’t a damn bit interested in bonds.”

The next year Cabot, and two others, founded a mutual fund. They established an extraordinary investment record, primarily because—taking a cue from J.P. Morgan—they were among the very few in the 1920’s to regularly visit the companies they invested in. As the bull market grew into a mania, Cabot’s London training really began to pay off. He had studied the scandals as well as the successes of the British trusts. When he saw the same abuses occurring in the U.S.—price manipulation, dumping of unwanted securities into mutual funds, deliberately complicated and confusing capital structures—he was among the first to recognize them, certainly the first to publicize them.

In 1928 he addressed a group of bankers and identified these abuses, without identifying the abusers. But one of them correctly concluded it was a target and threatened to remove its deposits from National Shawmut Bank, where Cabot was a director, unless the bank silenced him. As Cabot remembered it, “I flamed up. I got so goddamn mad I said, why the sons of bitches, ….I’ll show them how I’m going to be shut up. I trotted up to the Atlantic Monthly, the editor of which happened to be my uncle, and gave him this speech and he published it.” When the market crashed and more scandals surfaced, Cabot became well known for his prescience, integrity, and investment acumen, a reputation that endured and deepened over the years.

(more…)

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Economic Struggle and Political Struggle, by Antonio Negri

Factory of Strategy

This week our featured book is Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin by Antonio Negri, translated by Arianna Bove. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have excerpted “From the Theory of Capital to the Theory of Organization: Economic Struggle and Political Struggle,” the second chapter of Factory of Strategy.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of Factory of Strategy!

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Read the prefaces to Factory of Strategy, by Antonio Negri

Factory of Strategy

This week our featured book is Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin by Antonio Negri, translated by Arianna Bove. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have excerpted the “Preface to the English Translation” and the “Preface to the Second Edition” of Factory of Strategy, both by Antonio Negri.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of Factory of Strategy!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Read the first chapter of The Call of Character, by Mari Ruti!

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Friday, January 10th, 2014

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Contrary to the saying, you can judge a book by its cover. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designs for book covers, Angelica Calderon at the University of Texas Press has an in-depth look at the design process, from idea to execution.

Oxford University Press has a fascinating collection of 2013′s most important words, as determined by dictionaries, linguists, and enthusiasts. At the top (for English): “selfie,” “privacy,” and “bitcoin.” The list isn’t limited to English, though. For the sinophiles out there, a Chinese poll determined “dream” was the most popular Chinese word and “reform” its most popular phrase.

Poet, playwright, and firebrand Amiri Baraka died yesterday at the age of 79. “‘Find the self, then kill it’: such was Baraka’s prescription for a more vibrant black music and a more vital black community, and he began with himself. ” writes Scott Saul in an excerpt from “Freedom is, Freedom Ain’t: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties” from Harvard University Press. The excerpt discusses how Baraka celebrated John Coltrane’s music as a major shift in black consciousness. For more Baraka, you can read his essay “Jazz and the White Critic” in “The Jazz Cadence of American Culture” edited by Robert G. O’Meally.

University of Chicago Press is giving away an ebook in the month of January as part of their “Chicago Shorts” program. “Murder in Ancient China” features two short stories by Robert van Gulik, a historian and diplomat. Both feature van Gulik’s most enduring creation: the mystery-solving Judge Dee, as he attempts to restore order to the Tang Dynasty.

Are you keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? It’s only been as week and a half, but getting out to exercise in this weather is getting more and more difficult. Luckily, AMACOM has a list of resolutions for the bibliophile, which are certainly easier than going to the gym or putting down the junk food.

“The credit crunch which continues to affect families and businesses in Europe—and now also China and other emerging economies—threatens the economic recovery, and with it the reduction of unemployment in Europe and the resumption of wealth-creating growth in the emerging world. Never so few (in the financial sector) did so much to damage the many. The issue is that the many now need a well-functioning financial system more than ever.” 2014 hasn’t started with very good news on the economic front—just 74,000 jobs were added in December—and fifteeneightyfour has an interesting discussion on the prognosis for the world economy.

The University of Nebraska press recently published the first biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. “To earn the love of just about anyone is as high an honor as we are permitted in this life, though nothing is ever quite so fine as to offer somebody a poem that they look at for a minute or two, then fold into a pocket and carry away,” he writes in a dispatch about life, love, and the importance of place in poetry on the University of Nebraska Press blog.

“The onset of the industrial age has liberated many persons from terrible physical labor but it has also resulted in terrible environmental degradation which could have catastrophic effects that linger for centuries,” writes Chris Anderson in a year-end list like no other. At Yale University Press, Anderson compiles the sins committed in 2013 that still linger into the new year, as well as some historical sins that we still feel to this day. And on that note, that will wrap things up for today!

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Friday, December 13th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

With the second installment to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy opening this weekend, Oxford University Press author Brian Attebery reflects on the appeal of Tolkien’s fiction, both in terms of its insight into our selves as hobbits–”small, ridiculous, incomplete, and interconnected”–and also its naturalistic meditative qualities that, despite being rooted in a fantastic world, help us to better understand and appreciate our own.

In what ways will technology continue to reshape our familiar, longstanding institutions? The Canada Post announced this week that it will be halting door-to-door delivery in urban homes within the next five years. To some, this news may seem utterly expected, and to others, a jarring indicator of the systemic changes we might expect as the digital revolution marches forward. McGill-Queen’s University Press author Robert M. Campbell briefly delineates the history and cultural importance of Canada Post, one of the country’s first federal departments, in an excerpt from his book, The Politics of Postal Transformation.

Mandela was not a Hallmark card,” asserts From the Square. But despite the complexity of Mandela’s character, politics, and history, individuals around the world may perhaps feel inclined to sentimentalize the gravity of his remarkable struggles and accomplishments. NYU Press author Alan Wieder examines Mandela not only as a politician and humanitarian, but also as a revolutionary whose message was not always “peace and love.”

Beacon Broadside offers up a similar sentiment with author Jeanne Theoharis, who compares the legacies of Rosa Park and Nelson Mandela. And her book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, “sought to…rescue Rosa Parks from the narrow pedestal she exists upon.” Such sentimentalization, as some worry might become the case with Mandela, “paradoxically diminished the scope and importance of her political work and functions, across the political spectrum, to make us feel good about ourselves as a nation. It misses the lifelong activist who worked against injustice in both the North and South and paid a heavy price for her political work but kept struggling to address contemporary racial and social inequalities until her death in 2005.”

Cambridge University Press, which publishes The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, has collected and posted on fifteeneightyfour a few pithy excerpts from Hemingway’s correspondences that they hope will both inspire and inform us on “how to make it in the publishing industry.” Thanks, fifteeneightyfour! One choice snippet includes:

“You have to keep absolutely on a printers tail–not just in general–because a general publication date means nothing to them.”

“Is online porn really at the center of modern life? And what effect does this have on real sexual relations?” Margaret Grebowicz, Stanford University Press author of Why Porn Matters and Columbia University Press author of Beyond the Cyborg, explores just this question, explaining: “Just as Google Maps changes the way human inhabit space, internet porn changes the way they inhabit sex.” She argues that, by occupying the same space as our social media accounts, photo albums, and other equally innocuous and personal digital artifacts, Internet porn becomes “just another vehicle for ‘honest’ sexual expression for and by the masses.”

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!